Ministerial Meetings

Northern Ireland written question – answered on 4th February 2004.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the recent meeting between the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office and the Ulster Political Research Group.

Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The Government have always said that we will work with those who want to engage in democratic politics. At our recent meeting I recognised the constructive approach of the UPRG but made clear that the many social and economic problems affecting loyalist working class areas cannot be tackled effectively against a background of widespread and continuing paramilitary activity. Attacks on prison officers' homes; hoax bombs at schools and elsewhere in the city; and involvement in drugs and organised crime are totally unacceptable. I also made clear, regarding Maghaberry, that we are working with the Prison Service to develop a safe regime for prisoners and prison officers, but that control of the prison by prison staff would be maintained at all times.

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