Two prominent DUP figures have come out in support of reintroducing capital punishment.
Lord Morrow, the current housing minister, made the call in remarks published by a local newspaper on Thursday, whilst veteran party figure Gregory Campbell took to the airwaves to back him.
In the comments attributed to Lord Morrow by the Impartial Reporter paper in Fermanagh, he spoke only of treating the killing of security force personnel – specifically police officers – as a capital offence.
He was quoted as saying that if capital punishment had remained on the statute books in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles, then “there would have been a lot less deaths particularly amongst the security force personnel”.
Its return would “instil new confidence” in police, and assure them they had “protection”.
The article says the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA made the remarks outside a butcher’s shop on a visit to Enniskillen.
It is not clear what prompted him to speak about the topic, and the News Letter could not reach him by phone.
Lord Morrow had recently launched a bid to change the law around punishing those who attack ambulance staff.
He said that at present, there are specific laws to deal with those who attack PSNI or firefighters, and wanted to extend this to all emergency services.
Mr Campbell, DUP MP for East Londonderry, took to Radio Ulster in support of the idea of the death penalty.
He said: “What are those advocates who don’t want capital punishment going to advocate in its place?... I’ve yet to hear these alternatives to capital punishment.”
No-one has been executed in the UK since 1964.
Andrew Muir, Alliance councillor and ex-mayor of Bangor, declared himself “disgusted” by the pair’s comments, adding that the death penalty “is not an effective deterrent – many of the countries which use it have higher rates of violent crime than those who use custodial sentences”.
According to Amnesty International, 140 countries had abolished executions in law or in practice by 2014, with 58 retaining it.
In 2014, the group said Iran appeared to lead the world in the number of reported executions, with at least 289 carried out (although China’s figures were unknown).
The USA executed 35 people, behind Saudi Arabia (at least 90) and Iraq (61 or more) in the number of death penalties carried out that year.