NORTHERN IRELAND – IRA SPY RING – 15 October 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: What exactly does the Secretary of State [Dr John Reid] think that IRA-Sinn Fein intended to do with lists of the home addresses of prison officers and police officers, together with lists of which of them had and had not been issued with firearms for their personal protection? Why does he think that the IRA-Sinn Fein cell responsible for this latest disgraceful episode described the Prime Minister with two words, one of which was "naive"?

[Dr Reid: As someone who always closely considers the evidence, the hon. Gentleman should not believe everything that he reads in the newspaper, although since I am not allowed to reveal any secrets, I cannot contradict anything that he said. On the intentions of the perpetrators of the incident, I cannot prejudge whether the IRA or somebody else was responsible. I can only refer him to the statements that I have been making publicly as well as privately for a considerable time, saying that a ceasefire, even when I judge it in the round to be intact, is not the point. The point is that, if people are on ceasefire but are maintaining a capability in terrorist terms that could be used to break a ceasefire in the long run, they will destroy the confidence that is necessary for power sharing. I think that that answers his question.]

[NOTE: According to press reports, the IRA's code-name for Tony Blair was the "naive idiot".]