MPs recalled for anti-terror Bill

Click to follow
The Independent Online
PARLIAMENT IS to be recalled next week to pass new anti- terror laws aimed at taking IRA renegades off the streets in response to the Omagh bomb massacre.

The Prime Minister will fly from his holiday in France to Northern Ireland today to announce the Government's plans to rush through a short Bill to enable the prosecution of those accused of belonging to illegal organisations on the evidence of a single police officer without corroboration.

The Speaker of the Commons, Betty Boothroyd, was expected to make the formal decision last night to recall Parliament, and it is likely MPs will be ordered to break short their holidays to return on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Lords will also be summoned back to approve the legislation, which is likely to become an Act by the end of the week. It will back up the promises made by Tony Blair and Mo Mowlam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, that the known terrorists behind the Real IRA, including a former quartermaster for the Provisional IRA, will be "taken off the streets". It will also help to answer those who criticised Mr Blair for his weekend remarks that it would be wrong in a democracy to send in SAS hit squads to deal with the known terrorists.

The move is intended to demonstrate the Government's commitment to crack down on the Real IRA, whose members were made pariahs in Ireland after admitting responsibility for the bombing. The timing will match the action by the Irish Republic, which is recalling the Dail to pass its own anti- terror legislation on Monday and Tuesday next week.

The swift action by both governments will fulfil pledges made by Mr Blair and the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, with whom he has a close working relationship, that those behind the Omagh murders will be given no hiding place.

The arrest and trial of those believed by the security and intelligence services to have planned the bombing will also strengthen the position of Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, and Martin McGuinness, its negotiator, who have condemned the Omagh bombing, but have come under pressure from the loyalists to deliver on decommissioning.

Loyalist leaders have warned that loyalist paramilitaries are growing impatient with the IRA in its various guises from making a full commitment to peace by abandoning the armed struggle. The Omagh bombing may have marked a watershed in movement towards lasting peace, but it has also intensified the pressure on Sinn Fein leaders to act.

Mr Blair will hold talks with all the party leaders to keep up the momentum for peace, and will stay overnight in the Province, before flying to the Republic tomorrow for talks with Mr Ahern.

Police found almost 50 incendiary devices on land close to a housing estate in the border town of Dundalk. They were thought to have been dumped by breakaway republican paramilitary factions believed to be based in the area. They were made safe by Irish Army bomb disposal experts.

Omagh shops reopen, page 4

Comments