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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 March, 2005, 17:19 GMT
Control orders 'could target IRA'
IRA graffiti
The government may use the new orders against the IRA
The government has refused to rule out using its new control orders against members of the IRA.

The controversial detention orders were brought in last week under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The announcement came as the family of Robert McCartney, allegedly murdered by IRA members, met US President George Bush in Washington DC.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the orders had suffered teething problems, but were working.

This week a lawyer alleged there had been chaos in trying to use orders on 10 men thought to be a terror risk.

'Worked well'

Mr Clarke refused to rule out further restrictions for other suspects, while speaking on a visit to Beckenham in Kent.

"Recommendations may be made and if they are made I will make a report to Parliament in the way set out in the legislation," he said.

"The control orders we have approved are for those who were in Belmarsh Prison and they have worked well in that regard," said Mr Clarke.

"There were some teething problems on the first day, which I think have been sorted out," he said.

The control orders replaced detention without trial for 10 men thought to be a terror risk, but who cannot be deported because they might face death in their home countries.

The Conservatives' Northern Ireland spokesman in the Lords, Lord Glentoran, had asked whether the government would introduce the orders in Northern Ireland.

Lords Leader Baroness Amos replied: "The Northern Ireland Secretary has been considering carefully the application of the powers of that Act to Northern Ireland.

"It is, however, an exceptional piece of legislation, aimed at exceptional circumstances, and we would not expect these provisions to be used routinely."

Abu Qatada
Abu Qatada is one of those who has been detained

Lord Glentoran said: "In Northern Ireland you have much more than reasonable suspicion that people, both loyalist and republican, are involved in terrorist gangs that carry out all forms of criminality, including murder."

Liberal Democrat Lord Clifton said there was a perception that terrorists in Northern Ireland were not being pursued as keenly as those in England and Wales.

But Labour's Lord Dubs said: "Just when public opinion in Northern Ireland is moving stronger than ever against terrorism and criminals there, the worst thing we could do would be to give the people who perpetrated these crimes a sense of being victims."

The orders put complex restrictions on movement and access to communications such as phones and the internet.

The 10 included Islamic cleric Abu Qatada.

It has been alleged that detainees could not get through to a helpline set up by the Home Office.

Lawyer Gareth Peirce told BBC News: "There is profound unease at the vagueness and lack of definition.

"One man, this weekend, was genuinely worried that if he went outside to put his dustbin out, that he would be in breach of his order."


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