A Shifting Legal Durability, 1990–1999
One year following the Good Friday Agreement and 27 years after the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973 was formed, Secretary of State for the Home Department Jack Straw (Lab) addressed the House of Commons, proposing permanent counterterrorism legislation. Straw stated that “a lasting peace in Northern Ireland … would not of itself remove the need for counter-terrorist legislation” because “[t]errorism, and the threat of terrorism from a range of fronts, is likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future” [emphasis added].1 At the beginning of the 1990s, Labour had argued that counterterrorism law was not working,2 but less than ten years later, it was arguing for permanency. By December of that same year, opposition to making these laws permanent continued to be voiced given issues of counter-productive consequence and uncertain effectiveness. As stated by John Wadham in reply to Straw, “anti-terrorism laws have led to some of the worst human rights abuses in this country over the past 25 years, contributed to miscarriages of justice and have led to the unnecessary detention of thousands of innocent people, most of them Irish”, highlighting how “only a tiny percentage of those detained have ever been charged and almost without exception they could have been detained under ordinary criminal laws”.3
KeywordsWorld Trade Center Labour Party Peace Process International Terrorism Official Discourse
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