Irish Bail Referendum

Dr Groove (dr_groove@geocities.com)
Mon, 25 Nov 1996 11:25:35 +0000


Vote No in the Bail Referendum

November 28th is the date set for the bail referendum. The =

government proposes to make big changes: bail may be refused =

to a person charged with a "serious crime" if a senior Garda =

tells the court that there is a suspicion that the accused might =

commit another crime before the trial.

There has been no definition of "a serious crime", there is no =

obligation on the Gardai to tell anyone why they suspect an =

accused person will commit another crime. This starts to =

overturn the idea that you are innocent unless you are proved =

guilty. If the referendum is passed the word of a senior Garda =

will be enough to have you locked up for months while =

awaiting trial.

There are vicious gangland bosses. There are muggers, =

housebreakers, car thieves and rapists. They don't exist because =

Ireland's laws are 'liberal'. You will find crime in every =

country, regardless of its laws. Crime feeds on deprivation and =

alienation: high unemployment, poverty, hopelessness. =

According to the Gardai up to 80% of Dublin's crime is drug =

related, addicts who will do anything to get the money for their =

next fix.

Yet heroin addicts have to wait months and even years to get =

on a treatment programme because the government won't =

provide enough cash to shorten the waiting lists. In Neilstown =

and Killinardin local people had to set up their own =

methadone programmes when the Health Board refused to act, =

and they have to fund this excellent community activity by =

running bingo sessions.

Most crime is against property. Offences against the person =

(murder, manslaughter, dangerous driving causing death, rape, =

woundings, and so forth) constitute less than 2% of all recorded =

crime and their number has been declining.

Of course this is no consolation if you have been attacked or =

robbed. But what is being proposed will not solve the problem. =

In Britain a similar legal change was made 20 years ago and has =

had no noticeable impact on crime. The politicians are using =

public concern to attack long established civil liberties.

Restrictions on bail could lead to a situation where people the =

authorities don't like can be effectively interned for long =

periods by remanding them in custody. If the intention is =

really to reduce the number of offences committed while on =

bail it would surely make more sense to reduce the delays in =

getting to trial.

But maybe the politicians have their own reasons. Seven day =

detention means that suspects can be frightened or beaten into =

signing 'confessions' but that their bruises will be gone by the =

time they have to appear in court. Remember Nicky Kelly, =

remember the Guildford Four. The Government has estimated =

that expenditure on the criminal justice system will exceed =

=A3590 million this year. This is more than has been set aside for =

agriculture and food (=A3322 million) or transport, energy and =

communications (=A3116 million). They want more cops, more =

prisons; they want to go into the next election showing they are =

"serious" about tackling crime.

Politicians are very selective about "fighting crime". The =

government supports crime when the culprits are their own =

friends, which is why no beef baron was ever charged with =

fraud and why rich tax dodgers are given amnesties. They =

never cared about the scourge of heroin (and all the =

housebreaking and mugging that goes with it) until people =

began to challenge the state's monopoly on policing by =

patrolling their own communities..

The gardai should not be given more powers. We have seen =

what they can do with the powers they already have: the =

refusal to investigate child sex abuse charges against priests and =

nuns until recent years, the Tallaght Two, the Sallins train =

robbery, Peter Pringle, the Kerry Babies case. This summer a =

murder trial in Cork (Frederick Flannery) had to be abandoned =

when it was revealed that the gardai had hidden vital evidence =

from the defence.

Vote NO on November 28th. =

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