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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Apr 1946

Vol. 100 No. 9

Committee on Finance. - Vote 32—Office of the Minister for Justice.

I move:—

That a sum not exceeding £37,510 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1947, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice.

Can we take it that we will proceed as in former years and that the debate will take place on all the Votes for which the Minister is responsible, separate votes to be taken, if necessary?

Deputy O'Higgins has a motion down to refer back the Estimate for the Gárda Síochána.

Mr. Boland

He would not be prevented from moving it by the adoption of this procedure which has been the practice.

What Estimates will we discuss together?

Votes 32 to 40 —the Justice group.

What about crime? How is crime going?

Mr. Boland

I will deal with crime during my statement. The Estimates show an increase in each of the Votes, varying from an increase of £140,000 in the case of the Estimate for the Gárda Síochána to an increase of a little over £100 in the case of the Office of Charitable Donations and Bequests. There is one factor common to all these increases—the increase in remuneration which came into operation on 1st January last when the emergency bonus was raised from 11/- a week to 15/- a week, and was extended to the more highly paid classes of civil servants and to the higher ranks of the Gárda Síochána. Thus, in the case of the Gárda Síochána, the comparatively few high officers who had not until then received any emergency bonus received an addition of 15/- a week and the great majority who had been getting 11/- a week received 15/- a week. In the case of the Gárda Síochána, this means an increase averaging rather more than £10 a year for each of about 7,500 individuals—a total increase of £75,000 for a full year.

The remaining items of increase may be summarised as follows: (a) renewal of uniforms, an increase of £30,000—it was pointed out last year that the general condition of uniforms deteriorated during the past six years, it being impossible to issue renewals as frequently as was desirable; (b) replacement of transport, an increase of £25,000—the same applies here; replacement of transport had to be deferred during the emergency; (c) rent allowance, an increase of £5,700; (d) locomotion expenses, an increase of £4,000—travelling by officers on inspection duty will increase as more petrol becomes available; (e) barrack maintenance, an increase of £4,300—outside the Dublin Metropolitan Division the public rooms in all Gárda stations were until last year cleaned at the expense of the station parties; they are now being cleaned at the State expense. A number of additional inspectors and station sergeants have also been appointed under the powers conferred by the Act passed last year for that purpose. On the other hand, there has been a decrease of £25,800 due to the disbandment of the Local Security Force. There is also a fall of £5,300 in the amount provided for compensation. Last year abnormal provision was necessary under this head to provide for additional compensation under the Gárda Síochána (Compensation) Act, 1945.

Last year I gave the House some figures relating to crime for the year 1944, and I shall now give the corresponding figures for 1945. I should explain that they are provisional figures furnished in an interim report prepared by the Gárda Síochána and they are, accordingly, subject to correction when the final report on crime for the year is prepared. The figures which I gave last year for 1944 were, similarly, provisional figures and the figures which I now give for that year are the final figures and these, naturally, vary somewhat from the provisional figures.

The total number of indictable offences reported to the police in 1945 was 16,940, representing an increase of 1,077 over the figure for 1944. For convenient reference, and in order that they may be on record, I will give the figures for indictable crime for each year since 1939. They are:— 1939, 8,202; 1940, 9,014; 1941, 13,180; 1942, 17,213; 1943, 17,305; 1944, 15,863; 1945, 16,940. The figures for 1945 are somewhat less than those for 1942 and 1943, but, I regret to have to say, show an increase of about 1,000 over the 1944 figures.

Again, for purposes of record, I give a table classifying the indictable offences reported to the police during 1945 and I give the corresponding figures for the years 1939 and 1944:—




Offences against the person




Do the figures for offences against the person include everything in the way of assault, indecent assault, robberies, and so on?

Mr. Boland

Not robberies. I will give the figures for these. The list continues:—




Offences against property with violence—burglaries, housebreaking, malicious injuries, etc.




Offences against property without violence—larcenies, etc.




Other offences




With regard to non-indictable offences, the total number of prosecutions in the year 1945 was 152,867.

That includes drunks and all such cases?

Mr. Boland

Bicycles without lights and such offences.

And playing football in the streets.

Mr. Boland

This figure represents an increase of 24,881 over the revised figure for 1944. I want to emphasise again that the 1945 figure is provisional and that when it has been rechecked in due course, we may find it reduced—I hope we will. This happened in the case of the figure for 1944.

As I explained last year the increase in the prosecutions for non-indictable offences is mainly accounted for by prosecutions under the Road Traffic Act, the Emergency Powers Acts, the Licensing Acts, and the School Attendance Act. The comparative figures for prosecutions under those Acts in the years 1939, 1944 and 1945 are as follows:—




Road Traffic Act




Emergency Powers Acts



Licensing Acts




School Attendance Act




As regards juvenile crime, the figures for 1945 show that the number of persons under 18 years of age charged with offences was 2,883. Here again, for convenient reference and purposes of comparison, I give the figures for the years 1939 to 1945 inclusive:— 1939, 1,605; 1940, 1,803; 1941, 2,562; 1942, 3,350; 1943, 3,385; 1944, 2,800; 1945, 2,883.

Has the Minister the figures for Borstal detentions?

Mr. Boland

I will get them.

Is it not right that those figures show a considerable drop in 1944, but that there is a considerable portion of the under-18 population locked up? Are not all the places of detention filled?

Mr. Boland

Not the Borstal.

Taking it generally? Have not district justices to send them to Drogheda and Sligo, because there is no place for them in Dublin?

Mr. Boland

Mountjoy is rather full, but the Borstal boys are in Cork. There are 40 or 50 in Cork at present.

I thought the places were so full here that the children had to be sent to Sligo and Drogheda.

Mr. Boland

There is a good number on probation, but that is not so. The Borstal was in Clonmel, but it has been in Cork since 1940.

When are you bringing it back?

Mr. Boland

We do not intend to bring it back at all. In one aspect of the crime situation, which has been very troublesome, viz., housebreaking and burglary in the Dublin district, there are welcome signs of an improvement, notwithstanding an article I saw in the paper the other day. I made special inquiries on that point. The figures for the first three months of the present year are 263. Apparently the dark months are the worst for that particular type of crime. The corresponding figures in recent years were: for the first three months of 1945, 340; for 1944, 360; for 1943, 388.

These figures do not get us very far in assessing the effectiveness of the police in investigating and detecting crime. Could the Minister give us the number of indictable offences reported to the police, the number of detections made and the number of convictions obtained?

Mr. Boland

I have not got that figure here now, but will try to give it later. If the Deputy had given me any idea that he wanted it, I would have had it.

I now turn to Vote 34—Prisons —in which there is a net increase of £7,406 as compared with last year's Estimate. The two largest items contributing to this increase are £3,852 in the sub-head for the pay and allowances of staff and £1,110 in the cost of victualling. As regards the pay and allowances of staff, there is no increase in personnel and the increased provision under this sub-head is due to additional charges by way of annual increments and the increase in the rate of emergency bonus. Provision is made for an estimated daily average of 780 prisoners as compared with 730 provided for last year. Since last September there has been a tendency for the number of prisoners in custody to increase, the number at present being about 70 higher than in February, 1945. The increase of £1,110 in the sub-head for victualling is due to the provision being made for a larger number of prisoners.

As regards the courts, the question of the employment of temporary district justices was raised last year. I agree—everybody agrees—that the employment of temporary justices is in general undesirable, but there are two instances in which it is unavoidable and in which the statute expressly provides for it as a proper procedure, viz., a temporary increase in the work and an unusually heavy incidence of illness amongst the ordinary justices. The main difficulty has been that, throughout the emergency, the three assistant justices who were originally earmarked to provide a service of reliefs for country justices who might be absent on vacation or through illness, have been pinned down in Dublin to relieve the pressure in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court, and, in addition, two, and sometimes three, additional temporary justices have been necessary in Dublin, making a total of eight, and sometimes nine, justices assigned to the Dublin court. In addition, throughout the past year three of the permanent justices have been absent at the same time for long periods through illness, with the result that it has been found necessary to provide three reliefs for their districts alone, in addition to making provision for vacations in the other districts. So far as our difficulties are due to an abnormal amount of illness, I see no alternative to the employment of temporary justices. So far, however, as the difficulty arises from the pressure in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court, the position is different. Here our problem is to determine to what extent the present pressure is likely to continue. At the moment there are only three justices permanently assigned to the Dublin court, though for some years no less than eight, and sometimes nine, justices have been needed to keep abreast of the work. All things considered, I have come to the conclusion that we must resign ourselves to the fact that we shall have to provide at least six justices in Dublin permanently. I have been authorised to proceed with the preparation of the requisite legislation to enable the number of permanent justices to be increased accordingly.

These are all the points with which I think it necessary to detain the House at the moment. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I shall do the best I can to deal with any other point that may be raised by Deputies.

There is a motion to have Vote 33 referred back. In that case, I will put Vote 32 and the motion can be moved on Vote 33.

We will not move the motion to refer back.

The brief statement which the Minister has given us shows the shocking condition of things. I remember that a couple of years ago he expressed himself as being happy that he had stabilised crime and I pointed out then that, if he had, he had stabilised it at about 100 per cent. advance on pre-war years. That, I suppose, would be more or less his boast to-day. I take it that the pre-war figure which he has given us would be an acceptable standard to him and it showed indictable crime in 1939 at 8,000 cases. Are these cases, or are they matters reported to the police whether anybody is brought to justice or not?

Mr. Boland

They are cases reported to the police.

Then they are all good for the purpose of comparison. We have a figure of 8,000 odd for 1939, 9,014 for 1940; then a sudden swoop to 13,000 within two years, and then 17,000 and 17,000. We are down now to 16,900, a little below 17,000, but still more than double the 1939 figure. We are worse than last year.

It is rather remarkable that when you come to offences against the person they do not show that doubling up. The figure has gone only from 439 to 657, taking 1939 as compared with 1945. The offences against property have almost doubled, making a jump from 1,400 to 2,700. In regard to offences against property without violence, the figure has gone up from 6,000 to 13,000, so there is pretty nearly a doubling again. When we come to the non-indictable matters we find 152,867 cases reported. I did not get the 1939 comparison, but the figure is 24,000 up on last year. I do not suppose there is any greater standard used by the Guards. That means that we have, even in the non-indictable offences, an amazing jump, from last year to this, of 24,000 reports. I agree that quite a number of these things should not be counted. In so far as the Minister put down this matter of boys playing footfall in the streets, I think that should be regarded as something that the Minister could pass on to his colleagues and say: "That is a crime of yours, not of these lads."

Mr. Boland

These come through the reports from the police.

Has the Minister ever been in court when half a dozen of those boys are brought up for kicking football in streets where there is not a window within the power of the youngsters to kick the ball through— in streets where there is no real traffic, no danger to property or to the young gentlemen themselves? These young fellows are paraded in court and fined 2/6 or 5/- —and that is a non-indictable offence. In this matter I think the police might be given some other instructions and asked not to get those young people familiar with the courts, under the guise of being even potential criminals, by being brought up for kicking a ball about a street where there is no possibility of property being injured and where there is no traffic. I agree that one has to protect panes of glass, but I have been present in court, knowing the areas concerned, when young people were paraded, and it really looked as if the police had nothing else to do.

Of course, that could be quickly dispelled when one sees the list of real crime. There is an amazing increase in crime. Has the Minister given any thought to this matter other than looking mournfully at the statistics and reciting them in a lugubrious fashion in the House? What is the cause of this crime? Has the Minister any views in that connection? Is it that people are getting more out of hand, or is it that more things have slipped over the region into the criminal sphere and out of the civil sphere of activity and, therefore, we might expect an increase in the normal way; or is it a development of evil in our midst? Can the Minister segregate, in connection with indictable matters, anything which depended on the emergency? Could we segregate from those so that we might see what, of the normal increase in the number of offences, we may look to see an improvement in once the emergency has gone, and the emergency Acts, and the particular crimes that have been prevented under them, have disappeared?

It is a serious situation. It has been the subject of comment by any number of judges who have presided at criminal sessions. It has been definitely the heartbreak of the judges who have had to spend so much of their time in criminal courts. I saw a statement from a judge recently. He said that they felt that they had at least caught up on the arrears of criminal cases. They did it with the assistance of three extra judicial persons in the city. They had to get that assistance in order to get rid of arrears in one section of the courts. I am not sure that the position is as cleared as that judge said it was. There is an amazing increase in crime, and there has been no explanation offered to enable Deputies to discuss the matter and see whether there is any help they could give, by suggestion or otherwise, with the view of reducing this amazing and disturbing increase. I suggest there is too much attention being paid to the mere apprehending of criminals and getting them sentenced and put away and far too little attention to the betterment of life which might ease the situation and bring about conditions which might not attract so many people into the paths of criminality if they could get themselves satisfied by innocent activities.

As regards offences against the person, although the increase has not shown the 100 per cent. addition that crimes in general have shown, the figure is still a very significant one. I suppose that and offences against property accompanied by violence are the two matters that the Minister's attention might be focused on in order to see if there could be some improvement brought about.

Could we get one other statistic in this debate? People in this country are getting more and more annoyed and disturbed at the use made of what are called the special criminal courts. It was well understood, when those courts were set up, that they were expressed to be at the time for the purpose of dealing with one special type of crime and with that only. They were set up as an aid to the civil courts. It was recognised that the civil courts, in cases where there was violence, were rather defenceless. No person connected with the judicial bench likes to think of himself, when he is walking around the streets or staying at home or taking his leisure in any way, that he has to be under guard. It was always understood, it was the point of view in respect of the judges—not that anything was expressed, but it was an understanding here—that the judges ought to be saved from that particular type of thing. Hence it was always believed that the special court, composed as it is of military people, was the proper way of dealing with crimes in which there was any element of violence, threatened or actual, and as long as the special court was used for that particular type of crime, violence, either threatened or actual, against judges, court officers, jurymen or others, as long as anything in the nature of violence, threatened or used, was concerned, then there was a legitimate resort to those extraordinary courts.

But we should remember that these special courts are a complete denial of the citizen's rights under the Constitution. Under the Constitution, save in minor offences, every citizen brought for trial on a criminal charge is supposed to have the advantage of a judge, aided by a jury, and there is a special purpose in the jury. It is to put a brake on the judicial point of view and to have that element of the ordinary man's common sense brought to bear upon judicial investigations— an element not present when the judge sits alone. It has always been regarded as a great safeguard. It is a point on which the judicial bench would be unanimous, that the jury was a great safeguard, particularly in connection with crime. As long as you have special courts and as long as it is possible to bring men for any type of crime before special courts there is the certainty of doing away with trial by jury.

