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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Crackdown on terror?
BBC Breakfast with Frost, Sunday, 17 April, 2005

Sir Ian Blair
Sir Ian Blair, Metropolitan Police Commissioner

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, told Sir David that Britain is being targeted by al-Qaida and needs new legislation to crack down on terrorist conspiracies.

He also urged "further consideration" of whether to introduce compulsory ID cards, which he said could be used to help track terror suspects.

Sir Ian Blair said cases like that of Algerian asylum-seeker Kamel Bourgass, jailed this week for plotting to spread the deadly toxin ricin on behalf of al-Qaida, showed "there's a real clarity now that al-Qaida affiliates are targeting Britain."

He continued "I think we are going to have to just look again to see whether there is some other legislation around acts preparatory to terrorism, or something of that nature - that is what we have to do".

Asked if he would like to see legislation on identity cards reintroduced after the 5 May 2005 General Election, Sir Ian said that this should be considered.

"I was not particularly keen on ID cards until recently - until I began to understand the way in which identity theft is carried out, and the fact that what you and I and many of the viewers would recognize as forgery just does not exist any more".

Draft legislation to introduce identity cards was scrapped when Parliament was stood down ahead of the national election.

Centre ground

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble called for the creation of a cross-community administration in Northern Ireland based on the "centrist" parties from the unionist and nationalist communities.

Mr Trimble urged voters to "reinvigorate" the centre by backing his own Ulster Unionist Party and the nationalist SDLP - in the General Election.

He said that the "extremes" of Sinn Fein and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists (DUP) - the two biggest parties in the last Assembly elections - had failed to deliver agreement and should be consigned to a period of opposition.

"I think it would be much better now to let the parties and the extremes have a bit of time in opposition where they can sort themselves out".

He continued "I think you could have a cross-community administration based on the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP. I think that trying to have a cross-community administration that brings in every party isn't going to work in the present circumstances.

What we want to see in this election is whether people are prepared to vote for that or are they going to, as it were, endorse the extremes and reinforce stalemate."

No settlement

The SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, told Sir David that Sinn Fein and DUP could not produce a political settlement. "We will not get to destination progress with a Sinn Fein-DUP ticket," he said.

He said that any restoration of power sharing had to be on a fully inclusive basis - based on the principles of the Good Friday Agreement - with no parties excluded.

"What we need to do is start on the basis of restoring the institutions and then testing where the parties actually stand - who is up for what - and flush everybody out," he said.

Frances Edmonds and Peter Kellner
Newspapers reviewed by Frances Edmonds and Peter Kellner

"I think the way forward is actually back to the agreement. I think trying to do things without parties or against parties does not work.

"We have to go forward on an inclusive basis."

The newspapers were reviewed by the writer and broadcaster Frances Edmunds and the political journalist Peter Kellner.

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