The Guidance Principles, promoted by the Review Panel, is for all employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors. It was been developed by a working group co-chaired by Sir George Quigley and Nigel Hamilton and comprised representatives of government departments, the Irish Congress of Trades Unions, the Confederation of British Industry and a representative group of ex-prisoners. It fulfils the commitment to the ex-prisoners’ constituency in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and also the pledge given by the government in the St Andrews Agreement.

The Review Panel, as the official oversight body, works to evaluate the impact of structural and legal barriers that impact upon those with conflict-related convictions and those affected by those convictions.  It monitors and promotes the Guidance Principles to assist employers follow best practice in recruiting people with conflict-related convictions. It endorses the basic code that any conviction for a conflict-related offence that pre-dates the Belfast Agreement (April 1998) should not be taken into account unless it is materially relevant to the employment being sought. The Guidance Principles encourage an employer to provide an opportunity, to an applicant with a conflict related conviction to outline his/her perspective regarding the compatibility of their conviction to the post applied for. The Guidance Principles sit within the overall framework of existing legislative obligations that include employment-related record checks and the right of employers to vet. Objective assessments when recruiting those with conflict-related convictions should:

  • focus on a person’s abilities, skills, experience and qualifications,
  • consider the nature of the conviction and its relevance to the job in question,
  • identify the risks to the organisation’s business, customers, clients and employees,
  • recognise that having a record does not always mean a lack of skills, qualifications and experience.

The Guidance Principles are not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it meant to deal with every eventuality. Government recognises that the transposition of the agreed principles underpinning the guidance will be for employing organisations and their human resource professionals.