Thursday, 27 April 2006
Brendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
I returned relatively recently to this brief and I started by accepting the figures which were e-mailed to me by the Minister, but he has already contradicted them. He stated that the murder rate is up by three. The figure sent to me shows that the number of murders, not manslaughter or homicide, is up from seven to 12, which is 71%, and that is contained in the Minister's press release. I will be more jaundiced in dealing with the Minister's figures from now on because it is clear they cannot be accepted at face value. The Minister whistles past the graveyard. He always has somebody else to blame.
I have some direct questions for the Minister. His predecessor asserted that the judgment of the people in how safe they felt would be the criterion by which the success of the Administration dealing with crime was to be judged. That was the litmus test set by his predecessor. On that basis, would the Minister accept that the most recent opinion poll, published on 22 March last, showed that 85% of the public are concerned about crime and public disorder which was the number one issue, that just 5% of the people believe the level of crime has fallen which the Minister has tried to assert yet again, and that, irrespective of statistics he uses to bamboozle people, they know full well that murder is becoming a regular occurrence and that life has been devalued under his stewardship and that of his immediate predecessor?
Every time there is a damning indictment of the Minister's stewardship, he flies a new kite. His latest one is that we need to again tighten the bail regime. Does he accept that the bail regime was tightened by referendum under the stewardship of the rainbow Government of which he is now so disparaging, and that was effective? Despite his smokescreen of last week, does he accept that the Garda figures in 1994, which are the ones in advance of the referendum, showed that the Garda believed that 9% of crimes were committed by those on bail and the most recent figures from the 2004 Garda annual report show that only 5% were committed by those on bail? Contrary to the Minister's assertion that the courts are not implementing the Act subsequently——