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Mutual Assistance Bill will consolidate McDowell's subversive aganda

8 June, 2006

Sinn Féin International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Bill 2005 will "further consolidate the fast advancing anti-democratic and subversive agenda" of Justice Minister Michael McDowell. Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said Sinn Féin will oppose the Bill at every stage unless amendments are made.

He said, "The measures included in the Bill further consolidate the fast advancing anti-democratic and subversive agenda of Big Brother fans such as our own Minister for Justice. Micheal McDowell will not tolerate invasions of his own privacy (Gardai leaking story about his son) yet he has led the charging assault on this right in Europe. Typically it is one law for himself and one for everyone else. This Bill will increase the prevalence of email and phone tapping in the state thereby adding to the already vast bank of information on private individuals available to so-called intelligence services and governments. In the absence of adequate safeguards, this will create further opportunities for people like McDowell to subvert the judicial process, trample the fundamental rights of citizens and engage in political policing to serve his own narrow agendas and self-interest. The Minister's actions in relation to Frank Connolly and the Centre for Public Inquiry in leaking confidential Garda information to a drinking buddy demonstrates the serious threat McDowell poses to the democratic fabric of our society.

"Law enforcement authorities are not infallible. Look at the Morris Tribunal revelations, remember the Kerry babies saga or the Sallin set-up. It emerged last month that 1,500 people in Britain were wrongly listed on their Criminal Records Bureau as criminals and this affected their job and study opportunities. Intelligence may be fabricated. It is also frequently used and abused by those in power to justify their actions. The invasion of Iraq on false premises and the shooting dead of an innocent 27 year old Brazilian national Jean Charles de Menezes by police in the wake of the london bombings are just two among many possible examples. As it stands safeguards against and remedies in the event of such abuses are glaringly thin on the ground. These protections need to be prioritised.

"Finally I will turn briefly to the shameful Agreement with the United Sates of America. It is paradoxical to sign an agreement of this nature with the United States when they continue to refuse to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. It is paradoxical to sign and now give effect to such an agreement with the United States when their law enforcement authorities and security agencies are actively breaching the human rights of 1,000s of individuals. This includes breaching the fundamental right to access justice by subjecting people to extraordinary rendition (with which this state is colluding according to the Council of Europe) and torture and holding people indefinitely and without charge in camps such as that at Guantanamo and increasingly Bagram in Afghanistan. Need I go on??

"I believe, we must safeguard democracy against the establishment of the Big Brother states which they seek, and therefore Sinn Féin will oppose this Bill oppose this Bill at every stage unless amendments are made." ENDS

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