Criminal Justice Bill, 1967: Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

An Explanatory Memorandum has been circulated with the Bill. It runs to over 25 pages and I hope that it provides sufficient detail to be of assistance to Deputies. As the House is aware, of course, a memorandum of this kind is meant only to provide a factual explanation of the provisions of the Bill and not to present arguments in support of those provisions.

The Bill is a fairly long one and deals with a variety of matters. Since its publication last May, it has, as regards some of its provisions at least, become a centre of controversy and I think that this debate would begin in an atmosphere of unreality if I did not make some reference at the outset to this fact.

That a Bill which covers so much ground as this does should provoke some controversy and some criticism is not only understandable but very desirable. Public apathy would have reached a disturbing and indeed a dangerous stage if a Bill of this nature awakened no public interest.

An active public interest is, therefore, as far as I am concerned, to be welcomed for its own sake. It is especially to be welcomed where the criticism offered is obviously a considered one, backed by reasoned argument, and I freely acknowledge that some of the criticism I have seen meets this test. In recent days, we hear it said that I have had to announce some proposed changes in the Bill because of public pressure. Let me, therefore, put on record that, as long ago as last July, in a public statement published by both press and radio, I emphasised that the proposals in the Bill were not put forward as a rigid set of proposals but were open to debate and to change. That always has been the position and it still is.

Having said that much, however, I think it necessary to say, in very clear terms, that a great deal of what has been said, and written, by way of criticism of the Bill deserves no commendation. It has, indeed, been an almost incredible compound of error and misrepresentation. That the misrepresentation was, in some instances, quite deliberate, I find it impossible to doubt.

When I speak of error and misrepresentation, I would emphasise that I am speaking about matters of fact, not matters of opinion. If a person expresses an opinion on a provision in the Bill, his judgment may or may not be at fault but at all events he is showing an interest. And if he can show that a particular provision affecting individual rights has insufficient safeguards against abuse, he is doing a public service in pointing that out, and this would be so even if he were exaggerating the likelihood of an abuse taking place. I am at one with those who hold that, where fundamental liberties are involved, all reasonable safeguards should be incorporated in the statute itself and should not have to depend on the goodwill of the Administration.

What has been wrong with so much of the criticism that we have heard is, quite simply, that it has been totally misconceived. Some of it has been based on statements that the Bill contains provisions which, as a matter of provable fact, it does not contain. Some of it has been based on a total ignoring or misreading of safeguards that are written into the Bill. And some again has been based on assertions that the Bill is, on certain important matters, introducing new law or dangerous new principles when, again as a matter of provable fact, the Bill is either doing no more than re-enacting the law as it has been for generations or doing no more than applying a principle that has long since applied in other comparable cases.

Some of the criticisms I have referred to have been voiced by local authorities, by trade union branches and, in what was described as an "open letter", by a number of wellknown people, speaking as a group. Ordinarily, criticism from such sources would carry a good deal of weight but, when the same errors of fact are repeated by different people, the conclusion is inescapable that most of those concerned simply accepted what they had been told and did not themselves study the Bill or Explanatory Memorandum at all. I do not say this by way of criticism, for members of organisations or groups of this kind have little time to devote to such matters. I say it only to show why resolutions of criticism of the Bill should be taken with some reservations.

I now turn to the Bill itself. Part I contains the usual introductory provisions, including, in section 4, a provision for repeals. The proposed repeals are detailed in the First Schedule and include over 120 statutes that are being repealed in full. Some of the repeals are, of course, consequential on provisions in the Bill, mainly those in Part II which provide for the abolition of distinctions between felony and misdemeanour, but the repeals go beyond that and include many other statutes that are obsolete. The repeal of so many old statutes is a further and, I hope, significant step in the removal of dead wood from the Statute Book.

Part II of the Bill provides for the ending of the distinctions between felony and misdemeanour and for the enactment of consequential and related provisions. A detailed explanation is given in paragraphs 21 to 37 of the Explanatory Memorandum. I am sure that the House will not need to be persuaded that the abolition of these archaic distinctions, which are no longer maintained in modern statutes, is a desirable reform of the law.

It was necessary, of course, to do more than just provide that all distinctions between felony and misdemeanour are to be abolished— several consequential provisions were required including, as I have already said, a number of the repeals. I am glad, therefore, to take this opportunity to mentioned that my Department relied heavily on a report of the English Criminal Law Revision Committee which dealt with those matters. The report—it is identified as the Seventh Report of that committee—not only examined the problems in detail but included a draft of a Bill which has been the basis of Part II of our Bill here.

While I am making this acknowledgment, perhaps I may anticipate a little and likewise acknowledge the equally valuable assistance provided by the Ninth Report of the same committee, which has provided us with the draft of two later sections of this Bill, namely, section 24, which deals with proof by written statement, and section 25, which deals with proof by formal admission. As well as providing the draft of these sections—which, I may say, have already been enacted in England—the report provides a detailed and valuable analysis of the matters to which they relate. I shall be commenting further on these two sections later.

The two English Reports I have mentioned have been published and copies have been placed in the Library. To identify them again: they are reports of the English Criminal Law Revision Committee and are known as the Seventh Report (Felonies and Misdemeanours) and the Ninth Report (Evidence).

Reverting now to Part II of the Bill, I do not think I should delay the House by repeating the details to be found in the Explanatory Memorandum and the only comment I think I need make at this stage is that, while we have, in this part, drawn heavily on the English text, we have not followed it completely, partly because of differences between their law and practice and ours and partly because, in some respects, we took the view that what is proposed in this Bill is more suitable for this country.

One important matter that is not dealt with at all in Part II and that is closely connected with the legal concept of felony is the making of arrest without warrant. The reason it is not dealt with in Part II is that we have set out, not just to replace the existing provision whereby a person may be arrested on suspicion of having committed a felony, but to provide a comprehensive set of general rules governing arrest without warrant, and these provisions, together with provisions about search, et cetera, have been put in a separate Part of the Bill, namely, Part III, to which I now turn.

Here again, I would invite Deputies to refer to the Explanatory Memorandum which sets out in detail what the existing law is and what are the changes proposed. I propose, however, to mention what I would regard as the more important of the proposed changes.

First, in relation to arrest without warrant, which is dealt with in section 12, one of the proposals is that, instead of the existing common law power to arrest without warrant on suspicion of felony, the Garda will have such a power on suspicion that the person has committed an offence to which there can attach a penalty of five years imprisonment or a more severe penalty. This is in line with the provisions of Part II, in which an offence to which there can attach a penalty of five years imprisonment or a more severe penalty is taken as the nearest equivalent of the term "felony" as used in existing law. However, the linking of the power of arrest to offences liable to five years imprisonment or more, rather than to felonies, would give a much-needed power of arrest in respect of a small number of serious offences where such a power does not exist at present because the offences, though serous, happen not to be felonies. The bestknown example is the offence of obtaining money or goods by false pretences, where the lack of an immediate power of arrest is a grave handicap in cases where the goods are compact but very valuable—jewellery, for example —and the crime, or perhaps a series of crimes, is committed by a person who proceeds to leave the State a few hours later.

One of the provisions of section 12, namely subsection (4), has been singled out for criticism. The criticism suggests that the subsection means that if a person was ever involved in a breach of the peace—even 20 years previously— the Gardaí could arrest him without warrant if they believed that he was about to engage in conduct likely to lead to a breach of the peace.

This is a complete misreading of the subsection. The subsection does not contain the whole law about arrest. It states the circumstances in which the arrest may be made, but the exercise of the power is, of course, subject to the general law that governs any arrest, whether made under these or other provisions. A person may be arrested only as a preliminary to and with a view to, charging him with an offence. It follows that an arrest under section 12 (4) is possible only if a charge can be brought and, in the context of that subsection, there is only one charge that can be brought, and that is the charge relating to the man's past actions which involved or threatened a breach of the peace. Obviously, that must be an offence with which he has not already been charged, and that alone, on the practical level, would mean that it would have to be a recent offence. But, in fact, it must be an offence committed only a very short time previously—a matter of hours rather than days— because another condition specified in the section is that it is not reasonably practicable to apply for a warrant.

I now turn to section 15 which is, I think, the most important new provision in Part III. Section 15 provides that a warrant to search premises may be issued by a District Justice or a Peace Commissioner in the case of a number of specified serious crimes.

It may come as a surprise to many people to hear that, while a warrant may be obtained to search a house for stolen goods and in some other special cases, this power to obtain a warrant is the exception rather than the rule. Even in relation to an offence as serious as murder, the law as it stands contains no provision enabling the Garda to get a warrant to search a house for evidence though they may be morally certain that vital evidence, such as blood-stained clothing, that would lead to the detection and conviction of the culprit is concealed in the house. Why the law should provide a power of search where goods have been stolen but not where a murder has been committed is a point on which I do not propose to speculate, though there are many who would say that it is just one more example of the tendency of the law in former years to be more concerned with protecting property rights than with protecting personal rights. Be that as it may, I think that the House will readily agree that, if we are to expect the Garda Síochána to cope with serious crime, we must provide them with the right to apply for a search warrant where the circumstances call for that. It will be seen that it is not proposed to extend this power to all offences or indeed even to all indictable offences but only to a limited number of very serious offences described in section 15 (1).

It is also proposed to give a power to search vehicles, where the Garda are investigating a larceny or one of the serious offences for which it is proposed, in section 15, to permit the issue of a search warrant. In this case, of course, there would be no time to get a warrant—the practical situation would usually be one in which the Garda would be trying to find people fleeing from the scene of the crime.

The other new provisions in Part III which I would like to refer to are in sections 21 and 22, concerning fingerprints. Section 21 provides that, in the case of a larceny or one of the other serious offences for which it is proposed to allow a search warrant to be issued, a District Justice may make an order authorising the Gardaí to take the fingerprints of a suspect. In such a case, if the person is not charged or if he is acquitted, the fingerprints and all copies must be destroyed. This section is linked directly to the investigation of a particular crime. Section 22, on the other hand, relates to a person who has been convicted of an indictable offence (or dealt with under the probation of Offenders Act for such an offence). The section permits his fingerprints to be taken and retained. The purpose of this section is to permit the Garda to keep a record of fingerprints of persons whose guilt has been proved. It does not follow that they will avail themselves of this power in respect of every indictable offence but I expect that it will become standard practice to do so.

We have heard some criticism about these provisions, to the effect that it is wrong that an unconvicted person should be required to give his fingerprints. The critics have not mentioned that this is proposed only under judicial warrant.

It is, of course, very easy to make a superficially impressive argument on the lines that, since suspects are unconvicted persons and are in law presumed innocent, they should not have to submit to fingerprinting even under judicial warrant. The argument may sound good, but it does not stand up. For by that process of reasoning, nobody could ever be arrested and certainly nobody could ever be remanded in custody while awaiting trial. But, we all accept —and international organisations dedicated to the preservation of civil liberties accept—that the legal presumption of innocence does not exclude arrest, search and, where necessary, even deprivation of personal liberty. The taking of fingerprints is certainly a lesser interference with personal liberty than any of these things. In fact, many people would argue that it is not an interference with liberty at all, and that it is something that any law-abiding citizen would willingly, and without any legal compulsion, allow in the interests of the community.

Part IV relates to offensive weapons. The basic difficulty in framing proposals to deal with this problem is that many ordinary household articles can be used as offensive weapons and, to put the problem in concrete terms, we obviously cannot prohibit the sale or possession of kitchen knives, screwdrivers, chisels or many other articles that could easily be used as weapons by persons so inclined. Neither can we proceed to impose on the citizen who has possession of these articles in the ordinary way the onus of showing that he has them for an innocent purpose.

The proposal in the Bill is that the problem should be dealt with in stages, so to speak. First of all, it refers to such places as dance halls, cinemas, amusement halls and the like and sets down as the basic rule that, when people are likely to be resorting to these places, nobody should, without reasonable excuse, have with him any knife other than an ordinary pocketknife. This is covered by section 22 (1). In this type of case, the onus is on a person carrying a knife—pocketknife excluded, as I say—to show that he has a reasonable excuse. This is obviously necessary if the provision is to work at all, because the prosecution could not possibly know or prove that he had not a reasonable excuse and, apart from being necessary, it is reasonable because we are here dealing with a person who is carrying a knife in circumstances in which the carrying of knives is being generally prohibited and in which his action, if lawful, is the exception.

The next provision is in section 22 (2) and extends to any public place. It prohibits a person from having, in a public place, without reasonable excuse, any flick-knife or any article whatsoever made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person. This particular provision, could, I think, easily be misunderstood at first glance, so I would like to draw attention to the fact that—apart from flick-knives, on which we need not spend any time— the subsection deals with articles "made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person". This does not include knives—except, perhaps, some rarely-seen ones of the stiletto type. The various types of knives that one sees in shops, whether they be household knives or knives designed for use by tradesmen, shopkeepers or others, may indeed be dangerous and easily capable of inflicting serious personal injury, but they are not, generally speaking, either made or adapted for that purpose—they are made for a legitimate purpose and I should like to make it quite clear that, except in those places mentioned in subsection (1)—cinemas, dance halls, et cetera— carrying a knife made for a legitimate purpose will not in itself be an offence.

What then is covered by subsection (2), or, to put it another way, what kind of article is meant to be covered by the words "made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person"? The answer is that, in practice, it applies mainly to home-made weapons such as the filed steel comb or the razor-blade embedded in some holder, or the piece of a bicycle-chain attached to a handle. Anybody found with a weapon of that kind in a public place will be committing an offence unless he can show that he has a reasonable excuse. What constitutes a "reasonable excuse" would be a matter for the court to decide in the circumstances of the case. I am confident, however, that we can depend on the good sense of the courts to see to it that, except perhaps in quite exceptional circumstances, nobody will be allowed to get away with the plea that he had the weapon for use only in case he was attacked.

I have mentioned that the first subsection, prohibiting the carrying of knives, applies only to dance halls, cinemas and other places where people congregate, and that the second subsection, which extends to any public place, has very little application to knives but only to these specially-constructed offensive weapons I have spoken about. This leaves untouched the carrying of dangerous knives or other articles in public places. Subsection (3) deals with that. It deals with it, however, in a very different way because, unlike the person carrying a knife in a dance hall or the person carrying a filed steel comb on the public street, the person carrying a knife or a screwdriver or a chisel on the public street is quite likely to be an ordinary law-abiding citizen going about his lawful business. If he happens to be a criminal carrying one of these things with him in order to assault somebody, we certainly want to stop him but we cannot make the carrying of these things in itself an offence without bringing into the net the tradesman on his way to or from work or any one of the numerous people who would have a legitimate reason for having one of these articles with him in a public place. Likewise, we obviously could not justify requiring the general body of law-abiding citizens concerned to prove that their intentions were not criminal.