It is quite definitely recognised under the Constitution that the special courts are not to be presided over by persons of judicial standing as ordinarily understood here. The ordinary view taken is that you provide for a better type of adjudication if you have a judge appointed under special conditions, who is guaranteed his independence and who may not be swayed at any time by reason of his emoluments or by bringing his judicial career to a close. You put people in a position in which they should be, and are expected to be, independent and always have been independent. On the other hand, when you come to the special courts you have it clearly recognised in the Constitution that these special courts need not be presided over by judges appointed under the Constitution. That being the case, when one looks at the Offences Against the State Act, under which these courts are set up, one finds that the Government have these people entirely under their power—I do not say they exercise that power. They may appoint men to courts and dismiss them after a certain action, giving them whatever emoluments they like and putting the emoluments up or down in any way they like, and the public could not be expected to have the same confidence with regard to the independence, the guaranteed independence, of these tribunals as they have with regard to the ordinary courts. There is public disquiet over this, that in recent years there has been a very definite practice of sending people before special criminal courts in cases in which there is not the slightest hint of violence.

Mr. Boland

I do not think I am responsible in that connection. There is no money provided in this Vote for that purpose. I do not like interrupting the Deputy, but that is my position. This is not the Vote on which to discuss the matter he is referring to.

I suggest it is.

Mr. Boland

There is no money provided for that in this Estimate.

Is there anything provided in the Estimate for those who will bring people before either the ordinary courts or the others?

Mr. Boland

The Attorney-General decides what cases are to go before these courts.

That may well be, but the Minister gets here the moneys which pay for the services of those who attend upon the ordinary courts. The police have to appear before the courts, and before the Special Military Court. The detective branch of the Gárda Síochána appears in court. To that extent the Minister is involved.

Take the Army Vote.

I raised that particular matter on the Army Vote. I raise it again, because I want to have more use made of those for whom the Minister gets money for bringing cases before the ordinary courts.

That is going a bit further.

I could put down a motion to reduce the amount of money paid the Gárda Síochána, on the ground that they are going too frequently before courts which are not courts presided over by judges appointed under the Constitution.

That would not enable the Deputy to raise this particular matter, seeing that there is money under another Vote for that particular purpose.

I am suggesting that money is provided for the Civic Guard and for detective officers, and I would like to see them, as a result of their investigations, hauling people before the ordinary courts.

Mr. Boland

I do not want to dodge this question, but it can be brought up in another way.

The Deputy has said all that he wants to say. There are two other Votes, Law Charges and the Army, involved.

The Minister brought in Orders in connection with certain matters before the House. I want to speak in connection with the salaries of people who come under this Vote. The Minister stated that the main increase in the Vote was caused by increased emoluments. On looking at the Gárda Síochána Vote there is a bulk sum of £2,107,000 for salaries and wages. The increase is less than £100,000 on a Vote of over £2,000,000. I say that the increase is not sufficient. I say that right through the Vote, no matter where it may be, in connection with officers attached to the various courts, and the whole Gárda body, it is ludicrous at this stage in the economic condition in which we have got into in this country, to ask this House to vote an increase of merely £100,000 on salaries and wages of a force of over 7,000 men, as far as Guards are concerned, and about 100 people by way of officers and other staff. That amount represents a very small average increase for these people. It must be remembered that we are paying people with pounds that have now a purchasing power of something like a half guinea or 12/-. I think it is ludicrous to contend that that is giving them anything like the emoluments they deserve, when the amount of the subheads of the Vote has increased from £2,416,282 to £2,557,770. It is not an adequate return to these people for the services they render, taking into account the purchasing power that £2,000,000 would give now, compared with 1939, irrespective of any comparison with 1932 or 1936. The situation now is that the purchasing power of £2,000,000 is something slightly over £1,000,000. We are asking these people and other sections of the community that are salaried to bear that inordinate share of inflation which the Government has allowed to develop. I consider that comment a proper one to make in regard to every sub-head that occurs in the Votes over which the Minister has control. It would apply also to the Supreme Court and High Court judges and right down the line.

Although it is not a Vote for which the Minister is responsible, it is ludicrous to expect that judges could comport themselves on present salaries when we look at what the old purchasing power of salaries was. We are getting into a position now when it is quite clear that it will be difficult to get the lower courts manned, if the salaries are not increased. They should be increased to an amount adequate to the decreased purchasing value of money. There is one special scandal in connection with the court system. As far as the ordinary people in the country are concerned I think the courts which do the main work, certainly in Dublin, are the District and Circuit Courts. The views of the majority of people in Ireland would be that the Dublin District and Circuit Courts represent justice. Very few of the people in them move into the High Courts or the Supreme Courts. Taking the number of cases brought before the courts, justice is administered through the District Courts in Dublin and in the country. It is administered by two Dublin Circuit Courts presided over by Dublin judges. It is my experience that cases taken in the District Courts are attended by people from the Chief State Solicitor's office, whose salaries are borne on one of these Votes. They are the people who make justice, as far as the criminal courts are concerned, for the vast bulk of the population of Ireland, and certainly for the bulk of the population of Dublin. They are nearly all qualified solicitors who appear in these courts. One looks with amazement on the work they do. It you go into the District Court you find one of these officials from the Chief State Solicitor's office with an attaché case full of files in connection with such cases. They are not merely there at the early stages when the justice will be asked if the cases are to be sent on for trial or not. It is amazing to see these highly skilled professional men there with attaché cases full of files. How it is expected that they get through the work that they have to do in amazingly difficult cases is more than I understand. When one looks back at the salaries paid to these people, and realises that the foundation of justice on the criminal side depends on them, one begins to appreciate how great the scandal is. These people, I understand, are being paid clerks' wages, not the wages of professional people at all.

Are not the salaries on Law Charges, Deputy?

I think they are on Law Charges. Will the Deputy look at the Vote for Law Charges?

Mr. Boland

They have nothing whatever to do with the Minister's office.

I think they are on Vote 25. The Minister for Justice has nothing to do with their salaries. It arises on the Chief State Solicitor's Office.

I will deal with it more in detail on that, but certainly, take even the clerks attached to the District Court, the clerical officers of that particular mass of people who are there and who make or mar justice at the foundations. I am taking these apart altogether from the general remarks I have made about the inadequacy of the salaries having regard to the decreased purchasing power of the moneys. I take them as special cases. I say if there is going to be any justice or fair play done to these people then their salaries in particular should get a very substantial increase. With regard to what the Minister has said about the District Court, that he has now become conscious of the fact that there must be legislation to enable an increase in the permanent staff in the District Courts of the district justices in Dublin, of course, it has been notorious to anybody taking even a sidelook at a District Court that they have been completely understaffed for years past. The excuse has always been the same as the Minister gave to-day, that he could not deal as on a permanent basis with something which might have been called for by a temporary increase in work. In that connection, does the Minister expect that what is presented as an abnormal situation with regard to crime is going to better itself and is it going to better itself soon?

Mr. Boland

I sincerely hope so. I could not say.

That may be the hope, but surely the Minister must take into consideration that the population of this area has very vastly increased, and when the Minister is thinking in terms of crime—and the statistics he gave to-day refer only to crime—surely he must realise that in the past six or seven years when you had this big increase of crime there was an almost complete absence of another type of work which the District Courts ordinarily do. For five or six years the District Courts have had very little to do in connection with prosecutions or activities of any type arising out of motor vehicles on the roads. Their work in that respect has been almost in abeyance. Certainly one justice can do what would require three or four working as they used to, dividing so many days to each, in the years prior to 1939. That is coming back now. If the Minister had been in the District Court on a recent occasion and seen the number of people paraded there for criminal offences in connection with parking, he would have seen the tremendous upsurge there is in that type of work. We are getting nearer to the stage when accidents are again going to happen and when people are going to be paraded before the District Court for various matters arising out of the Road Traffic Act and on the preliminary stages of prosecutions which may go along more serious lines than offences against the Road Traffic Act. That is going to be definitely on the increase. If the Minister weighs these in the balance, he will certainly find that they will off-set to a considerable degree what he may hope for in the way of a decrease in criminal proceedings. In any event, I think he will find that, so far from its being possible to regard what is happening in the District Courts as temporary increase in work, he is faced with a situation in which the work of the District Courts is going to remain, whether it will be divided, as it is now, in the special proportions between crime of the indictable type and other activities or whether it is divided more between the civil work or the offences under the Road Traffic Act or the indictable offence matters. He is going to find that there is no hope that the bulked work is going to lessen to any degree whatever from the point it has reached in the last five or six years. In that connection, I felt very glad to hear his announcement that he is going to take steps to increase the number of district justices.

I need not go back into ancient history but one of the matters that the Minister himself was very vocal about years ago was this business of temporary justices. The Minister was very loud in his denunciations of that and said that it, of course, gave the authorities a control which was not a desirable element, over justices who were of a temporary type and that that should be done away with as quickly as possible. I hope he is going to do away with it completely. There may be some necessity to have some one or two people floating around to enable vacations to be taken but in that particular situation the one or two individuals who happen to be interlocked into that can easily be segregated. Apart from that, I hope the Minister will make his way clear to the appointment of fully established district justices and I hope when that matter is being attended to the length of service of some of them will be very specially attended to, that there will not be any more of this matter of appointing people with very junior service over the heads of people who have established themselves as good district justices by their experience over very many years and by their record over very many years.

In a recent debate Deputy Costello and I had a motion down to refer back an Emergency Powers Order which made the courts take judicial note of certain Emergency Powers Orders. In that connection I referred to what I called the disturbing feature that prosecutions were apparently becoming more inefficient than they had been and in that connection I was rather surprised to receive a highly impudent letter from the Attorney-General commenting upon what I said in the House.

Mr. Boland

I am not responsible for the Attorney-General. That is a matter between the Deputy and himself.

I certainly would not like him to be responsible for this particular matter but I feel I am entitled to speak about it on this Vote because I utilised my right and privilege as a Deputy to say what I think I was entitled to say.

How does it arise on this Vote?

The Minister brought in an Order under Emergency Powers Order. He introduced. I spoke on it. I was then written this, as I say, highly impudent letter by the Attorney-General.

Mr. Boland

I did not introduce it. What happened was, there was a motion to annual the Order and I defended the Order.

The Minister was the defender and the Minister spoke on that. It was in reply to the Minister that I made my comments. In any event, I want to say this with regard to any comments I make in the House, that I have been given a constitutional right to criticise and have been safeguarded under a certain clause from interventions of the type the Attorney-General tried to impose upon me and I hope this House will be alert to defend the rights and privileges of Deputies in such a matter.

The Minister is not responsible for that.

I am glad to hear him say that.

Mr. Boland

The Deputy is well aware that I have nothing to do with it.

I am coming back to the point that the Minister did say that if that Order had not been passed, a considerable number of people who had been jailed would have had to be released. I think he used the phrase, "the whole scheme". The Minister said that there would be chaos with regard to people who had been jailed under Emergency Powers Orders. I think that is the phrase he used.

Mr. Boland

I used that phrase and also the word "doubt" about the position.

"Chaos" was the word he used.

Mr. Boland

And "doubt".

I understand the situation was that if that Order had not been passed, any number of people who either had undergone jail sentences or who were still in jail would have moved before the courts, some to get releases on habeas corpus orders, and others to get recompense for illegal detention. If the situation is such that the Minister's words are applicable to the situation or reasonably applicable to the situation, that if that Order had not been passed, the resulting situation was one of chaos, I take that as complete justification for any remarks I made about inefficiency in prosecutions. If the Minister would like me to go into it any further, I can get the same statistics from him as another Deputy got here recently with regard to the expenses that had been incurred in connection with prosecutions.

Mr. Boland

Not from me. He did not get it from me. He got it from another Minister.

The Minister, I think, answered this question.

Mr. Boland

I did, for somebody else. I am not trying to dodge it at all, but it is not my concern. It is the Minister for Finance's responsibility, not the Minister for Justice. I am not trying to dodge it.

I think the Minister answered the question with regard to certain ineffectual prosecutions that were taken, that got a certain length and were then, on appeal, disturbed and had to be re-tried. A calculation was asked for—and I think it was the Minister who gave the figures—as to the cost imposed upon the State by reason of these ineffective prosecutions. I can, as I say, raise this on another Estimate but I think I should raise this matter of an intervention of an individual of that type in opposition to a Deputy's constitutional rights in this matter.

It is the Attorney-General the Deputy is referring to now?

Yes. In connection with that whole matter I would propose to have the House understand that it is a view that I hold to very strongly that there has been very definite inefficiency in connection with those matters. I do not know whether the Minister thinks that the Guards are in any way involved. I do not. I think that they have been acting entirely under the advice of certain people who were put to advise them in connection with the way prosecutions are brought but, if it should happen that a case showed that something had been done wrongly or incorrectly by a Gárda or by a superior officer of the Guards or any of the detective officials, then I think I would be entitled to question that here and to use the same sort of terminology with regard to those people. I do not think it is open to anybody holding an appointment depending on the will and pleasure of the Government to try to intervene with criticism of that type upon a Deputy, speaking as I did on that particular matter.

The matter that I have spoken of in connection with the increase to be given to those connected with the courts in this country is one which I will have to raise on another Vote. I ask the Minister to take any of these Votes. Let him take the bulk Vote for the Gárda Síochána. Does the Minister think it is right that he should continue to pay the Guards in the depreciated currency he is handing out to them at present? I have often used this particular example before. I use it again as one way of putting the matter. Supposing that in 1940, it had been suggested to the Minister that he should come to this House with, say, a Vote for the Gárda Síochána cut down by one-half. I wonder would he have accepted the situation? Would he have got his own Party to back that Vote boldly indicating that the Guards' pay was to be cut by one-half? If he would have hesitated to bring in such a Vote, and I think he would, how comes he to be so complacent about this very same thing happening in another form?

