§ 4. Mr. Skinner
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what further discussions he has had about the Anglo-Irish Agreement; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Brooke)
Both the United Kingdom and the Irish Governments remain committed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which provides a valuable framework within which they can discuss issues of mutual interest and concern. However, in the context of any discussions on possible future arrangements for the government of Northern Ireland, I would give serious consideration to any implications for the agreement that such arrangements might have.
§ Mr. Skinner
Is not the truth of the matter that the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which was brought in before the previous general election, has turned out to be nothing more than a house of cards? The Government, along with some others, are trying to find another type of superstructure before the next general election, as many Governments have done for the past 20 years. If the Government and other parties can cheer the collapse of the Berlin wall, it is high time that we got rid of the border and brought out the British troops.
§ Mr. Brooke
As I remarked at a previous Question Time, the views expressed in the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question do not enjoy widespread support in the House.
§ Mr. Gow
Is my right hon. Friend beginning to understand that whose who are best able to represent nationalists in Northern Ireland are those who have been elected as their representatives to this House rather than the Government of that only foreign power whose constitution lays claim to Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. Brooke
In answer to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), I gave the Government's attitude to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I am sure that I am joined by the rest of the House in paying tribute to those in the House who represent the nationalist community in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Maginnis
Since the Dublin Supreme Court has found in the case of McGimpsey and McGimpsey v. Ireland that the Anglo-Irish Agreement is complementary to the territorial claim enshrined in articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution, is the Secretary of State surprised to discover that the Dublin Government have vetoed his political initiative? Is not it the case that the Irish Republic has a constitutional imperative to be obstructive when there is any chance of acknowledging that Ulster Unionists should have a right or rights?
§ Mr. Brooke
No one has vetoed the initiative on which we are engaged, although I acknowledge that it is within the power of anybody to slow progress. It was said of the great cricketer, Denis Compton, that when he called someone for a run it was not so much an instruction as the opening of negotiations. In order to secure the opening of negotiations, it is not within my power simply to give an instruction.