Page last updated at 08:25 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 09:25 UK

Attorney General security fears

John Larkin QC
The Attorney General designate, John Larkin QC

There are fears the man designated to be Northern Ireland Attorney General might not take up the post because of personal security concerns.

The first and deputy first ministers have backed Belfast barrister John Larkin for the job.

Many figures in the criminal justice system are on a close protection list providing them with armed bodyguards.

However, the independent agency which says who gets the protection have decided Mr Larkin does not need it.

It is understood Mr Larkin feels because of the importance and sensitivity of his post - and the threat from dissident republicans - that he should be provided with such protection.

More than 60 people in Northern Ireland are currently believed to be provided with close protection - including new justice minister David Ford - compared to just 10 a short time ago.

BBC NI home affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney said there will be pressure to resolve the issue.

"There's a negotiating process under way at the moment on a range of issues - his office staffing levels, the budget for the office and I'd imagine security will be in there as well," he said.

"The very fact that Sinn Fein and the DUP jointly endorsed John Larkin to be the Attorney General puts pressure on others within the system to make sure it's resolved."

Chief adviser

The Attorney General NI will be the government's chief legal adviser.

He will be responsible for appointing the director and deputy director of public prosecutions.

He will also require the director to prepare an annual report on how he has exercised his functions, and will arrange for that report to be published and to be laid before the assembly.

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

He is a member of the Bar Council human rights advisory committee and trained the life sentence review commissioners in human rights matters.



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SEE ALSO
Timeline of dissident activity
04 Aug 10 |  Northern Ireland
Who are the dissidents?
25 Feb 10 |  Northern Ireland
NI attorney general post created
21 Oct 09 |  Northern Ireland


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