New NI Attorney General Sworn In

As the BBC notes, Northern Ireland’s new Attorney General John Larkin was sworn in at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast today.

After taking the oath, Mr Larkin pledged his full backing for the independence of barristers.

“I intend to support our independent bar to the best of my ability,” he said.

“What I do want to do here is to declare my firm view that an independent bar is a strong and protective force in and for the rule of law,” he added.

“I look to my sisters and brothers of the bar to be inspired and sustained in that task,” he added.

And what of those missing powers that the new NI Attorney General had previously complained about on 24 May

Unlike his direct rule predecessor, Mr Larkin will not have any powers of supervision over the Public Prosecution Service.

“It’s something that should be urgently looked at I think,” Mr Larkin said.

“The decisions about unduly lenient sentences, about other forms of statutory obligation, which were taken by the attorney are no longer taken by the attorney.

“So the reason for that isn’t entirely clear to me at least.”

According to a 7 June statement from the new NI Justice Minister

The Minister also confirmed that he is pressing ahead with a consultation on sentencing guidelines mechanisms to establish a clearer, transparent and more consistent framework for sentencing.

He revealed that later this month he will announce the membership of the panel to lead the review of prisons, starting at Maghaberry, and that he intends to start discussions with the First Minister and deputy First Minister on whether the relationship the law sets down between the new Attorney General and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) needs to be looked at again. [added emphasis]

Meanwhile, according to a 2 June statement from the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, one of that party’s proposals is to

– empower the Attorney General to have superintendence over the PPS, and ensure that the PPS should be required to give reasons for its decisions and disclose documents to the victims of crime.

But why wasn’t this issue addressed when those parties where discussing the  “Agreements, Concordats, Protocols and Memoranda of Understanding underpinning the devolution of policing and justice matters”?

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