National Security Protocols

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 24th March 2010.

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Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady Social Democratic and Labour Party, South Down 11:30 am, 24th March 2010

What recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the national security protocols to be used after the devolution of policing and justice matters.

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Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I have discussed the national security protocol with a range of individuals and organisations in Northern Ireland. The current text addresses a number of concerns raised in those discussions.

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Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady Social Democratic and Labour Party, South Down

I thank the Secretary of State for his reply. The intelligence services withheld information from the investigation into the tragedy of the Omagh bombing, and allegations have recently been made about the intelligence services' role in the death of Kieran Doherty in Derry. What further discussions will he have with the Northern Ireland Executive to prevent such things from happening and to facilitate future investigations? He told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that it would become more likely that the intelligence services would co-operate, but more likely is not good enough.

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Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I am sure that the House will want to pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, who has been an assiduous Member of Parliament for 23 years and was a founding member of his party. We wish him well in the future.

I am of course considering the Select Committee's report, but I remind the House that Sir Peter Gibson published his report last year and that after he examined the information available on the day, he concluded that

"to the extent that any relevant intelligence was derived from interception, it was shared with RUC...and Special Branch South promptly and fully".

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Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP, Belfast East

I join the Secretary of State in paying tribute to Mr. McGrady, who has always been an assiduous and hard-working Member of Parliament.

Does the Secretary of State recall that, alongside discussions with the Executive about the national security protocols, there was consideration of finance and other related matters, including the transfer of four military sites? Will he use his influence to ensure that the promise given by the Prime Minister is not broken by the Ministry of Defence, which is trying to hold on to elements of those sites?

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Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

The right hon. Gentleman knows that the bases are being transferred to the Executive as part of the generous devolution package that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I agreed at Hillsborough castle. There are, of course, outstanding points of detail in relation to those bases, but I am confident that they will be solved to everyone's satisfaction. [ Interruption. ]

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