08 May 2006
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny must confirm whether proposals by a General Election candidate to legalise heroin or medical tests for returning missionaries are party policy, it was claimed today.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell referred to suggestions made by Dublin North West Election candidate Dr Bill Tormey on RTE’s Late Late Show on Friday last.
Dr Tormey, who last week challenged State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy’s medical findings in the Anabel Nightclub manslaughter case, proposed that heroin should be legalised and returning missionaries should be compulsorily tested for tropical diseases.
Mr McDowell said of the Dublin North West candidate Dr Tormey: “I noticed a person who claims to be an aspirant minister in a Fine Gael government and claims to be a person who stands on behalf of the Fine Gael party."
Referring to Dr Tormey’s proposals to legalise possession of heroin, Mr McDowell said: “I don’t believe that that is a reasonable proposition.”
He added: “Likewise I don’t think it is reasonable or correct to suggest that returning missionaries of religious orders should be subject to compulsory medical testing on the basis that Dr Tormey suggested.”
The minister said of Dr Tormey’s proposals: “I do challenge Enda Kenny to say whether that is a policy, not of the Fine Gael party because I know it’s not, but whether it is a policy he believes should be espoused by any of his candidates and if he believes it is tenable to be a Fine Gael candidate and to articulate such policies in public.”
Mr McDowell also dismissed criminal justice proposals flagged by Mr Kenny in his Ard Fheis leader’s address as "back-of-the-envelope" suggestions.
Mr Kenny told delegates that the Oireachtas should decide the range of sentences for serious crime offences and judges must explain their reasons in open court if they deviate from this.
The minister said judges were already accountable and independent because they make sentencing decisions in public.
The Court of Criminal Appeal was established specifically for defence and prosecution to review sentences if appropriate, he added.
“We have to be careful in tinkering with our criminal justice system, that we don’t do something which has unintended consequences or which upsets the system which has served people well for many, many years."