Dublin to close IRA loophole in extradition law: Possession of automatic weapons and explosives poised to lose exemptions as political offences

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Indy Politics
A BILL to close legal loopholes that have allowed IRA suspects to escape extradition will go before the Dail in the present session, Maire Geoghegan

Quinn, the Irish justice minister, pledged yesterday.

Speaking after yesterday's Anglo- Irish Conference in Dublin, she said the measures to end exemptions that held possession of automatic weapons and explosives to be political offences have now been finalised and are being circulated to Cabinet ministers.

Dick Spring, the Irish foreign affairs minister, rejected suggestions that Dublin was being marginalised in the proposed blueprint for resumed dialogue planned by Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

In a recent speech, Sir Patrick played down Dublin's likely influence in any new initiative, apparently to mollify alienated Unionist opinion. Mr Spring said 'a very high level of input' from both governments was going into the peace process.

Signalling that issues affecting nationalists should not be given a lower priority, Mr Spring emphasised that any new dialogue would have to be 'carefully balanced' to take account of both communities' interests.

Mr Spring said he doubted if last week's Northern Ireland local elections would have any great effect on the prospects for opening new talks. He gave tacit endorsement to the recent dialogue between John Hume, the SDLP leader, and Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein President. Of Sinn Fein, he said: 'They know what they have to do to be part of the process. I believe he (Mr Hume) is trying to get these people into the peace process by ending the violence, and I hope he succeeds in that.'

Sir Patrick said he would consult Dublin on the issues underpinning his planned blueprint for resumed inter-party talks. But he insisted the initiative itself would be a British one, rather than a joint set of proposals from the two governments.

In a cautious presentation, he indicated any resumed dialogue would at first involve private contacts between the Northern parties.

He indicated he was ready to be flexible in the face of the stated refusal of the Rev Ian Paisley, the DUP leader, to take part in new talks until Dublin moves to end the territorial claim over Northern Ireland in its constitution. 'I don't feel bound by who may be present on particular occasions,' he said. It was the British view that talks should proceed on the planned three strands of relationships - between leaders in the province, between the two governments and between Dublin and Northern parties.

During yesterday's discussions, Sir Patrick said co-operation between the Irish and British police forces had never been at a higher level.