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Draft plans on remission law

Published 10/10/2007

Draft legislation to abolish 50% remission is due to be released for consultation before the end of the month - 10 months after the government first vowed to scrap the controversial policy.

The news emerged as dangerous sex offender Eamon Foley - who raped a 91 year-old woman - was re-arrested just hours after his early release from jail and remanded in custody, and a 16-year-old boy bravely waived his right to anonymity to tell the Belfast Telegraph of his horrific ordeal at the hands of a paedophile who raped him when he was 13 years-old.

Former Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson promised to abolish 50% remission in December after 35,000 people signed up to a Belfast Telegraph campaign calling for the policy to be scrapped immediately.

Due to delays in implementing new legislation more than 80 sex offenders have walked free half way through their sentences since December and as any new schemes will not be retrospective over 130 are currently set to benefit from the policy.

The NIO yesterday told the Belfast Telegraph that draft legislation to replace 50% remission will be released for consultation before the end of the month.

However, it could take several months for any new legislation, which would help ensure that dangerous sex offenders are kept behind bars indefinitely, is passed in parliament.

Currently, in a bid to protect the public, the authorities are relying on powers recently granted to the courts to restrict the movements and actions of sex offenders living in the community who are believed to pose a risk to the public.

Castlederg rapist Eamon Foley was subject to strict restrictions on his release yesterday morning, however he was re-arrested within hours under the Sexual Offences Act and appeared in court yesterday afternoon. He was accused of failing to provide the authorities with an address so he can be monitored.

Foley was jailed for 16 years for attacking pensioner Mary Ann McLaughlin in her mobile home outside Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in January 1999. He was released yesterday under 50% remission.

Also yesterday brave Belfast teenager Stephen Graham told the Belfast Telegraph how his life has been ruined by paedophile Henry Irwin (43), formerly of McMaster Street in east Belfast, who will serve less than five years of a 13-year sentence for rape.

"He is a monster ... This is something that will be with me for the rest of my life," Stephen said.

Junior Minister Ian Paisley Jnr said the decision to end 50% remission would help ensure that dangerous criminals are dealt with swiftly and severely.

He said: "We have got to make sure that we learn the lessons from these cases and bang these people up for as long as possible.

"When you are dealing with (sex offenders) I think we need to have a certain swiftness and severity."

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