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Convicted Persons (Rights Of Appeal)

Volume 984: debated on Thursday 8 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether, in his consideration of desirable amendments to the Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Act, Official Report, 3 April, c. 624, he will consider the workings of the special access to the Court of Appeal, which is possible under Diplock courts procedure.

The Northern Ireland emergency provisions legislation provides a virtually unrestricted right of appeal to the Court of Appeal against conviction or sentence for a scheduled offence before a Diplock court. I am satisfied with the operation of this appellate system and have no proposals for its modification.

If the Minister is satisfied with the appellate system, how is it that those of us who go from this House on visits to Northern Ireland cannot but sense the deep-seated resentment against the working of Diplock?

I think that this is a resentment expressed frequently on behalf of terrorists who have been convicted and do not like the fact that they have been detected and convicted.

Will the Minister undertake to have a look at the report of the European Commission on Human Rights, which has been examining the working of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act, and to make available in a suitable form the Commission's conclusions on the workings of that Act prior to the debate on renewal?

Yes, I shall certainly consider most sympathetically the hon. Gentleman's request, and I shall seek to meet it.