Accordingly, what is proposed in this subsection is to make it an offence to carry, in a public place, any article intended by the person unlawfully to cause injury to or to intimidate another. Thus, criminal intent—mens rea—is an essential ingredient of the offence and the onus of proving it will be on the prosecution. The court will, however, be entitled to look at all the circumstances—the type of article, the time of day or night and the place— and, if the circumstances so warrant, to draw its own conclusions as to the person's intentions, in the absence of any adequate explanation by him.

Part V contains a number of provisions relating to proof and evidence. The first two sections of that Part, sections 24 and 25, which relate to proof by written statement and proof by formal admission, are, as I have already said, taken from an English Report and are already enacted in England. Without going into details on them at this stage, I recommend them on the basis that they should help to simplify court proceedings by eliminating the need for oral evidence on matters that are not being contested. I need hardly say that the simplification and resulting shortening of proceedings, where this can be done without risk to the due administration of justice, is as much in the interests of the defendant as of the prosecution and indeed more so.

Part VI deals with meetings, processions and demonstrations. The first section in this Part is section 28 which deals with meetings and so on in the vicinity of Leinster House or in relation to court proceedings.

The provisions relating to Leinster House are in substitution for provisions now contained in section 28 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939. I will say quite frankly that the main reason for taking the provision out of the 1939 Act and putting it here is not that some changes are proposed—the changes are in fact of no great practical importance—but to put an end to suggestions that this law, which was designed to ensure that Parliament can function without interference, was intended to be invoked only in time of emergency. This, of course, was untrue. While it was assumed, in 1939, that the only persons likely to offend against this and some of the other provisions of the 1939 Act were members of illegal organisations, it was made perfectly clear that those provisions, including section 28, were being enacted as part of the ordinary law. Nevertheless, the fact is that many people have been led to accept the suggestion that it was somehow contrary to the original intentions that this provision should be invoked otherwise than in times of emergency. I think the House will agree that it is desirable that this issue should be clarified and removed as far as possible from the realm of controversy and accordingly I am proposing that it be taken out of the 1939 Act and put in here.

The new provision is not identical with the provision in the 1939 Act, though it amounts to the same thing in practice. Under the 1939 Act, the prohibition of a meeting within half a mile of Leinster House depended on the issue of a Garda prohibition notice. This, of course, was a device to ensure that meetings that had nothing at all to do with Leinster House, but that happened to be held within half a mile of it, would not be caught in the net. While it worked well enough in practice, I think events in recent years suggest that it would be better if the law itself distinguished between meetings that are, so to speak, "directed at" Leinster House and those that have nothing to do with it, and that the former should be prohibited by the Act itself without the need for a Garda order and that meetings unconnected with Leinster House should be clearly seen to be outside the scope of the Act.

I do not think that this House will hesitate to accept that it is right that Parliament, in its functioning, should not be subjected to attempts to pressurise it by demonstrations outside the gates of the place where it meets and indeed the Constitution itself, in Article 40, clearly and specifically distinguishes between meetings near the Houses of the Oireachtas and meetings in general.

Theoretically, at least, it might be possible to justify a distinction between the placing of a small picket at Leinster House and the holding of a public meeting or large demonstration outside the gates—what I might call a "show of force". It is the Government's view, however, that the prohibition should extend to picketing and the section is framed accordingly.

This is a provision which, in a very special way, is the particular concern of Parliament and I hope that Deputies on all sides of the House will give the matter special thought.

One exception to the general prohibition is proposed: it is in relation to picketing in connection with a trade dispute involving a person ordinarily working in Leinster House. This is a matter of holding a balance between two interests that are, perhaps, conflicting to some extent. On the one hand, Members of the Oireachtas should be free to take part in debates here without being pressurised by demonstrators. On the other hand, Members can be said to have a particular interest in and concern about any trade dispute involving anybody normally working in Leinster House— their own staff, so to speak—and, on the whole, the Government felt that it was right that peaceful picketing in this limited case should be permitted.

I now turn to subsection (2) which prohibits meetings,et cetera concerning proceedings pending or at hearing in any court. We have, unfortunately, witnessed in recent years a new development. I refer to the numerous instances in which groups of people have staged demonstrations in relation to court proceedings even while these proceedings were awaiting hearing. We have had many cases where groups have gone to the extent of marching in a body to the courthouse itself, of demonstrating outside the courthouse, and, occasionally, even in the very courtroom.

At the time the Bill was published, last year, I did not think there should be any need for me to say anything in defence of this particular provision other than to put on record the facts that I have mentioned, namely, that these demonstrations have taken place in connection with cases that were at hearing before the courts. Meanwhile, however, Deputies will have seen that some people have set out to criticise the provision and to put across the idea that people are or ought to be entitled to demonstrate in this way.

The very fact that such a suggestion could be made with every appearance of seriousness brings home the urgent need for Parliament to re-state something that we, as a community, have consistently insisted on, namely, that the right of free speech cannot be held to include a right to attempt to intimidate or even influence, by any form of comment, the course of judicial proceedings. There should be no need for me to stress that it is a fundamental part of our concept of fair trial and the independence of the courts that we do not tolerate what is known elsewhere as trial by newspaper. Thus, we accept and take for granted that newspapers must not comment on cases that aresub judice.

I gladly acknowledge that our newspapers do not seek to change that situation and that they would be the first to resist any suggestion that such a change should be made. Likewise, we in the Houses of the Oireachtas, despite the absolute privilege conferred on us by the Constitution, have always acknowledged that it would be an abuse of privilege for any Member to comment on a case that issub judice. Yet, we now have people endeavouring to put across the notion that comment that is absolutely forbidden in newspapers, and even in this House, should be allowed to be made at a public meeting and that anybody who chooses to do so should be entitled to get up at a street corner and criticise one side or the other in a case that is before the courts. One has only to state the proposal to see how dangerous it is.

I should also draw attention to one important aspect that seems to have escaped the notice of those who claim to see in the provision some uncalledfor interference with individual rights. That is that demonstrations can just as easily be mounted against an accused person as in his favour and one can readily envisage what would happen in a case where a particular crime had caused local popular revulsion if demonstrations became the custom. We have, as I have said, stood firm against trial by newspaper. We must be equally firm against any attempt to open the way for trial by public meeting.

It has been alleged that there has been no demand for this—no comfo plaints from the judiciary or the gardaí that the courts were being intimidated. Even if that were so, it would not alter the principle that justice must be seen to be done and that demonstrations connected with court proceedings are designed and intended to interfere with the administration of justice. But let me add this. If members of the judiciary were to complain about being intimidated, it is not in the pages of a newspaper that they would do so. Likewise, it is not through the newspapers that the Garda authorities would express their views. I shall leave it at that.

I should perhaps point out that what is being prohibited is a demonstration concerning the court proceedings themselves, and that this does not mean, for example, that, just because there happen to be some court proceedings in connection with a trade dispute, picketing in connection with the trade dispute must stop. There is no question of this. What must stop is, as I have said, the mounting of demonstrations and so on that relate to the proceedings themselves. In practice what would be prohibited are marches to courthouses, picketing of courthouses during or before a hearing, meetings commenting on the proceedings before they are heard and so on.

One criticism—obviously designed as an effort to enlist trade union support—is that if a case of interest to trade unionists were being heard in Dublin, this provision would prevent the holding of a public meeting in Cork to discuss its implications. So it would. Of course, existing law and practice would also prevent its implications being discussed in, say, the pages of a trade-union magazine. But, that point apart, the criticism is misconceived. The case that is being heard, if it is a criminal case, is one in which it is essential that justice must be done and seen to be done. If it is a civil case, what the court is required to do is to state and apply the law without fear or favour. In neither case is it necessary or reasonable or desirable that the "implications" should be discussed at a public meeting. If genuine and serious discussion, as distinct from demonstration, is ever needed in such a situation, it certainly could not effectively take place at a public meeting.

As I explained earlier, the idea, in section 28, is that the demonstrations,et cetera, which are to be prohibited should be declared unlawful by the Act itself and not just by a Garda order. There may, however, be some borderline cases where there would be a bona fide difference of view between the organisers and the gardaí. If the gardaí reasonably believed that the demonstration — it might, for instance, be near Leinster House — was unlawful it would ordinarily be their duty to arrest those responsible if they persisted. To enable the matter to be determined beforehand, section 29 authorises the superintendent to make a prohibition order where he believes that the demonstration would be in conflict with the law and goes on to enable the organisers to make a summary appeal to the High Court against the superintendent's order. I do not expect that there would be many borderline cases of this kind but I think it is useful to have the section there.

This brings me to sections 30 and 31, which relate to public meetings and demonstrations. Deputies are all aware, no doubt, that I recently felt obliged to make, outside this House, an announcement that I would have much preferred to reserve for my opening speech in the House, namely, the lines of the amendments to these sections that I intend to propose on the Committee Stage.

Since it is my intention to move these amendments, I think it would be unfair to the House that I should spend any great length of time either explaining or defending the sections as they now stand. But I would like to make a couple of brief comments. The first is that, from the outset, on these as on other provisions of the Bill, I had indicated my willingness to consider any reasoned objections. I am in fact satisfied that the sections would have needed some modifications to meet practical objections that had been raised, and it was my intention to move amendments to make such modifications. It follows that I would not argue that the sections as they stand are not open to some criticism. Having said that much, however, I want to put on record my utter rejection of the allegations that these sections either were designed to be used or could be used by the Government of the day for political motives, or that they required any substantial amendment to make them acceptable to reasonable people as a serious and genuine effort to resolve the conflicting claims of those who want to use the streets for protest marches and of those who want to go about their lawful business.

I will not pursue the point further. It has become quite clear that so much has now been said in public that it is impossible to have any rational debate on the particular scheme proposed in these sections. Even if the Dáil, having made some necessary modifications, were to pass them unanimously, we should be left with an atmosphere of distrust among members of the public. And so I intend to propose a new scheme.

While it is not open to me to put down formal amendments before the Committee Stage, I think it is right that I should tell the House now what it is that I propose to do.

Firstly, I propose to move an amendment to remove from section 30 the provision (i.e. subsection (2)) that failure to give advance notice of a meeting or procession is an offence. The requirement relating to advance notice would therefore become a formal declaration by Parliament that the giving of such notice, where feasible, is a civic duty. Secondly, I intend to propose a re-wording of the section to make it clear that this duty would arise only in the case of meetings or processions in the public highway that the police would not themselves normally know about in advance and that would be likely to cause some interference with traffic,et cetera. In other words, I propose that the section should, as far as possible, show, on its face, that the duty arises, not from any wish on the part of the State to put any obstacles in the way of legitimate public meeting, but from the fact that the holding of a meeting in the public highway is something that may and often does, affect the rights of others. In such a case, various duties, mainly in the regulation of traffic, fall on the Garda Síochána, and if, through lack of notice, they cannot discharge these duties, the general public are the sufferers.

The holding of a meeting or procession at a particular time or place could, however, involve an altogether unreasonable interference with the rights of the general public even if the Garda were told about it in advance and there is, obviously, a serious and growing need for some legal machinery which will provide a means for reconciling and harmonising, in an orderly and reasonable way, the serious conflict of interest that often arises between those who want to hold public meetings and those who want to pass by. Section 31 was intended to provide such machinery. The idea in the section as it stands was that a meeting or procession could be banned in exceptional circumstances specified in the section, in other words where the likelihood was that the interference with the rights of others would be excessive and the ultimate authority to decide whether the ban was justified was to be the High Court. Since that proposal is not acceptable, the alternative is to have some system whereby the organisers can be made amendable after the event where the circumstances justify this.

This is more difficult than may appear at first sight because — despite all the propaganda we have heard to the contrary — we in the Government want to be careful to avoid making the organisers of meetings legally responsible to an extent which could unjustifiably inhibit them from organising meetings, for fear of consequences they could not foresee or control.

In concrete terms, the problem is this: it might seem easy to say that if the organisers insist on holding a meeting at point "A" rather than point "B", and the result is total obstruction of the street, then they should be held responsible. But that would not necessarily be right, because the alternative site might be so far away that the meeting would lose its whole point. The community cannot, ever, be expected to acquiesce in deliberate obstruction, but where the obstruction is incidental, and is limited as far as possible by the organisers, then it may have to be accepted and it would be unreasonable to make the organisers responsible. Similarly, it would be unreasonable to make the organisers responsible, as a matter of course, for breaches of the peace associated with a meeting, even if it was their own followers, for instance, who were responsible. Obviously this would apply to even a greater extent if the breaches of the peace were caused by outsiders.

The solution I intend to propose takes account of these considerations and is on the following lines. If it appears to the Garda Síochána that a meeting at a particular point or time, or a procession along a particular route or at a particular time, would cause serious obstruction, or a danger of breaches of the peace, and the risk of this happening would be avoided or significantly reduced by a change in the time or in the place or route, the Garda Síochána could request — I emphasise request — that certain changes be made.

Failure to comply with the Garda request would not be an offence. If, however, the meeting or procession went ahead as originally planned and the serious inconvenience or breaches of the peace which the organisers had been warned about actually materialised then the organisers might be deemed to be responsible and to be committing an offence.

I say "might be deemed" rather than "would be deemed", for the reason I have already mentioned, namely, that even though the organisers had been warned about the likelihood of serious obstruction, it could be unjust to hold them responsible if the changes proposed by the Gardaí were tantamount to asking the organisers to abandon the whole project. There might, of course, be occasions where that would be justified and even essential but this cannot be assumed. To take a concrete case, I suppose we can all agree that it would obviously be reasonable, in ordinary circumstances, for the Garda to say that a meeting at the GPO in Dublin would involve total traffic obstruction and could just as well be held round the corner in Abbey Street. But suppose — if I may deliberately take an extreme example — the Garda were to say "We ask you to hold your meeting in the Phoenix Park", it would be unfair to the organisers that they should be held responsible for unavoidable obstruction arising from their meeting just because they did not comply with the Garda request. Accordingly, I propose that, even where a Garda request has been ignored and obstruction has resulted, the organisers will have a good defence if they satisfy the court that the Garda request was, in all the circumstances, unreasonable. And one of the factors the court could take into account was whether the organisers had given reasonable advance notice to the Garda.

To conclude, on this question of public meetings, perhaps I should point out — since many people appear to have forgotten it — that the constitutional right of public meeting is not an absolute one. Even if one assumes that the right of public meeting, as recognised in the Constitution, includes a right to hold a meeting on the public highway, the right is explicitly qualified by another clause to the effect that provision may be made by law to prevent or control meetings that may cause a breach of the peace or be a danger or nuisance to the general public.

We come now to section 32, which relates to "watching and besetting". The critics of the Bill had a field day on this one — it was supposed to be a particularly sinister example of the Government's alleged desire to suppress peaceful protest. It has, of course, nothing whatever to do with protest, and, as for its sinister content, it is no more than a re-enactment, practically word for word, of a well-known and regularly-enforced provision in section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875. It seems clear, however, that the critics have now realised their mistake as we have not heard this particular comment for some time. The present right to picket peacefully in connection with a trade dispute is a statutory exception to the existing prohibition on "watching and besetting" and that same exception is being re-enacted in this section exactly as it was before.

