Sinn Féin - On Your Side

New legislation only as effective as criminal justice system

28 September, 2004

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly while welcoming the introduction of new legislation to tackle crimes based on religion, race, sexual orientation or disability as well as new legislation to tackle death driving has said that any legislation is only as effective as the police service and criminal justice system which implements it.

Mr Kelly said:

"Legislation which aims to combat crime based on religion, race, sexual orientation or disability is long overdue. But this must be part of a wider strategy to take action against sectarianism, racism, homophobia or attacks targeting people with disabilities. New legislation creating two new driving offences to target death driving is also long overdue.

"It is reassuring to see that the British government is at last taking seriously the major human costs that result from racism, sectarianism, homophobia and discrimination against those with disabilities.

"Across the Six counties there has been an increase in racist and homophobic attacks and hundreds of families, particularly from isolated nationalist communities, have been forced from their homes as a result of sectarian attack and intimidation.

"We all have a responsibility to eradicate these hatreds from our society and to ensure that everyone can live their lives free from fear of violence. I wish to reiterate Sinn Féin's clear message that bigotry of any form is unacceptable in our society and our commitment to playing our part in full in combating that bigotry.

"However the reality is that any new legislation will only be as effective as the mechanism for its implementation. Time after time the criminal justice system has failed people who suffer as a result of death driving or who are targeted on the grounds religion, race, sexual orientation or disability.

"Legislation is welcome but Sinn Fein will not be deflected from our objective of achieving a genuine new beginning to policing and to maximising the changes required to deliver an impartial, representative and effective criminal justice system. Legislation on its own will not tackle hate crimes and it will not tackle death driving. Legislation must be part of a wider strategy and a long-term commitment to deal with all of the issues involved." ENDS

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