Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Minister must not ignore views of Children's Ombudsman on Criminal Justice Bill

6 April, 2006


Speaking today Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus O Snodaigh TD welcomed the validation of Sinn Fein's position on the Criminal Justice Bill by the Children's Ombudsman and Human Rights Commission.

Speaking in response to the critiques of the Criminal Justice Bill
published today by the Children's Ombudsman and the Human Rights
Commission, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I welcome the observations by the Human Rights Commission and the recommendations from the Children's Ombudsman in relation to the Criminal Justice Bill, both of which validate the position taken by Sinn Fein.

“I have already tabled some 52 amendments to the Bill aimed at addressing
many of the concerns reiterated today by the two bodies.  Sinn Féin are
trying to alleviate the worst consequences of the Criminal Justice Bill
2004 for children by proposing the exclusion of the Minister's proposals
from the Bill to: introduce ASBOs; lower the age of criminal
responsibility; lift restrictions on reporting that might identify a child;
continue using St. Patricks Institution for the detention of children and;
reduce the number and independence of inspections of child detention
centres.

“The Minister's proposed ASBOs allow for a serious and open-ended
curtailment of some of the most fundamental rights of individuals.  In my
view McDowell's legislative response to the grave problem of anti-social
behaviour is disproportionate and indeed unnecessary. It is well documented
that ASBOs are inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights
and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And in the end of the day 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. And 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 Sinn Fein recognises require the resourcing and
implementation of existing laws and investment in communities.

“The Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan has a statutory duty to protect the
interests of children in this state.  Minister McDowell already has an
established track record of ignoring the HRC's recommendations and we hope
this practice will not be repeated with regard to the Ombudsman for
Children.  The Minister should listen to and take on board the opinions of
both the HRC and Children's Ombudsman who are tasked with protecting and
enhancing human rights in this state.  Ultimately he should withdraw much
of his increasingly controversial Bill.” ENDS

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