The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson and Upper Bann MLA, Doug Beattie MC, has called on the UK Government to rethink its policy whereby Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK where emergency legislation to block terrorists being automatically freed from jail will not apply.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“I simply cannot accept the idea that the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill should not apply in Northern Ireland.
“Quite simply, a terrorist attack in Belfast — or anywhere else in Northern Ireland — should be treated as seriously as a terrorist attack in Manchester or London. This part of the United Kingdom is not immune to global terrorist attack; in fact, we may find ourselves, being the frontier to the European Union, as the soft underbelly of the United Kingdom.
“The same penalties should be available UK-wide for those who seek to attack our people and our way of life, in any part of our country.
“Terrorism is no less dangerous in Northern Ireland, no less illegal in Northern Ireland and the penalties should be no less severe in Northern Ireland. The Government needs to think again.
“I note that a Government spokesperson is quoted as saying, “This bill would not achieve its intended effect if applied to Northern Ireland. We are working cross-government to consider provisions in the upcoming Counter Terrorism Bill that would work for Northern Ireland.’
“The Northern Ireland Justice Minister needs to step up and ensure that terrorist attacks on the people of Northern Ireland are treated as seriously by the justice system as attacks elsewhere in the United Kingdom.”