Controversial proposals to use new scientific developments to identify terrorists in Northern Ireland.

There has been criticism of the British decision to empower the RUC police in Northern Ireland to take swabs from the mouths of terrorist suspects without their permission.

The controversy comes on the back of a new scientific discovery which is said to be even better than fingerprinting. DNA fingerprinting can be used to settle disputes about identification, paternity or to identify criminals.

Previously, examination of saliva, blood, semen or human tissue could only indicate the probability of their having come from a particular person. Now, however, certain marks can be detected in the genetic structure of human cells, marks which say scientists are as unique to each individual as fingerprints.

Dr Peter Humphreys of Trinity College Dublin says that the new scientific development can detect the individual genetic makeup of every individual. 

Now using DNA technology, using DNA probes, we can actually distinguish the genetic material of each individual.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 17 June 1988. The reporter is Tom McCaughren.