Go-Ahead For New Law To Resolve Garda Warrant Issues

New legislation to sort out the problems that arose as a result of a Supreme Court ruling on search warrants issued by gardai has been given the go-ahead by the government.

The Supreme Court ruling led to several criminal convictions being quashed on appeal.

These included the case of three men who had been jailed for up to 25 years for the tiger kidnapping of the family of a Securicor van driver seven years ago.

A further raft of criminal convictions are also expected to be affected by the decision in February that search warrants issued by a garda superintendent under section 29 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, were repugnant to the Constitution because they had not been issued by an officer who was independent of the criminal investigation.

At yesterday's cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Alan Shatter secured approval for his new bill, which he intends to publish shortly and have it enacted before the summer recess in the Oireachtas.

He said the bill would provide that an application for a warrant could be made in the district court and would limit the circumstances in which a superintendent, or officer of higher rank, might authorise a warrant in urgent circumstances where a judge was not available.

Mr Shatter said only a superintendent, who was independent of the investigation could issue warrants and that they would exist only for a short time.

He pointed out that the legislation would be confined to future garda investigations and could not be used retrospectively.


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