Doug Beattie: GB terrorist release law should also apply to NI

Doug Beattie MC MLA.
Doug Beattie MC MLA.

UUP justice spokesman Doug Beattie has called on the government to rethink making Northern Ireland the only part of the UK where legislation to block terrorists being automatically freed from jail will not apply.

Mr Beattie 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.”

The same penalties should be available UK-wide for those who seek to attack “our people and our way of life” he said, “in any part of our country”.

The MLA noted that a government spokesperson was 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.”

Mr Beattie responded by calling on Justice Minister Naomi Long to “step up” and ensure that terrorist attacks on Northern Ireland are treated “as seriously” as attacks elsewhere in the UK.

Meanwhile, DUP MP Ian Paisley said that his party’s campaign against Stormont House Agreement legacy provisions is making good progress.

“The vexed issue is around this provision of ‘non-criminal police misconduct’ which could see former, even deceased, officers put in the dock for minor mistakes during investigations,” he said.

But Mr Beattie accused him of hypocrisy, saying the UUP opposed the proposals from the start, which had been jointly proposed by Sinn Fein and the DUP.