Irish Republican News · May 29, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
NIO plot to renege on stop and search powers

British officials have proposed deploying special ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation across England, Scotland and Wales in an attempt to retain the repressive measures in Ireland.

The abolition of stop and question powers in the North was a British commitment as part of the peace process, but officials in the Northern Ireland Office want to retain them.

Labour chairwoman Hazel Blears told Sky News: “What I understand is that the request has come from the Northern Ireland Office because they have the powers, they want to be able to carry on using them, they find them useful.”

Under the powers, anyone who refuses to give their name or explain what they were doing can be charged with obstructing the PSNI and fined up to five thousands pounds sterling.

26-County Taoiseach Ahern said it would be a shame if the laws were not relaxed in the North as expected, while Northern Secretary Peter Hain warned that extending the laws was “the domestic equivalent of Guantanamo Bay”.

Hain said that the new powers could resurrect the old ‘sus’ laws, which were used in a racist manner and fuelled England’s inner city riots of the 1980s.

He said: “We cannot have a reincarnation of the old `sus’ laws under which mostly black people, ethnic minorities, were stopped on sight.

“That created a really bad atmosphere and an erosion of civil liberties.

“We have got to be very clear in balancing civil liberties and protecting people’s security.”

Jane Winter, director of British-Irish Rights Watch, said the legislation represented “one of the most significant moves on civil liberties [in Britain] since the Second World War.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2007 Irish Republican News