§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether a visit to establish home circumstances was carried out in the case of Ronald Joseph McCartney before deciding not to allow a transfer to Northern Ireland;
(2) why the decision was taken that there were no compelling circumstances to merit the transfer of Mr. Ronald Joseph McCartney from an English prison to Northern Ireland;
(3) what assessment has been made of the suitability of Ronald Joseph McCartney for transfer to a prison in Northern Ireland; and what is his general policy in regard to such transfers.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
No decison has yet been taken on Mr. McCartney's application to be permanently transferred to Northern Ireland to serve the remainder of his sentence. A visit to establish home circumstances for this purpose is not standard practice, and was not considered necessary in this case. Permanent transfers to Northern Ireland will normally be granted if the applicant has at least six months to serve, if he was domiciled in Northern Ireland before he committed his offence and his family still live there, and the Home Office and Northern Ireland Office are satisfied that he will not, if transferred, disrupt or attempt to disrupt the operation of any prison establishment or otherwise pose an unacceptable threat to security. Even if these criteria are met, however, a transfer may be refused if the inamate has been convicted of a particularly horrific crime; on the other hand, a transfer may be granted where the criteria are not met if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances in the case.