[Sinn Fein]

3rd April 2003

Sinn Fein calls for Minister's cross-examination on excessive force

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Justice Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has criticised the Government for refusing to allow adequate Dáil time for all concerned Deputies to question Justice Minister McDowell about the deployment of the riot squad against peaceful antiwar protestors demonstrating outside Leinster House last night, and has called on the Minister to publicly answer for the use of excessive force.

Speaking after being informed that there would be no Dáil debate on the issue and that the Minister would not answer Private Notice Questions tabled by himself and other TDs, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The public have a right to know what guidance or direction was given, if any, to Gardaí that resulted in the unnecessary and excessively aggressive use of force against peaceful anti-war protestors exercising their democratic rights outside the gates of Leinster House last night. The Minister must also explain why, following the controversy surrounding last year's Reclaim the Streets protest, Gardaí were once again deployed without their identification numbers displayed. It is not right that the Minister evades full cross-examination on these issues today. He must answer for last night's debacle - and not just in a five-minute 'set piece'.

"Sinn Fein are calling on Minister McDowell to agree to a full debate on this issue. We are also calling on him to investigate the incident, and to confirm that in future no direction will be given to deploy the so-called 'public order unit' against non-violent demonstrators - and especially not for such a frivolous purpose as happened last night, when protestors were attacked merely in order to allow TDs to move their cars. This should never happen again."

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