From Irish Political Review: January 2006

Finian McGrath In The Dáil

On 13th December 2005, the Independent TD, Finian McGrath, spoke as follows on Michael McDowell's idea of 'justice':

"Today is a very sad one for the justice system as it marks a step backwards regarding human rights on the island. It is not the first time in the history of our small State that a Minister for Justice has tramped over the rights of our citizens. It is a disgrace, a scandal and an abuse of power. It is a shame that any Minister for Justice should turn his back on the decent fundamental principles of justice. The Minister has done our democracy a major disservice and hidden behind Dáil privilege to undermine the backbone of our judicial system, which guarantees the presumption of innocence until one has been proven guilty in a court of law.

"I agree with Mr. Justice Flood's comments this morning that we must stand up for the system and guarantee our citizens their rights under the Constitution. There has been nothing progressive or democratic about the actions or words of the Minister over the past few days. He has undermined the justice system and damaged the independence and integrity of the DPP's office. Those are serious issues, and it is time the Minister resigned. We cannot have a Minister who thinks himself above the law or that law and order are his to decide. The Minister would be at home in some right wing government in South America.

"I also accuse him of being a hypocrite regarding the leaking of Garda files to a journalist to destroy Mr. Connolly and the great work of the Centre for Public Inquiry in rooting out sleaze and corruption in this country. In recent days we have seen more evidence of it in my constituency, with great damage to politics. Regarding Chuck Feeney and the Centre for Public Inquiry, I urge them to reconsider funding instead of listening to the Minister or his party, who from day one wanted to take out the centre. This country needs such groups, and Frank Connolly has been a tireless investigative journalist who exposed scandals, corruption and sleaze. Many people knew that elements would take him out.

"This debate is about a Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who abused his power to trample on the rights of a citizen and seriously damage the integrity of the justice system."

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