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Sinn Féin local Garda accountability proposals deserve consideration - Ó Snodaigh

22 June, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD described as "undemocratic" the decision to suppress debate on a Sinn Féin amendment to the Garda Síochana Bill calling for the establishment of District-level Community Policing Partnerships due to a potential cost to the State.

Regarding the motion he tabled in the Dáíl today seeking to have the Garda Síochana Bill re-exmined at committee stage on foot of the findings of the second interim report of the Morris Tribunal, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The Garda Síochana Bill had already passed committee stage by the time the second Morris Tribunal report was published, so there was no opportunity for legislators to scrutinise whether the Bill's provisions are adequate to address the Tribunal's recommendations. Therefore, in view of the seriousness of the matter, I tabled a motion in the Dáil today calling for the Bill to be sent back to Committee so that legislators have an opportunity to address these concerns properly.

"Today I also proposed an amendment calling for Community Policing Partnerships but it was ruled out of order due to a potential cost to the state. In the first instance this is fundamentally undemocratic because it suppresses debate on policy alternatives. Secondly, if we want our policing service in this state to rank among the best in the world it is essential that it be made accountable to the local communities it serves and to and work in partnership with them. It's that simple. Hence the Sinn Féin proposals for the establishment of Community Policing Partnerships at District level could be a fundamental lynchpin in a successful Garda reform package. Even more than that - the community-level accountability element is the one on which the objective of restoring confidence in the Gardaí will either succeed or fail. So we absolutely must get it right.

"These sensible and constructive Garda reform proposals are crucial to Sinn Féin's agenda for change. If we do not succeed in getting this Government to adopt them we will set about implementing them as a party in Government." ENDS

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