I move: "That the Bill be read a Second Time." This Bill had its origin in the necessity for legislation to validate an Order made in November, 1920, closing Tralee Prison. Subsequent to this Order having been made, the prison was utilised first as a police barrack and afterwards as a military barrack. After its evacuation by the military, it was retransferred, on 11th January, 1925, to the Kerry County Council as the successors of the former prison authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 31 of the Prisons (Ireland) Act, 1877. Ejectment proceedings were instituted by the Kerry County Council last year in relation to portion of these premises and it was then held by the Circuit Court that as the terms of the Closing Order of 1st November, 1920, were not in accordance with Section 30 of the Act of 1877, the transfer of the prison premises to the County Council had not been validly effected. In this Bill provision is made to validate retrospectively the Closing Order referred to.
The opportunity is also being availed of to amend the existing unsatisfactory statutory provisions governing the closing of local prisons and their subsequent disposal which are contained in Sections 30 and 31 of the Act of 1877. Great difficulty has always been experienced in the interpretation and application of these sections and as a result considerable doubt existed as to the legal position of some closed prisons—portions of which were retransferred to county councils and other portions utilised for public purposes, such as police barracks. These doubts were confirmed by a decision last year in the High Court in the Kilkenny case, where the interpretation of the section in its relation to the partial user of the closed prison, which had been acted on for many years, was rejected by the High Court. This Bill proposes to clarify the position for the future. Sections 30 and 31 of the Act of 1877 are being repealed and are being replaced by more explicit provisions. I may mention that Mountjoy Prisons, male and female, are excluded from the Bill, as there never was any reversionary interest therein vested in any local authority. They were built out of State funds and are exclusively State property.