Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Martin Kenny TD and spokesperson on Community Development Paul Donnelly TD have criticised the delay by government in introducing body cameras for Gardaí. Their comments come as government announced legislation will be brought to an upcoming cabinet meeting to introduce body cam use for Gardai.
Speaking today, Teachta Kenny said:
“Sinn Féin have been calling for many years for the introduction of body cameras for Gardaí to assist them in keeping communities safe. In my opinion, this legislation has been long delayed, and while I welcome its discussion at cabinet in a few weeks, it has taken far too long. The government should have gotten its act together long ago.
“Police services in other European countries have been using body cams for a decade now. Fine Gael have been in government for almost 11 years and are only now introducing this legislation. It leads me to question what type of priority they have placed on protecting our frontline Gardaí during that time?
“You need only read the news headlines from the last few weeks to understand why body cams are required – they will, at the very least, act as a deterrent to those who wish to do harm to Gardaí going about their duties. In the wake of the recent attacks on Gardaí, the GRA have continued to call on cabinet to fast-track this legislation.
“Body cam use also has the potential to provide vital evidence for court cases in circumstances where Gardaí are the first responders to some particularly harrowing scenes.
“In this circumstance, it may provide more detailed evidence than a victim who may be deeply traumatised, and also relieves some of the pressure a victim may face when it comes to giving evidence and reliving a traumatic incident in a courtroom.
“However, it is important that there will be proper regulation in place for both the protection of the public and the Gardaí using them during the course of their duties.
“Restrictions on when and where these devices are used, and the protection of data captured on them, must be in place alongside this legislation. Sinn Féin will closely examine the legislation and initiate amendments where necessary to ensure that our Gardaí and our communities get the protection they need.”
Teachta Donnelly said:
“Too many of our communities simply don’t feel safe. Year after year, Fine Gael in government have taken a lax attitude to policing which has left our Gardaí under-staffed and under-resourced.
“I welcome that this legislation will now go before cabinet. However, it shouldn’t have taken the recent harrowing scenes in Ballyfermot for the government to act.
“While this legislation is an important first step, much more needs to be done and Sinn Féin will continue to advocate for better staffing and resources for our Gardaí so that all communities can feel safe and protected.”