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Witness protection programme must be part of larger plan to tackle crime – Doherty

31 October, 2007


Speaking during a Seanad Debate on a Labour Party Bill which calls for clear guidelines for witness protection programmes Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty said while Sinn Féin has no problem supporting the Bill itself witness protection must be just one part in a wider plan to tackle serious crime. Senator Doherty said The Labour Party would be quite naïve to believe that the passing of this Bill would have a major impact on tackling crime.

Senator Doherty said, "Currently witness protection is fairly ad hoc in its operation. Given the potential for wrongly handled witness protection arrangements to corrupt criminal proceedings or result in miscarriages of justice Sinn Féin agrees that this matter should involve clear guidelines underpinned by primary legislation.

"However, The Labour Party would be quite naïve to believe that the passing of this Bill would have a major impact on tackling crime. If we are to seriously tackle serious drug and gun crime then it is essential that the civilianisation of administrative Garda tasks takes place to free up approximately 4,000 fully trained Gardaí to be re-deployed into the fight against crime.

"Illegal drugs supply chains must be disrupted with the proceeds of drug-related crime being channelled back into the communities worst affected by the drugs crisis.

"Community input should be sought via Joint Policing Committees (JPCs) and community policing forums to the Garda Drug Units with a view to rolling out campaigns such as the successful 'Dial to Stop Drug Dealing' campaign.

"Sinn Féin has produced a comprehensive set of proposals to tackle serious drug and gun crime which we have presented to both the Garda Commissioner and to Justice Minister Brian Lenihan. Witness protection needs to be seen as one piece of a larger plan to tackle crime." ENDS

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