[Sinn Fein]

8 December 2000

Offences Against the State Acts should be repealed

Independent Body must replace Garda Complaints Board

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin who is attending the Human Rights Conference in Dublin Castle said:

``The Irish government must not only fulfil its human rights obligations but, in the context of the peace process, it must also gives a lead on human rights issues.

``I call for the repeal of the Offences Against the State Acts which have infringed civil rights in the 26 Counties since first enacted in 1939. The current Review of these Acts, established under the Good Friday Agreement, should be expanded to include public hearings around the country.

There needs to be a real debate on this issue and we need to hear the voices of the many people in this State who have suffered injustice as a result of the use and misuse of this legislation.

``The killing of John Carty and the victimisation of the McBrearty family in Co. Donegal are but the latest cases which highlight the need to establish an independent agency to invesitgate complaints against the Garda Síochána. The Garda Complaints Board, in which gardai investigate gardai, should be wound up and replaced with an effective and autonomous body.

``One of the greatest single violations of human rights in this State was the Dublin/Monaghan bombing outrage of 1974. The call of the relatives for a full cross-jurisdictional public inquiry should be honoured by both the Irish and British governments.This and a number of other cases in the 26 Counties where there is evidence of British intelligence and loyalist collusion, and the compromising of gardai by British intelligence, must be faced up to.''

Deputy Ó Caoláin expressed disappointment that in the nominations for the new Human Rights Commission the government had not included representatives from a broader section of society.

He said:

``By departing from the panel as orginally recommended the government has excluded some sectors. I would urge an increase in the numbers on the Commission to include, for example, a representative of the Traveller community.''

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