The Senate is expected to ratify a treaty today that would make it easier for Britain to extradite members of the outlawed Irish Republican Army and would end a stalemate that has lasted for more than a year.
Under the treaty, those accused of violent crimes such as murder and kidnaping would no longer be allowed to avoid extradition to Britain by claiming that their crimes were politically motivated.
As debate began Wednesday, proponents of the treaty said they expect to have the necessary two-thirds majority for approval when the treaty comes up for a final vote today. The Senate easily defeated efforts to attach two amendments that would have weakened its provisions.
The first amendment, which was rejected on a 65-33 vote, would have prevented extradition of individuals whose return already had been reviewed and denied by a court. The second, tabled on an 87 to 9 vote, would have prevented extradition of those who had directed violence at military officials, but not civilians, as part of an uprising against a government.
"In a democracy such as the United Kingdom, violence should never be deemed an acceptable part of the political process," Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said.
The Reagan Administration and Britain had claimed that the treaty, which the two governments signed last year, was necessary to discourage terrorism. Opponents--including civil libertarian and Irish-American groups--had argued that it goes against a U.S. tradition of offering sanctuary to those who would suffer persecution for rebelling against their governments.
Lugar Forged Compromise
The version of the treaty before the Senate is a compromise pieced together by Lugar. It would allow U.S. courts to deny extradition if a judge determined that the accused would be denied a fair trial on the basis of race, religion, nationality or political opinions.
In addition, the Senate is expected to approve legislation--separate from the treaty, but linked to it politically--that would provide a $20-million U.S. contribution to an international economic aid fund for Northern Ireland.
The fund was established to smooth the way for implementation of a landmark agreement reached last November between Britain and the Republic of Ireland. The accord, which has generated violent opposition in Ulster, gives Dublin a consultative voice in the affairs of Northern Ireland for the first time since the British partition of Ireland more than 60 years ago.