Section 33 makes it an offence, at a lawful public meeting, to act in a disorderly manner for the purpose of preventing the transaction of the business of the meeting. This is a re-enactment of the Public Meeting Act, 1908. All kinds of allegations were made about this section too.

Part VII of the Bill deals with appeals and cases stated. Its provisions are rather technical and complicated and again I would refer Deputies to the explanation given in the Memorandum. At this point, I think it will be sufficient for me to say that, in very general terms, what Part VII does is to allow the Attorney General, in certain cases where a person is acquitted on a point of law, to appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision and if the court holds that the point of law was wrongly decided — in other words if it upholds the appeal — to allow the court to order the re-trial of the person concerned. However, the order for a re-trial will be at the Supreme Court's discretion— in the words of section 40, the court is authorised to decide the matter "in the interests of justice and having regard to all the circumstances of the case"— but, in all these cases where the State appeals, the accused will be entitled as of right to have the costs of the appeal borne by the State, through the Legal Aid Scheme, and likewise the costs of a re-trial are to be borne by the State.

As will be seen from the Explanatory Memorandum, page 17, paragraph 128, these provisions for an appeal are in line with the present law inhabeas corpus cases, as decided by the Supreme Court. The judgment I refer to was given in The State (Browne) v. Feran [1967] I.R. 147, and it established that, under the Constitution, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court against an order of the High Court releasing a person on a habeas corpus application and that, in a case where the Supreme Court allows the appeal and the person has already been released on foot of the High Court order, the Supreme Court has power to order his re-arrest.

It has been suggested, by more than one commentator, that, in providing that the Supreme Court may order a new trial where an accused person has been acquitted on a point of law that proves to have been bad, the Bill proposes to throw overboard a fundamental and heretofore sacrosanct principle of our criminal law, namely, that an accused person should not be put in peril twice, and that, once this principle is in any way departed from, there is no knowing where the rot will stop. In fact, I do not think it is going too far to say that this particular provision has been singled out for criticism as a particularly dangerous innovation.

It would be possible, of course, to go into great detail about this supposed principle that a person must not be put in peril twice. For instance, we could ask why, if there is such a principle and it is inviolable, it does not prevent the re-trial of a person in whose case the jury disagrees. Obviously, such a person has been in peril — often, until recent times, in peril of his life — but nobody raises the cry of "double jeopardy".

I need not, however, pursue that line because the provision in the Bill clearly relates to only one particular type of acquittal, namely an acquittal on a point of law that is found to be erroneous — in other words, bad law. And, contrary to what has been said in that regard, this proposal, far from being a radical departure from accepted principle, involves no change in principle at all. It is in fact in accordance with what is already the law in relation to the vast majority of criminal cases, so that the proposals are nothing more than an overdue correction of an indefensible anomaly in the law. What has, apparently, been overlooked in the criticisms that have been made is that under existing law, if a District Justice makes a mistake in law in dismissing a prosecution, his decision can be challenged by an appeal to the High Court by way of Case Stated and, if the appeal is upheld, the District Court is required to hear the case again. Lest there be any possible misunderstanding, let me stress that I am not talking just about a consultative Case Stated — I am talking about a straight appeal by way of Case Stated where the charge has already been dismissed.

Last year, more than 164,000 people were prosecuted for summary offences. Approximately 11,600 people were prosecuted for indictable offences and over 10,000 of them were dealt with summarily. This means that we had something of the order of 175,000 prosecutions, but only about 1,200 of them, well under one per cent, were dealt with on indictment. We, therefore, find that the type of provision that is proposed in this Bill, and against which this "double peril" criticism has been made, is in fact already a wellestablished part of our law in respect of over 99 per cent of all cases. Putting it another way, 99 per cent of all cases are subject to appeal by way of case stated on a point of law under existing law.

Some of the criticism tried to make a point of the fact that we are now speaking of a jury verdict, suggesting that a jury verdict is in some relevant way more sacrosanct than a verdict by a District Justice. There is, of course, no difference whatsoever, in this context, between a jury verdict and a verdict by a District Justice, for the point about "double peril", such as it is, is precisely the same in both cases. But, over and above that, there is the obvious consideration that, in these cases, we are not in fact speaking of the considered verdicts of juries but of verdicts that are jury verdicts only in the most formal and legalistic sense — cases where the jury have not been allowed to decide the issue on the merits, or even to consider the merits at all, but have been directed by the judge to bring in a "not guilty" verdict. It is purely a procedural arrangement that in such a case the jury formally bring in the verdict — the law could just as easily be that, instead of directing the jury that they must bring in the verdict, the Judge would give it himself.

There is, and there can be, no possible reason why the law should provide that an accused person can be re-tried if he is wrongly acquitted as a result of a mistake in law by a District Justice but that he may not be re-tried if he is wrongly acquitted as a result of a mistake in law by a judge in the Circuit Court or Central Criminal Court. Indeed, if anything, there is a stronger case for providing for re-trials in the Circuit or Central Criminal Court because the charge is more likely to be a serious one and the community has a much greater interest in seeing to it that a person does not evade trial because of a legal mistake.

I understand that the point has been made that, if an accused person gets out on a technicality, the fact must be faced that the technicality is part of the law and must be presumed to be there for some adequate reason — and that the accused person is entitled to the benefit of it. I agree fully with that — but it is not relevant to the proposal made. For we are not speaking about technicalities that the law provides but only about technicalities which somebody wrongly thinks that the law provides. In short we are dealing with an accused person who has neither a jury decision nor a point of law on his side but who, under the present system, evades trial because of a mistake.

It is possible, of course, that circumstances could arise in which the re-trial of a person wrongly acquitted on a point of law would be a hardship disproportionate to the seriousness of the offence. But this possibility is met by a double safeguard. In the first place, an appeal will not be taken as a matter of course but only where the Attorney General or other authority considers it ought to be taken. And, secondly, even if the appeal is upheld, the decision whether there should be a new trial will be at the discretion of the Supreme Court, having regard to the interests of justice and all the circumstances of the case.

I now come to Part VIII of the Bill which is headed "Miscellaneous". It includes provision for the formal abolition of penal servitude and hard labour and also for the sentencing of persons to particular prison divisions according to the crimes they have committed. All these concepts have become obsolete in practice and their formal abolition is mainly a tidying-up exercise.

Section 43 makes a substantive change. It provides that, in criminal cases in which there is a jury, the present requirement of a unanimous verdict will be altered so as to make acceptable a verdict in which there are at least ten affirmative votes.

This is similar to, but not identical with, a recent change made in the law of England, the difference being that while a 9-1 verdict is now acceptable in England in a case where the jury is reduced to ten, the verdict in such a case here will still have to be unanimous. I mention the change in England because it is something that many Deputies will already know of and because there may be a tendency to assume that the change here is proposed for the same reasons as it was proposed in England. In fact, this is not so. As far as I know, the change was proposed in England because of a special problem they had in relation to criminal gangs, mainly based in London, who engaged in large-scale robberies and similar crimes and who did not hesitate to intimidate jurors directly and through their families. Fortunately, we have not had this problem of organised robberies and so on here, so far.

We have had, however, an essentially similar problem on many occasions down the years, namely, crimes committed by members of unlawful organisations and I think that the best time to meet it is a time when the problem is not a pressing current one and when, therefore, it can be looked at in a dispassionate way. The intimidation of jurors has been a recurring feature and a matter of grave concern in these cases down the years. The direct and inevitable result was that special courts had to be established to deal with these cases.

Whatever may be said in the heat of controversy, I think we can all agree that no Government, and no Deputy in this House, likes the idea of special courts. If the Government of the day sets them up, it does so as the lesser of two evils. If we can ensure that the ordinary courts can function free of intimidation, this is obviously the better solution. I cannot guarantee that the proposal I am now making will enable us in the future to avoid setting up special courts but I am putting it to the House that it offers a good hope that it will have that result.

This is not just a matter of its being three times as difficult to "get at" three jurors as at one. As matters stand, any individual juror is vulnerable to the threat of retaliation against himself or his family because if there is a verdict of "guilty" it is known that each and every member voted for it. But with majority verdicts, no such inference can be drawn so it becomes much more difficult to succeed in intimidation.

What I have said about special courts may give the impression that the establishment of these courts is always available as an answer to the problem of jury intimidation. This is not the case. We can have, as we have had, instances where serious crimes were committed by members of illegal organisations and threats were made not only against the jurors but against the judiciary. Nevertheless, the situation, taking the country as a whole, was not sufficiently serious to warrant the taking of the serious step of setting up special courts.

The reasons I have given for proposing majority verdicts amount, however, to only half the story because, no matter how advantageous the change might be in the matter of making intimidation more difficult, the change could not be justified if it carried with it any significant risk that it would lead to the conviction of innocent persons. I put it to the House that it carries no such risk. I will go farther and say that, on its own merits and without any reference to this problem of intimidation, what is now proposed is a system better calculated to serve the ends of justice, by which I mean that it is likely to lead to the conviction of some guilty persons where at present the jury is unable to reach a verdict, while on the other hand, it will in no way expose innocent people to danger.

The standard objection to a majority verdict — even if the majority is as big as 10-2 — is that, if two people are not suffeciently sure to join in a verdict of "guilty", that in itself means that there is a reasonable doubt. If those who put forward this argument were consistent, one would expect them to object, not only to majority verdicts, but also to the re-trial of a person in a case where the jury has disagreed since, in such a case, too, not all the jurors have been satisfied as to his guilt. Indeed where a jury has disagreed, it is possible that as many as 11 jurors have not been satisfied as to the accused's guilt and nothing that a second jury decides can alter that fact. In consistency apart, however, the objection does not stand up to examination. We are speaking of a situation in which, although two people have some doubt, ten people have no doubt — or, at all events, no reasonable doubt. It is not a question of tenthinking that the accused is guilty and two thinking him innocent. It is a question of ten being convinced beyond reasonable doubt of his guilt and two being not so convinced. The proposition that, because two jurors think there is a reasonable doubt, there must in fact be a reasonable doubt, involves a basic contradiction. For it means that, on the basis of the opinion of two jurors, a conclusion is drawn that, as a fact, there is a reasonable doubt, whereas the overwhelming majority of the jury have been satisfied that the fact is otherwise, namely, that there is not a reasonable doubt.

I am not suggesting that I am saying anything new when I point out that the standard argument against majority verdicts is inherently unsound. Various commentators have already pointed this out. It is, admittedly, no more than a negative point — it shows that a particular argument for unanimous verdicts is unsound but it does not, of itself, provide an argument for making a change. Nevertheless it is, I think, a point that is worth repeating and emphasising, as it may help to clear the way for a better and more objective examination of the arguments in favour of a change.

As I have said, English law now accepts that a 10-2 verdict is adequate. Scots law has long since accepted majority verdicts. So have some former British territories since achieving independence. In all these cases, we are entitled to assume that, irrespective of the reasons for adopting the system, the people concerned are satisfied that it does not lead to unjust verdicts. In civil cases, majority verdicts are accepted as a matter of course and, while an adverse verdict in a civil case does not leave the stigma which a criminal conviction does, or leave the affected party in danger of a jail sentence, the verdict in a civil case can mean a gain or loss of many thousands of pounds and can, in practice, have a more decisive effect on a man's future and on the welfare of his family than a verdict in a criminal case.

The next section — section 44 — provides that the court may permit the prosecution, after the case had closed, to remedy an omission in the proofs if the prosecution state that they can remedy the omission and the judge considers that, in the interests of justice and having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it is reasonable to permit them to do so. Under present practice, the rule is, briefly, that the prosecution state their case and, having done so, are not permitted to add anything later. If, at that point, the defence persuades the court that there is some gap in the proofs, the case has to be dismissed.

A gap in the proofs can arise in any one of three ways. First of all, the prosecution may have produced all the evidence at their disposal and the court may still hold that aprima facie case has not been established. If so, it dismisses the charge and that ends the matter, as it must. Such a case will not be affected at all by the new provision which applies only where the prosecution are in a position, there and then, to say that they can produce further evidence. The second set of circumstances in which a gap may appear in the proofs is where a legal dispute arises between the prosecution and the defence as to whether it is necessary for the prosecution to prove some particular point as a necessary link in the chain of evidence. The prosecution may contend that it is not necessary and may therefore not have adduced proof even if it is available, but the court may rule against them. At that point it is too late for the prosecution to introduce the evidence.

This situation is perhaps most likely to arise where there is a dispute as to whether the prosecution is under an obligation to prove a negative, such as that the accused person had not a licence. The third type of case where there may be a gap in the proofs is where the prosecution make a human error and forget to bring in proof on some point, often a point that the manin-the-street would regard — and rightly —as a pure formality. Again, the prosecution may have the proof readily available but if they omit it, by an oversight, they are not allowed to correct it. The object of section 44 is to ensure that in the last two types of case, that is where a proof was omitted either because the prosecution believed that, as a matter of law, it was unnecessary or because of an oversight, the court may allow the prosecution to remedy the omission.

Again, the suggestion has been made that this provision is dangerous and may open the way for all sorts of abuses, including the possibility that the prosecution may use it as a means of waiting to see what the defence has to say and then of looking around for further evidence. This criticism disregards the wording of the section. The section is confined to cases where the prosecution are, there and then, in a position to say that they can remedy the omission and, even then, it will not apply as a matter of course but only if the trial judge considers it right, in the interests of justice and having regard to all the circumstances of the case, to exercise the power. Thus, if the prosecution were to attempt to rely on this section as a reason for not collecting or presenting all the evidence, they would find themselves left high and dry, for it is quite clear that the court would not, and could not, exercise its discretion in a way that would enable the prosecution to behave in that way.

Some may say that the present law is as it should be—that if the prosecutor makes a mistake, it is only right that he should have to take the consequences. The great flaw in this approach is that it is not in fact the prosecutor who takes the consequences —it is the community-at-large. A prosecution is not a private contest between a prosecutor and defendant. A defendant is entitled to every safeguard that may be necessary to guard against the conviction of an innocent person but it is a denial of the legitimate rights and interests of the community that the defendant, in a serious case, should evade trial because of a slip on the part of the prosecutor, if the court is satisfied that the circumstances are such that the slip can be corrected without any injustice to the defendant. And that is all that the section provides.

I now want to refer to section 45— the section about transfers to military custody.

I think that some people have been frightened about this — they have a mental picture of something like a concentration camp, with prisoners locked away and no access to them by relatives. And people have also wondered what this is intended for.

This reaction is understandable as far as members of the public are concerned, especially when they have been told only of the basic provision but not of the conditions and safeguards that are provided.

