THE Irish Prime Minister further increased pressure on the Government yesterday by asserting that the republic would exercise its right under the Anglo-Irish agreement to be consulted over any plans to establish a Commons select committee on Northern Ireland affairs.
Albert Reynolds' warning followed a similar statement by Dick Spring, the foreign minister, less than 24 hours earlier. But Tony Newton, Leader of the House, told MPs that the Government would continue to keep the idea of a select committee under review. A left-wing Labour backbencher, Harry Barnes, had argued that there was a serious case for setting up a select committee to scrutinise matters in Northern Ireland, a procedure which was presently absent. Unionists have also argued for a select committee, but it is now widely believed that their wish will shortly be granted in return for their support of the Government in the Maastricht vote.
Yesterday Mr Reynolds said he accepted 'in good faith' Mr Major's assurances, but continued to demonstrate unease over the matter by voicing fears about future talks between Dublin and London. 'We would be very concerned if any deal were to interfere with the resumption of political talks on Northern Ireland,' he said. But he warned: 'Some people forget that the Anglo-Irish agreement gives the government the right of consultation on Northern Ireland matters. We have the right, and we will insist on that right.'Reuse content