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Justice Minister attempts to bury findings of sixth Morris Tribunal Report – Ó Snodaigh

7 May, 2008

Responding to the publication today of the sixth Morris Tribunal Report Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD accused Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan of attempting to bury the findings of the report by publishing it on the day of the election of the new Taoiseach and the formation of the new cabinet.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said measures need to be taken to show the public that Gardaí are not above the law.

He said, "Minister Lenihan has had the past two weeks to publish this report yet he has waited until today to do so. This is an obvious attempt by the Minister to bury the findings of the report as all the media interest will be on the election of the new Taoiseach and the formation of the new cabinet.

"The tribunal found that members of An Garda Síochána wrongfully detained, ill-treated and abused innocent citizens. Steps must now be taken to send a message that Gardaí are not above the law and failures to observe the law and proper procedures on the part of Gardaí will be punished.

"There must consequences for those members found to have been involved in the abuse of innocent citizens and for their superiors. This could include, where appropriate, criminal charges against all involved and removal from An Garda Síochána with suspension of pensions.

"There was a hint of denial during the Minister's presentation of the report today. Garda abuse was not and is not limited to a few individual members in Donegal during the 1990s. Unfortunately it is far more widespread and ongoing. We should not forget that before Morris the Gardaí conducted their own investigation which failed to bring the reality of corruption to light. This is indicative of systemic failures and cover-up. As Morris was forced to acknowledge yet again in this latest report the issues highlighted are 'not peculiar to Donegal' and the wall of silence was maintained and 'encouraged by senior officers'.

"The Minister points to the Garda Ombudmsan Commission in order to convince us that times have changed. But the Ombudsman Commission is grossly under-funded and unable to provide an effective complaints mechanism as a result. In addition there is legislation planned which would reduce its remit.

"If anything the remit of the Garda Ombudsman Commission should be broadened to at least bring it into line with the commitment contained in the Good Friday Agreement to have equivalence with the Ombudsman in the Six Counties. Resources must also be forthcoming to ensure that the Commission can keep up with its current workload." ENDS

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