Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland paramilitary assessment panel named

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Media captionLord Carlile of Berriew QC, Rosalie Flanagan and Stephen Shaw QC have been appointed

The names of the panel members who will oversee an independent assessment of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland have been announced.

They are Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, Rosalie Flanagan and Stephen Shaw QC.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said they would bring "rigour, integrity and independence" to the job.

The panel has been set up to help address a crisis at Stormont, sparked by a police assessment that IRA members were involved in a murder last month.

Kevin McGuigan Sr was shot dead close to his home in east Belfast on 12 August.

The murder investigation resulted in a breakdown of trust between unionist and republican politicians at Stormont.

Does Northern Ireland need a new body to provide paramilitary assessment?

Last Friday, Ms Villiers announced that the government had commissioned an independent assessment of paramilitary groups.

The panel will assess the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland.

Their report will be published in mid-October and will be used to inform parties at Northern Ireland's political talks.

The story of Stormont's crisis

  • Stormont's political upheaval was sparked by allegations that Provisional IRA members were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan Sr
  • Row erupted after a senior Sinn Féin member was arrested as part of the inquiry into Mr McGuigan's death. He was later released without charge
  • Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson stepped aside; all but one of his Democratic Unionist Party ministers resigned
  • Finance Minister Arlene Foster is now acting first minister

Read more on how the crisis unfolded

Lord Carlile has been the independent reviewer of national security arrangements in Northern Ireland since 2007.

He is a practising barrister and a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

Ms Flanagan has held a number of top posts in the civil service at Stormont, and worked in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister from 2002 until 2010.

Mr Shaw is a senior barrister who has acted for local and central government as well as private firms and public companies, specialising in commercial and public law work.

In a statement, Ms Villiers said: "I am very grateful to each of the reviewers for agreeing to take on this important work.

"They are all highly respected individuals. I am confident that they will bring rigour, integrity and independence to this important task."

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy said the panel was unnecessary.

"Nothing and no one can be allowed a veto over the democratic process. Sinn Féin is in government on the basis of our electoral mandate," he said.

However, the DUP's Arlene Foster said she was pleased the panel had been appointed.

"We think it'll be a fuller assessment than we've had thus far and hopefully it will be helpful to the process," she said.

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