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Sinn Féin attempts to increase number of judges for Central Criminal and Circuit Courts

21 February, 2007


Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the Government would rather curtail civil liberties than target resources at protecting communities. Deputy Ó Snodaigh was speaking today as the Government denied him the opportunity to amend legislation to raise the number of judges in the Central Criminal and Circuit Courts.

He said, "My office tabled amendments to the Courts and Court Officers Bill to raise the limit on the number of judges in the Central Criminal and Circuit Courts higher than that proposed by government. Sinn Féin's amendments have been ruled out of order by the government despite the fact that the sole purpose of the Bill is to raise the ceiling on the number of Judges that may be employed by each Court. This is ridiculous.

"I was trying to give future Governments greater flexibility to ensure courts have the capacity to deal with crime promptly but we are being prohibited from doing so this by government.

"This is the same government which spends so much time making public statements lamenting the number of people who are getting bail. In our view lengthy delays in the justice system are a central cause of this. Judges don't want to refuse bail where the only alternative can be to lock someone up in prison for 18 months and longer before trial.

"Properly resourcing the justice system including the courts, the DPP and free legal aid so that justice can be administered promptly is what is required.

"By ruling out our amendments we are prevented from even making our case. The government would rather curtail civil liberties in what is an impotent effort to curb crime than target resources at protecting communities." ENDS

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