Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, has urged the Prime Minister to redirect his energies away from a misguided attack on the so-called ‘liberal consensus’ on criminal justice onto promoting a culture of lawfulness.
Dr Farry stated:
“It is more than a little ironic for the Prime Minister to attack the so-called 1960s liberal consensus on crime while quoting the premier liberal philsopher John Stuart Mill.
“Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are all inter-linked. You can not maintain one without the others. It is this triangle that lies at the heart of liberalism.
“Within a liberal society, rights have always gone hand-in-hand with responsibilities. Unless people are prepared to act with responsibility to society, then the framework that guarantees their rights and ensures fairness for all will be an empty shell. Instead, we will have the law of the jungle, the rule of the strongest and fittest.
“In using such anti-liberal rhetoric, the Prime Minister risks the creation of a new authoritarism, that compromises highest human rights standards.
“Dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour are a major priority for the public. Ensuring that there are appropriate sentences for criminal behaviour, placing the concerns of victims front and centre, and preventing anti-social behaviour are all core liberal principles.
“The Prime Minister would have been better off in trying to promote a culture of lawfuless. Too many people have lost sight of the importance of law and order to their lives and their local communities. Starting in the schools, people should be shown the opportunities and benefits that come from individual responsibility, and the losses and costs that arise when they don’t.
“If the Prime Minister can resist the temptation to build up a straw man he may find that there is a broad basis of support for some of his proposals to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour.
“But many of these proposals will only deal with symptoms of crime and ant-social behaviour. While they may be fine in themselves, they will only go so far.