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Ó Snodaigh proposes alternative to McDowell’s flawed Garda Executive Management Board

29 March, 2007


Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has submitted 88 amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill which will be debated in the Dáil today. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said today there is an urgent need to get tough on crime but described the Criminal Justice Bill as a joke which only promotes gimmicks that have been tried and failed in other jurisdictions. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "There are deep concerns about this legislation and with the manner in which the minister is trying to rush this through the Dáil with very limited debate."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh also today proposed sentencing guidelines for the judiciary and an alternative to the Garda Síochána Executive Management Board proposed by the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell. He said the Sinn Féin model for the proposed board is based on the Patten model and involves independent civilian oversight which according to Deputy Ó Snodaigh is the obvious absence in the Government's proposed model.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "The recent surge in gangland shootings, violent crime and the reported increases in drug prevalence highlights the urgent need to get tough on crime. However, what McDowell is proposing in the Criminal Justice Bill is gimmicks that have been tried and failed in other jurisdictions. This Bill is a joke and is not tough on crime as the Minister would have you believe. I have submitted 88 substantive and constructive amendments to the Bill which aim to delete the gimmicks and mitigate the harm that could be caused by this useless Bill.

"Included in my proposals is the introduction of sentencing guidelines by the Oireachtas for the judiciary to introduce tougher sentences for, in particular, but not limited to, drugs-related crime and sexual offences.

"I have also proposed an alternative to the Garda Síochána Executive Management Board proposed by the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.

"The Government's model has been welcomed by the Labour Party who like the SDLP in the north are willing to accept far too little when it comes to policing reform. The model as it stands falls far short of Patten and hence it also falls short of the Government's obligations under the equivalence provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. The Bill as drafted provides for a Garda Board of which the chair is to be the Garda Commissioner and the only members independent of the Gardaí are to be Ministerial appointees.

"The Sinn Féin model, Bord An Garda Síochána, on the other hand, is based on the Patten model and involves independent civilian oversight which is the most obvious absence in the Minister's proposal. Our formulation provides for a policing Board that is both independent of the Gardaí and of the government of the day.

"If implemented Bord An Garda Síchána would have a real and substantive role in determining policing priorities, use and distribution of policing resources and oversight of the force as a whole." ENDS

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