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Ó Snodaigh - McDowell's civil liberties claim a sick joke

28 August, 2003

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice and Equality has described Michael McDowell's assertion that he has taken a civil liberties approach to new draft legislation he has announced by extending the time of detention for suspects from 12 hours to 24 hours as a "sick joke". The Dublin South Central TD was responding to Minister McDowell's claim that he was encouraged by an 'expert group' to increase the period of detention to 48 but instead resisted this measure and brought it up to 24 hours.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: "The new draft legislation represents another step on McDowell's march to the Right. His latest draconian measure adds to a litany of repressive legislation that he has introduced over the last 12 months to curtail the civil and human rights of groups and individuals. Instead of giving the Gardai wider and more repressive legislation his focus should be on making the Gardai more accountable to the people they serve. Over the last number of years a deep mistrust has developed around the role of the Gardai in a number of very controversial cases. This distrust has not been addressed and will only be exacerbated by the introduction of more draconian laws, which will be open to abuse.

"Minister McDowell's arrogant response, in an interview today after he was criticised by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, that he was taking a civil liberties approach by increasing the time of detention from 12 hours to 24 and not 48 as his so-called 'expert group' had recommended is a sick joke.

"Michael McDowell is as much a civil libertarian as Mary Harney is a supporter of Karl Marx." ENDS

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