14 March 2006

Ó Snodaigh calls on Taoiseach to withdraw McDowell's "surveillance" Bill

Sinn Féin

Published: 14 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Human Rights spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to withdraw the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Bill 2005, which is currently before the Seanad. Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the Bill will increase the prevalence of email and phone tapping in this state and that, "we could end up in the nightmare situation where Michael McDowell has, at his disposal, an unimaginable amount of information on private citizens that he would undoubtedly exploit."

He said, "A year ago Justice Minister Michael McDowell pushed an amendment introducing mandatory three-year data retention into the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act. In light of the prior guarantees that any legislation around data retention would be in a separate Bill preceded by a focused Oireachtas debate, this was an unexpected move in the final hours before the Act was passed and when very few were in the Dáil chamber to debate the proposal. This shows premeditation on the part of the Minister who is eager to develop, even by stealth, a bank of information on citizens which is then at his disposal.

"The Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Bill will increase the prevalence of email and phone tapping in this state thereby adding to the already vast bank of information on private individuals and citizens that is available to so-called intelligence services and governments. In the absence of safeguards, this will create further opportunities for McDowell to subvert the judicial process, trample the fundamental rights of citizens and engage in political policing to serve his own narrow agenda and self-interest. The Minister's actions in relation to Frank Connolly and the Centre for Public Inquiry and the comments by Phil Flynn over the weekend clearly demonstrate the serious threat McDowell poses to the democratic fabric of our society. I am calling on the Taoiseach to withdraw this Bill and defend the people of this state and their fundamental rights from the attacks of the Sinister Minister.

"If this Bill is passed we could end up in the nightmare situation where Michael McDowell has, at his disposal, an unimaginable amount of information on private citizens that he would undoubtedly exploit." ENDS

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