The Minister will admit that, on the statistical information given to this House recently, the purchasing power of the £ has been very sharply decreased since 1939. How can he think that it is fair to pay the Guards nominally in pounds, but, in fact, only in half sovereigns and expect them to carry on the lives they have been accustomed to live when their pay has been reduced by one-half? The Minister may wave this aside and say that is not his business, that he is not responsible. He is. He is certainly responsible for trying to see that the effects of the inflation which has occurred will not bear heavily upon people who are asked to perform very onerous duties in the State. I ask the Minister to answer, if he has any answer to give, as to why he now thinks it right to pay people in half sovereigns when they used to be paid in pounds. The Minister cannot say that there is not enough money to go around. One of the things we have seen from that piece of statistical information is that one of the reasons why money has gone down in value is because there is too much of it going round. We have been told that the wealth of the country has increased by about £120,000,000, but that that is a mere monetary phenomenon. It is because there is such an increase that what one buys with the £ has so seriously changed. The Minister knows well, if he has given any study to these matters, that if the £250,000,000 which is in circulation in the country was redistributed it would not increase any inflationary tendency there is. Merely redistributing the amount of money in circulation can have no effect in increasing prices. The difficulty that occurs is that prices have increased, that it is easy for some people who have got more than their share of the increased money in circulation to bear the increased prices, because they have got more money with which to do it. But people like the Guards are the people who suffer.

The Minister is responsible for 7,000 men who are now being reduced to half pay. I want to know how he justifies that. Let the Minister not try to get away with the argument that he cannot increase the money because it means bringing in a new wave of inflation into the country. It does not. As long as the amount of money in circulation is kept at the stable point it has now reached, we do not increase prices any more. The Minister is asking people to bear the impact of these increased prices with the same amount of money they used to get.

I ask the Minister to take any class of people in the Civil Service, say, the clerks in the District Courts, or any other class, and justify in relation to any one of them putting them on half pay, because that is what is being done. How does the Minister expect that people are going to be able to give the same services that they used to give when they had not the same worries and when they had a particular type of salary, now that their salary is reduced? How does he expect to get the same service from them? How does he expect them to cope with the vast increase of crime? If the Minister looks into this matter, I suggest that he will find that the two things go together; that one of the reasons for the increase in crime is that so many people have been depressed by the subsistence policy which the Minister and his colleagues have allowed to come into operation. The Minister possibly shirks the reason for that increase in crime because he knows that it would lead to condemnation of the particular monetary policy which has brought that about.

Regarding this question of crime, I should like to know from the Minister whether he is satisfied that the encroachment from other Departments upon the duties of the Gárda is not in some degree responsible for the increase of crime. Undoubtedly, the emergency period would naturally lead us to expect an increase in crime, particularly in offences relating to black-marketeering, Emergency Powers Act offences, and all that kind of thing. But, year after year, measures are introduced into this House—at the present time we are discussing a very vast measure, the Public Health Bill—and in every one of these measures new duties are being imposed on the Gárda Síochána. Under the Public Health Bill they will be constituted into some sort of medical constabulary. Whether or not a section of the Gárda will have to be specially trained for these new duties, I cannot say. But there is one thing clear to my mind, that every time a Bill is introduced imposing extra police duties on the Gárda Síochána, to that extent they cease to be an effective force for the prevention of crime and, subsequently, for the detection of crime.

I venture to make a safe bet that if a Deputy goes into the average rural station or, for that matter, the average city station, he will find the services of the personnel there are dissipated on multifarious duties which have no bearing on police work. The beats in Dublin have been so stripped of men that the Minister had to increase the strength of the force in Dublin. The reason for that was that the Metropolitan Division was permanently placed upon special post duty. I want to harp on this because I believe it has a very definite effect on crime and because I believe it is entirely wrong. Under this Public Health Bill the Gárda will have to become medical constabulary. Under the School Attendance Act they have to enforce school attendance. They have to collect agricultural statistics. They have to revise the franchise. They have to look after unemployment assistance. I have seen something between 400 and 600 men lined up at a Gárda station in Donegal waiting to have their unemployment cards dealt with, with the entire staff of the Gárda station doing nothing else.

That is one aspect of police administration which we will have to face up to. I believe that we are loading the Gárda too heavily with duties which have no bearing upon police work and that, to the extent we are overloading the Gárda, we are rendering them an ineffective force for the prevention of crime. A police force is primarily for the prevention of crime and we have increases in crime to-day and have had these increases right back to 1939 which are not in any sense due to emergency conditions, but, to my mind, to the fact that the police are not there to prevent these offences. The police were definitely not there and I do not believe they are now in Dublin to man the beats to prevent burglars and housebreakers from operating. They are not there in the country to deal with offences against property with which they should be dealing. They are exhausted in doing duties for other Departments. I cannot emphasise this matter too much, and I believe it has a definite bearing on our crime position. The sooner the Minister makes up his mind to resist any further encroachment upon the Gárda organisation for duties of this kind, the sooner we will have a better crime situation and a more effective police force.

Another point which I believe is affecting our situation in the matter of crime and the police situation generally —it may be due to the emergency—is that there is a definite falling off in supervision from the top. The explanation for that up to now has been that the transport was not available during the emergency. Headquarters inspections are not effective and are not sufficient, and while that, as I have said, may be due to emergency conditions, I think it is now essential that these inspections should be resumed and that, as a beginning, they should take the form of surprise inspections. The informed inspection has its uses and its good results, but the surprise inspection has definitely better results.

Not only has there been a dropping off in supervision from the top, but district officers and divisional officers were released from their regular inspections of their districts and divisions, and the sooner they are restored to the normal routine of monthly and quarterly inspections the better, because Deputies on many sides have received complaints as to a certain amount of slackness in various districts. I think it is essential that these inspections be restored to the full, in order that whatever slackness may have grown up during the emergency will be effectively dealt with. I say again that if there is a certain amount of slackness in police work proper, it is again due to the extraordinary position we have in which the policeman is a policeman for perhaps one hour and for the other 23 hours is working for other Departments of the State.

I cannot see how the position of the Gárda Síochána in the matter of salaries is to be improved, as Deputy McGilligan has suggested, unless there is a definite change of system. At the moment, the police force is costing us as much as we can afford and if we are to give these better conditions the system will have to be changed. We all agree they should get them; we all agree that the police officer above every other class of servant should be put above the level of corruption or bribery, and given a salary which will not only render him independent in the community in which he moves of the people with whom he has to deal in the enforcement of the law but to give him a certain social status. On his present pay, he cannot attempt to meet his expenses. His pay is inadequate. The average Guard has roughly the equivalent of a pre-war wage of £2 and how he is to preserve his integrity and independence on £2 per week, I leave to the Minister and his advisers to conceive. I cannot see how a married man with a family can carry on in present conditions. At the same time, expenditure on the police has gone from something like £1,820,000 in 1939 to an estimated figure this year of £2,557,000, an increase of £737,000 odd.

These are stubborn facts to face. I said last year on the Estimate that we would have to face up sooner or later to reorganising our police force to suit peculiarly Irish conditions. The present system, as I have said before, is based on the old R.I.C. system, which was a military and political establishment, and some features of that organisation still remain. We have still retained the old barrack orderly system which they adopted and which was primarily intended for the safe custody of arms, and so on. There is none of that in the rural parts of Britain, Scotland, Wales or the Isle of man. I have suggested before that the Minister would be well advised to select a group of his most efficient officers to go across and study how, in populations of 30,000 and 40,000, a small body of men can manage where we cannot manage with perhaps five and ten times that body of men.

One can go into the large towns and villages in these places and find that the community is looked after by the village constable and his wife. The station is his residence, his office and his bridewell all in one and one man does the job. We cannot do that under a personnel of one and three, a sergeant and three men. I should like to know how they manage to do it over there and how efficiently they do it, whether the community is more law-abiding there than here and whether they are not able to get after all reported offences just as efficiently as we do. If a change of system is adopted here, it will be possible to give officers and men better conditions and we could work within a reasonable figure for police. I consider a sum of over £2,500,000 at the moment an excessive figure for this small country for police. When the figure was something like £1,000,000, or a little over, the people on the opposite benches thought the country was being beggared and starved because of the excessive police service it was getting. Now there is no check whatever on the expenditure.

Every Estimate in the Minister's charge shows an increase. Not only that, but the increase over the 1939 figure amounts to £923,912 and if one takes each Estimate in turn and examines it year by year, one will find that every Estimate without exception shows an increase. There may be a perfect explanation for it. Undoubtedy, increments and bonuses are responsible for a good deal of the increase, and I am not suggesting that the strength of the force has not been increased, but that is the situation. We have jumped by £1,000,000 since 1939 and I think it is time we called a halt to this extraordinary expenditure.

I notice in this year's Estimate that there is a proposal to spend £25,000 or £30,000 on new transport. I would like to be satisfied that that transport is to be provided for police purposes, and does not comprise post-war models for the Ministers. If transport is needed for police work, by all means let them have it. In these Estimates, we are providing about £25,000 extra for new transport. It may be that new cars were not bought during the emergency and that they are needed now. However, the Gárda Vote is saddled with that, and every Minister is riding round in a Gárda car driven by a Gárda driver, and some of them are protected by members of the Gárdaí. I do not think it is fair that the Gárda Vote should be saddled with that extraordinary procedure year after year. This matter may have been decided before my time in this House and by the Public Accounts Committee, but where they are rendering service to another Department, the Gárda should get an appropriation-in-aid, just as the Post Office and other Departments make sure they get such appropriations-in-aid for work rendered to other Departments.

Deputy McGilligan has mentioned the Gárda officer conditions, and I quite agree with him. The present-day value of money is so low that it is almost impossible for the married Guard to subsist on his present salary. I find it difficult to see how there can be an increase of pay without a change of system. I would draw the Minister's attention to the rent allowances. He was good enough to revise them some years ago, and that revision undoubtedly gave considerable relief. The maximum scale at present for the city of £40, having regard to the rents Guards have to pay in cities, is altogether inadequate. Despite the control which the Minister may claim has been exercised over rents under the Rent Restrictions Acts, any Guard I have met who is looking for a new house or a new flat is faced with paying anything from £70 to £100, or upwards. In consideration of that rent, he receives the inadequate rent allowance of £40. That rent allowance only applies to the cities and excludes a city like Waterford, where housing conditions are just as acute as in Dublin, and where it is just as difficult to get a house at £80 or £100 rent. In the larger towns outside the cities and Waterford, a rent allowance of £30 is paid. Again you have towns like Naas and others I could name, where there is such a shortage of houses that the Guards are faced with having to pay most exorbitant rents. I would ask the Minister to look into that question again, to see if anything can be done to improve the position. Of any public servant you have in the State, the Guard is the one whom you should have in a happy, contented position and the one above all who should be put, by way of salary or emoluments, above temptation. He is in a peculiar position in contact with the public. He has to exercise an independent line; very often he has to keep aloof from the society in which he has to live and bring up his family. That man should be given enough to keep himself and his family in reasonable comfort, and put him above the level of temptation.

I do not wish to go over the ground I covered last year, but would like to draw the Minister's attention to two classes of servants which are very badly treated by the State to-day—the clerks employed in the Circuit Court offices and the District Court clerks. The matter of these officials' salaries has been under review, both by the Minister and by the Minister for Finance, for a considerable number of years. I want to impress on the Minister that many of the officials in those offices are growing old. Many of them will be going out shortly on pension or no pension. Many of them rendered very good national service here in the troublesome years, and took risks out of the ordinary. These men are now facing retirement, but many of them have no pension to look forward to. The Minister is aware of the peculiar legal position obtaining since the Treaty as it affects these servants, particularly Circuit Court officers. I would ask him to try to expedite the scheme of superannuation, so that those who are about to retire will be able to look forward to retirement in reasonable comfort.

As regards the District Court clerks, many of them are in a deplorable position. They find themselves legally in the peculiar position that they are not allowed to engage in other occupations, professions or trades. They are prohibited by law, where they are whole-time, from improving themselves by any other trade or calling. Some of them are on very miserable salaries, while their confreres in Northern Ireland are in receipt of salaries almost double what they are receiving down here. However, I do not want to particularise in this matter. Many of these men who came into the service from the Old I.R.A., the National Army or the old Sinn Féin movement have served long terms of imprisonment. There are two in my own constituency who are in a shocking plight. One of them, who is in the county home, is a man who served a long term of years in jail, a man who took a prominent part in the national movement, but who to-day is in the county home by reason of the fact that he has not been given a superannuation from the State. There is another man, who will shortly be in the county home with him, unless something is done to compensate him for his services. These are old men, over 70 years of age, and a small pension would put them above that position. Both of these men were prominent in the national movement. I do not wish to give their names here, but can give particulars to the Minister. It is disgraceful that they have not been dealt with before now. I can candidly say that many of these men feel that, because they took a prominent part in the movement, officialdom—I do not say the Minister, but officialdom—somewhere is biassed against them, when it comes to finding one of these men, who took a very proud and leading part in the national movement, now in the county home. I would ask the Minister to expedite this scheme so that justice at least can be done to these men.

I would again impress on the Minister the feeling I have from police experience—and I am sure the force has it, too—that with every demand made upon their services for duties of a non-police nature, you must cease to expect results either in the prevention or detection of crime. We have overloaded the force now to such an extent that, instead of adding new duties, the Minister should be looking about to see what duties he can unload from them. These men should be put back upon their beats and patrols, so that they can carry out their proper duty, the prevention and detection of crime.

I do not propose to touch on any question of policy because, as far as I can see, in the circumstances around us, the force as a whole does its work exceedingly well. There are a number of administrative details I would like to refer to. I would direct the Minister's attention to the time when the Gárda Síochána Bill of 1945 was going through the House. That Bill made provision for an increased number of station-sergeants and inspectors. I think the Minister rather envisaged a general reorganisation of various stations in the city. At least, he instanced, to my knowledge, three or four. I feel compelled to refer to this matter because I happen to live in an area within 300 or 400 yards of Whitehall Barracks and, should anything untoward happen within that area, strange though it may seem, it would be necessary for me to get in touch with Santry, practically two miles away.

I mention that as an illustration of the necessity for a further reorganisation, if the reorganisation to which the Minister referred has taken place. I mention it also as an instance of what is, perhaps, obtaining in other districts in the city, as well as the district of which I have personal knowledge. Last year the Minister made provision for a maximum number of station-sergeants and inspectors and he said at that particular stage that the number would be increased to a certain figure. I would like to have an assurance that, in the light of the deputation which he received from the Dublin Corporation, he is satisfied that the personnel of the force in the city is adequate to meet all requirements.

