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Ó Snodaigh outlines Sinn Féin opposition to Offences Against the State Act

25 April, 2007


Sinn Féin Human Rights spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has once again outlined Sinn Féin's opposition to the Offences Against the State Act. Speaking against the motion renewing the Act in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Every Deputy in this House who values democracy must firstly vote against the government motion and then campaign for the repeal of the Offences Against the State Acts in their entirety." Deputy Ó Snodaigh also said the totally draconian nature of the Offences Against the State Acts was shown by the recent conviction of a Cork man for IRA membership on the word of a Garda and the four year sentence imposed upon him.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Yet again I am imploring all Deputies to consider the highly corrosive effect of this legislation on human rights, civil liberties and democratic life in this state before voting today.

"It can no longer be denied that the continued use of draconian provisions such as those up for renewal today is untenable. A new political dispensation has come into being on this island. Martin McGuiness and Ian Paisley will shortly take up their positions as First and Deputy First Minister in the first powersharing executive of its kind and of its potential. It is time for this anti-republican PD Minister and his government partners Fianna Fáil to join in this new dispensation. The onus remains on the Minister and on this government to live up to their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement to deliver security normalisation. Hence, scrapping the Offences Against the State Acts is a pressing goalpost for all in this House. The provisions up for renewal and indeed the Offences Against the State Acts in their entirety have no place in the present or future of this island.

"The apathy of most of the Opposition on this issue, and the ill-advised wrongly-placed enthusiasm of others for these measures, has obvious negative implications for Irish society. The unreformed Garda Special Branch maintains the power to act as a political police force systematically harassing citizens engaged in open, legal and democratic political activity. The new Garda Ombudsman Commission has no power to hold Special Branch to account. The Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice have the power to deny the Ombudsman access to anything they deem to relate to 'state security'. Special Branch should be redeployed into Criminal Detective Units and all threats to public safety should be policed in a professional and equivalently accountable manner.

"Arguing for the sections to be renewed last year, the Minister stated "The fact that the Garda is successful depends on this legislation". This is a truly frightening proposition. Why has this government taken no steps to ensure that the Gardaí learn to police effectively without relying on the denial of fundamental civil and political rights?

"Every Deputy in this House who values democracy must firstly vote against the government motion and then campaign for the repeal of the Offences Against the State Acts in their entirety." ENDS

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