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Sinn Féin attempts to stop introduction of ASBOs

4 April, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh today introduced amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 in an effort to have the introduction of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) prohibited until the Children Act 2001 is fully operational, if they are to be introduced at all. The amendment to the Bill was one of 52 amendments tabled by Sinn Féin at Committee Stage in the Dáil today. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the purpose of the Sinn Féin amendments to section 1 of the bill was to prevent the Minister from introducing unnecessary legislation, specifically in relation to ASBOs.

The Sinn Féin TD said, "All legislative responses to anti-social behaviour must be both proportionate and necessary. While Sinn Fein is fundamentally opposed to the principle of ASBOs our amendment would ensure that ASBOs could only be introduced with Oireachtas approval and this approval could only be sought in the Houses of the Oireachtas 10 years after all sections of the 2001 Act become fully operational. Our amendment provides for a necessity test."

"The ASBO provisions currently before us allow for a serious and open-ended curtailment of some of the most fundamental rights of individuals. The provisions are disproportionate. It is well documented that ASBOs are inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child but they may also be unnecessary.

"We do not need more legislation we need the resourcing and operationalisation of the existing provisions contained in the Children Act 2001.

"ASBOs are proven to fail at addressing their stated purpose i.e. reducing anti-social behaviour. Studies conducted in Liverpool demonstrate that ASBOs extend the discretionary powers of the police without improving accountability; name, shame and criminalise children; fast-track young people into prison and; undermine due-process by allowing hearsay evidence.

"The Minister has failed to produce any evidence demonstrating that ASBOs actually work."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh went on to say, "The government are trying to roll back on child protection. They are attempting to legislate away complex problems that, by contrast, Sinn Fein recognises require the resourcing and implementation of existing laws and investment in communities.

"Sinn Fein advocates a multi-dimensional approach to the issue of community safety. Our policy is focused greatly on the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. The Minister should abandon his aspirations to introduce ASBOs and instead promote investment in communities and recreational services for young people in particular, early interventions for those at risk of offending and effective rehabilitation programmes." ENDS

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