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Ó Snodaigh welcomes commission of investigation into death of Gary Douch

26 April, 2007


Speaking in the Dáil today on the Commission of Investigation into the death of Gary Douch Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said, "Every state failure to protect the lives of those in custody, whether in a Garda station or in a prison, must be the subject of an independent investigation". Deputy Ó Snodaigh welcomed the commission of investigation and said it has the potential to both uncover the truth and to make sound recommendations to prevent further tragic loss of life. However he criticised the inaction of the Government to protect prisoners' bodily integrity.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "On the 31st of July last 21 year old prisoner Gary Douche made a request to prison officers in Mountjoy for protection. They placed him in a holding cell in the basement with at least 5 other inmates where he was subsequently battered to death.

"Every state failure to protect the lives of those in custody, whether in a Garda station or in a prison, must be the subject of an independent investigation, nothing less. We welcome the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into this case and see the measure as progress.

"The Commission of Investigation has greater potential to both uncover the truth and to make sound recommendations to prevent further tragic loss of life. I am glad that the draft terms of reference provided by the Tánaiste's office include the making of policy and legislative recommendations and I hope it will do so. The Commission of Investigation into the Dean Lyons case failed to make recommendations and this deficiency greatly diminished its value.

"What happens after the Commission of Investigation is equally if not more important than the Commission's report itself. It is essential that positive steps are taken and no expense spared to ensure the right to life and to bodily integrity of all persons in custody.

"Unfortunately the government response to the case of Dean Lyons does not bode well. In that case a vulnerable person was forced to make a false confession and effectively framed by Gardaí while in their custody. But what have the government done since the Commission reported? They are further curtailing the right to silence and introducing longer hours of Garda detention without any change to the regulations governing the treatment of persons in custody. The grave issues brought to light by the case of Dean Lyons remain unaddressed. It is absolutely vital that whoever is in the next government takes concrete steps to protect the lives and welfare of prisoners. They must not repeat the in-action of the current government." ENDS

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