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Superintendents' support for McDowell's volunteers unfortunate

20 April, 2006

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has reiterated his call for the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to abandon his plans to introduce a volunteer Garda reserve force.  Deputy Ó Snodaigh was responding today to the Association of Garda Superintendents stated support for McDowell’s proposals.

He said, “The Association of Garda Superintendents’ support for McDowell’s volunteer reserve force is unfortunate. Sinn Féin is opposed to the introduction of such a force. We believe it is an unsatisfactory substitute for proper community policing and it would not be adequately trained.

“This proposal would not be fair on communities who deserve policing of the highest standard, from a fully trained and professional service.  Neither would it be fair on the proposed reserve volunteers themselves who would form part of a parallel police force incapable of ensuring comparable human rights standards in their activities. 

“The reserve Gardaí proposal is not the way to create greater community confidence in the Gardaí.  It is not an acceptable substitute for proper resourcing of community policing, it poses significant human rights concerns and I am again calling on the Minisiter to abandon his plans. Rather, any extra Garda numbers needed should be achieved through the civilianisation of a number of Garda duties in particular admin duties and by introducing a dedicated civilian traffic corps.  An Garda Síochána have a very low percentage of civilian staff by comparative standards.

“McDowell’s claim that Sinn Féin’s support for the Patten proposals contradicts our opposition to the volunteer reserve force is rubbish. For Sinn Féin the Patten proposals represent the minimum acceptable standard for policing reform. And, in sharp contrast to McDowell’s volunteers the reserve envisaged by Patten was to be a fully trained part-time employee service recruited from the community. McDowell is borrowing the language of Patten but not the substance.” ENDS

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