Responding to the publication of a report by the Houses of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee in relation to terrorism in Northern Ireland, East Belfast MP and DUP Home Affairs spokesperson Gavin Robinson said:
“This report provides a sobering assessment of the continuing threat of terrorism in Northern Ireland.
It stresses that dissident republicans continue to actively recruit new members - including young people - and that systematic delays in our criminal justice system are leading to terrorism cases taking months, or even years, to come to trial. When cases do come to trial and result in a conviction, ‘‘the sentences handed down tend to be shorter than in the rest of the UK.’’
This is a disturbing current outlook that the Justice Minister in Northern Ireland must urgently take stock of. We need to see proactive and practical reforms to speed up justice, including abolishing committal hearings and bringing forward a fairer and more robust approach to sentencing.
It is telling that of MI5’s operational and investigative resources 20% are allocated to fighting Northern Ireland-related terrorism. Meeting the threat from dissident republicans requires sustained pressure and I am pleased that the Committee has recommended that resources be maintained moving forward.
Although disrupting plots, making arrests or seizing dangerous or illicit materials should continue to be the primary response, there is also the need to dissuade potential recruits by giving young people greater social and economic opportunities through which to escape the clutches of all paramilitaries.
At a time when certain politicians would rather glorify violence and raise question marks over the rule of law, promoting a culture of law and order in local communities is essential. Whilst the PSNI has taken huge strides forward, this work must continue and as elected representatives we must not only set the tone but lead by example.”