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Garda detention regulations inadequate - Ferris

13 December, 2006


Speaking before attending a Justice Committee meeting this morning to discuss changes in regulations governing the treatment of persons in Garda custody, Sinn Féin's Martin Ferris TD said the existing regulations have been proven to be ineffective. Citing a number of cases as examples, Deputy Ferris went on to call for mandatory video-recording in Garda stations and effective sanctions for breach of regulations by Gardaí.

The Kerry North TD said: "The regulations which purport to govern the treatment of persons in Garda custody have been in place since 1987. They predate the events in Donegal uncovered by the Morris Tribunal. They predate the deaths Terence Wheelock in Garda custody and of Brian Rossiter and John Moloney following custody. It means the regulations are dangerously ineffective, indeed they have been proven ineffective by the many grave abuses which have taken place since 1987, including the framing of Dean Lyons.

"The Criminal Justice Act 2006 allows for the extension of detention in custody without charge for 24 hours without judicial oversight. Given the exclusion of 'rest' periods from the total this could amount to 32 hours custody. Sinn Féin and the Human Rights Commission argued prior to the passage of the Bill that this would put Ireland in breach of international human rights obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The HRC maintained that the current provision for 12 hour detention should be sufficient for proper investigation, and that the Minister had not made the case for this extension of powers.

"Any move giving effect to the extension of the maximum durations of detention without charge must be preceded by full independent and public enquiries into a number of deaths in Garda custody or following custody e.g. the late Brian Rossiter, Terence Wheelock and John Moloney. The ICCL make the point that the facilities such as video recording do not exist in Irish Garda stations to allow for safe extended periods of detention.

"The regulations should include provisions for mandatory video-recording of Garda stations, a right to the accompaniment of a solicitor in any questioning taking place during the period of extended detention at the very least; and clear effective sanctions for any breach of regulations by members of the force. I am disappointed the Government did not allow for a full Dáil debate on this issue as demanded by Sinn Féin in the Dáil yesterday."

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