§ Mr. McNamara
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will give the length of custodial 502W remand undergone by persons charged in connection with the Droppin Well bombing; and if he will make a statement as to when the trial of such persons may be expected to take place;
(2) how the period of custodial remand undergone by persons charged in connection with the Droppin Well bombing compares with the average period of remand without bail for persons charged with scheduled offences in Northern Ireland; and if he will comment on reasons for any abnormal delay in bringing persons charged in connection with the Droppin Well bombing to trial.
§ Mr. Scott
[pursuant to his reply, 24 June 1985, c. 322]: Of the five persons currently awaiting trial having been charged with offences arising from the bomb explosion at the Droppin Well, Ballykelly on 6 December 1982, two have been in custody for 83 weeks, one has been in custody for 73 weeks and two have been in custody for 55 weeks.
All five persons were committed for trial on 20 November 1984 and were arraigned on 8 March 1985. The Crown has in principle been ready to proceed with the prosecution since that date. I understand that on 20 June 1985 the defence solicitors notified the Belfast Crown Court of the identities of the senior defence counsel, and that the trial may therefore be expected to take place during the legal term which begins in September 1985. The average period spent in custody between first remand and the first day of trial by those charged with scheduled offences who were in custody at the time their trial started and whose cases were disposed of during 1984, was 47 weeks.
There are a number of reasons why particular cases take longer than normal to bring to trial. In the case of the five persons charged with offences relating to the Droppin Well explosion. The fact that they were arrested at different times had on impact on the progress on police investigations and on subsequent stages leading up to arraignment. I am satisfied that there has been no untoward delay in the handling of this case.