Justice minister Dermot Ahern says membership of a criminal gang will become a scheduled offence, to be tried in the Special Criminal Court.
In the last chapter of Chaos and Conspiracy, when I considered the lessons to be learned from what happened in Donegal a decade ago, I wrote this:
“The Gardaí need effective oversight – for their own sake and for the sake of the people of Ireland. Models for such oversight exist – the Policing Ombudsman’s Office in Northern Ireland is the best known here.”
“Just as important as oversight of ordinary policing, there must be effective policing of Crime & Security Branch.”
“The Offences Against the State Act (OASA) – enacted as a special measure at the outbreak of World War II – gives the police extraordinary powers, which are used more and more in the fight against ‘ordinary crime’ as fueding gangsters and drug dealers are redefined as a threat to the very existence of the State, a definition happily acceded to by our courts and politicians.”
“OASA and other emergency power legislation passed in heat in the wake of past terrorist atrocities need urgent review.”
“OASA was never intended as an instrument of everyday policing.”