Terrorism Act renewed for another 12 months

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Indy Politics
The Government is to renew the Prevention of Terrorism Act in its entirety including its powers of exclusion, Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, said yesterday.

The decision comes in spite of the Irish government's repeal of its own Special Powers Act, and statements made by Dick Spring, the Irish foreign minister, that repeal or relaxation of the PTA would make "a considerable contribution" to a climate for progress on the peace talks.

Home Office sources, however, said it was still judged to early to "drop the guard". There had been indications that Mr Howard was considering suspending the exclusion powers while the ceasefire held, but the power will remain, along with the rest of theAct for another 12 months.

Mr Howard's announcement was greeted with disappointment by Labour. Jack Straw, the Home Affairs spokesman said a "thorough and independent" review of the Act, particularly of the exclusion powers which Labour sees as anti-Irish and an "unaccpetable formof internal exile".

Labour has always supported the need for anti-terrorist legislation and will vote against the Act's renewal on Wednesday.

The 10m exclusion orders against alleged Irish terrorists have been lifted since the ceasefire, along with the orders banning the Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness from the mainland.

The Home Office said there had also been a "substantial" reduction in the remaining 74 orders.