Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Raymond McCartney - keynote address - Justice & policing

10 September, 2011


Ba mhaith liom labhairt ar son run 182 agus 183

Our strategy for transforming justice and policing in the six counties
is working

Just look at the carnival of reaction around us.

Without transfer of powers on policing and justice, there would be no
Justice Committee in the local Assembly.

We wouldn’t have the chance this week, to question the Police
Ombudsman about his role in this scandal.

We wouldn’t have a Minister for Justice to answer for the complicity
of officials in his new Department in a sabotage campaign against the
Office of the Police Ombudsman.

David Ford’s department is like Jurassic Park. It is full of the
dinosaurs and relics of an old order. The Minister needs to be more
than a spokesman for the department

Let me reiterate what Sinn Fein told the Minister and the present
Police Ombudsman in the Assembly this week.

The hallmark of Al Hutchinson’s term in office has been an
unprecedented disaster. He has been part of the problem – he can’t be
part of the solution.

Dare I say it again, long goodbyes don’t work. Now is the time for Al
Hutchinson the time to go.

Sinn Féin wants to transform the Justice system across this island.
We will also expose those who resist change.

The prison service in the six counties is another example.

Those imprisoned, must be treated with dignity. Sinn Féin has visited
the jails many times, seen the conditions, and met with those
imprisoned. We are insisting on the implementation of the reforms
already agreed.

There will be no Patten-style pay-off for the prison service old guard
without sustainable, acceptable reforms. At Hillsborough 2010, we
secured a review of the prisons.

The interim report from the review team points the way for sustainable
reform, where prisoners are treated with dignity and respect.

Political ex-prisoners are not second-class citizens. They do not need
licences.

Sinn Féin has challenged the decision to revoke licences of people who
were once political prisoners.

We continue to do so and will seek to repeal such devices.

In the case of Brendan Lillis, it was Sinn Féin which spearheaded the
campaign for his release on humanitarian grounds. Together, with his
partner and those responding to the humanitarian issues at heart, we
effected his release

Overhaul of the court service in the six counties must be centred on
the rights of citizens. Changes in legal aid cannot be permitted to
impinge on access to justice.

We extend solidarity to those victimised by the state and by
criminality. Many have fought long legal battles for justice.

In relation to collusion and state murder, a huge battle has been won.
Inquests must now comply with Article 2 of the European Convention of
Human Rights. Some families - like the Ballymurphy massacre families -
have waited 40 years for their basic entitlement to a proper inquest.

With transfer of powers to the local Assembly, the decision to reopen
inquests rests in the hands of a local Attorney General appointed by
the First and deputy First Minister.

That is an important component of the agenda for change.

The inquest system needs to be equalised north and south. At present,
Irish citizens in the 26 counties are not entitled to Article 2
inquests. Sinn Féin wants to change that and to harmonise the justice
and policing system across the 32 counties.

The rights of the victims of violent crime must also be paramount. But
the use of supergrass evidence is tainted.

Sinn Féin opposed the supergrass trials in the 1980s. We opposed their
use today. But the question is : where are the Special Branch
handlers and controllers ? when can we expect them to see them in
court and held to account ?

This summer has been a season of bad policing.

Whether this is seasonal – or cultural and structural – only we can
decide. Since spring this year, certain PSNI activities have been
described as 'intelligence-led'

There was nothing intelligent about the high-profile armed PSNI raids.
There was nothing proportionate about the use of 350 plastic bullets.

For the PSNI to use plastic bullets at all - never mind on this scale
- is something Sinn Féin opposes. These weapons kill. They weren’t
used in Matt Baggot's country.

So don’t use them in our country.

Sinn Fein’s team on the newly reconstituted Policing Board and our
members Justice Committee are locked onto the agenda for change. Ar
aghaidh linn leis !!

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