But it is somewhat surprising to hear this kind of criticism coming from spokesmen for illegal organisations and their friends because, when some of these people were convicted of criminal offences and were sent to prison — usually, I may say because they refused to pay fines and wanted to make martyrs of themselves — they have been known to ask to be transferred to military custody, saying that it is wrong that people like themselves should be expected to stay under the same roof as other prisoners.

Now, I do not for a moment pretend that this section has been introduced so that people like this whose behaviour lands them in prison should be given the right to say where and how they are to serve their sentences. The point I am making is that they know quite well that military custody in this country would not be what the critics have made it out to be and would indeed be likely to be regarded as the soft option.

Already, in the section as it stands, there is provision that if the Minister for Justice orders a transfer of a prisoner to military custody, he must report that fact to Dáil Éireann. He would therefore be open, in a very special way, to question in the Dáil about his exercise of that power.

Furthermore, the section has provision for regulations governing the conditions of military custody to be made by the Minister for Defence.

One thing is quite certain and that is that no Minister for Defence, in any Government, could go into the Dáil and attempt to justify a set of regulations that imposed harsher discipline on these prisoners than the discipline provided for in civilian prisons. Furthermore, of course, there would be an independent Visiting Committee to whom any prisoner could make a complaint. The House is aware that there is a Visiting Committee for each of our civilian prisons and the same would, as a matter of course, apply if civilian prisoners were transferred to military custody.

You may say: if this is so, if the discipline would not be more rigid than in civilian prisons, why is that not written into the section? The answer is that there is no reason whatever why it is not in the section except that it is quite unnecessary to have it there. But I would have no objection at all to writing in the principle that the regulations to be made must not be more rigid than those applicable in civilian prisons. It probably would be necessary to make some qualification about the requirements of security, because military quarters would probably be more open than a prison, but, apart from that, there is no question about different, or at all events more severe, conditions of custody.

So much for the suggestion that a transfer to military custody is a harsh or punitive measure. The question remains: why is such a provision necessary?

The answer to this is that I hope it will never be necessary to use it but that there is a distinct possibility that it may be needed. We are living in a time when it has become almost a fashion for groups of one kind or another to engage in planned and systematic breaches of the law in order to create a situation in which, ultimately, they have to be committed to prison. That is what they seek and, under the system of law we have, we must accept the fact that if any group of people are determined to get themselves into prison, they are likely, ultimately, to succeed.

I now come to the heart of the problem. Our prisons have neither the accommodation nor the staff to cater for a sudden influx of any substantial number of persons and we have already experienced the situation in which the available accommodation and staff resources were taxed to the limit.

We have had situations in which we had to abandon programmes of rehabilitation for what I might call "ordinary" prisoners, and I may say that this caused an atmosphere of great strain and tension between different groups of prisoners and consequential problems for an overburdened prison staff.

If we were again faced with the kind of situation which, as I say, any determined group can create if they so desire, we could be faced with the choice of providing military custody or looking for additional and expensive buildings for use as prisons, with staff to match. In fact, it is not so much a question of looking for additional accommodation when needed as of building in advance in case such a situation were to arise, for it is clear that we could not find suitable buildings at short notice. And since these are usually very short-term prisoners it is obviously unreasonable to expect the taxpayer to pay for the erection of buildings that might never be used and that almost certainly would be unoccupied most of the time.

The problem of accommodation is only part of the problem. There is also the problem of getting staff. If we were to have, in our civilian prison establishment, the capacity to cater for the kind of contingency I have mentioned, it would mean that we would be employing far more staff than would ordinarily be needed for the prison services.

I now turn to section 49, which has detailed provisions designed to permit a court to order an accused person who has inflicted injury or caused loss to others to pay compensation, up to a limit of £100 plus the restoration of anything stolen. This provision is, of its nature, experimental and we shall only have to wait and see how it works. Basically, it seems to me to be selfevident that, if a person injures another, either by assaulting him or by stealing or damaging his property, it is right that the court should be able to direct him to make restitution. Admittedly, restitution is a civil matter and we are here dealing with courts exercising criminal jurisdiction, but the reality of the situation is that, in many cases, the offender is not, as the saying goes, a mark for damages and there is no good reason why the victim should be required to spend further money in a civil action to recover what is plainly his due. Furthermore, willingness to make restitution to the best of his ability is quite properly a factor which the court should take account of in deciding on a penalty. On this point, I should like to make my views quite clear. I certainly do not suggest, and I am sure we can confidently depend on the courts not to take the line, that, by paying compensation, the offender automatically evades any penalty or, on the other hand, that a person who cannot afford to pay compensation goes to jail. What I do suggest is that, in every such case, the court should consider the desirability of ordering compensation to be paid and should take account of all the circumstances. By that I mean that somebody who clearly could pay compensation — or even some compensation — if he tried, but makes no effort to do so should have no claim on the mercy of the court. My point isnot that he should not be punished if he pays but that he should be punished very severely if he does not. I include in this comment those people who have stolen money and refuse to disclose its whereabouts, preferring to spend a term in prison and to have the money to spend when they get out. I think that it is right and proper that a court, faced with such a situation, should have regard to the interests of that person's victim and should make the offender pay in one form or another.

On the other hand, there may be an offender — a juvenile or a young adult perhaps — who has damaged property to an extent beyond his capacity to pay. If he is willing to make a sustained effort to pay compensation, by instalments, even if he cannot pay in full, I think it would be right that the court should be entitled to allow for that and to mitigate the penalty it would otherwise impose.

One aspect of this I would mention particularly is the question of the first offender. Understandably and rightly, the courts are reluctant to send a first offender to jail for any but a very serious offence and, as the House knows, the application of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907, which in the District Court does not involve a formal conviction, is quite common in the case of first offenders. Yet, there is no reason in principle why even a first offender should not be required to compensate his victim. And indeed the 1907 Act itself provides for this but with a limit of £10 in the District Court. Far from being undesirable, an obligation to pay compensation might often be the factor that would pull a first offender up sharply and set his feet on the right road once more. I would hope that the courts will be able to utilise this provision widely, even in the case of first offenders.

There is one other point I would make about this provision. It sets an upper limit of £100 to the compensation ordered. This is the upper limit of the jurisdiction of the District Court in civil cases and I think it would obviously be wrong that a District Justice should be entitled to make a bigger civil award — for this is a civil award — when exercising criminal jurisdiction than when dealing with an ordinary civil claim. Some limit must also be applied to other courts because this is a jurisdiction that is being exercised only in an incidental way, so to speak, in the hearing of a criminal charge and I do not think it is worthwhile having a different limit in different courts.

Section 51 provides that suicide is no longer to be a criminal offence. The fact that suicide is an offence has no direct effect in law nowadays, though it used to have the effect that, as the crime was a felony, the property of the deceased became forfeit. It has, however, the indirect effect that attempted suicide is also an offence and the practical effect of section 51 is, therefore, that attempted suicide will no longer be an offence. I think it will generally be agreed that this reform has not come before its time and that what people who attempt suicide need is sympathy and treatment not prosecution.

I now come to a group of sections —53 to 56—which are designed to prevent, or at least reduce the risk of, a campaign of civil disobedience being conducted along lines and to a point where the Government of the day would have no choice but to take very strong action.

Section 53 makes it an offence to encourage or advocate the attainment of an object by criminal means or the non-payment of central or local taxation or of local authority rents. The House will be aware that there is a somewhat similar provision in section 18 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, but the 1939 Act does not directly declare these activities to be unlawful. What it does is to provide that any organisation engaging in them is, by the very fact, an unlawful organisation. This can allow a situation to build up in which an organisation may suddenly find itself faced with the extremely serious consequences of being an unlawful organisation, whereas, if some of the people responsible could be prosecuted, as individuals, at the outset, it would bring home to them more clearly that that kind of activity, if persisted in, could have only one ending.

It hardly needs stressing that to cut off the supply of funds to the public purse would, quite simply, mean anarchy; and a provision that makes it an offence to engage in conduct so seriously and so directly threatening the very foundations of the State needs no defending.

I have heard one minor objection which, I think, is valid as far as it goes. That objection is that there can be purely local disputes between, say, the ratepayers in a particular locality — I mean a townland or something like that — and the local authority. It might have to do with the repair of a local road for example. The point that has been made is that, if a small group like this decide to go slow on the payment of rates, as a protest, their action is on such a small scale that there is no real threat to the finances of the local authority, and that ordinarily the situation could be resolved without resort to criminal proceedings. I agree with this, and, since I see no way of devising a specific exemption that would not be objectionable in principle, I intend to move an amendment to provide that the proceedings should not be brought without the consent of the Attorney General. This would ensure that proceedings would not be brought in trivial cases.

Section 54 provides that a person who commits the offence of advocating non-payment of public moneys will be disqualified for a period of five years for receiving grants from public funds unless the court waives the disqualification on his signing a recognisance to be of good behaviour. This, of course, is no more than ordinary commonsense. It is absurd that a person should be entitled to go out and encourage the cutting-off of the supply of funds to the public purse and at the same time continue, himself, to apply for and receive grants from the public purse at the expense of those who may be much worse off but who are still paying their share.

I invite special attention to the fact that, contrary to what has been alleged in newspaper editorials and in speeches by certain critics, it is not correct to say that the court is being given no discretion in this matter of disqualification. The contrary is the case. Not only will the court have discretion at the time of the conviction, but it will have jurisdiction to lift a disqualification subsequently. The provision is in subsection (2).

Section 55 provides that, where the prosecution applies to the court to have this done, the court may order certain types of fines to be deducted from grants, namely fines imposed for offences against the "public meetings" provisions about unlawful agitation, etc. Section 56 has a similar provision for deduction of rates or taxes where it appears to the court that failure to pay is due to organised activity to discourage or prevent their payment. Again, these provisions are no more than ordinary commonsense. It is absurd that a person who, in pursuance of an organised campaign, refuses to pay his rates or taxes should be able to sit back and put the State in the position of having to secure payment by seizure of his goods at the very time when public money is being handed out to him for some other purpose.

I would like to emphasise, again, that these sections, far from being punitive in concept, as has been alleged, are designed to prevent, if possible, a situation developing to the point where it becomes necessary to invoke the much more stringent provisions already in the law, namely, the provision that an organisation advocating the withholding of rates is an unlawful organisation with all the consequences that that entails, and of course the provision that rate defaulters must, if they persist, face the fact that the sheriff will have no choice but to make seizures. I assume that it will be common ground, in this House, that rates and taxes lawfully due must be collected.

I do not think I need delay the House by referring specifically to any of the other sections — they can be considered in detail on the Committee Stage—except to mention that, by section 62 and the associated Third Schedule, the Defence Act, 1954, is being amended to keep military law under this Act in line with the ordinary criminal law: in other words, to include in military law such changes as the abolition of the distinctions between felony and misdemeanour, the abolition of penal servitude and so on.

This, then, is the Bill. It is, as the House will have seen, a wide-ranging one, touching on many aspects of the criminal law. Some of the changes it makes are little more than formalities, such as the abolition of sentences of hard labour. Others, though technical, are more important, including the substantial amount of cleaning-up of the Statute Book that is being done in the repeals.

Over and above changes of this kind, and in addition to the provisions about public meetings on which I think I have spoken in sufficient detail already, the Bill contains many important provisions designed to remove obvious weaknesses in the law relating to the detection of crime and the bringing of offenders to justice. In this, of course, we come up against the age-old problem of seeking to keep a proper balance between the rights of the individual and the needs of the community to protect itself. This Bill seeks to adjust the balance here and there but not in any radical way or in any way that is open, in my view, to any reasoned objection. In doing so, it makes two types of change and I think it is important to distinguish between them. The first concerns the powers of the Gardaí when they are investigating a crime. The second concerns the position of the person who has been brought before the Court.

As regards the first matter — the powers of the Gardaí when investigating — the principle must be that the Gardaí must be given the powers they reasonably need to combat serious crime but no more. The Bill seeks to give them that much — but no more. The powers of arrest without warrant which are provided for in the Bill are in fact very little different from what the law already allows, and Deputies will notice from the Explanatory Memorandum that, while there are some extensions of these powers, there are, on the other hand, counterbalancing provisions that spell out clearly that the powers must not be exercised arbitrarily but only where the circumstances are such that their exercise is necessary.

The main change which the Bill would make in the powers available to the Garda Síochána is the provision in section 15 which enables them to seek a warrant to search premises when they are investigating very serious crimes. That this provision has not existed before this will, I think, have come as a surprise to many and will underline how handicapped the Garda have been in the investigation of some serious crimes before this.

As regards the second matter — the position of the person who has been brought before the court — we must accept that, in a legal system in which the safeguarding of the innocent against wrongful conviction is rightly given the highest priority, it is inevitable that cases will occur in which even obviously guilty people will evade justice. But there is no good reason why this should have to be accepted to an extent greater than is necessary for the protection of the innocent. In particular, there is no reason why the community should have to accept a situation in which the jury are prevented from assessing on its merits evidence that is admissible and available just because the prosecutor makes a technical slip which can be corrected without injustice or because of a legal ruling that is in fact erroneous and bad. I would, therefore, like to say quite clearly that on this point the Bill involves a firm and total rejection of the still-lingering idea that there is, in the enforcement of the criminal law, an element of the chase in which the accused, even if plainly guilty, has to be given a sporting chance to escape.

The existence of, and indeed the pervading influence of, this sporting concept are, of course, freely acknowledged by most legal commentators though, occasionally, one sees an alternative theory on the lines that the community are, in their hearts, afraid to pursue an accused person too far because they recognise that human justice is fallible and they fear that, occasionally, an innocent person may be convicted. If this were in fact even a partial explanation of the present law, which I doubt, it would point to a singularly irrational situation for, if the possibility of error were to inhibit the community from punishing those who are found guilty, it ought to do so in all cases and not just in the exceptional cases where some technical hitch occurs. The possibility of error and the occurrence of a technical hitch are entirely unrelated.

The present situation, which the Bill seeks to change, is an historical relic. I am far from saying that it was always wrong. The attitude that the accused— the quarry — had escaped the net, that it would be unsporting to chase him again and that he must be given the benefit of his stroke of luck, was understandable in the days when a man could be hanged for stealing a sheep and when conviction, even of the guilty, often led to greater injustice than their acquittal. I suggest that the time has now come when we should consciously turn our backs on that kind of attitude and face the reality that law enforcement is not a sport.

In asking for this change in our approach to the problem of crime, I should like to emphasise that I am not for a moment suggesting, nor do I believe, that in our efforts to combat crime there is any need for us to throw overboard any of those principles that we rightly regard as fundamental. For instance, the right of the individual to be safeguarded against unreasonable or arbitrary invasion of his privacy, through searches or the like, while a crime is being investigated is a right which this Bill fully recognises and a right which I have no doubt that we, as a community, will continue to uphold in the years to come. Similarly, when a person is charged with a crime, he is entitled to safeguards properly designed to protect the innocent from wrongful conviction. These matters are not at issue here. As I said earlier, all the Bill seeks to ensure — and I suggest that the community is entitled to insist on this much — is that a person against whom there is admissible evidence will be tried on the merits of that evidence.

