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British EU Presidency intent on curtailing civil liberties - de Brún

9 September, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today said that 'civil rights are non-negotiable'‚ Ms de Brún made her comments after yesterday‚s summit of European Interior Ministers failed to reach agreement on a number of key areas including the retention of citizen‚s personal data, through mobile telephone and e-mail records.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"For a number of years now many European Union leaders have been intent on limiting the civil liberties of citizens and have used using the fear of or experience of terror attacks as the cover or justification for such an approach. From data retention to biometric passports to a 'fortress Europe'‚ we are moving inexorably closer to a 'big brother is watching you' super-state. The bomb attacks upon the people of London on July 7th were unjustifiable, but they should not be the catalyst for the further erosion of citizen‚s rights. We have all seen the tragic consequences in London that flow from this kind of blind securocrat approach.

"The British Home Secretary Charles Clarke is on record as saying that EU states may have to accept an erosion of some civil liberties. Indeed in his speech to the European Parliament this week, he openly argued that biometric data should be an automatic part of European visas, passports and identity cards. He even went so far as to suggest that this should be the case for driving licences well. He also advocated forcing mobile phone companies and e-mail providers to retain data they use for billing purposes and denied that this is an unnecessary invasion of privacy. These are only some of the widespread measures to curb civil liberties which the British government is proposing during its EU Presidency.

"For me as a Sinn Féin MEP this is not only inappropriate but unacceptable. Those of us who have come through 30 years of British misrule in Ireland, the shoot to kill policy, Diplock Courts and Internment will resist attempts to curb individual and collective freedoms. The nationalist community is acutely aware how information has been used against them in the past. Mr Clarke and the British Government have obviously learned nothing from their experiences in Ireland. Their tough 'anti-terror stance', which is fixated on security at the expense of justice, will only lead to further injustices. It will not make people or communities in the EU any safer." ENDS

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