Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 and Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009: Motions
It operates with a standard operating procedure of non-jury trials. We should protect the right to a jury trial and implement the protections I outlined a moment ago to ensure a fair trial and to ensure those guilty can be convicted.
Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish and British Governments have a responsibility to work towards the normalisation of policing and security matters. This means ending the state of emergency under which the Offences against the State Act operates. It is not sensible to perpetuate a situation in which we are relying on an annual renewal of outdated emergency legislation. We are using 20th century tools for what is now a very different challenge in the 21st century. Consequently, we need new legislation and new tools. Last year Deputy Jonathan O’Brien called for an a comprehensive review of the legislation that governs such trials and all related matters. It is unfortunate that suggestion was not taken up. I once again call on the Minister to take on this work. We will engage enthusiastically with him and play our role to ensure that organised crime is given no quarter and that we have an effective policing, legislative and policy response to shut down this threat. I hope that in 12 months' time we are in a position to consider the outcome of that rather than another renewal of archaic legislation.