UK and Northern Ireland communiqué of 19 August 1969

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UK and Northern Ireland communiqué of 19 August 1969  (1969) 

This is the text of the Downing Street communiqué issued on 19 August 1969 following talks between members of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and members of the Government of Northern Ireland. (Source:The Times’ edition of 20 August 1969.)

A meeting was held at No. 10 Downing Street this evening between the Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Mr. Michael Stewart, the Home Secretary, Mr. James Callaghan. the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. Denis Healey, and the Minister of State at the Home Office, Lord Stonham, and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Major Chichester-Clark, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. J. L. 0. Andrews, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. R. W. Porter, and the Minister of Development, Mr. Brian Faullkner.

In a six-hour discussion the whole situation in Northern Ireland was reviewed. It was agreed that the G.O.C. Northern Ireland will with immediate effect assume overall responsibility for security operations. He will continue to be responsible directly to the Ministry of Defence but will work in the closest cooperation with the Northern Ireland Government and the Inspector-General of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. For all security operations the G.O.C. will have full control of the deployment and tasks of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. For normal police duties outside the field of security the Royal Ulster Constabulary will remain answerable to the Inspector-General who will be responsible to the Northern Ireland Government.

The G.O.C. will assume full command and control of the Ulster Special Constabulary for all purposes including their organization, deployment, tasks and arms. Their employment by the Northern Ireland Government in riot and crowd control was always envisaged as a purely temporary measure.

With the increased deployment of the Army and the assumption by the G.O.C. of operational control of all the security forces, it will be possible for the Special Constabulary to be progressively and rapidly relieved of these temporary duties at his discretion, starting in the cities. The question of the custody of Special Constabulary arms will similarly be within his discretion. Consideration will be given to the problem of country areas and the defence of vital public service installations.

The Northern Ireland Ministers agreed that an appeal should be made to all members of the public to hand in unauthorized weapons under an amnesty. In order that British troops can be withdrawn from the internal security role at the earliest possible moment the two Governments will discuss as a matter of urgency the future of the civilian security services of Northern Ireland which will take over when the troops withdraw.

Major Chichester-Clark said that it was the intention of the Northern Ireland Government to set up forthwith an impartial investigation into the recent grave public disorders. Further details will be announced very shortly by the Northern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs. The U.K. Ministers proposed and the Northern Ireland Ministers readily agreed that two senior civil servants from London should be temporarily stationed with the Northern Ireland Government in Belfast to represent the increased concern which the U.K. Government had necessarily acquired in Northern Ireland affairs through the commitment of the Armed Forces in the present conditions.

The question of detainees was discussed. The two Governments agreed to a joint declaration on the principles which should govern their future actions.

The Ministers agreed to meet again early in September.