In conclusion, I should like to refer briefly to a memorandum on the Bill that has been circulated by the Irish Association of Civil Liberty. I have not referred to this memorandum in the earlier part of my speech; I got it only yesterday morning.

Since it has been circulated to Deputies with the assurance that it represents the work of "university professors of law, distinguished members of the Bar and practising solicitors", Deputies might be excused for assuming that it would be factually accurate in its statements about the Bill and about the existing law. Such an assumption, however, would be very wrong. Indeed, some errors it contains have already been dealt with incidentally in the course of what I have said earlier.

A specific reply to the memorandum will have to wait for another occasion — the Committee Stage perhaps — but I think it is right to warn Deputies who may be disposed to rely on the memorandum that it falls well short of gospel.

With that, I commend the Bill to the House.

I move the amendment standing in my name:

To delete all words after "That" and substitute: "Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that certain of the provisions contained in Part VI and Part VIII constitute an unnecessary interference with long established democratic rights of citizens and may involve An Garda Síochána in matters of a party political character."

I do not think I have ever heard a Second Reading of a Bill introduced in this House in such a defensive manner as this Bill has been put before the House by the Minister. Indeed, I am not surprised at that. For whatever reason I do not know but, for some reason, this Bill has been allowed to hang fire for a very considerable time. After a period of months the Minister has been made aware of the views of people generally, including the views of his own political organisation, with regard to the Bill so that it is not entirely surprising to find that a prepared, set statement made by the Minister on the occasion of the Second Reading should be largely of a defensive nature.

The amendment which I am moving was tabled some time ago and pinpoints particular provisions in the Bill which firstly, we regard as involving an unnecessary interference with the rights established over the years and affecting the democratic rights of citizens and, secondly, which we believe are likely to involve the police force in this country in some matters of a Party political character.

The Minister has indicated that the intends to introduce amendments with regard to some of the provisions we complain about in Part VI of the Bill. Obviously without seeing precisely what the Minister's amendments are, it is not possible to examine them or to comment on them in detail. May I say this straight to the Minister: having heard today his remarks regarding the proposed amendments and having read the report of his speech on that subject at the Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis, it seems to me that the amendments which the Minister has in mind would be every bit as obnoxious as the provisions appearing appearing in the Bill at the moment. I would have grave doubts, depending to some extent on the wording of the Minister's amendments, when we see them, and on the picture of them that the Minister has painted, whether amendments on the lines he has indicated would stand up to examination in the context of the Constitution. The Minister knows as well as I do that Article 15 of the Constitution provides:

The Oireachtas shall not declare acts to be infringements of the law which were not so at the date of their commission.

The Minister apparently now visualises a situation when he is going solemnly to ask the House to pass into law a proposition that a person or a group or an organisation may quite legitimately make arrangements to hold meetings or processions and may quite legitimately refuse to accede to a request made to them by the Gardaí but, nevertheless, if there is any disturbance or breach of the peace at the meetings subsequently when they take place, an offence may be deemed to have been committed. I hope I have not misinterpreted the Minister but it seems to me that an amendment on these lines would be just as obnoxious and objectionable as the provisions in the Bill and would raise, in my mind, in any event, doubt as to whether or not they would be constitutional.

The particular provisions of Part VI and some of those of Part VIII and the rights affected by them seem to be so fundamental in character insofar as this Party is concerned that we are not prepared to agree to a Second Reading of this Bill so long as those provisions remain in it. I do not know whether we can regard the Minister's offer to introduce amendments as meaning the complete termination of the section. Possibly that is what the Minister has in mind. We shall just have to wait and see. As far as I am concerned and, I think as far as the House is concerned, we must consider the Bill as it stands. The Minister has said in connection with the amendments that we cannot deal with them in any detail. This, to my mind, raises some question as to how the House is expected to deal with a rescue operation of this sort when it is being performed by the Minister as, indeed, his predecessor did in connection with the Succession Bill.

We are asked on the Second Reading of a Bill of this sort to agree to certain principles and we are told at the same time, in effect, by the Minister introducing the Bill, that some of the principles enshrined in the Bill will be dropped and, consequently, it is mere show and pretence by this House to declare formally their adherence to the principles because, by the time the Bill goes through, even on the Minister's own case, some of those principles will not be there.

Apart from the provisions referred to in the Fine Gael amendment, there are other aspects of this Bill which, to my mind, are open to objection. The Bill itself contains a number of worthwhile provisions and the Minister has quite rightly referred to them but I think that the general complexion of the Bill and the reception it has had from the public make it desirable that, instead of adopting a rescue operation on the Committee Stage of the Bill, the Government should withdraw the Bill in its entirety and come back to the House with a new Bill purged of the objectionable features which exist in the present Bill.

I can assure the Minister and I am sure other Deputies would also assure him that if he does that he can get a very speedy passage through the House of a new Bill purged, as I say, of these objectionable provisions. The Minister has referred in the course of his statement to the many difficulties facing a State nowadays and clearly it is one of the principal duties of any State to preserve law and order but to my mind there are different ways of doing that. It can be done with the support and the willing co-operation of the people backing the State machinery operated by a Government which has the confidence of the people and then you have a situation where the law is respected and not merely tolerated, where the organs of the State are admired and not feared, where the whole administration of justice is welcomed by the people as a safeguard and as a definite shield against wrong and against the wrongdoer. That is the kind of administrative machinery that we happily have had in this country by and large so far.

On the other hand, it is possible to have the law upheld and order preserved in an arrogant, heartless and intolerant fashion. In that case the same result — the result of preserving law and order — is achieved not because the system is being willingly accepted by the people but because its ruthless machinelike efficiency breeds fear of involvement in the administration of justice.

I do not believe that this Government or, indeed, any Government in this country would willingly seek to impose on our people a system which depends largely for its operation on fear rather than respect. I do not believe that either in this Bill or in other measures, this Government wish to have the administration of justice carried out in any harsh or ruthless manner. As I have said already, we have succeeded in establishing in this country a properly balanced system which is accepted by the people as being just in concept and fair in operation combining firmly but fairly the two requirements of preventative and protective measures. However, as I say, there is a danger that if we give too much power to the authorities in matters of law enforcement we may finish up sacrificing humanity and even justice at the altar of efficiency. That is a danger which must be guarded against when we are considering this Bill.

I referred earlier to the defensive manner of the Minister's approach to this Bill. He seemed to go out of his way to criticise statements that have been made about the Bill and to answer some of the criticisms that have been made. I also read a number of the comments that have been made about this Bill. In this context, I think it is relevant to refer to an article that appeared in theIrish Times of July 30th last. The article was written by Professor J.M. Kelly, Professor of Jurisprudence and Roman Law at University College, Dublin. He had a comment to make with regard to this particular aspect that I am speaking about and I quote:

...the Bill, despite several sensible and praiseworthy features, seems to me to make deep inroads on the instincts of fairplay and moderation which underlie our system of criminal justice.

We must be careful when we are dealing with a Bill of this sort to see that we balance things properly, that, first of all, we see what is required and then we try to deal with those requirements in a way which will be fair and balanced both as regards the State and as regards the people who may be caught up in the administration of the law.

Before dealing with Part VI and Part VIII, which are the parts specifically mentioned in the Fine Gael amendment, there are a few other sections of the Bill on which I should like to comment. The first one I should like to mention is section 6. I do not necessarily disagree with what is being provided in section 6 of the Bill, nor, indeed, do I see any easy remedy to the problem which I have in mind, but I want to refer to it in order to enable the Minister to have it considered possibly between this Stage and the Committee Stage of the Bill. Subsection (2) (b) of section 6 provides that a person shall be guilty of an offence — and this, incidentally, carries a penalty of anything from three to ten years — if he:

...knowing or believing that the offender has committed the offence or some other offence (being an offence to which there attaches a penalty of five years imprisonment or a more severe penalty) does, without reasonable excuse (the onus of proving which shall lie on such other person), any act with intent to impede the offender's apprehension or prosecution.

It is made clear in the explanatory memorandum, and the Minister made it clear in the course of his speech, that what is happening here is that the offence of accessory after the fact to a felony is disappearing because "felony" itself is disappearing and something else will replace it. The first comment I want to make, and I think the explanatory memorandum bears me out, is that for the former offence, which is still there until this Bill is passed, "accessory after the fact to a felony", actual knowledge is required. Under the new provisions contained in the section to which I am referring, section 6, it is not necessary to have knowledge; but we are going quite a bit further and it will now be provided that if there is belief, which may, in fact, be mere suspicion, that is enough for conviction for an offence under this section.

The second point I want to make with regard to this section is one which I have made about other Bills which come before the House from time to time, that is, that, in effect, the onus of proving that the offence has not been committed is now being placed on the accused instead of the State being required to prove the offence. I see a danger in this which runs through quite a lot of our legislation and it certainly runs through this Bill, that is, the danger of making things too easy from the point of view of the prosecution. As I said before, we have to take a balanced view as to the requirements, but it is necessary to point out here that in one of the early stages of the Bill the onus of proving himself innocent has been placed on the accused person rather than the position being that the prosecution are required to prove him guilty. Under the subsection as it stands it means that a person on being accused of the offence is instantly presumed to be guilty, although, in fact, it may be something about which he knows nothing whatever.

Section 7 deals with the replacement of the offence of compounding a felony, that is, agreeing not to prosecute in consideration of any reward. Again, because the felony is going, it is necessary to bring in some replacement measure, and this is being done in section 7. It is made clear in page 3 of the explanatory memorandum that the return of stolen goods or making good a loss is regarded as a reward, and I have no doubt that is a correct statement of the position at present. I want to suggest to the Minister that this often constitutes a very severe test of citizenship when a person is defrauded in some way and finds he can get his money back if he does not prosecute. At the moment, if he agrees not to prosecute in consideration of getting his money back, he is committing the offence of compounding a felony, and under the new provision here in section 7 of this Bill he will be committing an offence.

I have the feeling that very often the interests of justice are served if a person who has been defrauded is able to get his money back, but the Minister as a practising solicitor and I as a practising solicitor know how very careful lawyers have to be in advising people who come to them on this problem: "So-and-so has defrauded me. I do not want to send him to gaol. I do not want to have him prosecuted but I want my money back." Where the money is returned and the person concerned is in no way vindictive and where justice does not seem to be obstructed by not going ahead with the prosecution I wonder if it would be possible to invent, if you like, some provision which would exclude that kind of case from the provisions of section 7 here.

The Minister dealt at some length with the provisions of section 12. This is the section which deals with the power of arrest without warrant. I am not at all happy about the provisions of section 12, and I am not happy about them notwithstanding having heard what the Minister had to say about them. On page 5 of the typescript of the Minister's speech which was circulated he says:

One of the provisions of section 12, namely, subsection (4), has been singled out for criticism. The criticism suggests that the subsection means that if a person was ever involved in a breach of the peace — even 20 years previously—the Gardaí could arrest him without warrant if they believed that he was about to engage in conduct likely to lead to breach of the peace.

Then the Minister goes on to say:

This is a misreading of the subsection.

I cannot for the life of me see how it is a misreading of the subsection. It seems to me to be precisely what the subsection says. Subsection (4) of section 12 reads:

A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest a person without warrant where —

(a) he is satisfied that the person has committed an offence involving a breach of the peace or has engaged in conduct that was likely to lead to the commission of such an offence.

(b) he has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is likely to engage in further conduct whereby the commission of an offence involving a serious breach of the peace may occur, and

(c) it is not reasonably practicable to apply for a warrant.

That seems to me to be summed up in the criticism, which the Minister defined as criticism, suggesting that the subsection means that if a person was ever involved in a breach of the peace —even 20 years previously—the garda could arrest him without warrant if they believed that he was about to engage in conduct likely to lead to a breach of the peace. I think that is quite an accurate summary of what appears in the subsection. Therefore, I do not really understand what the Minister means when he says that that is a misreading of the subsection. The fact of the matter is that no time limit is imposed in this particular subsection. So far as this subsection goes, it does not matter how long ago the breach of the peace was committed: it is not necessary that a breach of the peace was in fact committed. In any event, as I read the subsection, the test is not the breach of the peace but that the conduct was likely to lead to a breach: likely, in whose opinion? Presumably in the opinion of the Garda authorities.

Before I dealt with the Minister's remarks on subsection (4) of section 12 I should have mentioned that it seems to me that some tightening-up is required also in subsection (3) because, under subsection (3), a member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person whom he finds doing anything which constitutes, or which the member reasonably believes to constitute, an offence involving the intimidation of another person. I am quite seriously bringing this to the attention of the Minister and I do not want to do it in a political way. The Minister and most Deputies will recall that, within only the past few years, allegations were made by Government speakers, in relation to the farming troubles here, that intimidation had been indulged in by members of the NFA. I want to put this to the Minister: would subsection (3) of section 12 mean that, if similar circumstances existed again, the farmers, who act in a manner which some Government spokesmen referred to as intimidation, would be liable to arrest without warrant?

Would the Deputy look at the last four lines of that subsection? It might help him to understand, then.

I see the last four lines. I do not see——

It concerns the right to arrest: "...if an arrest is, in the opinion of the member, necessary to protect human life,...".

Depending on somebody's opinion. All he has to do is to say "That is my opinion" and that cannot be questioned.

It can be questioned in court.

The court comes afterwards. I am talking about the arrest. Apparently, it was not I who needed help in understanding this section. What I am suggesting to the Minister is that there should be some definition of what is meant by "an offence involving the intimidation of another person". It should not be left as wide open as it appears to be under subsection (3) of section 12 as it stands.

With regard to subsection (4) of section 12, as I say, it seems to me that the criticism which has been made against it, and to which the Minister purported to reply in his speech, is in fact justified and that there is no time limit as regards when a breach of the peace might be committed. As I see it, the only requirement for an arrest without warrant is (1) that the Garda has reasonable grounds for believing, et cetera, that an offence might be committed and (2) that it is not reasonably practicable to apply for a warrant. If the Minister looks at page 7 of the Explanatory Memorandum, the explanation of what is envisaged in this Bill, then, according to it, the situation envisaged is one where people had already been involved in a scrape or a row and would be likely to meet each other again. I know the criticism has been made that, when one looks at it in that sense, this section as it stands, if it is allowed to remain unaltered, would open the door to what has been called protective custody — protective custody, preventive custody, against the will of those whom it seeks to protect. Section 12, to my mind, is open to quite a number of objections. I would suggest that the Minister should have another look at it.

The Minister referred to the notes which were circulated to Deputies by the Irish Association of Civil Liberty. He gave the warning to Deputies that the memorandum falls well short of gospel. I want to ask the Minister if that is his view in relation to the criticism made in these notes of section 12 (7) of the Bill.

