There was some heated discussion on our thread about the arrest of one of the ex soldiers from the Bloody Sunday as to whether, if convicted, they would be released on licence. Well, Mark Devenport has been digging and it seems the answer,
fairly certainly, is no.
…the Northern Ireland Sentencing Act 1998 which does not apply to any offences committed before the Emergency Provisions Act came into force in 1973.
The 1973 act introduced “scheduled offences” to be tried before no-jury Diplock courts. In the main, those cases involved former paramilitaries because it was feared juries would be subject to intimidation.
Senior legal sources tell me if a soldier is convicted in the future of what would have been deemed a scheduled offence between 1973 and 1998, they could apply for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.
However, that still leaves an anomaly in respect of crimes carried out between the start of the Troubles in 1969 and 1973.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty