[Sinn Fein]

30th May 2002

Offences Against the State Act review ``deeply flawed''

Commenting on reports of the outcome of the Review of the Offences Against the State Act, the Sinn Fein Dáil group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:

``The Irish government committed itself in the Good Friday Agreement to a `wide-ranging' review of the Offences Against the State Acts. From the start Sinn Fein argued that this review should be open and inclusive with maximum public participation. The Government failed to put such a review in place. There was minimal public notice of the review and no public hearings, as reflected in the small number of submissions.

``The Review boiled down to a debate between the members of the Committee who have now produced a Report reflecting deep divisions among them. While we must await publication of the full Report to give a detailed response, it is most regrettable that a majority of the Committee has recommended retention of the power to impose internment without trial and of the Special Court. The strong dissenting report of the minority, including the chairperson Justice Anthony Hederman, reflects a widely held view that this legislation is draconian and should be set aside.

``The government bears responsibility for a deeply flawed review process. It has not fulfilled its obligation under the Agreement in this regard and should now ensure that a wide-ranging public consultation process and debate takes place. We in Sinn Fein strongly believe that this repressive legislation should be repealed and the rights of citizens fully vindicated.''

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