29 June 2006 Edition

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Criminal Justice Bill opposed

Michael McDowell's new Criminal Justice Bill has been attacked by Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD. Criticising the bill in a wide number of areas including children's rights, Garda accountability and civil liberties in general the Dublin South Central TD re-iterated Sinn Féin opposition and explained why he had tabled no fewer than 179 amendments.

Describing the bill as regressive, disproportionate and unnecessary Ó Snodaigh, who is Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights said it was "yet another attack on civil liberties in the Minister's war on fundamental rights and it will not address serious crime or anti-social behaviour".

Speaking on Tuesday, 27 June Ó Snodaigh said it was a source of considerable concern that the bill would greatly expand Garda powers without corresponding measures to increase accountability and transparency. He said the 179 amendments he had tabled were designed to eliminate the Bill's worst excesses and that unless they were accepted by the Government Sinn Féin would continue to oppose the Bill.

Highlighting one of the bill's main inconsistencies Ó Snodaigh said: "some of the few positive elements are already provided for in existing legislation, particularly the Children's Act 2001. Questions must be asked of McDowell as to why this Act has not been fully implemented already".

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