Consultation on Diplock Courts

The NIO have published details of an 8 week consultation process on the ending of Diplock Trials in Northern Ireland( see below fold). In future, the preseumption will be that all cases will be trial by Jury, except in special circumstances, as outlined in the document.

Despite the many attempts of people to either hold on to the past, or plunge us back there, this is another step on the road to a normal society, and is a positive, forward development. Without the instruments of law and order, we have no hope and no future. It is well past time to stop pandering to dissident elements in our society and call a thug a thug.
For more than thirty years the Diplock Court system has helped to counter the risk of
perverse verdicts in trials for offences connected with the Troubles in Northern
Ireland. It has protected jurors from the risk of intimidation; ensured that those
charged with such offences receive fair trials; and ensured that justice is seen to be
carried out fairly and effectively. The system has become emblematic of the special
arrangements that have been necessary to deal with the threat of terrorism in
Northern Ireland.
Under the programme of security normalisation announced on 1 August 2005, the
legislation underpinning the Diplock system is due to be repealed on 31 July 2007.
The repeal of the Diplock system will be a significant step on the road to a
normalised Northern Ireland and the fact that we are able to move to that point is a
testament to the profound changes in the Northern Ireland security situation that
have occurred, not least those in the last year.
Although Northern Ireland is on the road to normalisation, we do not think the time is
right for Northern Ireland to operate without the fall-back of some special
arrangements for exceptional cases. Paramilitaries and former members of
paramilitaries still have a significant hold over the communities they live in and many
are heavily involved in criminality. This means that jurors could still be put at risk of
intimidation in some cases.
Government must protect the safety of all those who participate in the justice system.
The role of juror is an extremely important one and we must do all we can to protect
them from intimidation and ensure that the justice system can deliver fair and
effective trials.
We think the reforms proposed in this consultation paper represent progress towards
normalisation and strike the right balance of reducing the risks of intimidation of
jurors while ensuring that non-jury trials are available to deal with the remaining
number of exceptional cases that cannot be addressed any other way.