Tony Benn on his long standing call for British troops to leave Northern Ireland.

Londoner Tony Benn was first elected as a MP to the House of Commons in 1950 at the age of twenty five.

He served as a Minister in the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the 1960s and 1970s.

Widely regarded as the leading left-wing campaigner in the Labour Party.

Tony Benn talks about his campaign to have British troops removed from Northern Ireland and disputes claims that this would result in civil war and carnage.

It's too convenient to imply that the British are so sensible and the Irish are so stupid that if you go out they'd fight each other. On what basis would people want to kill each other?

He goes on to say that there is a British problem in Ireland and not an Irish problem in the United Kingdom. Understanding this makes it clear to him that the troops are not present in Northern Ireland to protect communities but rather for defence reasons.

Why should you have another generation of British politicians who've got the answer to Ireland?

Tony Benn believes the collapse of the Berlin Wall will have profound parallel implications for Ireland. While he is not implying that Ireland will necessarily reunify, he does not believe there will be scope for Russian troops in East Germany or British troops in Northern Ireland.

While not happy about Britain's role in Ireland, Tony Benn feels no personal guilt and has always defended the Irish right to self-determination.

I think the British record in Ireland is a hideous record.

This episode of 'Hanly's People' was broadcast on 10 December 1989. The presenter is David Hanly.