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Criminal Justice Bill has more to do with populist vote than being tough on crime – Ó Snodaigh

22 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has once again expressed Sinn Féin's opposition to the Criminal Justice Bill 2007. Speaking in the Dáil today during the second stage debate on the Bill Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "This Bill unnecessarily and unjustifiably curtails the rights of citizens and crucially it will not address gangland crime or the related drugs crisis."

He said, "I want to categorically express Sinn Féin's opposition to the government's latest retrogressive, impotent and dangerous gift to an inadequately reformed police force. This Bill unnecessarily and unjustifiably curtails the rights of citizens and crucially it will not address gangland crime or the related drugs crisis which the same government have allowed to become entrenched in our capital and across the state. We are opposed to the undemocratic manner in which the Criminal Justice Bill 2007 is being introduced and we are opposed to most of its content. Like McDowell, I hope the 'Coalition of the Confused' will also fully clarify their respective positions on the Bill's substance for the sake of the electorate.

"What communities are crying out for is better policing. Not more police powers and not new variants on existing offences but the use of existing powers to enforce existing offences.

"The use and deployment of Garda resources is a 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 testimony, financial and physical evidence, and (2) community policing. 10 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 November. During the intervening period Sinn Féin have 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 state needs to strip away the profits to be made from gangland crime. While it does some great work, at times the Criminal Assets Bureau appears to be little more than a political tool misused for cases where the Revenue Commission would be a more appropriate body. CAB should relentlessly prioritise the pursuit of drug barons, great and small, until the financial incentive to be gained from involvement in the illicit drugs market and gangland crime is diminished absolutely.

"The government's response to gangland crime i.e. the legislation before us today does not do what is necessary. This Bill has more to do with getting a populist vote than with getting tough on criminals." ENDS

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