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Safety of protestors must be garda priority – O’Brien

16 April, 2012 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Safety of protestors must be garda priority – O’Brien

Speaking in the aftermath of the weekend protests at the Labour Party conference where gardaí used pepper spray on protestors, Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD said that gardaí must not be allowed use heavy-handed tactics against protestors with no regard to citizens’ human rights.

The Cork North Central TD said:
“There have been numerous reports of the gardaí using heavy-handed tactics and pepper spray against protestors at the Labour Party conference over the weekend.
This type of report is nothing new. Garda violence at places like Rossport, where there is legitimate protest, is so commonplace that now it receives very little public attention. When there are protests, the gardaí should know better than automatically to turn on protestors with violent use of pepper spray.
“People have a right to protest and at the same time to have their civil and human rights protected. Heavy handedness by the gardaí should not be tolerated and they should not be allowed to carry on as if they are a law unto themselves. The use of pepper spray by police has been associated with dozens of deaths in custody in the US. If the gardaí here are going to use pepper spray automatically on very young protestors at every demonstration, then it will only be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed as a result.
“It is our view that gardaí should be routinely unarmed. Sinn Féin is concerned that ‘less lethal weapons’ such as pepper spray, often have a lethal capacity, if used inappropriately, especially against children and vulnerable adults.
If such methods are to be used, they must be restricted to appropriately trained individuals and must adhere to the highest standards of human rights where an awareness of their lethal potential must be to the fore in all circumstances.”

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