BBC News

Terror sentence changes will apply to Northern Ireland

By Julian O'Neill
BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent

image copyrightReuters
image captionLegislation was brought to Westminster after a man who had recently been freed from prison attacked people in south London

The DUP and Ulster Unionists have welcomed confirmation that the government will use its power to include NI in recent legislation on the sentencing around terrorist offences.

The move overrides approval being blocked by executive disagreement.

The legislation stipulates two-thirds of a custodial sentence must be served before parole is considered.

The Ministry of Justice in London said it wanted a unified approach to sentencing arrangements.

The bill was introduced in response to an Islamist-related terrorist incident in London last January.

The attacker, Sudesh Amman, had been freed from prison 10 days earlier.

In October, Stormont's Justice Minister Naomi long told the government there was no consensus to bring forward a Legislative Consent Motion giving approval to Northern Ireland's inclusion.

However, the government has chosen to bypass Stormont over the content of its Counter Terrorism and Sentencing Bill.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson said: "It would have been preferable had a motion been brought and passed by the assembly, but these are excepted matters and it is right the government will ensure Northern Ireland is covered by this legislation.

"Ensuring that serious and dangerous terrorist offenders spend longer in custody is something which no sensible person could argue against."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie claimed Mrs Long had a part to play in the government having to act.

He said: "The justice minister needs to explain why she initially supported this bill, then tried to dilute it and finally sought to stop this happening."

Related Topics

  • Criminal justice system
  • Northern Ireland Assembly

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