Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Gardai plea on quizzing of suspects

Gardai want longer to interview detained suspects whose solicitors are late to arrive

Gardai want to extend detention times for arrested suspects if their solicitor is late turning up.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) will ask Justice Minister Alan Shatter to allow officers to "stop the clock" on questioning periods while a detainee awaits a legal adviser.

Someone who is arrested cannot be formally interviewed at a Garda station until they have spoken with a solicitor.

Detective Sergeant Fergal O'Brien, of Wicklow Garda station, told the Agsi annual conference in Sligo that, when a lawyer is not immediately available, valuable cross-examination time is lost.

"This lost time can be crucial to the interview process," he said.

Det Sgt O'Brien said "hours can be lost" waiting for a solicitor to turn up, depending on the time of day or night and whereabouts in the country the arrest took place.

When a solicitor attends a number of times during the detention, it uses up even more "valuable interview time", he argued.

Agsi, which represents more than 2,000 mid-ranking Garda officers, backed the call to press the Justice Minister to legislate for the lost time.

"There is no unfairness to an arrested person in this proposal," said Det Sgt O'Brien.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said the issue was already being examined by an independent committee of experienced lawyers and senior Garda officers.

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