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'code of practice' NI Justice Department backs Paddy Barnes approval to the Probation Board despite defence of Daniel Kinahan

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Boxer Paddy Barnes with his gold medal for Northern Ireland at 2010 Commonwealth Games in India

Boxer Paddy Barnes with his gold medal for Northern Ireland at 2010 Commonwealth Games in India

Boxer Paddy Barnes with his gold medal for Northern Ireland at 2010 Commonwealth Games in India

The Department of Justice in Northern Ireland has defended its approval of the appointment of former boxer Paddy Barnes to the Probation Board despite his defence of Irish mafia boss Daniel Kinahan.

A spokesperson said of the recent announcement of Barnes to the board: “Appointments to the Probation Board for Northern Ireland were made following a public appointment competition which was run in line with the CPANI code of practice.”

Barnes hit the headlines when he spoke out in favour of Kinahan and defended his role in boxing and has never rescinded the controversial comments.

His new role will involve the supervision of criminals who get early release from jail on licence and those serving community sentences.

The Board is also responsible for supplying the courts with pre-sentence reports on those accused of crimes and organising social welfare in prisons.

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Daniel Kinahan

Daniel Kinahan

Daniel Kinahan

Barnes will pocket more than £5,000 (circa €6,000) for his role per year and will sit on the board for a three year term.

The two time Olympic medallist made a series of comments in support of Kinahan in 2016 after a string of murders were connected to the Dubliner's mob and his Spanish based gym was raided.

Defending the suspected crime boss, he said he would have no problem with Kinahan sitting in his corner warning: “People need to be careful what they are saying if they are slandering people’s names.

"People are saying he’s a criminal, but he’s been convicted of nothing……if he wants to sit in my corner, he can sit in my corner.”

Barnes signed to the gym in October 2016 following the raid on the Peurto Banus premises conducted in a joint operation between Irish Gardai and the Spanish Guardia Civil.

The operation resulted in the arrest and later conviction of Dubliner James Quinn for the murder of Gary Hutch.

At that time 10 assassinations, including that of innocent tourist Trevor O’Neill and homeless man Martin O’Rourke, had been linked to the Kinahan Organised Crime Group which would be later named in the Special Criminal Court as a murderous drug mob.

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Barnes never rescinded his remarks and went on to spend years working for the gym that the mob boss founded and which would be renamed MTK Global.

Since his retirement from boxing in 2019 he has been a club development officer for Ulster Boxing.

He works alongside John Conlon whose son Jamie has been a Vice President of MTK Global and whose other son Michael has found in their colours for years. The brothers have recently set up their own company, Conlon boxing in Northern Ireland. None of the Conlon family, or Paddy Barnes, have any involvement in crime.

The Probation Board is the body which oversees the release of prisoners on licence and those on community sentences as well as steering initiatives for safer communities.

Thirty four year old Barnes was one of 13 appointments announced by Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long who said:

“This is extremely important and valuable work because the Probation Board for Northern Ireland is an organisation that is involved at all stages of the criminal justice process.

“In addition to playing a key role in reducing crime and preventing re-offending through the effective supervision of people who have offended, PBNI delivers a number of justice priorities. These include tackling issues around domestic abuse, sexual and violent offences and implementing problem solving justice initiatives.

“I wish the new Board well in their vital role in supporting the organisation to continue its critical work of changing lives for safer communities.”

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