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Thursday, September 3, 1998 Published at 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK

UK Politics

IRA men 'join new terror group'

"Terrorists will escape law": Lord Molyneaux tells the Lords

IRA terrorists are transferring their membership and weapons to a new body, a former Ulster Unionist leader has warned the government.

Lord Molyneaux said almost 70% of Provisional IRA mechanisms and operations had been switched over to the new organisation, which the intelligence services still had not managed to penetrate.

He was speaking as the Lords debated the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill which was passed by the Commons after an all-night sitting.

[ image: Terrorism warning: Lord Molyneaux]
Terrorism warning: Lord Molyneaux
The Bill aims to make it easier to prosecute members of four proscribed organisations including the Real IRA.

'A deadly threat'

Terrorist bodies would remain operational and retain their capability to extract concessions, Lord Molyneaux said.

He cautioned against referring to the Real IRA as a dissident rump of 90 members, because effective terrorist groups believed they should have no more than 200 members.

"We should take no comfort from the fact that they may be a tiny rump. They can be every bit as deadly as the body to which they formerly belonged," he said.

The new body would become active early next year, he predicted.

So the Bill under debate was not adequate to contain or resist the threat, said Lord Molyneaux.

And he issued a plea to ministers to eliminate "all those who specialise in putting the public in fear by all manner of horrifying methods".

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