I should like to examine that with the Minister. It is argued in these notes that a garda may arrest without warrant a person whom he, with reasonable cause, suspects to be guilty of an offence under section 59. If the Minister looks at section 59 (1) he will see that it deals with unlawful possession. It provides that a person, who knowingly and without lawful authority has in his possession or on his premises or conveys in any manner any thing obtained (whether by himself or any other person) in contravention of the criminal law, will be guilty of an offence. Relating that back to section 12 (7), in such circumstances there is power of arrest without warrant. The notes of the Irish Association of Civil Liberty on the subject point out that "thing" is not further defined in section 59. I think that is correct. It refers to any thing obtained either by himself or by some other person in contravention of the criminal law. That is not further defined. It goes on to suggest that the section as it stands could relate, for example, to banned books, smuggled goods, et cetera. Does the Minister find any fault with that? Is that not, in fact, the position?

It was not a professor of law who suggested that one.

I am asking the Minister. As I see it, in respect of any thing obtained, in the wording of section 59, either by himself or by any other person in contravention of the criminal law he shall be guilty of an offence. So that, it is suggested in these notes, that "therefore, if this subsection is passed without amendment it will mean that a garda may without warrant arrest a person on suspicion of having in his possession a bottle of brandy which a relative brought back from abroad the year before without declaring it at the customs, and may even under subsection 9 forcibly enter that person's home or anybody else's without warrant to search it and/or arrest him." I should like to put it to the Minister that that point does warrant his careful attention and examination. I shall not put it any further at the moment. No doubt we shall have Deputy Booth's assistance in solving the problem. I am talking about solving the problem of the wording of the subsection.

The brandy would be gone long before 12 months would have elapsed.

I do not know whether the Minister is proposing to delete subsection (8) of the section I am dealing with — presumably he is, if he is going to alter Part VI of the Bill — because I think this is one of the things that may have escaped the attention of a number of people: that subsection (8) of section 12 with the power of arrest without warrant relates to Part VI of the Bill. It seems to me, in relation to offences in connection with matters connected with meetings, processions and so on that the power of arrest without warrant by virtue of this section applies.

There are a few queries I should like to raise with the Minister. Whether they are still valid or not, having regard to the Minister's intention to bring in amendments, I am not entirely sure. I think the queries I have in relation to section 28 in any case still exist. The Minister mentioned that what he is doing here is incorporating into section 28 a provision that is at present in the Offences Against the State Act. As far as I am concerned — I said this previously — I would prefer to have this provision in a Bill such as this than in the Offences Against the State Act but I think it would still need some tightening up so far as definition is concerned.

This refers to meetings within a half mile of any building where either House of the Oireachtas is sitting. Not only does it refer to a public meeting or procession but it refers also to any demonstration in a public place by one person or by two persons or by more persons. It seems to me a bit farfetched to think that a demonstration by one person, possibly carrying a placard, is going to be such a show of force as to influence the deliberations of this Assembly or of the Seanad. I want to ask the Minister in this connection what is meant by the word "demonstration"? Would lobbying, for example, be regarded as a demonstration? We are all subject to lobbying by people from time to time. Is that to be regarded as a demonstration? Secondly, the public meeting, procession or demonstration, or whatever it may be, must be calculated to influence or affect the deliberations of this House or the Seanad. Again, I think some tightening up is required in relation to the phrasing of that. Every time any of us meets interested parties when a Bill is going through the House, or at Budget time, for example, they talk to us with a view to influencing us, with a view to getting us to raise whatever particular point of view they may have in relation to the legislation. It seems that if we leave this section to stand as it is, there is danger—I do not say it is likely that any prosecution would follow — that, strictly speaking, these people would be committing an offence under section 28. I imagine that is not intended. However, there it is.

May I interrupt the Deputy for a moment? There is, of course, no such intention. I think the Deputy and the House will appreciate that this is largely a Bill for the Committee Stage. I have already said in the House — I think it was to Deputy Corish — that I had a completely open mind on this particular matter. I think that the method adopted or what the House should do for its own protection is, in a very special way, a matter for the Members of the House. When we come to the Committee Stage I, for one, am prepared to keep an open mind for any suggestions that may be made.

I agree that this is largely a Committee Stage measure.

In regard to the Deputy's opening remarks, I concede that it is perhaps difficult to take from what I said, without seeing it actually in writing, what the amendments I propose to substitute for sections 30 and 31 will mean and if it would be of benefit to the House I can have a rough draft of them circulated for the information of Deputies.

I am sure it will be helpful to them but it will not be particularly helpful to me as I shall have finished by then.

I appreciate that.

The Minister came in just as I was going on to deal with sections 30 and 31. I have already commented on the Minister's remarks regarding the amendment. I want to say generally in regard to the sections as proposed — I shall not flog them now since they are going—that in this country we have had not only a tradition but also, admittedly in a somewhat qualified way, in the Constitution, acceptance of the position that people are entitled to meet together or to express publicly their views and opinions. The widespread criticism directed against these sections demonstrated the extent to which public opinion was outraged by the proposals contained particularly in sections 30 and 31.

The Irish are a freedom-loving people. For centuries we have struggled to achieve freedom. We have achieved freedom at last in so far as we in this generation are concerned and it was very natural that people should react very sharply against these provisions because they felt that one of the essentials to democratic freedom is the right publicly to express one's views in a peaceful and orderly manner. Frankly, I was surprised to read the Minister's speech to his Party's Ard Fheis in reference to these sections of the Bill. I had better read what the Minister is reported to have said. It appears in theIrish Times of 29th January, dealing with one of the sections:

The section requiring advance notice had not been directed against people who were arranging a public meeting or procession and were genuinely unable at short notice to notify the police. It was directed at a small minority who self-righteously stood on their legal rights and refused to tell the police beforehand simply because there was no legal duty on them to do so.

All the furore had been caused, apparently, because a Fianna Fáil Government had decided that a small minority should not be entitled to stand on their legal rights. Surely that is a ridiculous position to arise? If people have legal rights they are entitled to stand on them and they should not be condemned as self-righteous because they insist on their legal rights.

In that statement, we were told by the Minister that these sections were being introduced because a small minority insisted on exercising their legal rights. It is not necessary now, in view of the Minister's surrender in relation to these sections, to say all that it might otherwise have been necessary to say about them, but to my mind it would have been a very bad day's work by this House if the Bill were allowed to go through containing these sections and the restrictions which they involved.

The Minister has dealt in his speech with some of the criticisms directed against some of the sections in Part VII of the Bill. I just wish to comment on a few of these. They are, by and large, if I may describe them roughly, the sections which deal with what the Minister referred to as "double jeopardy"—being put in peril twice. The provisions in these sections are not ones which would be regarded as controversial in the political sense, but many people will feel that they are contrary to a principle which so many people valued and cherished in our legal system, namely, that a person who had been acquitted of a criminal charge could not be put on trial again for the same offence.

It is proposed to depart from that now in three different types of case: first, where a conviction is quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Attorney-General considers that a point of law of exceptional public importance is involved; secondly, where a verdict of not guilty has been directed by the trial judge on a question of law—this is in section 37—and where the Attorney-General has the power to refer it to the Supreme Court on the question of law and in section 38 where the Circuit Court has on appeal reversed a conviction of the District Court and the prosecution thinks the decision is wrong. The Minister dealt with all this at some length in his statement today. On page 20 he said:

It has been suggested, by more than one commentator, that, in providing that the Supreme Court may order a new trial where an accused person has been acquitted on a point of law that proves to have been bad....

I do not know whether I am right or wrong, but it seems to me that it is not as simple as that—it is not as simple as the Supreme Court ordering a new trial because the accused has been acquitted on a point of law which has been proved to be bad. It may be that it is a point of law which has been argued for the first time, where the trial judge has come to a particular conclusion, the State disagrees with him and brings it to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court decides against the trial judge. That does not seem to me to be the same case as the trial judge making a mistake on an established point of law and the point of law being bad in that sense. It can be considered a new point that has not been aired or decided before, so that, in those circumstances, it would seem to be that where a new point of law is involved the decision of the Supreme Court should be taken—I think this is the position at the moment—without prejudice to the acquittal already obtained before the trial judge. The Minister, on page 21 of his speech, says:

It would be possible, of course, to go into great detail about this supposed principle that a person must not be put in peril twice. For instance, we would ask why, if there is such a principle and it is inviolable, it does not prevent the re-trial of a person in whose case the jury disagrees. Obviously, such a person has been in peril—often, until recent times, in peril of his life—but nobody raises the cry of "double jeopardy".

There is an obvious distinction there because no decision has been given in those cases. The principle, as I understand it, of double jeopardy, of being put in peril twice, arises where a decision has been arrived at, where a person has been acquitted and where that person is then going to be tried for the selfsame offence again. As I say, I do not think there is anything politically controversial in this but I recognise that a number of people will have great and grave misgivings about it.

I said there are three categories of cases involved where the question of double jeopardy may hereafter arise. It seems to me that in two of these —first of all, where a conviction is quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Attorney General certifies on a point of law of exceptional importance and, secondly, where the Attorney General decides to go to the Supreme Court following a verdict of "not guilty" directed by the trial judge—under the Bill as proposed in neither case will there be any time limit imposed in relation to the matter being brought to the Supreme Court. Again, this is possibly a Committee point but I think the Minister would agree with me that, whether or not the provisions are to stand, it would be desirable that some time limit should be prescribed and that a person should not be left in a situation in which, having been acquitted when tried before a court, he never knows for the rest of his life whether or not the matter will be brought any further by the Attorney General.

This is the kind of case in which different people will take different views. I imagine many lawyers will react instinctively against the suggested alteration. It is a perfectly valid point of view to say that, if nothing can be done to stop a criminal getting away with it because of some legal point or technicality, then this House should take whatever action is necessary. So far as I am concerned I do not want to talk here as a lawyer. I am simply pointing out—I am sure the Minister knows it—that these objections exist and that these criticisms have been made against these sections. There are many people who feel fairly strongly about them.

The Minister also spoke at some length about the proposal to depart from the requirement of a unanimous jury verdict. I had intended to ask the Minister to give some fairly full justification for this proposed change. It is, to my mind, a change that requires to be justified. I can see both sides of the argument here. A number of people will feel that a majority of ten to two should be considered reasonable in most cases to assure the public that the verdict is a fair verdict and one arrived at in accordance with the weight of the evidence. On the other hand, there is no doubt at all, despite what the Minister said, that it is a fair argument to say that if as many as two out of twelve disagree because they do not feel able to arrive at a unanimous verdict with the other ten in the jury box then that in itself raises the question that there is reasonable doubt. That is a fair argument, I think, and that is the argument advanced against this idea of departing from the necessity for a unanimous verdict.

The Minister's justification surprised me. His justification was that, because of possible crimes committed by members of an unlawful organisation, he thought the best time to meet that position was a time when the problem was not a pressing current one and when, therefore, it could be looked at it in a dispassionate way. Quite frankly, I have not recognised any such justification existing for this proposed change. On the case the Minister made there might be something to be said for departing from a unanimous jury verdict by limiting the change to the cases he has in mind. I recognise there might be difficulty in doing that, in giving definitions, and so on but, if we were to do that, we would seem to be getting the best of both worlds; we would be protecting the situation the Minister sees as requiring protection and, at the same time, retaining the general public confidence associated with the idea of unanimous jury verdicts.

Section 44 is one which enables the prosecution to reopen the prosecution's case after it has been closed. This section again is open to definite objection. It is a section that can be considered in more detail on Committee, but I do not think the Minister's arguments in favour of the section stand up in their entirety. When he spoke of these particular provisions he made the case that a gap in proofs could arise in a number of ways. He then went on to say that the prosecution may have produced all the evidence at their disposal and the court may still hold that aprima facie case has not been established; if it does so it dismisses the charge and that ends the matter. I agree with that. Such a case would not be affected at all by the new provisions which apply only where the prosecution are in a position to say there and then—I repeat, there and then—that they can produce further evidence. Following on that argument the Minister says the section is confined to cases where the prosecution are there and then in a position to say that they can remedy the omission. The Minister is factually correct in saying that the prosecution must there and then say they can produce further evidence. But that is as far at it goes. As I read the section, they have only got to say it. They are not required, there and then, to tender the evidence. There is no time limit. There is no limit on the time that may be allowed to the prosecution in order to produce this evidence. The only obligation imposed on the prosecution in order to make a case for re-opening the case is that they should be in the position, there and then, to say that they can produce new evidence. This is probably a matter that can be dealt with more effectively in Committee but it is one at which I should like the Minister to have another look. I can see a situation arising in court when all the parties are there, and where a slip of some sort has been made, and the prosecution are saying: “We did not think that was necessary; we have the evidence here”—or “we forgot about it and the evidence is here”—and they ask the court to hear it there and then.

I can see the argument in favour then of the district justice or the court saying: "Right, I will hear it". It is an entirely different situation, it seems to me, under the wording of the Bill at the moment where the prosecution say there and then: "We will produce further evidence", but they are not required under the section to produce it there and then.

The only other provisions in this part of the Bill about which I want to say anything are the provisions in sections 53 and 54. These are the sections which deal with the question of non-payment of rates, rents and taxes, and that kind of thing. Section 53 provides that a person who encourages or advocates the attainment of any particular object, lawful or unlawful, by criminal means shall be guilty of an offence, and subsection (2) provides:

A person who encourages or advocates the non-payment of—

(a) money due to the Central Fund or any other public fund,

(b) rates payable to a local authority, or

(c) rents of dwellings so payable, shall be guilty of an offence.

Many people are rather appalled at this section. I heard the Minister's justification for it in his statement, that money is required to run the State and that money is required to run the local authorities, and if the flow of money stops chaos can result and all the rest of it. Surely it is a question of degree?

What the Minister is asking us to do here is to make these things a criminal offence, dealt with in the criminal courts of the land. At the moment the position is that if a person does not pay his rates —let us take that as an example—or organises a campaign for the non-payment of rates, there are remedies open to the local authorities, and those remedies are taken. It is possible in either of two ways to collect rates: either by the rate-collector executing on foot of his own warrant, or the more normal procedure of issuing a summons, going before the court and getting an order for the payment of rates. In either event the machinery of justice is there, and it is being administered through the courts year after year and as a result of the administration of justice in relation to the collection of rates, rates are being collected. I do not think it is necessary to go any further than that. It is not necessary, to my mind, where any group of people feel they have a legitimate grievance and that there is no other way in which they can make their grievance felt by the local authority other than by going slow on payment of rates. I do not think they are criminals. I do not think we should class them as criminals. We should leave it to the ordinary civil law which is there at the moment and which, to my mind, is perfectly effective.

