Article from the June 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Oppose McDowell's Criminal Justice Bill

by Cillian Gillespie, Dublin Socialist Youth

MICHAEL McDOWELL's Criminal Justice Bill (CJB) represents a clampdown on democratic rights by this right wing government.

Along with the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) (which have been given to some people in Britain for being sarcastic!), it brings in a whole series of measures that will give increased powers to the Gardai and the state in general. These include the easier issuing of search warrants, increasing the number of hours that a suspect can be detained without being charged from 12 to 24 as well increasing the number of arrestable offences that carry a five year sentence.

The introduction of the Criminal Justice Bill is part of a global trend by the capitalist establishment to implement draconian policies against workers and young people. Since September 11 a whole raft of repressive legislation has been brought in, such as the Terrorism Bill in Britain and the Patriot Act in the US. The latter gives the authorities the right to detain people without charge indefinitely. The FBI now also has the power to access the library records of US citizens to see if they have taken out any "subversive" books.

Why are such measures being brought in? The past few years have seen the emergence of an opposition to the war, poverty and exploitation created by capitalism on a world-scale. This has been seen through the growth of anti-war and anti-globalisation movements that have in the main been made up of young people. In Europe there have been a number of strike waves against the increasing attacks on the living standards of working people.

Undoubtedly people like McDowell, Blair and Bush are fearful and nervous about what the emergence of these strikes and protests mean. They fear the underlying anger that exists within society. Workers and young people have become increasingly aware of the failures of the capitalist system. The government aims to combat increases in social problems not by tackling their root causes, such as poverty, but by using oppressive legislation.

This draconian legislation will also be used by these right wing politicians against those who oppose their neo-liberal and anti-working class agendas.

This is why Socialist Youth has taken to the streets to oppose the Criminal Justice Bill. This Bill will not only give the gardai the power to harass young people further through the introduction of ASBOs, it will also be used against those legitimately protesting against hospital closures or war in Iraq. For us the CJB also highlights the need to build a socialist alternative to the Michael McDowell's of this world. These are the people who are not only willing to attack our wages and conditions but our civil liberties as well, in order to protect their friends in big business.

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