Anglo-Irish Agreement

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 1990.

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Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax

Will the Secretary of State confirm to the Irish Prime Minister that whoever is successful in the forthcoming election of the Prime Minister of this country will support the Anglo-Irish Agreement? Does he agree that it is a good thing for Britain that a Prime Minister who has thrived on conflict has gone and that that gives hope for future peace in not only Ireland but the Gulf?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

On the basis of my previous conversations with the Taoiseach, I have no doubt that we shall discuss, among other things, the political situation in the United Kingdom. The British Government signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement and will continue it. I entirely repudiate the hon. Lady's latter remark.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson , Belfast East

Will the Secretary of State tell the House whether in previous meetings Mr. Haughey raised the cause of the UDR Four? Or has he raised only the so-called injustice in the Birmingham and Guildford cases? If Mr. Haughey raised the case of the UDR Four, did he ask for any details about the delay in announcing the results of the ESDA—electrostatic data analysis—tests? If Mr. Haughey has not asked about it, will the Secretary of State tell the House what the delay is?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I do not recall discussing any of the matters that the hon. Gentleman mentioned with Mr. Haughey, so he has not asked me the questions that the hon. Gentleman asked. The hon. Gentleman takes his supplementary question a little wide of the original question.

Mr. John D. Taylor:

As both the Prime Ministers who initiated the Anglo-Irish Agreement will soon be out of office, as most people throughout Northern Ireland remain opposed to the agreement, and as the agreement has maintained a political stalemate in Northern Ireland, would not the Secretary of State do better to concentrate on talking to the political parties in Northern Ireland rather than negotiating with Dublin? Last week the Dublin Minister for Foreign Affairs revealed that the Anglo-Irish Agreement is not operating and that he was not consulted before the presentation of the emergency provisions legislation.

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

As to the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that we should proceed without the Irish Government, it would be necessary to establish whether others would be content with the restricted agenda that would apply. On his question about the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the emergency provisions Bill, we had an opportunity to discuss it in advance of the Bill's introduction.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

Will my right hon. Friend tell the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic that if he wants to help to promote peace, stability and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, he should take steps to remove from the constitution of the Irish Republic the constitutional claim over Northern Ireland and, therefore, United Kingdom territory?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

My views on articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution are already on record in the House, but the provisions of the constitution make no difference to the fact that in United Kingdom domestic law and in international law Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. Successive Irish Governments have acknowledged the words of article 1 of the agreement that any change in the status of Northern Ireland would come about only with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

Is the Secretary of State aware that although there are many areas where we in the Labour party have opposed the Government's policy on Northern Ireland over the past 11 years, we recognise the importance of the present Prime Minister's brave efforts in seeking to resolve some of the problems of Northern Ireland by signing and upholding the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and that that is to her credit? Will he assure us that he and Mr. Haughey will be determined to impress on all the parties to the negotiations the urgent necessity of serious political talks?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and her contribution to the affairs of Northern Ireland during her most distinguished premiership. I do not know exactly how wide my conversations with Mr. Haughey will range, but we and the Irish Government remain united in our desire to see talks move forward.

Photo of Mr Andrew Hunter Mr Andrew Hunter , Basingstoke

Since the Anglo-Irish Agreement has not brought peace, stability or reconciliation to Northern Ireland, would not it be better for my right hon. Friend to devote his energies to establishing a meaningful dialogue with the mainstream of Northern Ireland politics, the Ulster Unionists, who are our natural allies?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I speak for myself and for the Government as a whole when I say that a benefit of the conversations that we have had in the past year has been the widening ripple of dialogue and I hope that that will continue into 1992.