§ 8. Mr. Goodlad
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next expects to meet the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ireland.
§ Mr. Goodlad
When the right hon. Gentleman next meets the Irish Foreign Minister will he raise again with him the failure of the Government of the Republic to sign and ratify the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism? Will he emphasise, in the friendliest possible spirit, the great importance attached to this matter in this country as an index of the genuine and total commitment of the Government of 1171 the Republic to the fight against terrorism?
§ Mr. Mason
I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman mentioned the latter point. He knows that the Government of the Republic have reiterated quite strongly that they have a 100 per cent. political commitment to the fight against terrorism. As for the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, the Government of the Republic know full well the views of Her Majesty's Government—indeed, the views of many hon. Members in this House. They were aware of what was said during the passage through this House of the antiterrorist legislation. I do not think that any reiteration is needed.
§ Mr. Gow
Does not the common interest of the Republic and the United Kingdom require that we should continue with our representations to the Government of the Republic to the effect that a redefinition of a political offence for extradition purposes is overdue and also that the signature of the Republic to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism is likewise long overdue?
§ Mr. Mason
I agree with the latter point made by the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that the Government of the Republic are aware of the point, too. We must recognise, not just with the Irish Republic but with every member of the Council of Europe which has decided to go ahead and sign this convention, that it has to be signed—as it was signed by Her Majesty's Government—without reservations.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
While I appreciate the efforts of the Irish police against what the Taoiseach acknowledges to be a common enemy, may I ask that when a Northern Ireland or Foreign Office Minister next sees Mr. O'Kennedy he will ask him why and when he reversed his opinion of February 1977, based on the opinion of constitutional lawyers, that there was no objection, on the basis of the Irish constitution, to Dublin signing the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism?