Mr B Wilson asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what plans he has to commence a consultation on legislation equivalent to the Football Offences Act in Great Britain, as promised in ‘A Shared Future: First Triennial Action Plan 2006-2009’ (AQO 26/07)
The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure (Mr Poots): Primary responsibility for leading consultation on legislation equivalent to the Football (Offences) Act 1991 inGreat Britain rests with the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) under the Northern Ireland Act 2000. I can confirm that Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) officials have been working closely with NIO officials on the development of proposals on the introduction of new public order offences inNorthern Ireland similar to those in the Football (Offences) Act 1991. I will shortly be considering those proposals and plan to discuss them with the NIO Minister responsible for that area.
Mr B Wilson: I welcome the Minister’s response, and as a regular spectator at international matches at Windsor Park, I welcome the improvements that have been made by the Irish Football Association (IFA) in recent years to eliminate sectarianism and hooliganism. However, there is still a problem that must be tackled, particularly as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is getting much more strict about that sort of conduct. The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 identifies an offence of crimes aggravated by religious prejudice. That should be considered as a basis for new legislation. Will the Minister discuss that with the Northern Ireland Office?