Anti-paramilitarism report recommends justice system reforms



The three-person panel appointed to develop an anti-paramilitarism strategy for Northern Ireland has published their final report.

The Fresh Start panel report on the disbandment of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland was presented to the Northern Ireland Executive.

The report contains 43 proposals, including a recommendation that “the UK and Irish Governments should consider a mechanism being put in place for a limited time to deal with any requests for future decommissioning of residual weapons or materiel”.

It also makes a series of recommendations for further reform of Northern Ireland’s criminal justice system.

The report says the Department should bring forward draft legislation to further reform committal proceedings to remove the need for oral evidence before trial, and use measures already available to abolish committal proceedings in respect of those offences most frequently linked to paramilitaries and organised crime groups.

It also says the Department of Justice, the Courts Service and the Public Prosecution Service should implement the case management improvements piloted in the Ards area throughout Northern Ireland, particularly in respect of terrorism or serious organised crime offences.

It recommends a review of “the position regarding bail in respect of serious offences”.

Finally, it says there should be an “appropriate mechanism” in place to enable the Director of Public Prosecutions to refer sentences he believes to be unduly lenient, particularly those linked to terrorism and organised crime.