[Sinn Fein]

19 August 1998

Draconian measures not the answer

In an initial response to new legal measures announced by the government this evening, following Saturdays bombing in Omagh, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD for Cavan and Monaghan said:

``While the desire for a tough security response to Saturday's bomb in Omagh is understandable we believe that the priority now must be to strengthen the peace process and ensure that the Belfast Agreement is delivered in full. It is this which will best ensure that tragedies such as that which occurred in Omagh never happen again.

``The introduction of such draconian measures in the heat of the anger and outrage following Omagh would be a major mistake. Rushed and repressive legislation by the London and Dublin governments in the 1970s led to widespread abuses by British police, RUC and Gardaí and to such well-known miscarriages of justice as the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, the Maguire family, Guiseppi Conlon in Britain and the Sallins mail-train robbery frame-up in the 26 Counties. Hundreds of lesser known injustices were done as the civil liberties of citizens were routinely violated.

``There is justified anger against the tiny splinter group which carried out the bombing but to use this anger to severely limit the civil liberties of all - in particular the right to silence - is simply sowing the seeds of future injustice. It is the will of ordinary people and the determination of their political leaders to build the peace process which will ensure an end to all armed actions not more repressive measures.''

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