Sunday, 19 October 2008

Collapse of Northern Bank trial and the devolution of policing and justice

Sinn Fein South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has stated that the collapse of the Northern Bank robbery trial highlights the need for "democratic local accountability over not just policing, but all aspects of the criminal justice system who came together to drive forward this bogus prosecution". He further added that “the transfer of these matters will mean proper scrutiny of the workings of these institutions and individuals, ensuring in future prosecutions take place on the basis of evidence and not because of the needs of any particular political agenda”.

This undoubtedly made good copy for him in the local media however any idea that devolution of policing and justice would prevent the Public Prosecution Service from making questionable decisions is wide of the mark. Indeed if we reached a situation where decisions about who is to be or who is not to be prosecuted are regularly referred to the Executive, public confidence in the Assembly and devolution in general would collapse.

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