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Dilemmas of terror

There are two approaches to counter-terrorism in Britain—the judicial track, emphasising evidence and due process; and the secret service track, which focuses on intelligence. How does today's terrorist threat affect the balance between the two?

By Conor Gearty   October 2007

In the darkest days of the Northern Ireland conflict, when British and Irish officials barely spoke to each other and politicians in the province paraded their enmity to the world as part of their vote-catching appeal, a group of academics, journalists and businesspeople created a parallel universe in which genuine debate was possible. Protected from the noise outside by rules of confidentiality, the British-Irish Association’s annual conference in an Oxford or Cambridge college may even have helped to change the political tone in Northern Ireland.

With a new terrorism risk arising from political Islam, many of the factors which distorted…

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