MacLochlainn calls for Policing Authority Bill to be amended in wake of Fennelly controversy
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Justice, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, has said that the Policing Authority Bill must now be amended and brought before the Dáil as a matter of urgency.
Speaking this morning Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“The Policing Authority Bill in its current form is fatally flawed. The analysis of the Fennelly controversy by experts such as Mark Kelly of the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and Vicky Conway of DCU, have reinforced Sinn Féin’s policy in relation to the Policing Authority. Sinn Féin submitted detailed amendments to the Bill when it was being debated in the Seanad. The Government at the time rejected these amendments off-hand. The publication of the Fennelly report reinforces the need for the Sinn Féin amendments to be included in the Bill.
“The Bill must be amended so that the Garda Commissioner is accountable to an independent Policing Authority as opposed to the Minister for Justice. The Fennelly report shows that there are serious defects in the accountability structure in the Department of Justice where, incredibly, there was not one meeting between the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice during the most critical months to face the administration of the Gardaí since the foundation of the State.
“Furthermore, the Policing Authority Bill in its current form gives the power to the Minister for Justice, as opposed to the Policing Authority, in determining and dealing with matters of ‘security’. The problem here lies in the fact that it will be the Minister for Justice who will decide what constitutes a ‘security matter’. It is giving the Minister a trump card to deem any matter a ‘security’ matter, thus, allowing the Minister to take personal responsibility for dealing with that matter. Sinn Féin believes that the role of differentiating between a matter of ‘security’ and other policing matters should lie with an independent member of the judiciary as appointed by the Chief Justice.
“The Policing Authority as it is currently proposed by the Government would have had no effect in preventing any of the serious failings identified in the Fennelly report.”