‘Court system needs to treat terrorism-related charges with the seriousness they demand’- Mid Ulster MLA Keith Buchanan

Keith Buchanan MLA
Keith Buchanan MLA

Mid Ulster DUP MLA Keith Buchanan has written to the Justice Minister with concerns about how bail conditions are being imposed against dissident republicans.

It follows the revelation that Damien McLaughlin, who is charged with the murder of prison officer David Black had his bail conditions relaxed in order to go on a spa break.

He said: “On the first day of the relaxed conditions he was photographed fronting an anti-interment protest in West Belfast alongside convicted terrorists Sharon Rafferty and Conor Casey. Also present was Brian Shivers, who was acquitted after retrial of the Massereene barracks murders.”

Mr Buchanan, who is a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board continued, “The relaxation of Damien McLaughlin’s bail conditions has greatly upset many people within the community and especially the Black family. 

“McLaughlin is currently charged with aiding and abetting Mr David Black’s murder, having a Toyota Camry car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the vehicle which the killers used, and belonging to a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA.

“It is time for our court system treat these terrorism-related charges with the seriousness they demand and wider society expects. Elsewhere within the United Kingdom the courts would deal much more severely with such serious crimes and acts of terrorism.”

He said his party colleague on the Policing Board Nelson McCausland has highlighted the apparent lenient view taken by judges in such cases.

“That is particularly disturbing given the clear threat posed by such individuals, clearly demonstrated in the brutal murder of David Black, and recently when Adrian Ismay was also murdered by these terrorists.  

“I have asked the Minister of Justice to outline if there will be a review of how bail conditions are monitored following the case of Damien McLaughlin and why conditions can allow someone charged with a serious terrorist offence to mix with those convicted of similar crimes.”