DUP MLA Sammy Douglas has expressed concerns about the ongoing use of so-called ‘supergrass’ trials in Northern Ireland.
The East Belfast MLA said, ‘Our justice system requires public confidence in order to operate successfully and the use of so-called ‘supergrass’ trials has done much to undermine that confidence. In the past we have seen trials spectacularly collapse at a cost of many millions of pounds to the public purse. Trials were pursued on the basis of evidence that was so unreliable it is difficult to see how the prosecution could ever have been taken forward.
These trials were not seen in Northern Ireland from the 1980s until very recently and the evidence both then and now has not been positive in terms of securing reliable prosecutions or convictions.
It is right that such processes are questioned and particularly the role of the PPS in determining whether the evidence gathered by the police can be used to successfully secure a conviction. There does not appear to be any convincing case to make currently that the supergrass process is fit for purpose in this regard.’
Sammy Douglas MLA, chair of the NI Assembly Community Connect initiative, recently visited the Northern Ireland Environment Link based in Loopland Drive, East Belfast.
The programme aims to develop better links between the Assembly and the community and voluntary sector.
Mr Douglas said “I was very much impressed by the work of the Northern Ireland Environment link. The primary aim of NIEL is to promote environmental issues through influencing policy and developing partnerships. One of the key outcomes of my visit was a joint determination to strengthen the links between MLAs and NIEL in order to create a better understanding of current environmental issues.”
A free training event has been organised to provide a better understanding of how the NI Assembly works and how you can influence policies and decisions with a specific environmental focus. The event takes place on 5th March 2014 at NI Environment Link offices, 89 Loopland Drive. Register your attendance here.
East Belfast DUP MLA Sammy Douglas has condemned the online racist abuse received by Alliance MLA Anna Lo over the past 24 hours. Mr Douglas said, “the abusive remarks that I have seen on Facebook are repugnant and totally unacceptable in democratic society. I welcome the PSNI investigation into this abuse and trust that those responsible will face the full rigours of the law.”
Turning to the controversy over the call for flags and paramilitary murals glorifying gunmen to be removed from the route of this year’s Giro d’Italia he said, “as a result of my experience in mediation and conflict resolution over many years, I am convinced that the only way to resolve these issues is by discussion and dialogue with community leaders behind the scenes; by raising these issues in the public square, is counter productive and only drives people into a corner”.
He also revealed that many of the flags flying on lamp posts are put up by people who are loyalists but have no paramilitary links. “I don’t like to see tattered Union flags flying anywhere as it denigrates a symbol for which many of our family members and ancestors have fought and died in theatres of war over the years. But we should recognise that the biggest majority of flags in East Belfast have been taken down as a result of community dialogue. There is a danger that racist abuse and political rows could overshadow the biggest sporting event ever to take place in Northern Ireland. With the world’s eyes on these shores for these three days in May, let’s show the positives that we have to offer.”
The Electoral Office will be holding Registration/ID Clinics in East Belfast on the dates and venues listed below:
SHORT STRAND COMMUNITY CENTRE
THURSDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2014 FROM 2:30pm – 8:00pm
EAST BELFAST COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
EAST BELFAST NETWORK CENTRE
55 TEMPLEMORE AVENUE
WEDNESDAY 26MARCH 2014 FROM 2:30pm – 8:00pm
Sammy Douglas MLA has welcomed the announcement of the first projects to be funded by the Social Investment Fund (SIF). East Belfast will see £1m of capital investment in the first phase of SIF in the form of the Bryson Street Surgery redevelopment.
The project, which will be delivered by Landmark East, a social enterprise set up by East Belfast Partnership, will entail the demolition of the existing surgery and the construction of a modern, new surgery serving both sides of the community.
Mr Douglas said, “As a former board member of Landmark East, I am delighted that substantial funding from OFMdFM has been secured to build a new surgery for the people of Ballymacarrett . This is a good news story for the east of the city and a welcome investment in an area of social and economic deprivation.”