On the question of housing, which was referred to here last year—in fact, I think it has been referred to on the Vote for several years—the Minister held out the hope that he would regard this as a sort of major question in his post-war plan. He admitted the necessity for housing. Apart altogether from the hardship which is being inflicted on Guards going on transfer from one town to another, there is the question of the administrative difficulty arising out of the lack of accommodation in connection with these transfers. It is true to say that the position has not very greatly improved, though it has improved somewhat. It has not improved to the extent that the Minister could embark on the plan he then had in mind. I would like to know if the Gárda authorities have taken the necessary steps to ensure that in the near future, when conditions will have eased in the building world, adequate housing accommodation will be provided for the personnel of the force.

Alongside that I would like to add my appeal to that expressed by Deputy Coogan in so far as rent allowances are concerned. When these rent allowances were introduced they bore some relation, perhaps, to the conditions existing at the time. No one is better aware of the position in Dublin than the Minister, more especially having regard to his experiences of the Rent Restrictions Act. He knows that £40 in the city is totally inadequate to provide accommodation for a Gárda and his family at the present time. As Deputy Coogan pointed out, the same applies in lesser amounts elsewhere, extending to £30 in the case of Waterford. I understand the Departmental viewpoint in that respect is that the Rent Restrictions Act keeps the position static, but the Minister knows that is not so. If a Gárda moves on transfer, he is confronted with having to pay anything up to £100 a year to get decent accommodation. It is obvious that the figure of £40, as maximum, decreasing to £18 in certain centres, is totally inadequate to meet the requirements of the Gárdaí.

I notice in the Estimate an interesting item providing £437 for four policewomen and the rates of pay go from 35/- by 1/- to 42/-, inclusive. I think the House will be rather surprised to find that State servants of that description should be remunerated in that way. I presume there is a cost-of-living figure as well in the amount provided, but, even so, and although the number of individuals concerned is exceedingly small, it is no reason why State services should be run on what appear to be cheap lines.

Last year the Minister made arrangements in a matter in which I was personally interested, that is, rewards for gallantry, and he advanced a considerable portion of the way by setting up a committee. We had a recent case in the Dublin Corporation which indicated that the position had not gone as far as we thought. Perhaps the Minister will explain what is the position of that particular organisation? Is it firmly constituted and are they taking steps to do what they were intended to do?

Mr. Boland

The position is that the committee expressed a wish to be put on a statutory basis. They did not want the Minister to interfere. For that reason I undertook to prepare a Bill and present it to the Government. In that Bill they would be put on a statutory basis. In due course I hope to present a short Bill, putting them in a statutory position. That was the reason for the delay.

I notice in the Estimate also a contribution to the Gárda Síochána Reward Fund, the contribution being £415. I am not familiar with the details, but I presume here again that it might be for something in connection with outstanding acts of devotion so far as the Gárdaí are concerned. It would appear that the amount which, incidentally, is a fixed figure, being the same as last year, is exceedingly small. I did hear on one occasion of a particularly courageous act being rewarded by a comparatively small amount.

Mr. Boland

That is only a State contribution towards the Reward Fund which the Guards have established. It is only a fraction of what they have for disbursal.

Do the Guards contribute to the fund themselves?

Mr. Boland

No, certain fines go to it.

The amount I mentioned is only a portion?

Mr. Boland

Yes, only a portion, and it is directly contributed by the State.

I raised a question here before with reference to legal aid for the poor in our courts. I called the attention of the Minister to the position which operates in England in this respect and I rather gathered that he was not disposed to follow a similar course here. I think the Minister will agree that while the atmosphere of a court may not be correctly described as intimidating, it is of such a character that one needs to have legal defence. I think we can take it that those who have legal defence somehow fare better than those who do not. As I understand, such a position is provided for in England, where there is legal aid for the poor. There are voluntary institutions doing it here, notably the St Vincent de Paul Society, but I think a matter of that kind should be done through the agency of the State. I mentioned it before, but I rather gathered from the Minister that he was not favourable to a course of that kind.

I also raised a question about probation officers before. The Minister has his mind firmly fixed that juvenile delinquency might best be served through a system of voluntary organisations. I think that was the line of his argument last year. My only interest is to ensure that proper attention will be directed towards the juvenile delinquents at the stage when they need it most. All I am concerned with is to know what is the experience of the Minister in respect of the voluntary organisation with whom, apparently, he has been in touch. I happened quite casually to hear of another matter recently which is indicative of what sometimes happens in Government Departments, where there can be extreme parsimony in its administration. It is a small matter, but it reflects the official mind in its worst form. It concerns the provision of flash-lamps for Guards when on duty at night. These flash-lamps are considered to be a great aid in the detection of crime at night, and I understand that in a number of barracks in the city the supply of these indispensable articles is very small. I believe it is totally inadequate. I would be glad if the Minister would look into it.

I have had a communication with regard to the Borstal Institute from Clonmel Corporation. That institute was established 15 or 20 years ago, but owing to the emergency it was taken over by the military authorities and the boys were transferred to Cork. I put down a question last week asking about the future of the institute, and the reply was that the Clonmel premises were not considered to be quite suitable for the purpose. The object of the Borstal Institute is to train and reclaim youths by giving them some form of trade so that they could become good citizens. I do not exactly know how the work is carried on but I understand that those who are sent there are taught trades. In a place like Clonmel, with a population of 10,000 people, there is a lack of tradesmen, and also a lack of agricultural workers in the country areas. If boys in the Borstal Institute were trained for agricultural employment they could be made useful citizens. The only places that I know of in Éire in which there were Borstal Institutes were at Cork and Clonmel. I suggest that many of the boys who are in the Borstal Institute come from cities and big towns. I do not know of any youths who were sent there from parishes in the districts I know. Boys from the institute who went in for agricultural employment in County Tipperary have done remarkably well. I suggest to the Minister that if the Borstal Institute were transferred back to Clonmel a number of the youths might be trained as agricultural workers. Some of them might be put on parole and allowed out to work for farmers living within a mile of the town. During the busy season they could help with the harvest or could thin turnips or beet. After a time they might be allowed out to work for three or six months. I think that would be a good way towards the reclamation of the boys. Deputy O'Sullivan referred to the housing of the Guards and to the need for providing married quarters. I think money could be usefully spent in building married quarters in different towns. At present if a Guard gets permission to get married to a girl in the neighbourhood in which he is stationed, he is transferred to another district. It is a great strain on men with families, when they are transferred to a strange town, to get accommodation, especially if they have four or five children. The problem could be solved, as Deputy O'Sullivan suggested, by providing married quarters for Guards.

Many things can be said on this Vote but I am glad to say that political crime has disappeared in this State for a number of years. There is now plenty of room for the political activities of people who hold republican views. However, I am sorry to say that there is some petty crime throughout the country, such as larceny. We expected that that would prevail during a war period and hope that now that peace has come it will decline. One of the big troubles of our police force is that they are overburdened with duties. They cannot devote sufficient time to their ordinary duties when they have to act as civil servants, tax collectors and in other capacities. More than half the duties that they are called upon to do now should be taken from them. In the country districts they have too many duties other than police duties to perform. The housing of the Guards is a matter of concern to them. It is deplorable to find that Guards have to take thatched houses in lanes and alleys and have almost to beg the owners to let such houses. The surroundings in which they have to live are not always the proper surroundings for Guards. Guards should have a good social standing. It is not fair that they should have to live amongst an undesirable class. The time has come when proper houses should be built adjacent to the Gárda barracks. There is no reason why three or four houses could not be built convenient to local barracks.

I am aware of a district where Guards have to travel three or four miles to their houses. If anything happened in that district at night-time how could the Guard in charge of the barracks get in touch with these men? He could not do it. The place to have our policemen is right beside their duties where a telephone call or the ringing of a bell could bring all the Guards together, when required. At the present moment, if the Gárda on duty in the barracks had urgent necessity to call the other Guards it would take the whole night to get them. That is not good. It is time that we should face up to the position of building proper houses for our Gárda, attached to the barracks. It may cost money but it would be money well spent and we would thereby keep the Gárda in the social surroundings in which we want them, not have them having a second or third-rate social position, mixing up with everyone. The Gárda must be above that sort of thing. While the pay of the Gárda may seem fairly good and is not too bad in ordinary times, he is not now able to keep his family decently at the present time. Living in the country is very hard on the Gárda and his family.

There is one matter that will have to be stopped. I find the Gárda has to go away from his ordinary activities and go into private competition. I have known Guards to engage in cattle dealing and taking grass land. I have known Guards cutting vast amounts of turf and selling it, as a huckster would. That is a terrible state of affairs and should certainly be stopped. I do not object to a Gárda cutting turf for his family but I strongly object to a Gárda making himself a merchant and entering into activities, even bordering on black market activities. Many Guards throughout the country spend a vast amount of time ferreting rabbits and killing them for sale, shooting pigeons, night and day. I see them myself, with lamps, practically all night. They sell them to help to meet the family budget. That is a terrible state of affairs and will have to be stopped. The only way in which it can be stopped is by giving the Guard an adequate wage to rear his family in decent surroundings. This Department is doing its duty fairly well. It has succeeded in keeping political crime in abeyance and, if it adopts stricter measures in dealing with ordinary crime, it should be able to bring it to heel. We should be able with the passage of time to keep control of these matters, in this Christian country.

Ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh do dhá rud. An chéad rud, an scrúdú chun daoine nua a thógaint isteach sna Gárdaí. Do réir mar tá an scéal faoi láthair, ní ligtear do gach iarrthóir dul isteach ar an scrúdú iontrála. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil sé sin ceart. Do réir deallraimh, pioctar amach roinnt iarrthóir ó gach condae agus ligtear dóibh san dul isteach ar an scrúdú faoi Choimisinéirí na Stát-Sheirbhíse acht ní ceadaítear d'aon iarrthóirí dul isteach air. Má tá scrúdú poiblí ann, ba chóir ligint do gach iarrthóir a bhfuil na cáilíochta aige dul isteach ar an scrúdú, sé sin gach iarrthóir a bhfuil an neart coirp aige agus an tomhas agus an t-aos ceart fé mar atá leagtha síos sna rialacha le haghaidh an Ghárda. Do réir mar thuigim, ní mar sin a deintear faoi láthair agus d'iarrfainn ar an Aire an cheist seo a iniúchadh agus a shocrú feasta go mbeidh cead ag gach iarrthóir atá cáilithe do reir na rialacha dul isteach ar an scrúdú iontrála.

An tarna pointe: Baineann sé le scéal na nGárdaí sa Ghaeltacht. Tá scéim faoi leith ar siúl le roinnt blian anuas maidir leis na nGárdaí sa Ghaeltacht agus scéim is ea é a bhfuil an-chuid maitheasa déanta aige don Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht chomh fada agus a mhaineas leis na cúirteanna. Is clos dom ámh go bhfuil Gárdaí áirithe so bhFórsa a bhfuil togha na Gaeilge acu agus go gceileann siad an t-eolas san ar eagla go gcuirfí go dtí an Ghaeltacht iad. Is é an rud a mholfainn ná go mbeadh deis ag gach Gárda óg tamall dá shaol i seirbhís an Ghárda a chaitheamh i stáisiún sa Ghaeltacht. Ba chóir go mbeadh Gaeilge mhaith ag gach Gárda óg a tháinig isteach le roinnt blian anuas agus ba chóir caoi a thabhairt dóibh cuid dá dtréimhse do chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht. Chabhródh san le húsáid na Gaeilge sa bhFórsa, agus déanfadh sé maitheas do leathnú na Gaeilge imeasc an phobail.

In the group of Estimates for which the Minister is responsible there has been a very substantial increase in cost over the last six or seven years. I think the increase amounted to close on £900,000. That is a very substantial increase when we remember that these Departments are all of a non-productive character, they add nothing to the wealth of the community. If we were a perfect community, these Departments would be unnecessary, even the Minister would be unnecessary. It is unfortunate that such a substantial amount of the national revenue should have to be diverted to the purpose of keeping us on the straight and narrow path and the question, of course, naturally arises, as to whether, in planning for the future, we can find some means of reducing this cost and whether by some reorganisation of the various Departments, particularly the main Department, the Gárda Síochána, we can bring about economies. This is a very difficult question. It has been dealt with by a number of Deputies. The viewpoint has been expressed that the Gárda should be relieved of all duties other than the prevention and detection of crime, which are its main function. I cannot entirely agree with that.

The prevention and detection of crime involves a long period of waiting for something unpleasant to happen. If it does not happen, so much the better. In any case, even the waiting is unpleasant. If we are to consider a police force confined to the duty of the prevention and detection of crime, we would be condemning a section of our people to a very unhappy mode of existence. With decent remuneration, and having to perform other duties which fit in with the prevention and detection of crime, the life of a member of the police force and his efficiency can be improved. During the present year the Gárda Síochána will be called upon to undertake the onerous and difficult task of carrying out a census of the population. This will involve a big lot of work which is, I think, far removed from the prevention and detection of crime, unless we regard the population as the source of all crime. I feel that this particular duty of finding out who lives in each street and laneway and in each isolated rural dwellinghouse is a duty which adds to the efficiency of our police force. It enables them to collect a considerable amount of very useful information. I should like to know in this connection whether it would be possible to improve the statistical information which the Gárda are called upon to collect. In addition to the census of the population, the Garda are called upon to carry out annually a census of production and a census in regard to agriculture. These particular statistics have been frequently condemned in this House as being unreliable. I think there is need for introducing a system in regard to the preparation of such statistics somewhat on the same lines as the system adopted for the census of population, that is, that each individual is called upon to answer a number of questions and to be responsible for the answers.

In regard to agricultural statistics the person giving the information is not, as a rule, held responsible. The Guards are supposed to collect the information as well as they can, but frequently it is difficult to fix the responsibility on anyone, if the information is inaccurate. Generally speaking, I think that the census of population has been found to be fairly accurate, if not very accurate. If a similar system was introduced in regard to the collection of other statistics, I think it would make for greater accuracy.

