Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Garda Ombudsman with real powers needed immediately

9 January, 2004

Responding to last night's Primetime programme on Garda brutality and lack of accountability Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said it vindicated his party's call for a Garda Ombudsman and for fundamental reform of the Garda Siochána and said that "while the revelations maybe shocking for many people they are but the tip of the iceberg". He said the practices outlined in the programme were common and have led to a situation where many members of the public now have little or no faith in the force.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Last night's programme exposed the complete nonsense that is the notion of the Gardai investigating themselves when issues of wrongdoing arise. The programme showed that the mechanisms in place at the moment are not only ineffective but actually mitigate against proper investigations being conducted and satisfactory conclusions based on justice being reached.

"The programme and subsequent interviews also revealed a disturbing insight into the thinking of senior management within the Gardai. That they couldn't accept the criticisms being levelled at them and couldn't understand the concerns of the wider community shows they are far too removed from the reality of everyday life for ordinary people.

"While last night's Primetime is very welcome it is a programme that should have been produced and acted on many years ago. The issues that were raised need to be addressed and acted on immediately.

"It is not good enough for the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to engage in a game of verbal semantics over the title of a new police inspectorate or ombudsman. The name of the body is not the issue. It needs to have real and meaningful powers if confidence is to be restored in the administration of justice in this State. Sinn Féin is reiterating our call for a fully independent Garda Ombudsman with at least the same powers and adequate resources as the Ombudsman in the Six Counties. The days of the police investigating themselves on any issue are over. It is time that the Gardai and the Minister for Justice accepted that and started the process of reform so that the Gardai can be returned to a position where they have the widest possible respect from and co-operation of the people they are serving.

"Sinn Féin has set out in detail our case for Garda reform as recently as November last and we are re-issuing those proposals again today." ENDS

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