Brian Hanley
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‘Are we trying to create a new Chile here?’
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In September 1976, the Sunday World reacted to new security legislation by asking 'are we trying to create a new Chile here?'. The government had just declared that 'arising out of the armed conflict now taking place in Northern Ireland, a National Emergency exists affecting the vital interests of the State'. New laws allowing for seven-day detention on 'reasonable suspicion' and permitting the Army to make arrests in certain circumstances were introduced. Between 1972 and 1980, there were 8,105 arrests under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act; 1,545 people were charged. The atmosphere was such that even small left-wing groups advised their members that they should 'stop talking too loud in pubs', treat all 'phones with caution' and guard internal documents carefully. Emergency legislation was even used to arrest activists protesting about censorship of feminist literature.

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