I have heard the question raised in this House frequently of the disparity between the number of police required in Great Britain to maintain order and the number required here in proportion to the population. I have not any figures before me as to what the disparity really is. But we were told by Deputy Coogan to-day that one policeman and his wife are able to maintain order in a town of over 5,000 population in Great Britain. It is my opinion that the same number of police would maintain order so far as our rural areas are concerned. It may be necessary to increase the number in the towns and cities. But you cannot contemplate a reduction in the personnel of our police force without reducing very drastically the number of stations. That, again, would raise a very serious problem, because I do not think there is any town or village which would like to be deprived of its Gárda station. Therefore, viewing the matter from every angle, I am of the opinion that the addition of duties other than the ordinary prevention and detection of crime is not undesirable. If the Gárdaí are given adequate and decent remuneration and are properly equipped for the work they are called upon to do, I think they will not object to carrying out other duties, such as the collection of statistics and assisting in the various administrative schemes in their localities. I think there is no serious objection to that. A Guard who is called upon to carry out administrative duties is brought into close contact with various people whom he might find it rather difficult to contact in his ordinary patrol duty. People living in isolated country places frequently do not come into contact with the Guards unless the Guards come to their houses to collect statistics or on some duty of that kind. On the whole, I think it is desirable that the police force in this country should have duties other than the prevention and detection of crime. I think it would increase the efficiency of the police force, provided the duties are not excessive and that they are not such as would take a number of the police force completely away from contact with the people in each subdistrict.

In connection with the census to be taken this year, I want to raise a matter which is a cause of considerable concern in rural areas. I refer to itinerants. I wonder if the Gárdaí, in carrying out the census of population, are able accurately to estimate the number of itinerants who frequent our roads. There is a general feeling in the country that the numbers are under-estimated by the police authorities. I do not know how true that is, but it is quite possible that they are. I suppose it is not easy to carry out a census of people who are moving frequently from one district to another. It is desirable, however, that the numbers should be recorded and that steps should be taken to ensure that these people do not interfere as much as they are at present interfering with the rural population in isolated areas. There is considerable trespass by such people, particularly those who deal extensively in horses and other live stock. They frequently take the liberty of utilising farmers' lands and crops for their own use. By moving from district to district, they succeed in completely evading the law and have made themselves to a great extent immune from the law.

Another matter which has arisen in the discussion on the Public Health Bill is that it has been alleged that these itinerants are carriers of infectious diseases from one place to another. The same allegation was made in connection with the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease a few years ago. On the whole, I think the section of our population who are prepared to live in fixed places of abode and who try to work patches of land and to eke out an honest living at least should be protected from such people.

Another matter which requires some explanation from the Minister is the system by which county registrars are appointed. I raised this matter by way of question in the House some time ago and the Minister defended the present system on the ground that it was the established practice. I think the system by which these appointments are made is altogether wrong. Appointments to positions of this kind which are of a semi-judicial nature and of a very responsible type should not be made on Party lines. Some system should be devised by which the ablest and best members of the legal profession will be promoted to such important positions.

I am always puzzled in regard to these Estimates to know why it is the Minister for Justice is not answerable and responsible for the Estimate for Law Charges and the Attorney-General's Department. It seems to me that the Attorney-General's Office fits into and is to a great extent part and parcel of the general system of administering justice, and that it should be accounted for by the Minister for Justice as are the courts. It is very difficult to understand why this Department is excluded from the Minister's control, so to speak.

The question of providing legal defence in court for people who are unable to afford it has been raised and it is a question which should be very seriously considered. The courts, we are told, are open to all citizens, but they are open in just the same way as the Shelbourne Hotel, or some of the bigger places of entertainment, are open in that they can enter provided they have the necessary finance, but if they have not got the necessary finance, they may find themselves left completely out in the cold. Not alone should a person charged with a serious offence be provided with legal aid, but something should also be done to reduce the cost of bringing proceedings in the High Court. It might be said that the best advice to the ordinary citizen is that he should keep out of the higher courts altogether, but very often cases regarding title to property —it may be a farm or a business—arise and title cannot be established except by going into the High Court. Very frequently it happens that people who are aggrieved have no means of redress simply because they have not got the necessary finance to go into the higher courts. It is a very undesirable state of affairs. With regard to the person charged with a serious offence, there is no answer to the case that he should be given legal assistance at the expense of the State if he cannot afford it himself.

I want to deal, in conclusion, with the duty that lies ahead of the Minister with regard to reorganising our police force. As we all know, members of the Gárda all joined the force practically at the same time and they will all be retiring in a short time. There is, therefore, a duty and an obligation upon the Minister and upon this House to see that in future we will aim not only at maintaining the high standard set when the force was established but at raising it still higher.

There is no doubt that the efficiency and effectiveness of our police force, particularly in view of the circumstances in which it was established, have surprised not only people in this country but people outside this country. It has been a source of surprise, particularly to people outside this country, that we who were regarded as such a lawless race, particularly at the time when the State was established, could settle down to become at least comparatively orderly. In great measure, the change over to normal conditions when the State was established was due to the Gárda, who, though they never claimed to be a perfect police force, were certainly a very human police force. They got to know the people, to know their weaknesses and their virtues, and by not being too drastic or rigid but by maintaining a certain standard of commonsense in the administration of justice, they succeeded in maintaining order much better than the enemies of this country expected.

In planning for the future, we must aim at getting into our police force the ablest and best men available. We must offer decent remuneration and security and we must offer, above all, decent housing. One of the serious blots in regard to the general establishment of our police force has been the very inadequate and undesirable housing provided. Not only in the City of Dublin but even in the most remote rural areas, Guards have to seek accommodation from private landlords and pay for it at the very highest price and in many cases they have secured only the very poorest of accommodation. One of the first duties of the Minister is to provide housing. Now that the emergency is over, it should be possible to get this work under way. During the emergency nothing could be done, but now that the emergency is over plans should be laid for the building of such accommodation as is required and as will be helpful, not only to the comfort but to the efficiency of the force.

There are only three matters I wish to speak about. I do not think that anybody dealing with the Estimate for the Department of Justice and hearing the figures given by the Minister, showing, as I think they do, in practically every respect, a rather serious increase in crime, could pass over that situation in silence. I have no doubt that that increase in crime is in no way due to the activities of the Department of Justice. In so far as the Guards are concerned, they have been vigilant and zealous—perhaps one might occasionally criticise them for being a bit over-zealous. It is disqueting that at this period we should be faced again this year with the review the Minister has given, showing a rather grave increase in criminal statistics.

Some years ago, I ventured to suggest that that increase was not due basically to the conditions created by the war and the emergency, that the uses had to be found deeper in our own characteristics and in our own mode of life. I was somewhat severely criticised for making that observation, even by my own leader, Deputy Cosgrave, as he then was. I think I am entitled now to say that I was, to a great extent, correct in my diagnosis then. I think this increase in crime is due not so much to war conditions and emergency conditions as to the peculiar circumstances which exist in our country at the present time. We have to face the fact that our people have suffered a moral deterioration to some extent. We have to face also the fact that economic conditions have forced some of our growing people, almost against their own will, into the paths of crime. One of the greatest problems that have to be solved is the problem of finding work for the young people leaving school at from 14 to 18 years. It is at that time that the real criminal is formed and that is the period of greatest danger from the national point of view.

There is no doubt that it is a matter of extreme difficulty to place the young people who are coming out of school between 14 and 18. I think it is fair and proper to say that practically all those children leaving school have one desire only—to get remunerative employment, to get some job which will enable them to bring some money into their homes and enable them to earn their livelihood decently. When they find themselves faced with the impossibility of getting any sort of job, or getting merely a blind alley occupation, faced with the frustration of their efforts, they come up against the alluring prospect that there is money to be made in directions other than the ways which appear to be barred to them. You have in the country at present the extraordinary contrast between extreme poverty and a small select few who have made extreme wealth in the last six or seven years. Money is being splashed by certain sections of the community here, in lavish displays by apparently wealthy people who do not mind what they spend on luxuries or on their own amusement. Side by side with that, there are people who are unable to live on the salaries and wages they are able or permitted to earn. We have the problem of these young people unable to get jobs, and prohibited in some cases from going to England in search of work. This problem of increasing crime is one that requires more careful and detailed treatment and consideration than it has yet received. It is not proper, in the public interest, that it should be cast aside merely as a matter of statistics, that some airy explanation should be given based upon the war and emergency conditions.

There is one minor matter, before I refer to the other two major matters I wish to speak about to-night. Some years ago, I asked from the Minister's predecessor whether the promotion of a Guard depended on his efficiency or was measured by the number of prosecutions he brought and the success of those prosecutions. The Minister's predecessor gave me a definite assurance that the promotion in no way depended on the prosecutions. I, and a number of people who are engaged in the law, have got the impression that there is a new attitude, which was not existent, in theory at least, in criminal courts, that the prosecution in the conduct of criminal cases at present have the attitude that they must win the case, as if they were acting for a private client, as if it were essential that the case should be—to use a phrase that is out of use in a criminal court—won by the prosecution. I have heard the phrase used—and I am sure other Deputies have heard it too—"it was a very successful prosecution."

The duty of the State prosecutor, the duty of all people assisting him, the duty of the courts and of all people in charge of the preparation of the case in the courts, ought to be to bring the facts in fairness before the court, all the facts and not merely facts which appear to support the case for the prosecution. They should bring forward those facts which may in any way be of assistance to accused persons. There are some prosecutors, some superintendents, Gárda sergeants and detective officers in charge of cases who faithfully conform to those standards: and there are some— in our view, at all events, whether we be right or wrong—who do not conform to those standards. For that reason, I seek an assurance from the Minister that the assurance given by his predecessor will be maintained. I wish to be assured that the efficiency of the Guards is not measured by the number of prosecutions and that promotion does not depend upon success in those prosecutions, that the efficiency of a Guard is measured by other and higher standards than those.

I may for a moment digress into a note of levity and cite an actual case that occurred to two citizens, well known to the Minister, in a remote part of Ireland a short time ago. The weather had been extremely inclement for days, and, finally forced out late at night for a walk in search of air, they came upon a guardian of the peace, who informed them that he wished to take their names. On their assuring him they were merely out for a walk, he said he did not mind that; he wanted their names all the same, as he had been out for hours and nothing had happened, and he wanted to get something before he went back to barracks. I know there is a very real explanation of that occurrence, and I am sure neither the Minister nor the Commissioner will take steps to find out who the particular individual was. However, there may be some slight germ of truth in that, that this particular individual, who perhaps paid a visit to a local hostelry in search of protection against the inclement weather, and having found that he got nothing as a result, availed of the presence of these two well-known citizens to bring something back to show his efforts for the night. I am sure the Minister will give me the same assurance as his predecessor gave some years ago.

Last year I got from the Minister what I regarded as a satisfactory assurance on the subject of the employment of temporary district justices. It appears that the Minister and I were in complete agreement on the undesirability of employing legal gentlemen as temporary district justices.

I think the employment of temporary district justices for long periods borders on the unconstitutional. The Minister agreed with me that that was a practice that should be kept within the narrowest possible ambit. I have watched the situation rather carefully for the last 12 months and I would like the Minister to give me some information as to the practice which he has followed in the administration of this branch of his Department during that 12 months. I have got the impression —I may be wrong—that there have been more temporary appointments of district justices last year than there were before.

Mr. Boland

That is correct. There were three district justices rather ill during the year.

Then my impression was not far wrong?

Mr. Boland

It was quite correct.

The position in the City of Dublin is a very strange and somewhat anomalous position. The statute provides for the carrying out of the work in Dublin by three permanent justices. I think it is many years since the Dublin work was carried out by three permanent justices. So far as we can see, there appears to be an army of assistants and temporary justices carrying on the work in the Dublin District Courts. I think there are something like three assistant district justices who are quite permanent in their appointments, and there are two, three and four, and sometimes more, temporary justices carrying on the work there. In the City of Dublin it would probably be true to say that the work has been carried on by eight or nine people for the last seven or eight years, whereas the statute provides for only three individuals. It appears to me there is something wrong there requiring radical treatment from the Minister.

I think it was Deputy Cogan who spoke about a change in the system of appointment of county registrars. He was, perhaps, not strictly happy in the phrase he used about change in the mode of appointment. Possibly the correct description would have been change in the mode of selection for appointment. Every appointment is regulated by statute, but the Minister can select from the applicants the best person for the post. Deputy Cogan wished to emphasise the desirability of appointing on non-Party grounds. I think the Minister has long ago nailed his colours to the mast on that point. He has cheerfully explained that he is going to make appointments on political grounds. I think I am not unfair to the Minister if I say that he stated that again and again. We have to face that and to realise that is the method that is being adopted, not merely from the point of view of county registrars, but I am afraid also for temporary district justices.

The appointment of temporary justices is vicious to the point of being unconstitutional. It has been stated in legal circles, and I would like the Minister's view on this as to whether the statements that are current are correct or not, that it has been laid down as a practice to be adhered to henceforth in the appointment of permanent district justices that no person will be appointed to a permanent post as district justice unless he has first served a term as a temporary justice. If that practice prevails, it is very wrong. It has all the vice of the practice which the Minister agreed with me was a wrong practice, namely, appointing an over-plus of temporary district justices. The practice which is alleged, in legal circles at all events, to have been laid down now, for guidance in future in reference to future appointments, that no person will be appointed to a permanent post in the District Court unless he has first served a term as temporary district justice, is, in my view, quite wrong.

The appointment will be made, in existing circumstances, for political reasons and on political grounds and largely as a result of political pressure. That person will be put upon a period of probation. If it is believed, or thought, that in the exercise of what ought to be judicial functions he does not respond in the way in which he is expected to respond from the point of view of the State, then his chances of appointment may be somewhat minimised or diminished. Whether that may be the attitude of the Minister's Department or not, it is only human to expect that a person who has a temporary appointment, and who is looking for a permanent appointment will make up—I nearly used the phrase well known to Dubliners, very near the word make, will suck up—to the powers that be, and that is entirely contrary to the public interest.

I raised on another occasion the question of the appointment of assistant district justices to the position of permanent justices. A number of these assistants have been there for years. Young men have been appointed to the District Court, first as temporary justices and then as permanent justices. Young men of little experience but with great political pull have been appointed direct to the District Court bench, but these men who have served for years as assistant district justices, at smallish salaries, have been left to carry on in the same position that they had before, doing the same duties of district justices without ever getting the necessary step-up from assistant to permanent justices. I think that the Minister agreed that those positions as assistant district justices would be abolished.

Mr. Boland

Perhaps the Deputy will allow me to clear that up? I would like to say that these three were offered permanent posts. They were offered vacancies that occurred in the country. I think it is well to let the Deputy know that. He is probably not aware of it. They would not accept the offer. They were hoping to get placed here, as I hope they will when I can get a Bill through. It is very important that that should be made clear.

I am obliged to the Minister for that. It was to get that assurance that I raised the point. I cannot be going around, as the Minister will appreciate, asking for information from the district justices, because it would put them in a very invidious position. They would say I was asking for information out of which to make political bricks to throw at the Minister.

