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Coalition of the confused can't agree on Criminal justice policy - Ó Snodaigh

29 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has highlighted yet another issue that the coalition of the confused partners, Fine Gael and Labour disagree on.  Speaking during a Fine Gael private members Bill on criminal justice that the Labour Party abstained to vote on, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The Coalition of the Confused don't know where they stand on neutrality, the privatisation of Aer Lingus and now a right wing criminal justice agenda."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Fine Gael's ultra-regressive proposal throws out the crucial safeguard of a presumption of innocence and sends a message to householders that they should act as Judge, Jury and Executioner whenever they find someone uninvited in their property.  The crime of trespass under statute is not punishable by a kicking.  In March 2002 Jim O'Keefe stated Article 34 of the Constitution provides that justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by the constitution. Very obviously any involvement in or support for vigilantism would run utterly counter to this particular provision of the constitution.

"On this issue legislation already exists whereby a person can use reasonable force in the face of a perceived threat.  This bill does not limit the circumstances in which force can be used for example it does not stipulate that force may only be used in the face of a threat to body on life.  This Bill sends a message, accurate or otherwise, that you can beat up anyone you find in your home without fear of being brought to justice yourself.  There are many scenarios whereby this legislation could result in people, who are innocent of any serious crime, getting the shit kicked out of them and no redress would then be available to them from the courts.

"This Bill undeniably encourages vigilantism, so by his own admission he is advocating measures that run counter to the Constitution. How lies this with Deputy O'Keefe's proposed coalition partners.  The Coalition of the Confused don't know where they stand on neutrality, the privatisation of Aer Lingus and now a right wing criminal justice agenda. In the past we in Sinn Féin have made the point that on a range of issues Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and the Green Party have much in common with each other and that Labour's proposed coalition with Fine Gael would represent a shift to the right. We seen that illustrated again here last tonight with Labour abstaining to vote on the Fine Gael Bill signalling that they cannot agree with it. We have seen that policy difference between Fine Gael and Labour also on Irish Neutrality and on the privatisation of Aer Lingus. The stark choice for Labour supporters is between a Coalition of the Confused with Fine Gael or the building of a real left in Irish politics." ENDS

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