Real IRA

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28 March 2001.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury 12:00, 28 March 2001

If he will make a statement on his Department's assessment of the relationship between the Real and the Provisional IRA. [154341]

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The Real IRA has its roots within the Provisional IRA, and evolved as a consequence of a breakaway of disaffected PIRA members over their organisation's support for the political/peace process. We believe that the Real IRA and the Provisional IRA are entirely separate organisations.

Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury

Does the Minister not think that the use of Semtex by the Real IRA might suggest at least some collusion between that organisation and at least some members of the Provisional IRA?

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

No, I do not, and there is no evidence that that is the case. What I do accept is that the Real IRA and the PIRA are linked by a common cause; they are also linked by a callous disregard for human life and the human rights of their fellow citizens.

The IRA and PIRA want to achieve a united Ireland, but Sinn Fein and the IRA have signalled that they are engaged in a transition from conflict to the democratic process. They differ from the RIRA in that regard. There is no evidence to suggest that the Real IRA is acting as a surrogate organisation for the IRA.

Photo of Mr William Thompson Mr William Thompson UUP, West Tyrone

What information has the Minister requested or received from the Irish Government about a recent attempt by the Provisional IRA, using guns smuggled from Florida, to murder an alleged member of the Real IRA? It is argued that he stole IRA weapons. Does that event cause the Minister concern, and what impact does he expect it to have on the peace process?

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is only too well aware of the increasingly close co-operation that exists between the two Governments in tackling the real threat and menace posed by the Real IRA. It is manifest in the co-operation between the Garda Siochana and the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the other law enforcement agencies. That is the best way in which we can tackle the situation. The message that should be sent by the House—I know that it would be sent by the hon. Gentleman—is that anyone with information about the conduct of those carrying out such acts, whatever the organisation to which they belong, should come forward to give evidence and help bring such people to justice.

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour/Co-operative, North West Leicestershire

Given that the Real IRA has rejected the peace process and will not engage with the de Chastelain commission, should not the United States Government designate it as a proscribed organisation? What action has the Minister taken to bring that about?

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The Government are determined to explore every option available to disrupt the activities of members of the Real IRA who continue to use violence. For that reason, the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have made joint representations to the United States authorities for the Real IRA to be designated under US law. We have submitted information in support of that request.

The decision to designate the Real IRA under anti-terrorist legislation is ultimately a matter for the US authorities, but they have been made aware of the two Governments' strong views.