“and will bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.”

The Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Minister, Paul Goggins, MP, has launched a 19 week long consultation on proposed new laws “to tackle unacceptable behaviour at sports grounds and events.” NI Sports Minister, Nelson McCausland, MLA, was also at the launch. Consultation document here, and “easy to read” summary [both pdf files]. From the NIO statement.

Paul Goggins said: “Our purpose is to help clubs and sporting bodies address unacceptable behaviour by a small minority of spectators who attend events only to cause trouble. “The proposed powers focus on issues including offensive chanting at games, missile throwing and pitch invasions, powers to tackle alcohol related problems around sporting events and ticket touting.

“The powers will include a soccer banning order regime that would prevent trouble makers from attending matches at home and abroad and will bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.”

From the consultation document [pdf file]

1.5 The document describes the relevant laws currently in place in England and Wales and recommends the adoption of broadly similar arrangements in Northern Ireland. A number of important differences are proposed however to reflect circumstances in this jurisdiction. Those key differences are

o the extension of proposals (a) and (b) above to include relevant GAA and rugby matches, as well as soccer;

o the proposed soccer banning regime would apply only in association with a criminal conviction (a civil order is also possible in England and Wales); it would not require a separate Football Banning Authority for Northern Ireland; and it would not require passport surrender (it would operate purely by way of reporting to police at match times).

There are other proposed differences

Sectarianism, etc

4.11 The England and Wales chanting offence outlaws indecent and racialist words or sounds. “Racialist” means matter which is threatening, abusive or insulting to a person by reason of his colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins. In addition to this, on equality grounds, in Northern Ireland we propose to include in the scope of the offence chanting that is sectarian or which targets a person’s sexuality or disability.