9 September 2004 Edition

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SDLP Explanation on ASBO call demanded

Sinn Féin Human Rights spokesperson, South Down MLA Catríona Ruane, has expressed surprise after SDLP MLA Carmel Hanna this morning demanded that Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) be used against people erecting advertising posters, despite the fact that the SDLP Chairperson Patricia Lewsley had already voiced opposition to their introduction.

Caitriona Ruane said:

" I was surprised to hear the SDLP MLA Carmel Hanna demand that ASBOs be used against people erecting advertising posters in South Belfast. This comes less than two weeks after her own party chairperson Patricia Lewsley voiced opposition along with a variety of political parties and human rights organisations to their introduction.

"People who were involved in opposing the introduction of ASBOs, and the manner in which the Minister John Spellar went about the consultation, will be puzzled as to how a party opposing the introduction of ASBOs can then become the first party to publicly demand that they are used less than two weeks later.

"The SDLP Chairperson Patricia Lewsley publicly supported Sinn Fein and a wide range of other groups in voicing concerns that ASBOs undermine children's rights as well as undermining key human rights and equality protections and legislative initiatives that flow the Good Friday Agreement. They contravene domestic and international human and children's rights standards and best practice.

"The NIO has totally ignored one of the cornerstones of the GFA, the Equality Provisions of the NI Act 1998, designed to protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups including children in introducing these measures. The SDLP need to tell people whether or not they now support the introduction of ASBOs and their widespread use across the six counties or whether Carmel Hanna was simply operating outside of party policy. Either way the public deserve an explanation."

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