Cross-border Security

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp Conservative, Croydon South 12:00 am, 13th September 2017

What recent discussions he has had with the Irish Government on cross-border security.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

The UK Government have regular discussions with the Irish Government on a range of issues, including cross-border security. We work closely together to tackle security challenges and keep people on both sides of the border safe.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp Conservative, Croydon South

Does my hon. Friend agree that, as we leave the European Union, close co-operation with the Government of Ireland on security will be extremely important? Can she assure the House that that will be a top priority in the coming negotiations?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

Yes—in short, I certainly can. Co-operation with the Irish authorities is already strong. We wish to see that continue. If I may, I will take this opportunity to commend the security services and police on both sides of the border for all that they do to keep individuals safe.

Photo of Jeffrey M. Donaldson Jeffrey M. Donaldson DUP Chief Whip, Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business in the House of Commons)

The Minister will be aware of the security assessment that the New IRA represents a very real and present threat to security. What discussions have the Government had with their Irish counterparts about that organisation?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

Obviously, it is not possible to comment on specific assessments and security matters at this moment, but as I said in my previous response, co-operation is very strong across all security matters. We wish to see it continue that way in order to keep people on both sides of the border safe not only from the scourge of terrorism, but from cross-border crime where that is relevant, too.

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)

I am grateful to the Minister for her response and I am sure she will join my hon. Friend Owen Smith and me in welcoming Adrian O’Neill, Ireland’s newly appointed ambassador, to London. Will she also speak to Dublin about how it, as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday agreement, can assist in moving the peace process forward? I very much welcome the spirit of her words.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

There has been close co-operation with the Irish Government every step of the way in seeking to re-establish the devolved Government, which is a common and shared priority. As the hon. Gentleman has said, that spirit is shared not only by Members on both sides of the House, but by the Governments. I am clear, however, that the UK Government have the specific responsibility of delivering public services and good governance in Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. We act consistently in accordance with our obligations under the Belfast agreement and we are not looking for any principle that might be inconsistent with that agreement.