Thursday, 23 June 2005
Garda Síochána Bill 2004 [Seanad]: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
Táimid ag déileáil fós le leasuithe Uimh. 19 go 22, 89 agus 96. Bhí mé beagnach críochnaithe ag labhairt ar an leasú seo, Uimh. 19, le chéile le hUimh. 20 agus an dá cheann eile ag an deireadh, Uimh. 89 agus 96. Bhí méá rá go raibh cearta daonna i gceist anseo, agus gur cheart go mbeadh an pháirtnéireacht chuí ann idir na gardaí agus na pobail chun tosaíocht a thabhairt dó sin.
Is é tosaíocht an príomhrud atá i gceist anseo. Tá an Bille leagtha amach in ord éigin seachas in ord a thosaíochtaí, an gnáthbhealach. Bíonn tosaíocht 1, 2, 3 agus mar sin de ann. Tá mé ag iarraidh dhá cheann eile a chur isteach. Is iad sin an ceann ó thaobh cearta daonna de, ach go háirithe, agus an ceann ó thaobh ról na ngardaí de agus iad ag tabhairt ceannaireachta don phobal áitiúil.
When I spoke earlier about the human rights audit, I referred to a document which I said was short enough at 23 pages. I now see that it is just the executive summary which is 23 pages long, so clearly the document itself is a lot longer. I scanned through the document again and perhaps we might return to it later to ensure that An Garda Síochána is implementing much of its findings. The audit sought to find out if there was a human rights ethos within the Garda and it raised a number of detailed questions. It first asked how human rights were made relevant to police work. The answers given were grouped and analysed. The commission then came to its conclusions and presented them. The report makes scary reading, despite the human rights initiative having operated within An Garda Síochána for five years. My amendment proposes that an objective of An Garda Síochána should be to promote and protect human rights. In doing so, gardaí would have to comply with the majority if not all the recommendations of the human rights audit carried out by Ionann management consultants and it is only right to expect that.
My other amendment relates to Garda protection of the security of our communities and the provision of positive leadership. Despite the Joycean trip around my constituency suggested by the Minister, the experience in my constituency highlights a model which I hope is reflected elsewhere. I mentioned a number of policing fora in my constituency yesterday through which the Garda worked well with the community. I have been trying in my amendments to promote a police service which interacts well with the community but which also understands its role within the community. Many of the Bill's provisions are in line with that and the change in emphasis is welcome but the legislation does not go far enough. My amendments propose that we go as far as we can to ensure An Garda Síochána is part of the community, is reflective of the community and works with the community by giving the leadership a police service can with the support of other service providers and the community.
I commend my amendments to the House. It will be interesting if the Minister rejects them because I cannot see how anybody could vote against such a proposition. It would be a major statement that we, in this House, will not allow members of An Garda Síochána to abuse and breach people's human rights and that if members do, they do so contrary to the objectives of the force. They should be dealt with by the force and the State accordingly.