Mr. Boland

They were offered that and they would not accept it.

That is all right. Then my recollection is correct that the Minister had the intention of doing away with this grade of assistant district justice and having only one permanent bench?

Mr. Boland

That is right.

That is a matter of great satisfaction to me. The last point I want to refer to relates to a matter I raised yesterday in the House by way of question. In the course of a recent case a very efficient detective officer gave evidence, which I am sure and believe was accurate; in fact, the accuracy has been confirmed by the Minister's reply to my question yesterday. The point is that a person arrested and detained under the provisions of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, during the period of his lawful detention is not allowed to seek the assistance of his legal adviser, nor is he allowed, when he is being interrogated under the powers provided in one of the sections of that Act, to seek the assistance of that legal adviser. He is kept apart from his friends and apart from legal advice. I do not know whether the Minister can give reasons to justify that practice in existing circumstances, particularly for types of offences which are not of the category which were envisaged as being the types that would be tried by the tribunal set up in 1939. The decision of the courts recently has been to the effect that where a person detained under the Act of 1939 is interrogated he is bound to answer any questions put to him by the officer who is interrogating, under a penalty of six months' imprisonment for failure to answer. If he answers the question the answer can subsequently be given in other legal proceedings against him, proceedings other than those dealt with at the time he was interrogated.

That is a matter on which the Minister should take advice and should consider in existing circumstances. Those powers are being used in cases under the Emergency Powers Acts which are brought before the Special Military Tribunal. The Minister agreed with me last year, and I believe that he has faithfully kept the undertaking, if I can call it such, that he was not going to allow, as far as it was in his power, these particular types of cases to be brought before that tribunal. Notwithstanding that, and without any fault of the Minister, cases are still being brought there.

This is not the Estimate on which to raise the matter. I mention it merely for the purpose of impressing upon the Minister the necessity of reconsidering the practice which exists, of excluding legal aid from persons detained in the closest custody, apart from all friends and all relations, and under the terror and coercion of the penalties imposed under these Acts for failure to reply to questions put to them by an interrogating officer. I want him to see whether that practice ought to be reviewed in the light of the circumstances now existing, when political crime has been reduced to a very small compass, and where these courts ought not to be used for any purposes or any function other than that which is popularly known as "political crime."

I look upon this Estimate, dealing with the Department of Justice, as one of the most important discussed during the year. It is an Estimate which should be the subject of honest criticism from all sides of the House, in order to assist the Minister, so that if there have been any irregularities the criticisms offered here might be helpful for the future. The first thing I want to do is to pay a tribute in the highest possible terms to the officers of the Department of Justice for the manner in which they carry out their duties. Like other Deputies who have had occasion to make representation to the Civil Service staff attached to the Minister's Department, I can say that that staff has always carried out its duties in an efficient manner. If all sections of the Department of Justice were administered in the same manner as the Civil Service staff carry out their duties little difficulty would be experienced throughout the Department.

Many Deputies have called the Minister's attention to the need for providing houses for members of the Gárda Síochána. I think the time has come when the Government should give the question favourable consideration. The Minister should formulate a scheme without delay, where by members of the Gárda Síochána would be provided with houses convenient to Gárda barracks. It is a disgraceful state of affairs to find that members of the force cannot find suitable housing accommodation in most of our towns. Strong representations should be made to the Commissioner so that when Guards are being transferred from one centre to another, consideration would be given to the position of men with families. They should be sent to districts where there would be educational facilities available for their children. It is all right to send single men to country districts, but married Guards should be sent to towns where their children would have educational facilities provided for them. I have known cases of married Guards whose children, on leaving primary schools, attended technical schools and had then to travel from five to nine miles. Single members of the Gárda would be able to do duty in such districts as well as married men. The latter should be given preference for big towns in which schools were available.

I believe that the uniform provided for the Guards should be altered. In warm weather a Guard is almost cooked in his uniform. We have young men in the force now and a smarter and more up-to-date uniform should be provided. It should have an open neck and there should be either a blue or a dark shirt, as well as a tie to suit the uniform. I believe our police force would look smarter if it had a uniform something like that provided for the Canadian Mounted Police. The present uniform could be altered without any great inconvenience. I believe the change would be welcomed by the young men who are now going into the force. The Minister should also consider a change of uniform for winter and summer. At present the uniform is the same all the year round. A majority of the Guards would welcome a change in that respect.

Deputy Giles dealt with the numerous duties that the Guards have to discharge. Deputy Coogan pointed out that the Guards are now responsible for taking the census. That should not be the duty of the Guards. They are also acting as school attendance officers and as food and drug inspectors. The county councils should have independent officers to look after food and drugs. A good deal of the time of the Guards is also taken up when acting as inspectors of weights and measures. I do believe that they could be relieved of an enormous amount of this additional work that has been piled on to them and which could provide employment for others as drug inspectors, school attendance officers, census takers, and in carrying out other duties that the Gárda Síochána perform at present. The Gárda Síochána are kept very busy in all cities. I know a case where a citizen lost clothing to the value of £30 or £35, which he alleges was stolen. The matter was reported to the Gárda and they made investigations, which failed. The same citizen left his car in a street in the city and a Gárda was able to tell him that his car had been parked there for 2½ hours and that that was in excess of the waiting period in that particular street. Surely a Guard would have something to do besides standing at a car that was parked for 2½ hours, yet that citizen could discover that the Guards were unable to secure information as to his £35 worth of clothing. It has been stated that the Guards throughout the country are trafficking in turf, attending markets and dealing in live stock. I can bear out every word that Deputy Giles said in that respect. I have known a Guard who had more turf cut for sale than any small farmer could afford to cut for sale, or any other person who was producing turf as a means of livelihood. I have known Guards to deal in cattle and live stock. I have known cases where smallholders and landless men who were very anxious to secure portions of land in order to comply with the appeal for the production of food and to maintain a small amount of live stock, were deprived of conacre in areas and I have known members of the Gárda Síochána to secure it.

The Gárda Síochána should be in a more independent position than to be driven, as Deputy Giles pointed out, to trapping rabbits, or to deal in live stock or turf. The Gárda has a certain amount of dignity to maintain and a very important office to uphold. It is the bounden duty of the State to put that man in an independent way of living. Deputy Norton and my colleague, Deputy Davin, addressed a very important meeting near the town of Athy recently. Numerous members of the Gárda Síochána were present at the meeting. Local gossip says that the local band was due to attend the meeting but that the local sergeant of the Gárda Síochána issued instructions that the local band was not to attend that meeting and the local people go on to say that the reason why he gave those instructions was simply because the farmer whose land was the subject of agitation for division had presented him with two trees for himself. I honestly believe that, members of the Gárda Síochána should not be left in a position to be subject to that sort of criticism. They should be in receipt of a salary that would enable them to live independently and decently, as far as possible. I strongly recommend that every step should be taken to see that, as far as possible, the Gárda Síochána will not be allowed to deprive anybody else of conacre, turf banks or to deal in live stock. Certainly every member of this House has sympathy with the Gárdaí. They have to live, and require every assistance that can be given them to live. At the same time it is the duty of the State to see that sufficient remuneration is given to them so that they may live in comfort without depriving any smallholder or cottage tenant of his turf bank or acre of land. I trust the Minister will see into that matter and that that state of affairs will not obtain in future.

I spoke last year on the Vote for the Department of Justice. Shortly afterwards I received a very impudent letter from no less a person than the Attorney-General, reprimanding me for the statement I made in this House. I believe that as a Deputy I am entitled to make what statements I like, be the statements right or wrong.

The Attorney-General is not in this Vote at all.

On that occasion, I made certain charges against the Minister and his Department, as a result of which the Attorney-General wrote me a letter reprimanding me for my speech.

The Deputy can raise that on another Vote —Law Charges—for which the Minister for Finance is responsible.

Mr. Boland

I have nothing to do with it. I did not write it.

The Minister disclaims responsibility.

On a point of order, suppose Deputy Flanagan got a letter from some person in County Cork abusing him or reprimanding him for saying certain things on the Department of Justice Estimate, would he not be entitled to mention that fact?

Mr. Boland

I am not responsible for it. That is all I am saying.

He is not entitled to mention the Attorney-General.

I resent that very much from any paid official of this State, no matter what position he holds. I am a Deputy, and we have privileges in this House to speak out our minds and, unless we do so, then all our privileges and rights are gone. I honestly believe that no matter what statement we make in this House as public representatives we are entitled to make those statements without outside interference whatsoever.

On the Vote for the Department of Justice the Deputy can only speak about matters for which the Minister for Justice is responsible.

Deputy Martin O'Sullivan made an appeal in this House, and very wisely, that provision should be made for legal advice for citizens, who are supposed to have all the force of the courts behind them but who are unable to pay solicitors to have their cases properly presented in court. There should be some assistance for the poorer sections of the community to have professional advice on matters relating to cases which they desire to present in court. I hope the Minister will give that matter his most sympathetic consideration.

There has been a good deal of talk for some time past about prison conditions. I have read the Book of Estimates and I have been very interested in that portion of it that deals with prisons. I live about five miles from Portlaoighise convict prison and I have heard several complaints and several charges being made which had very grave reference to the treatment that was being given to prisoners in that prison. On numerous occasions the Minister's attention has been drawn to that fact. The Minister himself on one occasion made an appeal in this House for investigation into the treatment of prisoners in Mountjoy prison and in other prisons, but the Minister is inclined, not only to give the blind eye to correspondence addressed to his Department on the subject, but to give two deaf ears to the matter in the House. I believe the appeal the Minister made in this House on one occasion for an investigation was necessary at the time, but I submit that it is equally necessary now. When a Deputy rises in this House and asks for an investigation into prison conditions, he is asking for nothing more than the Minister asked for himself on one occasion. Now that the Minister is in a position to investigate prison conditions, what objection has he to an investigation being held into the conditions, as to which we have had very serious allegations made?

As a Deputy representing the constituency, I wrote to the Minister and asked him for permission to walk around the prison grounds at Portlaoighise, to look at the cells to see if they were clean, and to see for myself the conditions that existed in that prison. I have had numerous complaints as to the conditions there, and I said that before I raised the matter in the Dáil I should like to satisfy myself that these complaints were absolutely genuine. Therefore, I wrote to the Minister and asked him to be good enough to permit me, as a Deputy representing the constituency, to go into the prison and see for myself the conditions that existed there and whether the complaints that were being made to me had any foundation or not. The Minister replied that he would not allow me to visit the prison in any circumstances.

When a prison is financed by State funds Deputies should be allowed to see how the State funds are being administered. If a citizen is being badly treated, it is our job to investigate the treatment of such a citizen. I think that was a very dictatorial attitude on the part of the Minister. It certainly gave me to understand that the grave suspicions about Portlaoighise prison were well founded when the Minister tried to hide what was going on there. I should like to know from the Minister if it is the governor of the prison who is anxious to hide the conditions existing in that prison, or if it is the Minister who is responsible for seeing that a Deputy representing the constituency will not be allowed to visit the prison. As a Deputy who headed the poll in that constituency, I believed that I was entitled to go into that prison and see if there was any ground for these complaints. Another Deputy who lives miles away from that constituency asked for permission to visit that prison and received it without any delay. I do not see why a Deputy from outside the constituency should be permitted to visit the prison and to have his visit referred to in a book which was afterwards written. I hope and trust that the Minister has read every page of that book, I Did Penal Servitude, because it would enlighten the Minister. I am sure he has already got it. Although the Minister and I are not on very friendly terms, I will have no hesitation in lending him that book if he has not already had the time to digest it properly. I cannot see why a Deputy should be deprived of his right to go into a prison and endeavour to satisfy himself as to the conditions there.

I know that the conditions in Portlaoighise prison are very bad because I have first-hand information about them. The Minister knows very well that the conditions in Portlaoighise prison are of such a character that they could not be described. They are inhuman and unChristian. The Minister saw fit to allow Irishmen who were charged with political crimes, probably high treason to the dictionary republic of Ireland, or something of that sort, to exist in the awful conditions that they are enduring at present in that prison. I have before me a statement duly signed by a person who did a term of penal servitude in Portlaoighise prison.

I am sure that in that statement this person has given a true account of his sad and bitter experience in that prison. He says that he was charged with refusing to answer a question as to where he obtained the sum of £50, money which was paid to him by a friend at Fenit, County Kerry, and he was found guilty by the Military Tribunal and sentenced to five years' penal servitude. The day after he was sentenced another citizen was charged with being in possession of a revolver and he also was sentenced to five years' penal servitude. The statement of that former prisoner goes on to say that, after trial and conviction, both of them were sent to Mountjoy and were put in with political prisoners. After five days or a week in Mountjoy they were transferred to Portlaoighise. The statement goes on to say that on his arrival at the prison he was placed in a cell and ordered to take off his clothes. He was ordered to don the garb of a convict which he refused to do, and probably rightly so. The statement goes on to say:

"I was then kept in solitary confinement clad only in blankets for two-and-a-half years. During this period I left my cell to be escorted to the bathroom once every week. For part of the time I was barefooted. I was deprived of any means of communicating, by letter or otherwise, with my wife and five children. One of my children died while I was in prison. I was not allowed to go to Mass or the Sacraments unless in prison clothes. I was two years and nine months in the prison before I went to Mass. I went after a conversation with Rev. Father O'Sullivan, S.J., who undertook to inform the Minister for Justice that it was to be understood we were not compromising our principles. I repeatedly asked the Governor and the visiting justices for political treatment, especially a letter and newspaper, and was as often refused."

What is the date of that communication?

I received it since the Minister's Estimate last year. I did not get it last year. Certainly it came in time for his Estimate this year. If I had it last year, I would have dealt with it then. Such conditions should not exist in any prison in Catholic Ireland. I think it is something we ought to be ashamed of. It is certainly something about which the Fianna Fáil Government ought to hang their heads in shame. A political prisoner was refused permission even to receive a letter from his friends or a newspaper to occupy his mind while in that prison. All requests for permission to receive a letter or a newspaper were refused. The statement goes on to say:

"The Governor brought Mr. Connolly, Department of Justice, to see me. I asked him for political treatment. He said I was not conforming with the rules of the prison so I could not be granted the things I asked. They were privileges I would have to earn. I then asked why I was transferred from Mountjoy to Portlaoighise. He told me it was by a decision of the Government. I asked him was this the decision of the Government as a body. He said ‘No, it was Mr. Boland's decision.' I said I thought I was victimised. He then left the cell.

