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Martina Anderson calls for support for 'Core values and principles for an All-Ireland Justice Policy'

19 February, 2006

Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson, speaking during the policing debate on behalf of the Ard Chomhairle, proposed motion 394 for the Ard Comhairle  and asked for support for motion 395.

This is the discussion paper on ‘Core values and principles for an All-Ireland Justice Policy. It was brought before party members at the National Conference, held in Belfast in January, under the theme “Developing an All-Ireland vision of Policing and Justice”

It is perhaps inevitable that the key focus publicly is on policing in the North.  However, the debate must also be about developing our all Ireland vision for the future. In that respect, there are many questions to be answered.

Are the people of Ireland North and South well-served by those in government today, those with responsibility for policing and justice?

Is the huge industry created by the policing and justice system meeting the needs of local communities? What are the social and economic benefits of this system for those in deprived and marginalised communities?

How do we ensure that the price for safety and security is not our liberty and rights? In whose interest are these decisions made? And with European directives on some of these areas affecting our laws too, how can we influence such decisions?

Is there justice in the courts? Or is there inherent chauvinism, racism and sectarianism in the administration of justice on this island?

What about those who are imprisoned? Is it right to imprison people seeking asylum? Is it just to keep men and women locked up for 23 hours a day?

Has the more humane regime in jails won by the sacrifice of republican POW’s been replaced by oppressive regimes.

And who polices the Gardai?  Why has the police ombudsman in the South not got equal powers to that of the ombudsman in the North? 

What lessons have been learned from the McBrearty family and others.

There are questions about the future development of policing and justice on this island which we must consider as a party, and as a society. These questions are not limited to the negotiations for transfer of powers on policing and justice. For that reason, motion 394 proposes core values and principles for the further development of All-Ireland Justice policy.

I am also supporting Ard Comhairle motion 394 and address a number of other motions some of which seem to say our approach to policing works against our strategy to end British rule in our country.

Comrades, our approach to policing, like our approach to every other aspect of struggle must be about ending British rule in our country and asserting our republican agenda. It is central to ending British rule. In fact, I can’t understand how British rule can be ended if we give up and pull away from negotiations on policing and justice. 

At the end of the day, we  the members of Sinn Fein will decide whether we have reached the stage where we can discuss the policy of Sinn Fein in relation to policing arrangements in the six counties. We are not there yet. We should keep campaigning an negotiating for more change on policing and justice. And for that reason, I would encourage you to reject motions 396 -399 and motion 406.


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