‘Historic’ appointment of Attorney General

A Six-County Attorney General, John Larkin, was appointed today [Monday], the first to hold the post since 1973.

He will be the chief legal adviser to the Stormont Executive and will be responsible for appointing the director and deputy director of public prosecutions.

As a barrister, Mr Larkin has represented many senior political figures including Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson.

He said: “It is a great honour to be appointed as the first local Attorney General in some 37 years.

“I am grateful for having been given such an historic opportunity to contribute to the rule of law and the good government of Northern Ireland, and I look forward to meeting the challenges of this office.”

His appointment follows the transfer of policing and justice powers to Belfast from the Westminster parliament in London this spring.

Mr Larkin, from Belfast, is the first person to hold the office separately since its functions were assumed by the Attorney General for England and Wales in 1972 following the resignation of the first Stormont regime.

The last person to hold the post was Ulster Unionist Basil Kelly.

But unlike his Direct Rule predecessor, Mr Larkin will not have any powers of supervision over the Public Prosecution Service.

“It’s something that should be urgently looked at I think,” Mr Larkin said.

“The decisions about unduly lenient sentences, about other forms of statutory obligation, which were taken by the attorney are no longer taken by the attorney.

“So the reason for that isn’t entirely clear to me at least.”

Martin McGuinness described the appointment as an “historic one” which puts in place an independent, non-political, local attorney general.

“This appointment puts in place a key element in taking forward the newly transferred justice powers,” he added.

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