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TD calls for Tribunals Bill to be withdrawn saying it would

27 April, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, today called for the Minister for Justice to withdraw the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill saying it would "limit the potential to uncover the truth."

He said, "The Bill as it stands follows in the footsteps of the British Government's similar legislation. Rather than furthering the cause of justice which most right thinking people would believe to be its intent, this Bill will instead limit the potential of future public inquiries to uncover the full truth.

"The British Government's Inquiries Act 2005 amounts to another effort to limit the scope of future inquiries into the cases of those murdered by state collusion. It has rightly been condemned by a range of civil and human rights organisations. However, we believe that the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill published by Minister McDowell and agreed by this government attempts to do the same.

"This Bill would effectively give the government power over whether to establish a Tribunal of Inquiry at all, its terms of reference and its members. It would also effectively give the government the power to suspend or dissolve a Tribunal for unlimited reasons and to prevent the publication of a Tribunal's report. This is completely unacceptable and will not instil any confidence amongst either the general public or more crucially those who have been specifically affected and are seeking the full truth about events.

"Sinn Fein is beginning a process of consultation with groups and organisations who are demanding public inquiries and as such are likely to be affected by the Bill. We are sending a copy of the Bill and an outline of our main concerns to the Human Rights Commission, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and groups like Justice for the Forgotten, An Fhirinne and the Eddie Fullerton campaign seeking their views on the Bill as it appears the Minister has failed to engage in meaningful consultation before publishing his Bill.

"In this regard I would call on the Minister to withdraw the current Bill pending the conclusion of such a consultation process so that the main issues of concern can be addressed by all interested parties." ENDS

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