Still no end in sight for reviews into bail and sentencing

Damien McLaughlin, who is charged with (and denies) terror offences linked to the David Black killing, absconded while on bail the month after a review into bail policy began
Damien McLaughlin, who is charged with (and denies) terror offences linked to the David Black killing, absconded while on bail the month after a review into bail policy began

There is still no indication when long-awaited reviews of criminal sentencing and the granting of bail in the Province are going to be completed – many months after both of them began.

The Department for Justice (DoJ) has responded to News Letter questions by merely acknowledging that it is still working on both matters, but gave almost no further meaningful details.

The review into the granting of bail (including to paramilitary suspects) began last October, and the review into sentencing was announced in June last year.

In January this year, the News Letter revealed that the sentencing review’s terms of reference contained no mention of paramilitary-related crimes.

At the time TUV leader Jim Allister said that without any focus on sentences given to terrorists, the review amounted to little more than a “pointless exercise”.

After being pressed for two-and-a-half weeks about what stage both reviews are at now, the DoJ finally sent the following answers.

On the subject of the bail review, it said: “The department is working to establish a full understanding of the facts around the issue before further consideration is given to what measures, if any, are then needed.”

And when it comes to the sentencing one, it said this “is now under way”.