Bar on Ford discussing terrorism ‘ridiculous’
The Assembly has been told it is “ridiculous” that Justice Minister David Ford cannot talk to his Irish counterpart about the dissident republican threat at inter-governmental meetings.
The claim came as Mr Ford told MLAs he met Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern a fortnight ago under the auspices of an inter-governmental agreement on criminal justice co-operation which does not include terrorism. SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said the rules of inter-governmental contact should be changed so that the “greatest threat that affects both jurisdictions in Ireland” can be discussed.
His criticism came after Lord Morrow, chairman of the Assembly’s justice scrutiny committee, said he was disappointed Mr Ford’s statement had not mentioned the dissident threat “that seems to be escalating virtually on a daily basis”.
“Will the minister assure us that he is concerned about the escalation of that threat and that his department will take all and any new initiatives that need to be taken to curtail it?,” the DUP chairman asked.
Mr Ford replied: “I can assure him that I receive regular briefings from the Chief Constable. I have also had recent meetings with the Garda Commissioner.”
But Mr Maginness retorted: “As an Irish minister in the Assembly, does the minister not think it ridiculous that he cannot speak to another Irish minister about the greatest threat that affects both jurisdictions, which is the threat from the dissident republican movement?”