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Taoiseach should rein McDowell in now

23 May, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Taoiseach to "rein Michael McDowell in" saying that "the headline-grabbing Minister is more interested in spin than substance." Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his comments after several of McDowell's policy initiatives had come under sustained criticism from numerous quarters in the past couple of days.

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon he said, "In the space of just one week several of Michael McDowell's main policy platforms and gimmicks have been exposed as seriously flawed and ill-judged. It is clear the headline-grabbing Minister is more interested in spin than substance. His attention to detail in relation to PR contrasts sharply with his attention to detail in relation to policy proposals or legislation - a fact that is confirmed by the ridiculous amount of changes that have accompanied virtually every piece of legislation brought forward by him.

"His promotion of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) has been criticised by many groups including the Garda Representatives' Association who have stated that the laws to deal with anti-social behaviour are already there and only need to be properly resourced for them to be effective.

"His promotion of café bars to tackle binge drinking are a joke and have been criticised by health experts including the national alcohol policy adviser at the Department of Health.

"His offensive outburst at the end of last week against refugees and asylum seekers and his tirade against international law would, in other jurisdictions, be considered cause for resignation.

"That the Minister hasn‚t commented - good, bad or indifferent - about Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy‚s brazen defense of the seriously flawed investigation into the death of Richie Barron, when confessions were forced out of two individuals for a murder that never actually happened, is remarkable but not too surprising given that he was Attorney General during some of that investigation.

"That he has also manipulated public antipathy towards the Prison Officers Association as a cover for his real mission to privatise parts of the prison service - against the advice of international evidence and his Department's own expert committee - shows a Minister hell-bent on implementing his own ideological agenda rather than what is best for the wider community.

"All of this from the Minister for Equality who argues that inequality is good. If it wasn't so serious it would be laughable.

"No other Minister in this Cabinet has shown such a cavalier or arrogant attitude to the decision making process. Bertie Ahern has created the monster McDowell by allowing him to act as a law unto himself, by failing to challenge his outbursts or outrageous legislative behaivour. It is therefore Bertie Ahern who is ultimately responsible for each and every one of the fiascos McDowell has engineered. He should rein him in now." ENDS

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