Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Policing and justice are priorities for Sinn Féin

1 March, 2008

Justice, Policing and Community Safety are priorities for Sinn Féin because they are priorities for the communities we represent. 

Ba mhaith liom I bhfábhair ruin 186, 187, 190 agus 194 ach go háirithe atá ag deileáil le toradh coireanna ar pobail I mBaile Átha Cliath agus lasmiugh de. I ngach cearn den tír tá an pobail faoi bhru ag briuileacht ag choirpigh, ag druga ag alcohol.

The brutal killings of Marius and Pawel in Drimnagh in my own constituency this week reportedly because they refused to purchase alcohol for a gang of under-age youths is not only a tragic blow to their respective families but to the entire community in Drimnagh itself and to Irish society. It is a stark reminder of the dangerous rise in drug and alcohol related disorder, this rise is not unique to Drimnagh nor indeed to Dublin. The reprehensible attack last weekend has infused fear in the good people of the area and this fear will remain long after the murder enquiries are completed.


While Bertie in the 1990's seemed to be accepting bung after bung, sorry political donation after political donation, communities were being ravaged by drugs and the state was attacking anti-drugs activists. Today, though they aren't still taking the continuing, though worse, drugs crisis seriously - they are giving more to the horse and greyhound racing fund than to tackling drugs. And with the cutbacks in HSE funding they are attacking the basics if drug services.


• the addiction services in Ballyfermot is down three nurses despite the year long waiting list for methadone treatment,

• the youth mental health service in the base Ballyfermot had its funding cut by 30,000 euro

• the community drugs outreach team for Dublin West and Mid-Leinster is down 6,

• the HSE recruitment freeze is preventing the introduction of an under-18s addiction service in Limerick, and

• the South East Regional Drugs Task Force covering 5 counties has been allocated just €500,000, while the drugs strategy plan for Waterford alone requires at least €1.5 million to implement.


What of the response of An Garda Síochána?

A drug squad of 6 covers the whole of Waterford; 4 for Mayo with its large towns of Castlebar, Ballina and Westport with a huge coastline, yet there has been millions spent attacking protestors in Rossport. If this is to be a priority for society, then the Garda drugs squads should be doubled, tripled, whatever is appropriate.

Unlike the governing parties who have done nothing to prove their commitment to working-class communities, a fact evidenced by the sorry state of Budget 2008, Sinn Féin's track record is one that we can be proud of.


During the 1980s and 1990s Sinn Féin took a lead in the campaign against drugs and drug dealing in Dublin. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our communities we effected change at the time and made a positive impact on the lives of people bearing the brunt of the devastation being caused by drugs and drug crime in society. For doing so we were often vilified by the establishment and media and harassed by the Gardaí - but we were respected and supported by our communities.


This hard work continues today in a different but no less meaningful way. In Donegal Cllr. Gerry McMonagle prompted his Joint Policing Committee to host public meetings so that the community could directly inform local community safety solutions, in Waterford Cllr. David Cullinane organised a community safety open forum for residents associations and community groups to voice their concerns and ideas, in Limerick Sinn Féin representative Maurice Quinlavin has secured Garda commitments to prioritise identified areas where anti-social behaviour is particularly acute, in Bandon Co. Cork Cllr. John Desmond worked with others to turn around an estate from being one which experienced terrible anti-social behaviour problems to being awarded 'Pride of Place'. Aside from role played by elected representatives on the Policing Board and DPPs we continue to meet with local communities in tackling anti-social behaviour through our support for local community safety groups and restorative justice projects. This is a just a small flavour of the work which has been undertaken by this party and which will continue and intensify into the future.


I want to draw your attention briefly to motion 189 which I am opposing for the simple reason that the work, while in continuing need of review and update, has in the main already been done. The 32 county policy document passed by last year's ard fheis 'Creating Safer Communities: Sinn Féin proposals for better estate management', supplemented in the 26 counties by 'Policing with the Community in 2008', provides a comprehensive anti-social behaviour strategy. And country-wide activity is taking place on the back of these policy documents. I am also urging that the Ard Fheis to oppose motions 195 and 196 as being too simplistic and contrary a to fair, proportionate and proper justice system.


On motion 197 I am proposing that the amendment should be adopted. Even though the sentiments of the motion are that people killing or maiming others while drunk behind the wheel should be more seriously dealt with, it could have the effect of letting them literally away with murder and with less convictions because of the different burdens of proof required.


The amendment reflects the effects of this crime by calling for proper sentencing guidelines to ensure judges and the DPP are under no illusion as to the seriousness of driving while drunk.


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