NIO judicial reviews
Sinn Féin Policing and Justice Spokesperson, South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has said that the judicial review process where decisions made by any public authority, including the NIO, can be challenged on the grounds that it is illegal, unreasonable or illogical provide important democratic protections and are essential in building public confidence in the judicial process.
His comments came after a Freedom of Information request discovered the NIO was unable to provide reliable figures for the number of judicial reviews brought against it over the 2002-2006 period; although it did confirm that it had been represented in at least 43 judicial reviews at a cost of £1.5 million.
Mr Maskey said:
"These figures clearly demonstrate the lack of accountability within the NIO. This further example of unaccountability highlights the problem of British direct rule.
"The judicial review process where decisions made by any public authority, including the NIO, can be challenged on the grounds that it is illegal or unreasonable provide important legal protections and are essential in building public confidence in the judicial process.
"As we move forward towards the transfer of powers on policing and justice it is essential that we build confidence in the democratic structures and that decisions made by all public authorities can be effectively challenged.
"There is a concern that some of the costs associated with the judicial review do however make it more difficult for people to use this important legal protection to defend their rights. It is important that legal protections for the person in the street are accessible." ENDS