Trevor Lunn: Poots is wrong about Ford’s record at justice

editorial image

In relation to Edwin Poots’ letter (July 27) regarding legal aid and David Ford’s performance as Justice Minister, as usual Mr Poots has not let the facts get in the way of a story.

Looked at objectively, David Ford made a number of positive reforms to the legal aid system here.

He ended very high cost criminal cases, introduced standard fees and cut total bills by £20 million a year, while preserving access to justice which has been lost in England and Wales.

That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of David Ford’s achievements while in office. I haven’t even mentioned public confidence in the justice system and satisfaction levels in the PSNI increasing, while rates of offending and the number of first-time entrants into the justice system going in the opposite direction.

In addition, millions of pounds were seized from criminals and the proceeds diverted back into the community, and new laws were brought in to tackle sexual crimes, fuel laundering and increase sentencing and fines for those guilty of animal cruelty offences.

That fundamental reform to the Justice system during the six years that Alliance had charge of the Ministry was far more substantial than for a generation, all around building a safer and shared community.

That action and those outcomes show David Ford was one of the best performing Ministers in the last Executive, certainly more so than the author of the original letter.

Trevor Lunn, MLA Alliance, Lagan Valley