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Ó Snodaigh opposes renewal of Offences Against the State Act

17 June, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has opposed the renewal of the Offences Against the State Act in the Dáil today. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said no emergency exists that could possibly warrant what he described as the ‘draconian measures’ included in the Bill. He also criticised the use of British agents provocateurs to perpetuate conflict on the island.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said today, “Once again I am imploring all Deputies to consider the highly corrosive effect of this legislation on human rights, democratic life and the safety and wellbeing of citizens in this state before voting today.

“As we discuss this motion today, the spectre of paramilitary violence - criminal and sectarian violence - still hangs over our society. We have seen the fatal consequences of that with the brutal battering to death only three weeks ago of Kevin McDaid in Coleraine - someone who has not been mentioned to date. Others have mentioned the killing of PSNI officer, Constable Stephen Carroll, and two British soldiers, Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar, and the ongoing criminal feuds in this State using high-powered weapons and explosives. Another matter that has not been mentioned in this House for a long time is the manoeuvrings of the British secret services on this island. It is quite clear to all that elements of Britain's intelligence service are running agents provocateurs in these organisations. I call on the British Government, as a partner in the peace process, to call its dogs to heel and declare that the provocative actions of its agents in these dissident and loyalist groups are contrary to the peace process and perpetuate conflict on this island.

“The UN fundamental human rights instruments to which this State has signed up make it very clear that fundamental rights protections may be derogated from only in times of emergency. No such emergency that could possibly warrant these draconian legislative measures exists.

“It is not only our international commitments that necessitate opposition to the motion before us today but also the Government's own obligations under the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement places the onus on the Government to deliver security normalisation. Hence, scrapping the Offences against the State Acts is a pressing goal for all in this House. The provisions up for renewal and indeed the Offences against the State Acts in their entirety have no place in the present or future of this island.

“If this government was really serious about tackling serious crime would they continue with their plans to savagely cut the budgets of the local drugs task forces who are tasked with reducing demand for the illegal trade that gives rise to so much gangland violence? The voting public took this question on board when they cast their votes earlier this month. The government’s efforts to dupe them failed. The public will not simply accept at face value the Government’s repeatedly announced populist proposals rather they are demanding real action.

“I urge the house to vote against the renewal motion and demand the government properly resource the agencies involved in the fight against serious crime.” ENDS

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