This submission to the Department of Justice Northern Ireland is made by the Spiritual Assembly as elected representative body for members of the Bahá'í Faith in the Londonderry district. We are pleased to have been invited for our views on the Justice Bill 2010. After study of the consultation documents we wish to make the following points:

Paragraph 5.7

We welcome the over-arching approach as set out and its explicit recognition of the various parties involved.

Paragraph 6.8

While this is headed "Religion" it refers only to Catholics and Protestants. Presumably this reflects the source of the statistics. We trust that it will be borne in mind at all times that Northern Ireland is not a place simply of these two Christian groups, it is home to an increasing number of followers of other faiths, who have not always felt or been well served by the institutional structures here. The same comments apply to Paragraph 6.19.

Section 7 (Offender Levy and Victims of Crime Fund)

This seems to us a positive development as long as the money raised goes for the stated purpose and does not become a more general revenue-raising scheme.

Paragraph 11.13

We warmly welcome these proposed restrictions on alcohol in circumstances where its abuse has caused much trouble.

Section 15 (Court Reform: Single court jurisdiction)

While we can see the benefits of a single court jurisdiction for Northern Ireland we have to express some concern. The experience of people in this area (and presumably in other non-metropolitan parts of the Province) of such rationalisations has not always been good. The removal of local-based coroner and post-mortem services (instanced in the document as a positive) for instance, has had a significant downside for people here. We therefore hope that this change does not lead to yet another "everything done in/from Belfast" service where administrative convenience, and the raising of standards in certain areas, is won at the expense of the non-metropolitan population.

September 2010 CE