27 April 2022
Political Parties set out key justice priorities
Northern Ireland Political Parties set out their key justice priorities ahead of Assembly poll
from Northern Ireland’s Political Parties outlined their Justice priorities
ahead of the next mandate, as part of a pre-election event hosted by the Law
Society this afternoon (Tuesday).
panel discussion was chaired by broadcaster Mark Carruthers and included John
Finucane MP and former Justice Minister, David Ford. Assembly election
candidates Mervyn Storey, Dolores Kelly, Doug Beattie, and Rachel Woods also
to Justice was a focal point of the discussion, with each panellist pledging
how their party will protect those on low incomes amid the escalating cost of
living crisis. The candidates were asked how they will commit to fixing the
issues that have long plagued Northern Ireland’s justice system.
this month, the Law Society launched its ‘Justice Agenda’, the first of its
kind in the Society’s 100-year history, setting out 10 strategic priorities
that require urgent attention, including:
Protecting the Legal Aid Budget
- a ring-fenced budget of not less than £82 million is necessary to protect
Access to Justice for our most vulnerable citizens.
Closing the Access to Justice Gap
– increasing the outdated financial eligibility thresholds for civil legal aid
to ensure those on lower incomes have their rights protected.
– urgent investment and reform of the justice system to address the five-year
backlog of our Courts and to prevent further harm being caused to victims and
Society is also calling for progress to address Legacy issues and measures to
support economic recovery.
the pre-election event, President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland,
Brigid Napier said:
Society’s Justice Agenda was launched to outline the priorities for rebuilding
our justice system which, like so many areas of life, is still recovering from
the pandemic. The unprecedented cost of living crisis is continuing to
escalate; thus, it is more important than ever that those in power protect our
most vulnerable by ensuring they have Access to Justice.”
Society remains committed to working constructively with the incoming Executive
and the next Justice Minister to ensure we have a system that is fit for
purpose. Access to Justice must be at the centre of the next Programme for
Government and the aim must be to deliver the Justice system that the people of
Northern Ireland deserve.”