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Sinn Fein opposed to British ID cards for Irish citizens

21 December, 2004

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew said that Sinn Fein are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of British ID cards. Ms Gildernew said:

"Sinn Fein are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of any voluntary or compulsory British ID card.

"Under the Good Friday Agreement people in the North have the right to Irish

or British identity (or both). Far from being an effective tool for anything, these cards would undermine not just civil liberties but also fundamentally the right of people living in the north to their Irish identity. Should Irish citizens in the North have to carry such a British ID card or there is there any basis for the British government have the right to hold biometric and other information on Irish citizens?

"The costs would also be considerable, individually and possibly to our overstretched local budget.

"The track record of the British government on delivering any similar computerised scheme, for example such as the Tax Credits system, has already proven to be deeply flawed. I wouldn't trust the government to introduce this measure in a sensible confidential manner. Any system the government has introduced involving technology in the past few years has been shambolic.

"Also within the context of a deeply divided and sectarian society the opportunity for authorities here to abuse a database of this nature and the ability of agencies such as the PSNI to use such information or ID cards to discriminate against nationalist is huge.

"The argument that this will tackle fraud is bogus. We heard these arguments when the British government introduced new electoral legislation that resulted in thousands of nationalists and young people being disenfranchised. People who fall through the system will become truly excluded and marginalised from society." ENDS

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