Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998: Motion.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
Tá mé ag roinnt mo chuid ama leis na Teachtaí Finian McGrath agus Cuffe.
Once again I implore all Deputies to consider the highly corrosive effect of this legislation on human rights, civil liberties and democratic life in this State before voting today. I urge all Deputies to reject the Government motion because no emergency exists that could possibly justify the continuation of the draconian measures contained in the sections that are up for renewal or indeed the rest of the Offences against the State Acts. Several of the sections have never been used and their continued operation in this non-emergency situation is a violation of Ireland's requirements under the derogation regimes of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. The legislation is also contrary to the Good Friday Agreement, which requires steps towards security normalisation, including the progressive elimination of the Acts' provisions as circumstances permit. Circumstances now permit.
The Offences against the State Acts fuel a cycle of repression and resistance which ultimately jeopardises human security by unnecessarily breaching fundamental human rights. Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights permits a state to derogate from certain human rights obligations, but only in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed and only to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation. Each derogation shall be directed to an actual clear, present or imminent danger and may not be imposed merely because of an apprehension of a potential danger. Likewise the European Convention on Human Rights also permits temporary derogations from certain human rights obligations and it imposes similar conditions to those of the international covenant.
Last July the IRA called an end to the military campaign and in September completed its final act of placing all its arms and weaponry permanently and verifiably beyond use. This was confirmed by the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning and others. While armed loyalist groups have operated in this jurisdiction in the past, with the aid of British intelligence, in recent years they have not operated within the State.