Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Northern Security Forces.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will state the occasions since the Hillsborough Agreement when he has requested a report from the British Government about incidents involving the Northern security forces; whether he has received such reports; whether he is satisfied with them; and the further action, if any, he proposes to take in relation to them.

The Intergovernmental Conference established under the Anglo-Irish Agreement enables the Irish Government to express views and to request information on a range of issues, including security policy and relations between the security forces and the community.

As the Deputy has already been informed, however, it is not our practice to provide details regarding exchanges which have taken place, or are likely to take place, within the framework of the Intergovernmental Conference.

Can the Minister tell the House whether at the very recent meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference this matter came up for discussion?

I obviously cannot do that, if the Deputy listened to the reply which I gave and to what the Taoiseach said——

In general terms.

I cannot. I said we would not discuss details of anything that has taken place or is likely to take place. The Deputy has asked particular questions about incidents involving the Northern Ireland security forces.

I can appreciate the Minister not being willing to discuss details in the House about what happened at Intergovernmental Conference meetings, but surely in broad principle the Minister could indicate whether matters of this kind were discussed, because otherwise the Intergovernmental Conference is a meaningless institution. Matters of grave import, such as the attitude of the security forces in the Six Counties during the recent demonstrations, and matters, such as the Cookstown incident where a UDR patrol shot at two citizens for no reason, should be dealt with in the Conference. Unless the Conference deals with that sort of problem it is a meaningless institution. It is in the area of getting respect for the rule of law that the primary task of the Intergovernmental Confernece lies. Would the Minister go so far as to say that he would regard it as a matter of paramount importance for the Conference to ensure that there is respect for the rule of law and the handling by the security forces of law and order in Northern Ireland? That is a fundamental consideration within the ambit of this Conference.

Article 7 (c) says precisely what the Deputy is saying. This was made clear in the communique issued after the meeting before yesterday's. We stated that it would be discussed at future meetings of the conference. The communique issued yesterday stated that these matters had been discussed. Therefore, the answer is "yes". The Deputy should read the agreement sometime. It is very interesting.

I have read it in great detail.

Not with enough attention, I am afraid.

Who prepared the agenda?