Dáil debates

Thursday, 7 December 2006

3:00 pm

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)

The witness security programme is a major tool in combating gangland crime. I am not aware of the conviction of a major gangland crime figure in the past few years. I am concerned the programme is not being used to the extent it might. The review followed serious criticisms by Judge McCracken who indicated that the scheme was badly thought out and that clear guidelines were needed. The review seems to have been internal and interminable. Could a senior retired judge, in whom we could have absolute confidence, undertake an objective review of the scheme? Does the Minister accept my concerns?

The moneys expended under the scheme seem to be falling. In 2002 almost €1 million was spent, in 2003 and 2004 over €1 million was spent but the sum has fallen to half that amount in the past few years. Does the Minister accept that we should make greater use of the programme? We should follow international practice by ensuring the scheme has a statutory basis. Any common law country has a statutory basis for such a scheme.


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