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Criminal Justice Bill will not impact on serious crime – Ó Snodaigh

30 June, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has described the Criminal Justice Amendment Bill, published by Minister Dermot Ahern today, as an attempt to extensively diminish the right to trial by jury. He said the measures contained in the Bill will have no impact on the fight against serious crime and what is needed is less laws and more action.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, “The Criminal Justice Amendment Bill is yet another package of futile laws thrown together as a PR stunt in order to give the impression that the Government is tackling serious crime. However, the Bill is hugely significant in that it attempts to seriously diminish the right to trial by jury. This fundamental change to our common law system must not be allowed to slip onto the statute book under the radar.

“Jury trials are not the problem in the fight against serious crime. In fact the statistics prove that juries have no problem convicting criminals when solid cases are put in front of them. What is required is resources and measures to help the Gardaí to build strong cases.

“Michael McDowell rushed a host of offences relating to organized crime onto the statute book via the Criminal Justice Act 2006. We argued at the time that the laws were a PR stunt and that they would not have any impact in the fight against serious crime. Now just three years later Dermot Ahern is rushing another range of equally futile offences into being. The bulk of this Bill simply amends those offences rushed in by the earlier Fianna Fáil led Government in 2006.

“On a near annual basis the UN recommends that Ireland should end the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court – with this Bill the Government actually does the exact opposite in extending its jurisdiction massively. Today I met with the Human Rights Commission and they have confirmed to me that they share my concerns with this Bill.

“As we said in 2006 and we are saying again now, what is needed to tackle serious crime is concrete action rather than publicity courting, ineffective and potentially dangerous legislation.” ENDS

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