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Law Officers are called to Northern Ireland Bar

The Law Officers and Advocate General for Scotland were called to the Bar of Northern Ireland, while visiting a restorative justice charity during a two-day visit to Belfast.

Call to the Bar of Northern Ireland

The Attorney General of England and Wales, Victoria Prentis KC MP is the Advocate General of Northern Ireland. The Advocate General is the chief legal adviser to the UK Government on Northern Ireland law.

The Advocate General and the Solicitor General for England and Wales have, in Northern Ireland, the same rights of audience as members of the Bar of Northern Ireland but since the creation of the office (2010) have been ceremonially called to the Bar.

On Friday 31 March 2023, the Attorney General, Solicitor General, and Advocate General for Scotland Lord Stewart were called to the Northern Ireland Bar.

The Advocate General of Northern Ireland, Victoria Prentis KC MP, recently said:

This call to the Bar of Northern Ireland demonstrates the commitment of all three UK law officers to every part of the UK.

Visiting the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast, the Law Officers also met with:

  • the Lady Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Dame Siobhan Roisin Keegan
  • with members of the bar of Northern Ireland
  • with lawyers at the Crown Solicitor’s Office considering some of the most critical legal issues in Government

Visit to Northern Ireland Alternatives

Attorney General at Northern Ireland Alternatives

Northern Ireland Alternatives was first established in 1998 following research which considered how to use restorative justice to reduce paramilitary style attacks.

With a number a centres across Northern Ireland, the charity has developed into a government accredited restorative justice programme that aims to promote and develop non-violent community responses to the issues of low-level crime and antisocial behaviour.

The Greater Shankill site, which the Law Officers visited during their visit carries out restorative justice with the local community, as well as outreach in local schools on issues like training, mentoring and positive conflict resolution.

During the visit, the Law Officers spoke to staff at the centre and young people who have been through Alternatives Programme.

Victoria Prentis KC MP, Advocate General, recently said:

Northern Ireland Alternatives has helped to transform the lives of young people by making them understand the harm that their crimes have caused and giving them the tools to make better choices.

The Law Officers were able to learn about Restorative Justice Practices used at the Greater Shankill site and how these are used to build relationships, reduce conflict, maintain community relations and divert young people from criminal behaviours.

Participants are usually referred to the charity from PSNI, Northern Ireland Housing Executive or community group. Those who take part in the programmes receive a package of training and mentoring throughout the year and will commit to staying in contact with their mentor through the life of the scheme.

Debbie Watters OBE, Co-Director of Northern Ireland Alternatives, recently said:

Northern Ireland Alternatives was delighted to host the Attorney General in Belfast and to allow her to hear first hand from a young man who had experienced paramilitary threat; the criminal justice system and restorative interventions.

Her commitment to and affirmation of restorative justice and the work of Alternatives means so much both to the organisation and to the community and reinforces the ongoing need for partnerships between the justice system and community restorative justice programmes.


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