"A month later he returned and told me that Mr. Boland, the Minister for Justice, had consented to allow me a letter monthly and a newspaper weekly. I asked whether the other lads were getting it and he replied yes. Three months later I was informed by the governor that he was allowing us two hours free association every day—one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon. The association was allowed inside the prison only and always in the same room. Its measurement is 45 feet by 15 feet and much of the space is taken up by a long table."

Imagine that—those men associating there for an hour twice a day under such awful conditions. I am told that there was no air allowed into the room and that no sunshine whatever entered it, that while they were associating there they had to sit on the table or stand around, that they were driven into it and out of it like cattle and that when they made any attempt to ask for an improvement, they were told that if they were not satisfied with the conditions they were enduring, they would not be allowed to associate with each other at all.

The statement goes on:—

"At no time during the period I was there were we allowed into the open air."

And then we have the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government warning us against tuberculosis when—I can say it without fear of contradiction—the best part of those in Portlaoighise Prison, as a result of the sanitary conditions and of lack of air, are suffering from tuberculosis. Is it not a deplorable state of affairs that Dáil Eireann should remain silent while fellow Irishmen have to live in such conditions? It does not matter for what reason they were sentenced to imprisonment—it is our duty to look after their health and to see that they have decent conditions while in a prison, the running of which is financed by the State.

The statement continues:

"All the time we wore blankets, from which we made ourselves smocks. Resulting from the close confinement, the boys and I, myself, became very worried. I found myself shouting in the cell on several occasions. A prisoner by the name of Joe Callaghan on one occasion when he had been shouting as a result of a nervous breakdown and making noise —it had been termed abusive by the warders—was taken out of his cell and brought to the underground punishment cell which is known as ‘The Digger', and there was subjected to a very severe beating. Months afterwards we were together and he told us he was struck in the face with a bunch of keys and that everything went black."

There is a true statement by a prisoner. Are these not grand conditions for any Minister for Justice to stand over in 1946? Then we are told we have a Government which is democratic and that there are equal rights and opportunities for all, and that kindliness is shown to all sections of the people. If I were Minister for Justice, I would hang my head in shame for such conditions.

The statement goes on to say:

"I never saw J. O'Sullivan, now in Grangegorman, but I understand it was he I heard screaming one evening. I know from others that he was after getting a severe beating in the prison. Afterwards he was removed insane to Grangegorman."

Is it not deplorable that a prisoner should be beaten insane in a Catholic and Christian country? Ought not the Minister for Justice to be very ashamed of these conditions, and ought he not be ashamed of the Department of which he is head when such accusations can be made against it, accusations which he is anxious to keep in the dark and which he will not allow public representatives elected by the people to investigate? The statement goes on to say:—

"It seems to me that McCaughy was suffering from delusions. Liam Rice was in such a state of mind that he saw horses in his cell."

He concludes by stating:—

"If some change is not made very soon the conditions in Portlaoighise will produce most serious results to the health of the prisoners, some of whom are now in their fifth year in the prison."

I believe that statement was written by a man from his own bitter experience and I am very sorry that the Minister has not denied that the statement is true. Furthermore, I want to say that when a Deputy asked to be allowed into the prison to see if the statement were right or wrong, he was denied the right to go into the prison.

Only quite recently a Corkman named Hartnett was sentenced by the Military Court for possession of ammunition and refusing to give an account of his movements. He made a speech in Irish from the dock in which he declared himself a republican—not one of the Fianna Fáil republicans but one of the true republicans, the followers of Wolfe Tone and the men of Easter Week. That is the type of republican he declared himself to be. He had a sound national outlook and his republican outlook was based on 32 counties and not the 26 counties of Ireland. He was inspired by the proclamation of Easter Week and certainly was not inspired by the Oxford dictionary, the Cambridge dictionary or any encyclopaedia. He drew his inspiration from the men of Easter Week and remained true and loyal to them. As a result, he finds himself denied political treatment to-day.

A constituent of mine has written to me to say that it has come to his knowledge that political treatment is being denied to Hartnett and that he is in solitary confinement in Mountjoy Prison and has been refused parcels and visits. He adds: "This situation is outrageous. We hear a lot of Belsen and other places of detention on the Continent, but when the same thing occurs in our own country every one is silent", and then he says: "I ask you as our representative to raise this matter by way of question in the Dáil and also the matter of recent arrests which you may have noticed". I submit that these conditions are not conditions which any citizen should have to endure. Political prisoners are, in other words, being done to death, and now that the best part of the Continental prisons are freed, there is no reason why we here should continue to vent our political spite any longer and no reason why we should not release from the prisons those who are in there for political crimes.

Deputy Commons yesterday said he was astonished to hear it was a political crime to shout "Up the Republic" or to be a Republican. I must say that times have changed very much since the Minister himself was a Republican. I am sorry that he should see fit to remove to a place of solitary confinement and to treat in a manner in which one would not treat a dumb animal those who are now walking the path which he himself once walked. I ask him to give consideration to those who are suffering under such horrid conditions and I trust he will see fit to have a commission set up, representative of all Parties in the House, with power to send for persons, papers and records, to investigate these conditions. I believe all Parties would welcome such an inquiry, in view of the very severe criticism of prisons and in view of the fact that persons like my friend who sent this statement are willing to come forward and give evidence.

There is a growing practice to which I have great objection. A constituent of mine, anxious to go to England, made representations to a certain department, and that department was under the jurisdiction of the British Government, as the result of which the official of the British Government told him that he had his police record in the office of His Majesty the King, and that he secured that police record from the Department of Justice. I have an objection to any Irish Government supplying the British Government with any information concerning any citizen. Let us have for ourselves what information about our citizens we so desire. I object very strongly to the Government of Northern Ireland being supplied with information by the Government here which leads to the arrest of those citizens in the North. I think every true Irishman would be bitterly opposed to our police force being turned into informers for His Majesty the King. If the British want information about Irish citizens, they should provide the ways and means. I am sure the Minister cannot deny that that occurred and that files were placed at the disposal of His Majesty the King concerning any citizen about whom the British Government desired to get information.

Regarding a prosecution in the military court of a hold-up at a bank in 1936, the prosecution took place in 1945. I think the hold-up was at the National Bank in O'Connell Street. Two I.R.A. men, interned since 1939 and released in 1945, were arrested and charged. It was within the knowledge of certain members of the police that the man who did the job on that occasion left the country in 1938 or 1939 and was killed in a bank stick-up in Canada in 1944. In other words, the police knew the man who carried out the deed. If the Minister looks up the records, he will find that the two men charged with this crime were interned from 1939 to 1945, and that the police knew that the man who carried out the hold-up was killed in Canada in 1944. It is most unfair that any citizens should be victimised in that respect for their political views. As Deputy Giles very wisely said, the time has come when illegal organisations are disappearing and when those who cater for such organisations are willing to come out in public and place their plans, programmes and policy before the people. I believe, as a young man who is only starting a political career, that there is a very wide field for such organisations, as you have the Fianna Fáil Party drawing their last and dying breath.

There are young men who are conscientious and are anxious to remain loyal to illegal organisations. I honestly believe that the time has come when such organisations should be able to come out in public and I am sure the people would be willing to welcome them and see them in the political field. Then, as is often repeated in this House, if the people want duds they have a free right to have duds, but if they want sensible men they have an equally free right to choose sensible men. I believe these men are willing to come out in the political field, but I am afraid the Government is not treating them in a manner which would encourage them to do so. The Minister for Justice himself said on one occasion that he was convinced the continual hunting down of those men was giving them the reason for carrying on. Those were the words of the Minister for Justice. He used those words in the Dáil on the 23rd March, 1928 and when he was elected to power he was concerned in hunting those people down himself.

This Estimate does not go back so far.

I no more than mention it. I only reminded the Minister of his statement in the House.

He is responsible only for the administration of his office during the preceding year.

Surely the Minister is responsible for what he says himself?

It does not arise here.

If the Government are anxious to punish these illegal organisations and prevent them being an annoyance or a nuisance, the best thing is to ignore them completely. They will die if they fail to get the support of the people, so it will be a matter for the people whether they are to die or to flourish. I regret very much having to speak in the tone I have used in regard to the prison conditions, but I really believe it was my duty to speak, as I have an active interest in the prison conditions in my constituency and I have first-hand information. It is very necessary for a Deputy with first-hand information—it is not necessary to disclose where he gets it or does not get it—to let those in authority see that he is in a position to secure first-hand information.

If the Minister has nothing to hide behind the walls of Portlaoighise prison, he can see his way to give any Deputy who so desires an opportunity of going in. If everything is all right and the conditions are perfect in regard to public health and sanitation and are in accordance with the wishes of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, if tuberculosis has not got a root there, the Minister should not care who goes in, as they will have nothing to criticise when they come out. If there is something there for them to criticise, then it is the duty of the Minister to hide his face in shame and prevent any public representative from carrying out his duty as an elected representative of the people.

In conclusion, I trust the Minister will see fit, if there is nothing wrong with the conditions I have referred to, to allow anybody who so desires, anybody in a public position who is anxious to look after the health of those who are interned and who is also anxious to protect the health of every citizen and to look after the expenditure of public funds in the prison, to visit these places. I think he cannot have any objection to a public representative discharging his duties in a straightforward, conscientious manner and in an endeavour to help the Minister.

I believe the Minister is inclined to imagine that I am more of a destructive Deputy than a constructive one. I am very anxious to assist the Minister as far as possible, to help him in every way possible. I believe it is my duty, as it is the duty of all Deputies, when I see the Minister going wrong, to endeavour to lead him on the right lines again. Instead of depriving a Deputy of his rights, I think the Minister should, as a matter of courtesy, permit a Deputy who so desires to visit such institutions, accompanied by the governor, or by a suitable person appointed by the governor. If you wish to converse with any of the prisoners, we all know you cannot speak without one of the attendants listening. Probably there is a lot to be said for that. I do not object to it.

I think parcels and letters should not be prohibited. A citizen, while he is interned, should not be deprived of his correspondence. He should be given an opportunity to keep his mind occupied at some suitable work. We should have the prisoners associating with each other, talking together and discussing topics of various sorts, and the newspapers should be allowed in order that they may see what is going on in the outside world.

I protest against the awful treatment that is being imposed on these men. I trust that every citizen who has a keen interest in their welfare will protest in the strongest terms. I believe, if the Minister is not prepared now to extend his sympathy towards these men, public opinion will eventually force him to take a sympathetic view. Such a view should have been taken long ago.

The first thing that strikes me is the awful increase in expenditure in this Estimate since 1937-38. It is really amazing. In every section expenditure has gone up, in some cases to almost double the amount. How long will the people in this little island be able to bear such a burden? How long will it be until they put their feet down and say that this expenditure must stop? The fact that we have had increases in expenditure every year since the present Government took office is a sure indication that in the years to come we will have further increases. I say the time will come, there can be no doubt about it, when the people will insist that this heavy expenditure should stop.

We hear quite a lot about the Gárda Síochána. In that department there is an immense increase. There can be a lot said for and against the Guards. There are Deputies who will say they are not receiving sufficient remuneration. On the other hand, when you compare them with thousands of other citizens who have not such security or remuneration, there is no doubt their lot is not so bad as it has been painted. Anybody fortunate enough to be in the employment of the Government, to be a State official no matter how small the position may be, has a sense of security. He has State security behind him. The State contributes to the upkeep of his home and family and he has various little privileges that the average citizen does not possess. For that reason, I for one will not be in favour of any further increases to any member of the Gárda Síochána.

Another thing that has caused a lot of talk for over 25 years is the judiciary, the court system in this country. The time was, 22 or 23 years ago, when people were encouraged to back up the Republican Courts and the Arbitration Courts. Even though at that time the courts were cumbersome and awkward to a certain degree, there is no doubt that for at least a year or a year and a half they dispensed justice in a fair and equitable manner without any necessity for big salaries for the different judges. I was surprised, until I spent a few months here, that the people who went out in those days with ideas of cutting down the system that was handed over to us by England, did not carry out their intentions. What is the position to-day? We find ourselves with a judicial system which, from the point of view of expenditure, is far in excess of what the people can pay.

I think a police inspector or superintendent would be quite capable of dealing with the various little crimes that are committed throughout the country and that are brought into the District Courts. There are such offences as having an unlighted bicycle or being absent from school and there ought not to be any necessity for having highly-paid officials going from court area to court area looking after petty things like these. It means a big expenditure of the people's money. That condition of affairs cannot be altered until the whole system is uprooted. I expect that will not occur until we have a more or less enlightened Party in power. If it can be achieved, it will save the taxpayers a lot of money.

Several Deputies have spoken of the housing conditions of the Gárda Síochána. There is no doubt that when Guards, especially married men, are shifted from one locality to another, they find great difficulty in securing houses. It is very often the case when one Guard swaps a position with another, they even swap their houses, but when the change is taking place the landlord decides that he will squeeze a few shillings more out of the incoming tenant and there is a consequent increase in the rent. Perhaps some system could be devised whereby accommodation would be provided in close proximity to the barracks in order to facilitate Guards and their families when they are being transferred. That would make things much easier for those men who are changed around from station to station.

Deputy Flanagan talked for quite a while on the conditions existing in the country. It is time that a certain type of prisoner should be treated as a citizen and not as a criminal. I refer to the unfortunate—if we may call him such—young Irishman who went out and shouted "We want the 32 counties of Ireland" or "Up the Republic" and, as a result of his enthusiasm, he found himself behind bars. There are not many internees left, as the Minister told us yesterday. Two wrongs have never made a right. I do not want to criticise what has happened in the past four or five years, but I appeal to the Minister, now that we are approaching Easter, with its memories of Easter Week, that he should release these men and give them a chance. If they are released we will see whether they are the lawless citizens they were supposed to be in times gone by.

Every Irishman knows that while there are six counties of Ireland under British authority, you will find Irishmen prepared to stand up and use a gun, no matter against whom, in an effort to get the British out of there. We have all been taught that. If we and our predecessors had not been taught in that way we might not have this Parliament. While these men may be wrong in taking that view, nevertheless they were sincere in their ideals, and they proved that by the various forms of death they suffered. Any men who will die on hunger strike rather than give up their ideals definitely believe in what they preach. Men who give up good jobs and are prepared to face 20 years behind prison bars definitely believe in what they preach. Now that there has been a general amnesty for political prisoners in England, and that camps on the Continent are being emptied slowly, I think it is wrong for the Government to detain any longer anybody who has been sentenced to penal servitude. It is all very well to talk, but while some of us are here we will make every effort to try to have political prisoners released.

