The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D., has said that the Government will not be distracted from addressing the crime issues facing the country by the increasingly desperate and deranged ideas being put forward by Fine Gael.

He said, "Yesterday a mad cap scheme to have the Defence Forces run boot camps for young offenders was put forward which is as undesirable as it unworkable.  That a Defence Spokesperson would put forward the idea that young offenders would have an option of "taking in the Defence Forces instead of prison" suggests that they know nothing about tackling crime and less about maintaining the proud traditions of our Army and Navy.  Is the idea that fitness fanatics should bereleased to rage further violence on society?  Leaving that aside, it is unconstitutional, unlawful under international law, unworkable in practice and obnoxious in theory. 

Later yesterday their Justice Spokesperson criticised the recent firearms amnesty which was introduced as a preparatory measure to the new regime of lengthy mandatory sentences for firearms offences.  The amnesty yielded over 1000 weapons, of which over 800 were firearms.  A key feature of the amnesty was that persons could be pursued in relation to offences the weapons may have been used in. Deputy O'Keeffe advocated yesterday that instead the amnesty should have allowed guns to be placed anonymously in "secure bins" in public places such as youth clubs or churches.  In other words he advocated an amnesty that would have meant, for example, that the person who shot dead a young woman in Swords at the weekend could have disposed of the weapon involved with impunity in a youth club or church as part of an amnesty he would favour.

These are the latest in a long line of suggestions that are likely to have criminals quaking with laughter rather than fear.  They seem to be ideas based on what the spokespersons or their researchers have seen in the movies rather than what happens in the real world.

The problem of crime will continue to be addressed through the provision of unprecedented resources to An Garda Síochana, the Prison Service and the Courts together with the necessary criminal law and organisational reform.  There are serious crime issues which are being addressed; Fine Gael should realise that they deserve serious responses".

21 November 2006