North talks: Members of independent commission named

Lord Carlile, Rosalie Flanagan and Stephen Shaw to assess paramilitary activity in NI

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has announced the names of the three members of the one-off panel on the Stormont crisis. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has announced the names of the three members of the one-off panel on the Stormont crisis. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has announced the names of the three members of the one-off panel that will review the PSNI assessment of the current status of the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

They are Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, former senior Northern Ireland civil servant Rosalie Flanagan and Northern Ireland lawyer Stephen Shaw, QC.

Ms Villiers announced the independent review last Friday to facilitate DUP leader Peter Robinson in bringing his party into all-party negotiations which finally began on Monday.

Mr Robinson had demanded that some form of measure be taken in relation to PSNI chief constable George Hamilton’s assessment about the status of the IRA before he would agree to participate in the talks.

Lord Carlile, Ms Flanagan and Mr Shaw are to provide a “factual assessment” on the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland based on information provided by the PSNI and MI5.

Their report, which is due by mid-October, will help inform the politicians as they deal with the fallout from the murder of Belfast republican Kevin McGuigan last month.

PSNI chief constable Mr Hamilton assessed that some IRA members were involved in the killing although without the sanction of the IRA leadership.

Sinn Féin rejected Mr Hamilton’s assessment and insisted the IRA is “gone away”.

The Northern Ireland Office said on Tuesday that collectively the three reviewers “have an in-depth knowledge of security issues, legal expertise, an understanding of Northern Ireland politics and political structures, as well as credibility and standing from across the community”.

“I am very grateful to each of the reviewers for agreeing to take on this important work,” Ms Villiers said at lunchtime.

“They are all highly respected individuals. I am confident that they will bring rigour, integrity and independence to this important task.”

Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords. He is a practising barrister who successfully defended Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell over charges that he stole from her estate.

Lord Carlile was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation from 2001-2011 and has been the independent reviewer of national security arrangements in Northern Ireland since 2007. He was the Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire from 1983 to 1997.

Ms Flanagan is a former permanent secretary at the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and previously was director of executive services in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, a post she held from 2002 until 2010. She has also worked at the Department of Finance and Personnel.

Mr Shaw QC has been a senior counsel in Northern Ireland since December 2001. He was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1980.

He has concentrated on commercial, chancery and public law work, embracing strategic advice as well as litigation, arbitration and mediation.

He has acted for banks, public companies (plc) and private business, as well as local and central government.