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Ó Snodaigh highlights priorities for tackling gangland crime

19 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the Special Criminal Court must be dismantled and not used as a shortcut to unsound convictions as a knee jerk reaction to increased gangland crime. Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking today as the cabinet prepared to make its response to the recent spate of gangland killings.

He said, "The UN has twice advised the government to dismantle the Special Criminal Court. Its continued use is in breach of both the Good Friday Agreement and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It must not now be used as a shortcut to unsound convictions as a knee-jerk reaction to increased gangland crime. The Gardaí must put the investigative work into building sound cases to ensure convictions are achieved in the proper manner i.e. handed down by a jury. And they must be resourced to do so.

"The use and deployment of Garda resources is the key issue. Successful convictions are determined by the work put into building cases and the availability of witness statements is influenced by the relationship between communities and the Gardaí. Garda resources must be focused on these two key areas of (1) investigative work gathering evidence, both testimonial, financial and physical evidence, and (2) community policing. Ten years ago the Report on Garda Effectiveness and Efficiency recommended the civilianisation of appropriate task to allow for the redeployment of fully trained Gardaí. Further reports recommended this again in 2001 and as recently as last month. During the intervening period Sinn Féin has frequently called on the Minister to civilianise appropriate tasks. It is unfortunate that it has taken such a high number of violent killings before the government have given any indication that these crucial recommendations might be implemented.

"The right to silence must not be curtailed any further. There has been an over reliance on confessions and implicating testimonies to secure convictions in the past and an under-use of real investigative work and hard evidence in the building of cases. This situation must be reversed." ENDS

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