Blair backs Dublin terror crackdown

Ulster bombing: PM may recall Commons for anti-terrorist measures as a family describes the consequences of the blast
Click to follow
The Independent Online
NORTHERN IRELAND laid to rest the last of the 28 Omagh dead yesterday as Tony Blair promised to match the urgency of the Irish government in putting in place new anti- terrorist measures.

Speaking from France about the Omagh bombers, the Prime Minister said he and the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, were absolutely clear "that these people will be dealt with and taken off the streets". He added that complex technical and legal details were being addressed.

Downing Street said last night that Parliament could be recalled to rush through tougher security measures, if required.

Mr Blair's pledge came as police revealed that they had traced the final movements of the car used to transport the 500lb bomb. Two men were seen getting out of the stolen maroon Vauxhall Cavalier, which was abandoned in Market Street in the town, at least 40 minutes before the device went off at 3.10pm.

The Irish government announced on Wednesday that the Dail is to be recalled in two weeks' time to put through what Mr Ahern described as a package of "extremely draconian" new laws in the wake of the Omagh atrocity.

The new measures are to include restrictions on suspects' right to silence and the confiscation of land where paramilitary equipment is found. Other new offences include those of directing an unlawful organisation, possessing items for purposes connected with firearms and explosives offences, and withholding information.

Since most of these are already on the British statute book, the concentration in London appears to be on making charges of membership of an illegal organisation easier to prove in court. The Government is said to be examining whether this could be done without the need for passing new legislation.

A Whitehall source said last night: "We are going to strengthen the measures to make convictions easier. We want to move in step with the Irish government. There are complex legal issues which are having to be addressed. If we need parliamentary legislation, we will want to move quickly."

The House of Commons is not due to return from its summer recess until 19 October, but the Prime Minister's Office is not ruling out a recall of Parliament next month.

There is no doubt that public opinion in both parts of Ireland would not only accept but warmly welcome almost any new legal measures, with the possible exception of internment without trial.

Meanwhile, Bernadette Sands-McKevitt, partner ofMichael McKevitt, the reputed leader of the Real IRA - which was responsible for the Omagh bombing - has been refused a United States entry visa.

She had planned a visit next month to promote the objections of her 32 County Sovereignty Committee, which is regarded as the Real IRA's political front.

Comments