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TD calls on Ministers to publish guidelines for deployment of less-lethal weapons

18 November, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Defence, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has urged both the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Justice to publish guidelines for the deployment of "less lethal" weapons. Deputy Ó Snodaigh also welcomed the Minister for Defence's stated willingness to be open and transparent in relation to these "very crucial human and civil rights issues."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I welcome the statement by the Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea in response to my question that he is willing to consider publishing guidelines for the introduction and use of so-called less lethal weapons by the Defence Forces. His position stands in stark contrast to the Minister for Justice, who has deliberately set about concealing from public scrutiny and indeed accountability the report recommending the adoption and proposed guidelines for the use of these weapons by the Gardai."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh also welcomed as positive the commitment by the Minister for Defence of his willingness to publish the list of weapons the Defence Forces are investigating and his findings on whether they are acceptable or not, saying "again, this contrasts favourably with the attitude of the Minister for Justice and his disregard for the human rights element, and the national sensitivity of this issue."

He went on to say, "Before any such weapons are adopted, never mind deployed, however, the Minister for Defence should consult with the Human Rights Commission on the issue. I would also urge him to look at the research conducted by groups like the Pat Finucane Centre and the Committee for the Administration of Justice regarding the experience of people in the Six Counties who have been at the receiving end of these weapons. And I would especially encourage him to talk directly to the relatives of the 17 Irish people, including eight children, who have been killed by so-called less-lethal weapons in the Six Counties." ENDS

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