I know that the House will join me in congratulating Mr. Haughey on his election as Taoiseach. Although I have no plans at present to meet Mr. Haughey, I look forward to doing so before long.
I accept that. The reality which is reflected in the Anglo-Irish Agreement is still valid. All the evidence of the damage that is being done by terrorism in Northern Ireland, in terms of physical outrage and terror and in terms of economic damage to the Republic, make it clearly of mutual interest to both our countries that there is the most vigorous possible attack against terrorism.
Is it not right that when Mr. Haughey was leader of the Opposition in the Republic he had grave reservations about the Anglo-Irish Agreement and made them obvious in the Dail? Does the Secretary of State remember that in particular he had reservations about what is called the veto of the majority of Northern Ireland? When he sees Mr. Haughey, will he explore this issue?
No. I make it clear that I note the comments that Mr. Haughey made to the political editor of The Irish Times, in which he accepted that the Anglo-Irish Agreement was an accord, and therefore had to be accepted as binding because it had been entered into by an Irish Government. I also note that he said:
We will endeavour to contribute to the restoration of peace and stability in Northern Ireland in any way which may appear possible and feasible.
If that is correctly reported, I welcome that statement, and I hope that we can have an encouraging and productive working relationship.
I do not know whether I fully grasp the point of my hon. Friend's question. The items that we have discussed are in the communiqués and I expect that programme of work to continue.
Is it not the case that the one thing that unites extreme opinion on both sides of the Irish sea is opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and that anything that is done to dilute the commitment of the House or the Dail to the agreement would be playing into the hands of extremist opinion? Is not one of the best things that could happen for progress to be made on the creation of an Anglo-Irish parliamentary tier, which was envisaged in the signing of the original Hillsborough report?
I hope that I have made clear to the House my commitment to the agreement and my belief that it offers the best prospect for a way forward in the difficult problems of Northern Ireland. I do not seek a renegotiation of it.