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Tribunal Terms of Reference must be widened

2 June, 2005


Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said, "The Morris Tribunal terms of reference must be widened to include examination of the respective roles of the Attorney General, the Garda Commissioner and the Department of Justice, including the Ministers for Justice." Deputy Ó Snodaigh also called for all involved in the Donegal Garda scandal to be relieved of duty.

Speaking following a brief debate in the Dail today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said,

"The Morris Tribunal terms of reference must be widened to include examination of the respective roles of the Attorney General, the Garda Commissioner and the Department of Justice, including the Ministers for Justice. All involved at every level in this scandal should be relieved of duty. The case files of Gardaí involved in misconduct should be subject to review by a new Garda Ombudsman.

"The terms of reference should also be widened to examine other systematic injustices by the Gardaí that are well known, but have never been thoroughly or publicly investigated, such as the actions of the Heavy Gang, misconduct by the Special Branch, and Garda informers system.

"There are big question marks over the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell in relation to this. He opposed a public inquiry into this case in 1997 when he was Attorney General. He has blocked a public inquiry into a similar case, the James Sheehan case in Kerry involving allegations of Gardaí planting a firearm and destroying evidence in an attempt to damage the credibility of an election candidate. He has also said he will not publish the findings of the reinvestigation into the assassination of Donegal Councillor Eddie Fullerton, despite the strong evidence of British collusion and mishandling of the original investigation by the same Gardaí under investigation by the Morris Tribunal.

"There are also big question marks over Commissioner Conroy, who as recently as three weeks ago stated publicly that his view was that the original Garda inquiry into the matter was 'thorough and efficient'. I have my doubts that a person with such an opinion should continue in the top Garda post.

"Additionally, the Minister's Garda reform legislation is not nearly good enough to solve the problems identified and to prevent such policing disasters in future. Despite Michael McDowell's claims, it will not result in the root and branch reforms we need and deserve. Sinn Féin is demanding reforms at least consistent with the Patten model minimum standard, including a single Garda Ombudsman, a Garda Board, and Community Policing Partnerships at District level. If nothing else, the Good Friday Agreement human rights equivalence guarantees should result in a single Garda Ombudsman along the lines of the role of Nuala O'Loan instead of the Minister's deeply flawed proposal for an Ombudsman Commission - a model which is supported by nobody but him." ENDS

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