Sensitivities to certain activities within Northern Ireland are much more acute than in Great Britain. Three days ago a woman of the six counties, for self inducing an abortion, was sentenced to three months imprisonment, albeit suspended, under Section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. That such legislation is alive and kicking to be put to such use even in Ulster is, to coin a well used phrase well rehearsed across the Irish Sea, an abomination. To quote from the full report in the *Belfast Telegraph, "The Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service said the case met the evidential threshold and its pursuance was in the public interest. "The test for prosecution has two elements," said a PPS spokesman. "It involves an assessment as to whether the available evidence provides a reasonable prospect of conviction - and also whether prosecution is in the public interest. "In this particular case it was decided, having carefully considered all of the relevant evidence and information, that both elements of the test for prosecution were met. A range of factors were relevant to the balancing of the public interest, including the important fact that the law in Northern Ireland makes the conduct in question a serious criminal offence in respect of which a conviction carries the potential of a significant custodial sentence."
By his own admission "Judge McFarland said there were no guidelines or similar cases to compare this to, adding in his experience there have been no other prosecutions under this specific piece of legislation."
Considering all this the judge still made the decision that custody was the required sentence of his supposed structural decision making. He had a choice just as the defendant had a choice. He could have decided that there was no case to answer and acquitted her. No doubt he would have been criticised by a vocal number of the Protestant community had he done so. He could have decided that her guilt demanded no more than a conditional discharge or fine. Indeed it is somewhat suprising that he suspended her sentence but even in doing so he decided upon the maximum term of two years.
The people of Northern Ireland have endured much suffering since 1968. At that time their timekeeping was thirty years slow compared to the social clock of Great Britain. Before it is outbred by the current Catholic minority perhaps the majority should set that social clock to equate to the summertime of their fellow citizens of the United Kingdom.
*FULL REPORT IN BELFAST TELEGRAPH
ADDENDUM 28th April 2016
This is not an isolated case. There is a another reported here. Truly much of what happens and the thinking behind it in the province is akin to a foreign country.