30/03/2004

Orde hits out at 'lenient' judges

PSNI chief constable, Hugh Orde has hit out at judges in Northern Ireland for being too lenient in sentencing convicted paramilitaries.

Mr Orde made the comment during a speech to members of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York on Monday.

He said that courts in Northern Ireland were softer than those in Britain and in the Republic of Ireland.

"It would be awfully helpful if the judges... could lock them up for slightly longer," Mr Orde said.

"We seem to have a problem, where sentences compared to London are lenient."

During his speech Mr Orde called on Northern Ireland's political leaders to regain lost ground in the peace process ahead of this summer's marching season.

He also said, although it was unlikely to happen for the foreseeable future, it was important that Sinn Féin joined the Northern Ireland Policing Board to help push forward police reforms.

(MB)

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