In any event, it seems to me that if the Minister tries to operate a section such as this, or if any Government try to operate a section such as this, they will be asking for trouble. The Minister in the course of his speech referred to people who want to make martyrs of themselves. It seems to me that if the Government try to operate a provision such as this, and if people are classed as criminals who indulge in activities such as this, then it is not a question of their making martyrs of themselves but of the Government of the day making martyrs of them, and very much more trouble might be the outcome of the operation of the section than would be avoided by deleting the section in its entirety.

I have no more to say on this Bill except again to urge on the Minister at least to consider the desirability of withdrawing the Bill and coming back to the House with a new Bill dropping the sections which have so outraged public opinion and public feeling.

I formally second the amendment.

This Bill has been described as wide ranging. That is a very inadequate description of it. In the course of Deputy O'Higgins's contribution he said he did not want to speak here as a lawyer. Of course, he, like the Minister, is a lawyer and it is impossible for people to divorce themselves from their environment. It seems to me that this Bill shows every evidence of having been produced by what might be termed as the legal mind and it suffers therefrom.

According to the most articulate opponents of the Bill, it can be divided roughly into three parts. The first part is regarded as good; the second requires vigilance; and the third would be most undesirable law. The first part which is regarded as good relates to the repeal of Acts as old as the Magna Carta, indeed including the Magna Carta. It is an odd circumstance that this much criticised measure, the purpose of which unquestionably is in large part to curtail the liberty of individuals and of groups of individuals, should at the same time repeal an instrument upon which has been founded some of the most fundamental liberties known to Western Europe, the Magna Carta. It may be, of course, that it is regarded as old hat. It has been said that to retain any reference to the Magna Carta in our Statute Law is simply a sentimental gesture. I do not know. There is a lot to be said for repeating and emphasising one of the great principles embraced in the Magna Carta which was that ofhabeas corpus, amongst others. However, this is now to disappear contemporaneously with the appearance of this production of the Minister's.

The second part of the Bill deals with powers of arrest, finger-printing and trial by jury, and the third refers to public order. In particular this Bill has run into trouble from the general public because of the sections dealing with public demonstrations.

Two of the provisions relating to free assembly have evoked a large-scale and unprecedented response from bodies like the General Council of County Councils, trade unions, farmers' organisations, politicians from all Parties, including the Government Party, and even the soroptimists' clubs in the country. I do not think that anyone would claim that these organisations, such as the General Council of County Councils or the soroptimists, entertain even the remotest ideas about violent demonstrations but they have come to regard the provision which up to a couple of hours ago we were told were embraced in this Bill, as highly dangerous and an interference with liberty.

Even the most ardent critics of the civil liberties aspect of the Criminal Justice Bill recognise that it is a measure which contains several excellent provisions. Many people will welcome the provision that attempted suicide should no longer be a crime. The abolition of the archaic distinction between felony and misdemeanour is also welcome, as in the repeal of many of the outdated enactments of the preUnion and Union Parliament. Most of the alarm, however, has been created by the provisions of sections 30 and 31 and we have not yet seen, I may say, what the Minister's alternative proposals are to these provisions. These, as everybody knows, were provisions which purported to govern the holding of public meetings and processions. The Labour Party have received representations from many public bodies, several trade unions, the National Association of Tenants' Organisations, farmers' organisations and others such as I have mentioned, expressing absolute objection to what is contained or was contained in the sections to which I have referred, sections 30 and 31 specifically.

I must say that in spite of the widespread public disquiet the Minister so far has failed effectively to dispel it. Indeed, at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis last week the measures he said he would introduce did nothing to eliminate the fears in the public mind caused by the inclusion of the sections dealing with the right of free assembly and public meetings. Aside from these sections the Bill also contains many other sections which if passed would make undesirable law. The Bill really starts to run into trouble at section 28. Part VI heralds the most drastic provisions of the Bill's proposals for the control of meetings and processions. Section 28, the first section of this Part, is considered by most people to be objectionable. This covers meetings and pickets near the Oireachtas and makes it unlawful to demonstrate in connection with a civil or criminal proceeding which is at hearing or pending.

Under section 29, the police are given power to prohibit demonstrations likely to offend against section 28. If section 28 were regarded as being unobjectionable then there would be no objection to section 29. There can be no question of sections 30 and 31 being acceptable even if the Minister should amend the sections as outlined to the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis last week, I would remind the Minister and the House that this is all we have had to go on up to the moment when the Minister's Second Reading speech was circulated today. It does not seem to me that this speech gives us much more enlightenment, or indeed does anything to remove the general feeling of dissatisfaction and revulsion felt by the majority of people about the proposals contained in sections 30 and 31. It would still appear, although we have not yet seen the amendments, that it is still the intention to impose penalties upon organisers of public meetings, given certain circumstances.

The right of assembly and free speech traditionally is something that has to be very jealously guarded. Any erosion of that right at all, any attempt at the erosion of the right of peaceful assembly or free speech, contains elements of danger which could easily undermine our whole democratic way of life. Answering the crossfire from the floor at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis last week the Minister for Justice said that he expected to amend the Criminal Justice Bill by dropping the provision about giving notice to the Garda authorities regarding public meetings and processions. He said the amendment would make no provision for interference beforehand and he repeated that today. He would make organisers of demonstrations responsible under law if the meeting they organised resulted in breaches of the peace or serious and avoidable inconvenience to the public. Under his amendment it would appear that the organisers of a meeting or procession would be committing an offence and would be accountable to the courts if such meeting or procession resulted in serious obstruction of the general public and if the organisers were found by the courts to have acted unreasonably or irresponsibly in going ahead with it.

The Minister rejected any allegation that the original provisions in the Bill were intended to suppress protest meetings or were designed to be manipulated for political purposes. He said that that had always been part of the misrepresentations. The Minister also said on that occasion that whether on a practical working level his alternative system was as good as what was originally in the Bill was debatable but the proposed amendment would enable the Oireachtas to look calmly and reasonably for some system for resolving conflicting interests. Well, the Oireachtas has not yet had the opportunity of seeing what exactly the Minister has in mind in this matter beyond a vague, general reference in the course of the Minister's Second Reading speech today.

Under the law as suggested in sections 30 and 31 demonstrations at an unusual time or place organised without notice in connection with a sudden political development would now constitute an offence. While every individual may have his own personal views as to the effectiveness of spontaneous demonstrations as an element in public life it is generally agreed that section 30 goes too far and ought to be dropped if only for the reason that there is very little likelihood of its being obeyed. Those who are bent on organising this kind of demonstration are not likely to be frightened by this provision which will merely be a nuisance to the law-abiding. Indeed, going further, the section is likely to provoke more disorder than it will prevent and this can go for section 31 also. It can equally go for the amendments which the Minister has described to us today.

It seems to me that the Minister in his proposals in the Bill to bring in special punitive legislation in regard to demonstrations or meetings which may be organised for the purpose of influencing or affecting court cases which aresub judice is doing something which is entirely unnecessary. Over the past several years, it seems, the ordinary law of contempt of court has been a sufficient deterrent in matters of this kind. I cannot recall any significant effort having been made in a long period to influence unduly by public demonstrations consideration of cases before the court. There may have been one or two instances involving pickets, small groups, but these things will occur and surely it is not necessary that there should be introduced into the House a massive piece of legislation of this kind in order to regulate what are really minor, if not indeed trivial, day-to-day occurrences? Therefore, the Minister in magnifying this aspect of what he sees to be a problem is inviting attention to it and, indeed, is doing far more harm than good. He might be well advised in this situation to leave well enough alone, to leave the ordinary law as it relates to contempt of court as it is instead of altering it as he proposes to do in this Bill and making it more punitive.

On that point, it may very well be that a court case vitally affecting the interests of sections of the population could be in train over a very long period of time. I am thinking particularly of a group of trade unionists, shall we say, who are awaiting the determination of a particular point of law. These trade unionists, although they may be removed from the actual scene of the dispute, perhaps in a town 100 miles or more from the court where the matter is being considered, so far as we can read the Bill, would be forbidden to meet even in a hall to discuss what was going on because such a meeting of trade unionists even at a distance from the court could be deemed to be in breach of the provisions of this Bill and the persons participating in or organising such meeting could be made amenable and punished. Surely this is a totally wrong thing but it would seem to be an inescapable conclusion to draw from the Explanatory Memorandum that this could be the case.

The Explanatory Memorandum is difficult enough to understand. God knows what it must be like to have to interpret the technical language of the Bill. I can see a Roman holiday for the legal profession for many and many a year ahead if this Bill becomes law. The Bill is an attempt at consolidation of previous legislation, which is perhaps, a long overdue activity on the part of the Department.

Such a Bill was talked of years ago but none of us thought that when eventually it would see the light of day it would make confusion worse confounded. That is what has been its result. It has excited the public mind to a condition in which there is a very strong conviction abroad that an effort is being made to curtail the freedom of the individual, the freedom to meet and so on. So true is this that I fear that no matter what steps may now be taken by the Minister he will not succeed in disabusing the public mind of that conviction. The impression the public have is that he is temporising as a result of what was said to him by so many of his own followers in the Mansion House last week when we saw this measure under attack. It is a sad commentary on the administration of justice in the country that the representations of all the responsible bodies, some of which I have mentioned here, such as the farmers' organisations, the unions and the General Council of County Councils, seem to have been given not one fraction of the weight attached to a couple of speeches from one or two of the more dissident and I would think more ambitious elements of the younger fry in the Fianna Fáil Party whom we saw last week mounted on the high rostrum displaying their histrionic talents.

The Minister frowns on demonstrations and wants all kinds of guarantees in their regard. I would like to know from the Minister what would the position be of, say, a group of workers in a factory who are suddenly told that for one reason or another they are being let off, that they are redundant, as has often been their fate, and who want to hold a meeting at the factory gates. How are they affected by this Bill? How are they protected by it? How can it be said that they will not be liable to prosecution for holding a demonstration? When men are feeling indignant it might be thought by some members of the police force to be of a kind that might lead to greater unrest? What would the position be in regard to such a situation? It would be interesting to hear from the Minister in that regard.

We all know very well from experience when talking to our constituents how long it takes to get to the High Court with an appeal. Unless you proceed by injunction you are at the end of a long list. It is said that the organisers of a meeting would appeal to the High Court. This is no guarantee at all. The meeting might be called by a political Party. It might have relevance to a certain week, a certain day or a certain time of a certain day and the organisers can be told by the police, as it now appears, not to hold this demonstration, this meeting or this march. If they did go ahead with it how would the High Court provision come in? There is no reference made to this, so far as I can see, in the amended statement of the Minister. What function would it fulfill there?

Quite apart from all those matters I have mentioned there is a strong feeling that the provisions to which I have adverted, and the whole question of Ministerial tampering with the rights of demonstrations and assembly and so on, may very well be a denial of basic constitutional rights. Constitutional rights have been tampered with in this House before and pieces of legislation tampering with constitutional rights have passed through this House. I think the Offences Against the State Act was regarded as unconstitutional on the occasion of its first appearance in this House. If it was not that piece of legislation it was its immediate predecessor, which fathered it. The Flogging Bill was mentioned. There was, of course, a Flogging Bill but they do not like to be reminded of that. Men were flogged here during the war.

One of the things which occurs to me about this is that the Minister's approach seems to be one of accepting that every person brought before the court is automatically a guilty person. This may be a subconscious thing on his part. I have often noticed this in the case of many lawyers who are so used to dealing with court cases that they develop a kind of feeling that if you were not guilty you would not be brought there and that the police do not make mistakes.

This Bill puts an added burden on the police. Sections 30 and 31 put an added burden on them. God knows they are already burdened enough with the many duties they have to perform and the difficulties they have to contend with. Here we are asking them to intervene in what may very well be a tricky political situation and I do not think that is a wise procedure at all. It is being said—I do not know how true it is and whether the Minister's amendments to be circulated will embrace this—that the Minister would seek to make organisers of demonstrations and protest marches responsible for any damage done during the course of those demonstrations or marches.

I remember a demonstration in O'Connell Street at which there was a very large attendance of, I suppose, something in the neighbourhood of 25,000 to 30,000 people. This demonstration was to protest against the removal of food subsidies in 1953, I think. I remember leaving that meeting when it was over and passing through O'Connell Street at a much later hour and finding every window in every business premises had been smashed— not by the demonstrators but by a small group of people who were using the demonstration to cause the maximum damage they could, who did not care about the demonstration at all. They were just there to do whatever damage they could.

It would appear from the proposals contained in this Bill that the organisers of demonstrations would be responsible for any damage done in that way, although it might very well be that a political Party organising a demonstration or meeting of that kind to secure support for its own policies might in fact find that its opponents, the supporters of the opposing Party, were doing the damage for the purpose of putting the organisers of the meeting in the wrong.

It is ridiculous to make the organisers responsible for damage which flows from a public meeting or demonstration because, when the marchers start and when the demonstration gets under way, you have every kind of people there from the materialists to the anarchists, from the people who are well-intentioned to those not so well intentioned. You have the people who have the good of the public at heart and those who have not. There is no reality, in my view, in that proposal and there is no justification for it.

There is a remark made by Professor J. M. Kelly, Professor of Jurisprudence and Roman Law at University College, Dublin, to the effect that it is not good law to make people responsible for damage which they do not do themselves, for which they are not responsible and by which they are provoked. That is surely bad law. On the philosophical basis, the Professor said that one of the duties of the State is to preserve law and order and the State does this by a system of interlocking prevention and punitive measures.

Running through the Bill, I feel there is too much emphasis on the punitive aspect of law and too little on the preventative aspect. Professor Kelly says:

For carrying out these measures it relies on the police and on the courts of criminal justice. These jointly represent a far from perfect machine, but until criminology and its neighbour sciences produce fool-proof solutions to the problems of delinquency, we must muddle along with the machine more or less as it stands, tinkering with it now and then to keep it from breaking down. This machine in a country like Ireland is, or should be subject to certain very important external controls.

The Professor also said:

Everybody agrees that crime should be kept down, but few would say that this object overrides all other considerations.

No doubt, police work would be easier if we all had to carry identity cards as is usual on the Continent, if all our fingerprints were recorded, if evidence could be elicited from a suspect by non-legal means. Probably more convictions would be recorded if hearsay evidence were admitted and if accused persons were subjected to cross-examination by the prosecution whether they elected for this or not, or—contrary to popular legend, this is not the case on the Continent— were deemed guilty until proved innocent. The point is that we would think this all too high a price to pay for more efficient criminal justice. Whether our instincts in favour of individual rights of privacy and fair play are inherited from the English or are native to us does not matter. They are strong instincts and cannot be subdued. The thing which we come to, basically, is how far this whole piece of legislation interferes with what is an instinctive thing, which is the right a man feels within himself to speak out or to join with his fellow men in doing something to improve his conditions or to protest against something which he thinks is wrong. The tendency in this Bill is to encompass him around with restrictions of every kind and it must surely be obvious that in this country it is very essential that we should take into account that any Minister for Justice or the Government should consider and weigh the nature of the people he is dealing with. It is no special merit of the Irish that we like freedom. It has often been said that we are a freedom-loving nation. Every human being loves freedom equally with the Irish. Perhaps we are a bit more inclined to express ourselves quickly and readily and to jump into action faster than other less excitable races.

