Introduction and context
On 30 July 1998, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Dr Marjorie Mowlam appointed Sentence Review Commissioners. The appointments were required under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act which came into force 28 July 1998.
Dr Mowlam said: "The early release of prisoners is one of the most difficult parts of the Good Friday Agreement. The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act provides the framework for releases and includes important safeguards for the protection of the public and to ensure that prisoners who support organisations that have not established or are not maintaining complete and unequivocal ceasefires will not be released early.
The present Commissioners appointed are:-
1. The appointments are made under section 1(1) of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998.
2. In making appointments the Secretary of State was required to:
3. The Secretary of State has made procedural rules under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act. The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Sentence Review Commissioners) Rules 1998 set out the procedures to be followed in making and considering applications to the Commissioners and related matters.
4. The safeguards under the legislation include the conditions that each prisoner must satisfy to be granted a declaration of eligibility for early release, the power for the Secretary of State to refer cases back to the Commissioners, the licence provisions and arrangements for recall, the requirement to specify organisations that have not established and are not maintaining complete and unequivocal ceasefires, the power to vary the accelerated release provisions and the power to suspend the scheme as a whole.
Pen Pictures/short biographies
Ms Clodach McGrory Chairman Practiced at the Bar in Northern Ireland from 1990 to 1995 and subsequently worked at the Law Centre (NI). She was a member of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights from 1998 to 1999 and served a term of office on the Irish Human Rights Commission from December 2000 until August 2006. She was a member of the Prison Review Team which was appointed by the Minister for Justice in June 2011 to conduct a comprehensive review of the Northern Ireland Prison Service and reported in October 2012. She is currently a part-time Chairman of Social Security Appeal Tribunals and has been a Life Sentence Review Commissioner/Parole Commissioner since 2001. Ms McGrory was appointed Chairman of the Sentence Review Commissioners on the 21st January 2013.
Dr Duncan Morrow An academic in the University of Ulster currently developing engagement with communities and stakeholders as party of the University's Greater Belfast Development. Until 2011 he was Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council (CRC) and has taken an active role in peace building and the legacy of violence in the past. Dr Morrow is a Parole Commissioner for Northern Ireland. A native of Belfast, he is married with three teenage children.
Dr Adrian Grounds Was a University senior lecturer in forensic psychiatry at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, and an honorary consultant forensic psychiatrist in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, until retiring in 2010. He is now an honorary research fellow at the Institute of Criminology. He is also a Parole Commissioner for Northern Ireland, and a Medical Member of the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) in England.
Professor John Jackson A Professor of Law at the University of Nottingham and a qualified barrister. He was previously Dean of the School of Law at University College Dublin and has taught at several other universities including Queen's University Belfast, the University of Sheffield, the City University, London and University College Cardiff. He has held visiting professorships at Hastings College of the Law, University of California and the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales and was a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in 2007 – 2008. From 1998 to 2000 he was an Independent Assessor for the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Review.