Video for suspects' interviews set back

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The IRA bomb blasts in London are likely to delay the ending of special procedures for interviewing terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland, the Government made clear last night.

As the Commons debated moves to introduce silent video recordings of such interviews in the province's holding centres, the Northern Ireland minister, Sir John Wheeler, said the Government hoped soon to see an end to the centres. But, referring to the Docklands bombing and last night's explosion on a London bus, he told MPs: "Alas, I wish I could be sure that would be so in the current circumstances."

Sir John said: "The Government looks forward to a time when all suspects will be interviewed under normal criminal procedures. I say this despite the Provisional IRA's announcement of 9 February [ending the ceasefire], although I acknowledge that, in the light of that announcement and the events that have followed, we may not move to that position quite as soon as we might have hoped."

His comments came in the report stage debate on the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill, which renews Ulster anti-terrorism measures, including powers of internment. Silent video recording of interviews with terrorist suspects, Sir John said, would enhance safeguards for those detained.

Tony Worthington, for Labour, welcomed the move to introduce the video- recording of interviews. The use of video cameras was backed also by the Democratic Unionist, Rev William McCrea. He said terrorist suspects at present could bang their heads against the wall and then claim they were assaulted by the police.