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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 16:53 GMT
IRA 'sleepers in top positions'
Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird
UUP peer Lord Laird said the IRA had spies in the establishment
IRA "sleepers" have influence in high places in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird has claimed.

He was speaking during a Lords debate on extending powers such as non-jury Diplock trials until 31 July 2007.

Lord Laird said the Terrorism (Northern Ireland) Bill should have included measures to confront "the new threat of white collar terrorism".

He said the IRA and Sinn Fein had been infiltrating the media for decades.

"This can be seen in the highly negative reaction in sections of the southern media against the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, when he outed and denounced Frank Connolly, one of the Republic's most prominent journalists, as an IRA fellow traveller.


"Gerry Adams said recently that all British and Irish government spies in the IRA/Sinn Fein must be removed. I say to him, 'What about the IRA/Sinn Fein spies in the establishment?'"

He was speaking during the second reading of the Terrorism (Northern Ireland) Bill which extends to 31 July 2007, part seven of the Terrorism Act 2000, with an option to extend the provisions for only a year after that.

Northern Ireland Minister Lord Rooker said the Bill repealed some of the measures no longer required in Northern Ireland.

He said the security situation had "improved significantly" since 28 July, when the IRA ordered an end to its armed campaign in order to pursue exclusively peaceful means.

"If the security situation does not support it, normalisation and the repeal of part seven provisions will not go ahead," he added.

The Bill was given an unopposed second reading.

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