Examination of Witnesses

Part of Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 25th June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Les Allamby:

Yes, Conor, I do think that there is a risk here. The number of offenders in Northern Ireland who are likely to be affected by moving to a two-thirds sentence is relatively small, but almost all of them, if not all of them—I do not have the figures in front of me, but it is certainly the vast majority—are people who will have been involved in what I might call Northern Irish-based terror activity.

Therefore, we have a small number of loyalists and dissident republicans in prison, some of whom have breached their licence conditions under the Good Friday agreement and have gone back into prison to serve the rest of their sentence, and others who have committed more contemporary crimes, often more around dissident republicanism or euphemistically “ordinary decent crime”, as it used to be called during the troubles, and people might be surprised to learn that we used to have ordinary decent criminals, and others.

In my view, what that means is that if you say to dissident republicans, possibly, and loyalists that they were going to spend x time in prison and it is now going to be y time, you will create the conditions for a sense of grievance and cause célèbres, of which we have seen plenty of examples. So, that is the downside of doing this, against—