24th June 2003
Sinn Fein motion calls for repeal of Offences Against the State Acts
In putting forward a countermotion to block the extension of emergency legislation for another year, Sinn Fein has accused the Minister for Justice of having ``utterly failed'' to demonstrate that the operation of the legislation is necessary for the security of the people of the State.
The Sinn Fein motion reminds the members of the Dáil that following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement the Government was committed to ``further strengthen the protection of human rights'' and to ``initiate a widespread review of the Offences Against the States Acts 1938-1985''. This was to be done with ``a view to both reform and dispensing with those elements no longer required''. However, as the motion points out, the Government since the Good Friday Agreement has not only failed to reform the emergency legislation as required, it has instead done the exact opposite by expanding emergency powers.
The countermotion says not only that the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 should not continue in operation and instead be ``allowed to lapse'', but calls for the wholesale repeal of entire apparatus of emergency legislation (The Offences Against the State Acts 1939-1998).
Speaking in advance of the Dáil debate on the motions Sinn Fein spokesperson for Justice and Equality Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:
``The Government has failed to lives up to its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement in relation to the strengthening and protecting of human rights. Instead of reforming or repealing the Offences Against the State Act this right-wing PD led Coalition has expanded emergency powers, which have had a seriously corrosive effect on human rights, civil liberties and democratic life in this state.''
Sinn Fein countermotion regarding Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act
To delete all text after ``Dáil Éireann'' and to substitute the following:
``Conscious of the commitments made by this state in signing the Good Friday Agreement to `further strengthen the protection of human rights in this jurisdiction' and to `initiate a widespread review of the Offences Against the State Acts 1939 ? 1985 with a view to both reform and dispensing with those elements no longer required as circumstances permit';
Conscious of the fact that in the intervening five years not only has the Government failed to reform the emergency legislation as required, it has instead done the exact opposite by further expanding emergency powers under the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act of 1998;
Conscious of the corrosive effect of the operation of emergency legislation on human rights, civil liberties, and democratic life in this state ? particularly during the protracted periods of its non-emergency operation over six decades, and specifically in the current period following the Good Friday Agreement;
Conscious of the fact that the Minister for Justice has utterly failed to demonstrate that the operation of this legislation is presently necessary to the security of the people of this state ?
Resolves that the continuing operation of emergency legislation is not warranted;
Resolves that sections 2-12 and 14 and 17 of the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 shall not continue in operation but instead shall be allowed to lapse;
Further calls on the Government to repeal in their entirety the Offences Against the State Acts 1939 ? 1998 at the earliest practicable date.''
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Seán Crowe TD, Martin Ferris TD, Arthur Morgan TD, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
24 June 2003
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