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New proposals prove McDowell still soft on crime – Ó Snodaigh

14 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that Minister McDowell's new proposals for tackling crime constitute an 'election stunt' that prove again the Minister is 'soft on crime' by continuing to use failed and outdated policies. Deputy Ó Snodaigh pointed out that some of the Minister's proposals, such as mandatory sentencing, have been proven to be expensive failures, while he went on to call for redeployment of Gardaí onto the streets.

The Dublin South-Central TD said: "Just six months since the Criminal Justice Act 2006 was passed the Minister is yet again proposing legislation that is in the main unnecessary and disproportionate where what is needed is the re-targeting of Garda resources. Justice policy is now being shaped by election stunts.

"Each time there is a surge in gangland crime the Minister announces new legislative measures because it's easy to do that. But he is so blinded by the potential votes to be gained for his waning party he refuses to heed the evidence which demonstrates that his measures are in the main unnecessary and ineffective. He macho posturing allows him to pose as tough on crime but in reality, by using failed strategies, he is soft on crime.

"For example, he is proposing to extend the permissible duration of detention without charge in Garda custody to seven days. This provision already exists in relation to suspected drugs trafficking offences and its operation is reported on annually. The most recent report was considered by the Oireachtas Justice Committee last December. It demonstrated that no-one was detained for a period exceeding five days. So I would question whether the necessity for the power of detention up to seven days without charge has been established.

"Likewise just six months since he "tightened-up" mandatory minimum sentences in the Criminal Justice Act he is "tightening them up" again. Mandatory minimum sentences have been in operation in other jurisdictions including the United States for many years now and they have proven to be a very expensive failure.

"The international evidence shows that fear of detection is the most effective deterrent to criminals. What is needed therefore is the radical re-targeting of Garda resources free-up fully trained Gardaí to fight serious crime, including the redeployment of Special Branch detectives to criminal detective units. These measures coupled with the civiliamisation of appropriate tasks and the use of existing laws and sanctions will have far more effect than the Minister's approach of more and more laws.

"I wish I could say to communities that the government's proposals will address gangland crime but the truth is it's little more than an election ploy."


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