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Gardai must not be allowed issue their own search warrants - Ó Snodaigh

5 April, 2006

Today the Oireachtas Justice Committee are considering amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill from both Sinn Féin and the Labour Party that would delete proposals by the Minister to allow the Garda Siochana to issue their own search warrants.

Pointing to the activities of Gardai in Donegal that were uncovered by the Morris Tribunal Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, stressed the potential for abuse by the Gardai of the proposed new power to issue their own search warrants. Citing the recommendations of the Irish Law Society, The Human Rights Commission and the Irish Council of Civil Liberties Deputy Ó Snodaigh argued that, "the provisions should be deleted from the Bill and judicial control over the issuing of search warrants maintained."

He said, "Garda searches are essential in the fight against crime. However, because they amount to a significant interference with the right to private life as protected under Article 40.5 of the 1937 Constitution and international human rights law (including Article 8 and Article 1 Protocol 1 of the ECHR, and Article 17 of the ICCPR) they must be necessary and proportionate. Judicial oversight is crucial to ensuring that search warrants are not over-used or abused. The activities of Gardai in Donegal, uncovered by the Morris Tribunal, demonstrate the potential for abuse by the Gardai of a power to issue their own search warrants."

The Dublin South Central TD also questioned the necessity of the provision given that in practice a District Court Judge is available at all times to take requests.

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