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Public Support for Emergency (Anti-Terrorist) Legislation in Northern Ireland: A Preliminary Analysis

NCJ Number
Terrorism Volume: 10 Issue: 2 Dated: (1987) Pages: 113-124
J E Finn
Date Published
12 pages
Antiterrorist legislation in the United Kingdom is premised upon the assumption that the existence of special criminal procedures for terrorist offenses will not affect how citizens evaluate the legitimacy of the legal process and of legal institutions more generally.
The author examines the implications and questions the plausibility of that assumption in this article. For his analysis, he relies upon public opinion data concerning the extent to which Roman Catholics and Protestants support the emergency legislation and special courts in Northern Ireland. His findings suggest, contrary to the assumptions upon which the emergency legislation is predicated, that certain aspects of the emergency legislation have seriously eroded public confidence in the administration of criminal justice in Northern Ireland. This finding has considerable significance for societies that hope to control political terrorism by relying upon modified versions of the rule of law. (Author abstract modified)