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05 February 2010

Devolution Provides Opportunity for Local Solutions to Justice Issues

The President of The Law Society of Northern Ireland has said that the announcement of an agreement on the Devolution of Justice and Policing provides an opportunity for local solutions to be found to local justice issues.

Speaking after the announcement the President of the Law Society, Mr Norville Connolly said:

Today’s announcement must be considered as significant in ensuring that justice issues are addressed locally and that Northern Ireland elected politicians are empowered to find local solutions to local justice issues.

Throughout the course of the devolution debate the Law Society has been actively engaged in raising awareness with all of the political parties in respect of those justice issues which we feel need to be addressed and that the right programme of work is identified and implementation is successful.

We consider it important from the outset that any programme of work must address not only criminal justice issues but significantly also those wider civil and family justice issues which actually affect the majority of the population including:

  • Ensuring the courts are adequately resourced and that all citizens well off or not have access to them;
  • Ensuring a speedy and efficient justice system which respects the rights of all those involved;
  • Ensuring that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged within our communities have access to justice through provision of an adequate legal aid fund.

 The Society will write to the new Minister for Justice when he is identified to request an urgent meeting to discuss these issues.

Devolution presents an opportunity to develop local answers to the many challenges facing the justice system.  The Law Society will be working with the new Minister and the Department to contribute to finding those answers.