McDowell gives gardaí new powers in bill
16/02/2005 - 07:16:07

Justice Minister Michael McDowell has formally introduced legislation giving sweeping new powers to the gardaí.

Introducing the Criminal Justice Bill in the Dáil yesterday, Mr McDowell said it was designed to redress the balance of rights in society, which, he claimed, had "shifted too far in favour of the accused".

The Bill provides for increased detention periods, gives gardaí the right to take body samples without permission and allows chief superintendents to sign search warrants in exceptional circumstances.

It also allows witness statements to be used in court even if the person who gave the statement has retracted it or has refused to testify.

The Human Rights Commission has expressed concern about the increased detention periods and the provision allowing chief superintendents to sign search warrants.

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