Taoiseach and Chief Executive joint statement of 16 January 1974
The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Mr Cosgrave, and the Chief Executive member of the Northern Ireland Executive, Mr Brian Faulkner, met at Baldonnel today to review progress being made towards formal ratification of the Sunningdale agreement.
The Chief Executive said that he and his colleagues were anxious to see the full implementation of the Sunningdale package. The assurances on status were an integral and essential part of this. There must be no ambiguity as to the right singular of the people of Norehern Ireland to retain their existlng constitutional status within the Utnited Kingdom as long as they wished to do so. That right had been entrenched In the Northern Ireland Constitution Act, 1973, which had been accepted by all those particpating in the Northern Ireland Executive. Any derogation from it, now or in the future, would undermine the essential basis of the Sunningdale agreement and any machinery established under it.
The Taoiseach and the Chief Executive discussed progress of studies into the possible functions of the Council of Ireland and agreed that these studies, in preparation for the formal conference, should be carried forward, both at ministerial and official level, and completed as soon as possible.
Both the Taoiseach and the Chief Executive welcomed the fact that the Commission on Law Enforcement was meeting in Belfast simultaneously with their own meeting and agreed that it was of the utmost importance that recommendations should be brought forward by the commission as soon as possible to ensure that those who commit crlmes of violence in any part of Ireland are brought to trial whatever their professed motives.
The Taoiseach expressed his satisfaction that the Executive was now in operation, and emphasized that the Executive and assembly, as institutions of government representative of all sections of the Community in Northern Ireland wonld enjoy the wholehearted support of his Government. In particufPar, the Irish Government would join in defending those institutions against violence. There would accordingly be sustained and effective action against all who sought to use any area within the jurisdiction of the Irish Government as a base for acts of violence directed against Northern lreland. As already announced, the strength of the Garda Siochana (police) would be increased as soon as possible by 500 men, and the campaign against men of violence would be continued and, where possible, intensified.
The need for adequate and effective security action on each side of the border was stressed by both men. It was agreed that any threat to the lives or property of tht people in Northern Iretand is a threat to democratic institutions in Ireland as a whole and must be confronted as such. The atmosphere of the meeting was cordial and constructive and both the Taoiseach and the Chief Executive agreed to meet regularly in the future.