Deputy Flanagan read a statement about conditions in some prisons. I have first-hand information about some things that happened at the internment camp at the Curragh. It is certainly not to the credit of any Government. I have known instances of men who were released after nine months or a year, and they were in such a nervous condition that they could not sleep at night, owing to the fact that while interned they were awakened every few hours, and the electric light was kept on continuously. I know one case where a man who was arrested in 1932, and came out in 1934, was almost blind as a result of having to sleep while a high-powered electric light was kept on. All that is past history now. It would have been much better if it never happened. I do not think it can have given any satisfaction to the Minister to have to intern these men. I honestly believe that, although he may have thought that one thing or another necessitated their internment. I appeal to him now to release these men before Easter. Some of them were sentenced to terms of 20 years' imprisonment. Release them and give them a chance to prove that they will be good, honest Irish citizens like other internees who have been released are proving themselves to be.

I look with great concern at the increased expenditure under this Estimate. It is one of many Estimates in which there is an increase. While a good case could be made for an increase under different headings, I think it is time we got rid of some of the cumbersome methods and laws we still have, even though they may be the fairest in the world. I think the law could be administered by good, honest men at much less expense than is at present necessary. Look at what happens on the Continent. We know that in France, which is the most republican, and the most democratic country in the world, justice in minor cases is administered by the mayors of the towns. I am sure that the ordinary inspector or superintendent of the Gárdaí would be quite capable of doing such work here, thereby dispensing with the necessity of having district justices and, to a certain extent, Circuit Court judges. It may be said that justices should be placed in a position where they would be above bribery or anything like that, but individuals could be got, who received only £100 yearly, to dispense justice, simply and solely for justice's sake.

There is no doubt that we have in Ireland good men with legal knowledge who are prepared to do such work. In that way there would be a definite saving if the matter was tackled in the right way. In next year's Estimate I hope we will not have any further increases in this Vote. The Fianna Fáil Party can blame themselves for losing the confidence of the people, for the simple reason that there has been an increase in expenditure in every Estimate. The increase is going far beyond the people's power to meet it. Finally, I appeal to the Minister for Justice, if he can, to release some of those who have spent seven or eight years in internment camps and prisons.

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but I wish to point out that internees are dealt with under the Offences Against the State Act, and are not under the control of the Minister for Justice.

Mr. Boland

There are not any now.

My only reason for intervening in this debate is to express my strong disagreement with the views expressed by Deputy Commons, as far as they relate to our judicial system and to our courts. We have a judicial system here that has proved to be eminently suitable to our requirements. I think our courts are manned by judges and justices, from the Supreme Court to the District Courts, who command the complete confidence of the people. Our courts and the system which surrounds them have proved to be one of the most successful experiments of this new State. I do not know anything about the system of dispensing justice in France, beyond what I read from time to time. It is not my function to criticise what happens there, beyond saying that I prefer our own system. The system we have can compare with that of any other country, not only favourably but more than favourably with some countries with systems far longer established than ours.

I venture to say that it would be nearly impossible to find judges who administer justice in as intelligent and as impartial a way as is the case here or administer justice at a lower cost. I do not doubt what Deputy Commons said, that a number of honest men could be got, who would be prepared, to the best of their ability, to administer justice for perhaps £100 a year, but while not questioning their honesty, I certainly would question their competence. On reflection, I think the Deputy will agree that, in order to be able to interpret the laws passed by this Parliament, and to hand out evenhanded justice, we want not only men who are honest, but men who are trained in the ways of the law, and who have had long practical experience of dealing with law.

Some years ago I had the honour to preside at a courts of justice commission which sat for nearly 12 months dealing with certain aspects of our judiciary and our judicial system. We had the advantage of receiving evidence from all sections of the community, legal and non-legal. A very searching inquiry was made by that commission which, speaking from recollection, consisted of 14 members drawn from all Parties in this House and about half of whom were trained lawyers. They produced a report. I simply want to say that as a result of my experience as chairman of that commission and as a result of my observation as an ordinary layman, I think the system we have here is particularly suited to our requirements. I do not think a more effective, a cheaper or a more efficient system of administering what I call local justice than the district justices could be conceived. They have worked admirably. Our judges from the lowest to the highest grade are above and beyond suspicion and we have fortunately placed them in the position that they are completely and absolutely independent. I hope that position will never be touched.

Mr. Boland

Several important matters have been dealt with on this Estimate. The first Deputy to raise the question of the undesirability of having temporary district justices was Deputy McGilligan. That was taken up by Deputy Costello and others. I thoroughly agree but I still maintain that there is such a special set of circumstances here as make it not easy to decide how many extra permanent district justices we will require to have.

As I pointed out in my opening statement, there were three district justices very ill for long periods at the same time. In addition, we had to get district justices for holiday duty. That meant that we had at least three more than we had this time last year. As I have already told the House, I have authority to bring in a Bill providing for a permanent addition in the Dublin courts and, as far as I can devise, I will do anything in my power to see that we have as few temporary justices as possible. It will not be always possible to avoid appointing temporary district justices. People will get ill no matter what you do and there may be circumstances which may require extra help when it simply must be got.

On the matter of crime generally, everyone can have his own opinion. Deputy Costello may be right. There may be moral deterioration here or perhaps through the world generally, but I still believe, as I said on the last occasion when we dealt with that matter that the increase in crime was very largely due to the scarcity of articles of common use, that people were in the habit of having and simply would not do without. People who ordinarily would never come under the notice of the police, simply yielded to temptation when they were deprived of something they were in the habit of having. I think that had a lot to do with it. I will be very interested, for instance, to see how many bicycles have been stolen this year as compared with the number that was stolen a year ago. I would be very surprised if there has not been a very great reduction. I am still of the opinion that the war and emergency conditions were responsible very largely for the increase in crime. There is the other point about Dublin City. Undoubtedly, the population has increased enormously and, naturally, the work of the courts has increased. For that reason alone, if there were no special circumstances, we would require more justices in this city and more police.

Deputy McGilligan raised the matter about the depreciation of the pound. I do not propose to follow him. That would be for the Minister for Finance. I should like to remind the Deputy, however, that everyone has had the value of his money reduced, from the judge down to the lowest-paid person. I do not know what is going to be done or at what point prices are going to stabilise, or what the pound will be worth ultimately. We will have to wait and see, but I do not think that in that matter the Guards are any worse off than anybody else. I do not want to bring in any discordant note, because the debate was very welcome, but I think it is remarkable that one Deputy on the opposite side quoted figures showing the increase in costs while others were saying we are not paying enough and that the money is only worth half its pre-war value. That would be an explanation. Even if our general costs and general taxation were doubled, according to Deputy McGilligan, at any rate it would only have the same purchasing value as it had a few years ago. I do not intend to go into that. That is not my particular line. I merely want to say that the Guards are not worse off than any other section of the community.

Except from the point of view of morale, in their case there is much more serious temptation.

That is the point he was making.

Mr. Boland

I do not think there is any question about morale. As far as the question that was raised about Guards cutting turf is concerned, I think it is quite a good thing. A Guard is not supposed to be working all the time on duty. Surely he has some time off, and I think it is a very creditable thing that Guards should use that time in cutting turf. I know that in the City of Dublin any amount of them when they are off duty go to the mountain and cut their turf. Surely there is nothing wrong in that. There may be some other case referred to by some Deputy. If there are cases where abuses have occurred, if such abuses are reported to the Commissioner, he will deal with them.

It is cutting for sale that I referred to.

Mr. Boland

I know that in the country we often see a Guard hanging around doing nothing, but people forget that he is not expected to be on duty for 24 hours in the day and people forget than an eight-hour day is the general run. The Guard is not expected to be working for the State all the time. He is available all the time, certainly, and that has to be borne in mind. Deputy Cogan referred to the extra duties. I agree with Deputy Cogan on that matter. I said the same last year. I think it is quite a good thing to give the Guards, especially in country places, more work of the kind they are doing and I think the tendency will be in that direction. The collection of statistics and all sorts of new Acts certainly are putting more work on the Guards, but if they could get more pay I think that would be a cheaper and more efficient service than getting civil servants to do it, and much better. I think it would be done much better and, as far as I am concerned, I would be all in favour of extending rather than reducing it in the country places. In the city I do not think it is done to such an extent. There are certain duties that might not be altogether regarded as police duties but, generally speaking, in cities they are doing more police duties proper, traffic duties and things of that kind. I do not agree with Deputy Coogan at all. I think Deputy Cogan was on far sounder lines. That is my view at any rate. Last year Deputy Coogan dealt with mechanisation. That was inquired into. I am not sure, but I think he was on that commission himself. That commission went into the question very thoroughly. I raised that question when I was much younger. I thought it was a good idea that there should be more mobile units but, on reflection and experience, I do not think I was right. I think the present tendency is much better. I dare say there is a case for more supervision and inspections and the Commissioner is aware of it. Emergency conditions and the petrol position militated against inspections but I am sure the Commissioner will see to it that there will be more inspections in future than there have been for some years past.

With reference to the question of rent allowance, I thought the Guards were very pleased when they got the new scale. Naturally, everybody wants more if he can get it. I thought they got a fair enough allowance when they got £40. That is not supposed to pay the full rent, but certainly £40 goes a long way towards meeting the rent of a house. No matter what anyone may say, the Rent Restrictions Act has stabilised rents anyway at the 1941 figure. It was only about then that any attempt was made to raise rents. I thought they were all right in 1939 or 1940 and when this rent allowance was increased they certainly should have been all right.

On the question of the housing of the Guards generally, I said that our policy is to build houses for the Guards through the country whenever we are able to do so. The emergency conditions still operate so far as supplies of materials are concerned. We hope to have that matter dealt with as soon as possible. It certainly will be proceeded with. We have to try to get as early a priority as possible. Everybody is aware that the materials are not available yet. We are well aware of the necessity for it. Deputy O'Sullivan spoke about reorganisation of the Dublin areas. I do not know what the position is in regard to that, but I will take it up with the Commissioner. I thought there had been reorganisation. I will bring that matter to the Commissioner's attention.

As to the question of legal aid for poor persons, that is a matter that I did not altogether turn down. It is not such an easy thing to deal with. It is a matter for the Rule-making Committee to consider and make suggestions. That was contemplated in Section 75 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1936. I got a reply from the secretary of the Superior Court Rule-Making Committee saying that the committee were of opinion that legal aid should be provided, but they did not tell us how it should be done. I am asking them to give us more information as to how it should be done. I would not be inclined to agree that people should be financed in connection with ordinary civil actions. It is a different matter when the State is taking an action against them. Surely if a person thinks he has a legal case against somebody else there is no need for such aid. I hope to get a reply from the committee on the matter and I may have something to say about it next year.

The Chief Justice has agreed to act as chairman of the Legal Reform Committee, and we probably will get a report from that committee in regard to that question. There has been a slight increase in probation officers in Dublin. I think two appointments have been made. Deputy O'Sullivan asked about the help we were getting from the voluntary organisations. I am afraid it was not as satisfactory as we would like. I should like to see more organisations taking up that work.

Deputy O Briain raised the matter of examinations for the Guards, and thought all applicants should be admitted to the examination. He spoke in Irish when raising the matter, and I have to apologise to him because I am not sufficiently fluent in Irish to reply to him in that language. The Commissioner is the person who recruits people for the Guards. It is necessary to have an examination. All the applications are considered by the Commissioner, and he only calls the people for examination who he thinks would be the most likely to succeed or who would make the most suitable Guards. He also tries to allocate a certain percentage to each county. Deputies would have more complaints if every applicant was allowed to sit for the examination. It is not a competitive examination. Of course, the physical qualifications of the applicants are more important in the case of the Guards than other qualifications. You would have more objections if all the applicants passed the qualifying examination and only 100 of them were called up. On the whole, I think the present system is the best one. As to sending Irish-speaking Guards to the Gaeltacht, there is a special system under which Guards are paid extra if they are Irish speakers. I will ask the Commissioner what he thinks about the Deputy's proposal to have some of the younger men who know Irish sent to the Gaeltacht for a period to relieve others there.

Has the Commissioner paid any attention to the opinion of the Minister for Local Government that the present scheme of county areas is not a proper one on which to base anything?

Mr. Boland

I am not going into that; I do not know anything about that. Deputy Cogan raised the question of itinerants, as to which I shall have inquiries made. I imagine that the Guards are doing their best to get the correct figures. Deputy Costello raised the matter of temporary district justices. He asked was it a fact that the position was that no one would be appointed a permanent district justice unless he had served in a temporary capacity. All I have to say about that is that when there is a temporary district justice required it is not easy to get one, as practising barristers or solicitors are not always prepared to throw up their practice to take the position of temporary district justice. If you have somebody who agrees to serve as a temporary district justice and you find him satisfactory, it is only natural to say: "This man has been with us 12 or 18 months and has proved satisfactory, and it is only fair that he should get the preference". To that extent what Deputy Costello said is correct, but only to that extent. I think anyone would give a man a preference who proved satisfactory when acting in a temporary capacity. That is not essential, however. If we found that temporary men were not satisfactory we would not appoint them permanently.

Deputy Flanagan complained that he was not allowed to visit Portlaoighise prison. The only thing I can say about that is that he is rather young. If he were older, I would not have any objection. I think he was the only Deputy to whom I refused permission, and I did it deliberately. When he is somewhat more mature, I am sure I will have no objection to his going there. I think anybody listening to his speech would say that he has a lot to learn yet. There are some people in that prison who are having a hard time of it, but it is all their own fault. The question is: are we going to allow these people to run the prison or is the Governor to run it? They will not conform to the prison rules. They want to be treated as other than criminals. They are as much criminals as a man who shoots a Guard or commits a robbery, or shoots with intent to kill. Surely such a man is a criminal. He is no better than others who are committed to prison for some crime. These other people obey the rules. Unless I am prepared to have the whole prison system smashed by eight or nine people, then I will have to insist that the rules will be carried out, and while I am Minister I am going to do that.

Did you not do it yourself?

Mr. Boland

When I was there I had to obey the rules or take the consequences, and I did take the consequences. I admit that on one occasion I was in a prison break-up and I was ashamed of it. It was done for propaganda purposes. Still I did not enjoy doing it, because I did not think it was justified. I took what was coming to me, however, and I did not whine.

Vote put, and agreed to.