It must be obvious to everybody that restrictive legislation of any kind has always and inevitably in this country had the opposite effect to that intended by its prompter. Whenever a coercion Act was introduced in the last century for the alleged purpose of the reduction of agrarian activity, whether the picking up of landlords or the hawking of cattle or the running of emergency men off the land—which had been a serious matter for the native peasants—the people responded by greater ferocity than had existed before. One coercion Act followed another as regularly as night followed day in those years right up to the end of the last century.

This is the grave danger in all repressive legislation. There is always the danger that people who have got out of touch with the facts may give the excuse to create trouble to elements who are not well-intentioned or may quite easily cause great offence to people who are well-intentioned and who do not want to create trouble but who feel affronted and who feel their intelligence is being insulted. These are people who are familiar with the long tradition of the struggle of mankind for individual or group freedom and the right to express opinions and the right to come together. This is the thing that may turn large numbers of people against the whole concept of law. It could easily do so. When that situation is developing there is always a grave danger of a Nazi or Fascist ending to it.

As an ordinary individual whose only acquaintance with the court has been in the dock and in the well of the court—I have never had the opportunity of being in any other position; I do not say I have been there on any very serious charge; if there were serious charges I have forgotten about them. Everybody at some stage or other has been in court on minor charges; from my experience I cannot see the justice in this proposition which is described as the "gap in the proofs". Under this Bill the right to repair a gap in the proofs may be afforded to the prosecution. In other words, a citizen is brought into court and charged with a misdemeanour or a crime. The State confronts him with all its resources untrammelled by the question of expense or any such consideration, which is often a grave barrier to the average citizen. In so far as the courts are concerned, a grave hindrance can be the lack of money with which to secure that he is adequately defended. The State confronts such a citizen with a particular charge; the State makes its case and closes its case and the defence makes its case and closes its case as best it can but, under this Bill, the Minister now provides that if something further occurs to the State prosecutor —some additional piece of evidence that he had overlooked or forgotten or something brought in through the door by way of message—it may now be accepted. Where is the justice in that? There is no mention of the same right being given to the defence, in so far as I could read into it. The defence is not afforded any such right and, even if it were afforded this right, the whole concept is indefensible in itself. Once a case is closed, it should be closed on both sides. The idea of affording a second chance to the prosecution to "down" the unfortunate in the dock who is accused of an offence, be it minor or major, would be contrary to all fair play; and, whatever about the concept of lawyers, it is certainly contrary to the ideas of the ordinary citizen. That, on its own, would be sufficient for us to say that we will have none of this Bill.

Reference has been made to special courts—special criminal courts. What do these consist of? What would they consist of? They were military tribunals, as I recall very well and so do most people here, consisting of three Army officers, most of whom knew less about law than I do and I know very little about it. These people were set up, propped up on their benches and given the right to send men to the gallows, be it said, and they did. They did not hesitate to do it. Special courts were mentioned by the Minister and by others here. They came in connection with military custody. It was a proviso that has never seemed to be necessary heretofore, but apparently it is now deemed necessary, that a person convicted of what are loosely called "political offences" may be transferred from civil custody—from a prison like Mountjoy—to military custody—to a place such as Arbour Hill.

The Minister went out of his way to say that this provision would be contrary to what the people might think. He said that such prisoners would get a far better deal than if they had to do their time in a place like Mountjoy. There are two views on that because prisoners who go into military custody are subject to military discipline. Mention was made of a visiting committee. I never saw a visiting committee in the "Glass-house" or in Arbour Hill and military discipline is a much harsher discipline when applied to a prisoner than is the discipline of a civilian prisoner. Any ex-soldier will know what I am talking about when I speak about military discipline, but the Minister does not seem to be properly informed at all in so far as this particular aspect of the matter is concerned.

It has always seemed to me and to anybody with whom I have ever discussed the matter that, when a citizen is brought into a court and tried once for a crime and if he is acquitted of that crime, it is nothing less than hounding him to bring him back again and try him for the same crime once more. This applies in so far as our present system in relation to murder trials is concerned. There have been instances of people being brought back twice and it may very well be three times in some cases. The ordeal of a trial before a jury—and it would have to be a serious crime for a citizen to be brought before a jury in the first instance—should be sufficient even to the most legalistic mind, concerned as it might be to ensure that nobody would get away with anything except, possibly, themselves.

I believe that the Minister can make a fundamental alteration in the law concerning the placing of a person on trial more than once for the same crime. This is doing a grave injustice and a grave disservice to the entire legal profession. I am surprised that the present Minister for Justice should have taken a harsh and punitive line in this Bill because he should recall the days when he himself was engaged in student demonstrations and when he led his colleagues of University College with the intention of occupying Arbour Hill, having thrown a cameraman into the Liffey en route. Would it not be ironic if, in fact, a court were to interpret this Bill, as some have suggested it may be interpreted, that a person who has broken the law thirty years ago could now be made amenable? Would it not be ironic——

I admire the Deputy's imagination.

——if the Minister were made amenable.

It was 36 years ago, was it not?

We were going to the Eucharistic Congress in 1932 when the Minister was heading out in the other direction towards anarchy and revolution. However, life does not hold much pleasant surprises and it will not happen that way, not while he is Minister.

We have not seen evidence that there has been any request from the police or the judiciary in regard to the need for this Bill, although the Minister has hinted that we do not know everything and that there are sources of information available to him which of necessity cannot be ventilated in public. That is always a very good standby: "It is not in the public interest to answer that question". As far as we know there is no evidence that either the judges or the Garda feel that the provisions of the Bill relating to demonstrations, meetings and so on are necessary; so the Minister is not, in fact, supported in that regard, at least so far as the public can discern.

I personally welcome the section of the Bill which deals with the prohibition, long overdue, of the carrying of knives and such weapons. In common with the bulk of the people in this country I was incensed to see some of these hoboes glamourised on television some time ago for their skill in the wielding of knives upon members of the public. The general public feel it is high time we got to grips with this question of people using these deadly weapons. Many of us have been appalled, and continue to be appalled, by the awful sadness that befalls families when such hooliganism and such anti-social behaviour leads to tragedy, as it so often does. In so far as the Bill will help to reduce the incidence of that kind of thing, we most certainly do welcome it. However, I do not know if it goes sufficiently far. It is probably a very difficult thing to fashion a set of rules, regulations and laws that will solve that, but, at the same time, what is there is to be welcomed.

This is a very wide ranging Bill, and to discuss it line by line, detail by detail, would take a great deal of the time of the House and in the end one wonders if it would serve any really useful purpose. The Labour Party are voting against the Bill because we have not yet seen any proposal in substitution for the highly objectionable sections 30 and 31. We have seen a vague reference in the Minister's opening statement, but we have not yet seen the amendments which he says he will bring in on the Committee Stage. That is not the only reason we are opposing this legislation. There is also the question to which I have referred, the matter of double jeopardy and of the gap in proofs which will operate to the disadvantage of the accused. I could have a great deal to say upon this proposed jury system of ten and two, which is again unacceptable. It seems to me to be an incursion upon the rights of the accused. It makes it easier for the State to secure conviction, and this is very definitely not what a parliament should be concerned with. It may very well be what lawyers should be concerned with; I do not know, but it is not what a parliament should be concerned with. We should not be concerned to ensure at all costs that the helpless individual citizen is put in the impossible position of defending himself against charges made by the State with all its resources. The duty of any Member of the Dáil is to protect the individual rights of the citizen against the State. This Bill seems to be an invasion of those rights and for that reason we have to oppose it.

It would appear that the speeches made by the Opposition were geared almost entirely to sections 30 and 31 of this Bill. However, the Minister has indicated his willingness to meet the observations and the objections by various sections of the community——

Is this on television or subsequently?

——and consequently the base falls out of their argument. They came in here expecting the Minister to be intractable——

The Minister said on television he would not budge.

——but when the Minister states he is prepared to meet the various observations that were put to him and indicates his willingness to review the situation and to amend these two sections, he still receives no credit. As one person who did express concern specifically about these two sections, 30 and 31, I am satisfied with the Minister's undertaking. This might sound somewhat presumptuous from a backbencher, but I am satisfied with the Minister's undertaking and look forward to his amendment on the Committee Stage.

The Deputy performed a very useful function.

He has gone all the way to meet the objections of many of the organisations mentioned by the spokesman of the Labour Party. One would imagine, however, listening to this spokesman that these organisations, namely, the trade unions, soroptomists, the General Council of County Councils, farming organisations, associations of tenants organisation, were adjuncts of the Labour Party — forgive me for that — Socialist Party. But let us deal with socialism and this erosion of the freedom of the individual we have been hearing so much about on behalf of the Labour Party. I believe it is somewhat hollow — coming from the socialists — to talk about the rights of individuals. This is taking socialism, as I understand it, to prescribe that if the State is right then the citizen is wrong. So much for freedom and socialism. Socialism presupposes the complete subjection of the individual to the State: again, so much for freedom and rights.

This is not the Bill you were going to oppose. Come away out of that, for God's sake. You are backing down.

Freedom of the individual, under true socialism, is eroded into nothing.

Could we have the authority for Deputy Andrews's primer on socialism?

The complete subjection of the masses — that is the panacea of the Labour Party. The State under socialism is the panacea and that freedom formerly known to them no longer exists.

Which sort of a socialist is Deputy Andrews?

What he is quoting from sounds likeMein Kampf.

All members of our Party believe in social justice. We do not believe in "isms".

On a point of order. I want to know the origin of the quotations being given to the House by Deputy Andrews.

That is not a point of order.

I seem to be upsetting the Leader of the Socialist Party.

Deputy Andrews is quoting from some document. He should give the name of the author.

I seem to be upsetting the Leader of the Socialist Party.

Deputy Andrews was upsetting himself when he was on television with me. He said he was opposing this Bill. He has backed down since.

Certain sections of the Bill caused me concern: that is what I said. The Minister has now met my concern. Sections 30 and 31——

The Minister has met nothing.

This appeared in theEvening Herald on the evening following our television appearance. If Deputy Tully will refer to the Evening Herald which appeared on the evening following that television programme he will see——

I should rather hear it from the Minister or from Deputy Andrews.

That is a fact. It is non-arguable. It cannot be debated any further.

What Deputy Andrews says here is different from what he said on television.

I would refer Deputy Tully to the issue of theEvening Herald of the evening following our very civilised television programme. I shall give Deputy Tully that much credit, indeed. I am sure he will likewise give me similar credit.

It was civilised and very emphatic statements were made.

The Minister has met my genuine concern.

He has not told us or the House about it yet. I have it here, the whole lot of it. He says he cannot introduce it yet.

Read it in a fairminded fashion.

Those Deputies who are interrupting Deputy Andrews should settle down and be quiet.

There has been the suggestion that this Party, in some fashion, wishes to restrict demonstrations. We in this Party in no way wish to interfere with the legitimate right to public demonstration. When Labour Party spokesmen introduce matters such as remarks about people being flogged during the war, once again we are confronted with familiar types of histrionics that befoul and bedevil proper discussion of this matter in as able a fashion as possible.

This is a Bill that deserves to be taken out of the arena of politics. However, the Opposition politicians have deemed it otherwise. It is a great pity that this is the position.

Deputy Andrews is the only one in the House to put it on this——

That is not true. I am coming to the very point I want to make. I am coming to the Fine Gael amendment. I shall deal now with the concept of freedom. Whereas the Fine Gael Party accept many of the sections of the Bill and many parts of the Bill as very good, and one thing and another, first class — from the point of view of the citizen — despite that, they put in an amendment which reads as follows and my quotation for this is the Order Paper for Dáil Éireann of Tuesday, 4th February, 1969.

So Deputy Andrews has no author for the definition of "socialism" only himself.

He looked into his own heart.

I am sure Doctor Cruise O'Brien will define it for him.

Or maybe some exmembers of the Fine Gael Party.

He will go to Castro for the definition.

Deputy Andrews has the enthusiastic support of Fine Gael.

The Fine Gael Party put in an amendment which reads as follows:

To delete all words after "That" and substitute: "Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that certain of the provisions contained in Part VI and Part VIII constitute an unnecessary interference with long established democratic rights of citizens and may involve An Garda Síochána in matters of a party political character."

Despite the fact that the Minister meets the objections, the Fine Gael Party do not want the sections dealing, for instance, with offensive weapons — sections which are, in themselves, material for a Bill — dealt with at all. They want the whole Bill, in its entirety——

(Cavan): Deputy Cosgrave suggested two years ago that offensive weapons should be dealt with. Deputy Brian Lenihan said there was no necessity for——

There is a change of mind in the Front Bench of Fine Gael. If Deputy Cosgrave said that two years ago, then Deputy M.J. O'Higgins should not have put in that amendment. Read the amendment carefully.

Would Deputy Andrews please read the Bill? He has talked enough about it.

This Bill has caused a lot of controversy. Maybe the real answer to a Bill of this nature would be to deal with it in the same fashion as the Succession Act, 1964, was dealt with. Such a procedure would take Bills of this nature out of the realm of controversy. However, this also brings up another problem that sometimes arises with committees inasmuch as Deputies of one Party or another repeat in Dáil Éireann what took place in the Committee. Apparently the committee system worked in relation to the Succession Act, 1964, and I think also in the case of the recent income tax consolidation measure. That might be one way in which controversy could be taken out of what is, in the main, a good Bill.

I do not wish to delay the House unduly but there is one other matter to which I should like to refer in relation to the Bill as it now stands. Perhaps the Minister would consider an amendment to section 45 which deals with the transfer of civilians to military custody? He has said he would have no objection at all to writing into the section that the regulations to be made here must not be more rigid than those applicable in the case of civilian prisons. He would again meet my concern if he could take this whole concept of the transfer of civilians into military custody into further consideration. However, this might not be the time or the place to enlarge on this matter. We have the democratic processes of the Fianna Fáil Party under which we can discuss these matters with the Minister in an enlightened fashion, as we have done today in relation to the Bill.

I ask the Minister to consider the appointment of a prison officer from the present personnel of the prison system to look after the custody of these people who would be transferred from criminal to military detention. This is a matter about which I am still a little worried and I would ask the Minister to consider an amendment to that effect. The thinking behind section 45 is reasonable enough. If there were 300 or 400 people who broke the existing law and if the prison buildings at the moment could not physically contain this large number, why transfer them to the Curragh Camp and put them in the charge of the military?

Why not let the military act in aid of civil power or, alternatively, why not appoint a prison officer, a man from the present prison system, to look after these people until possibly they had purged their contempt or whatever offence they might have been guilty of? The conception of military personnel, soldiers looking after civilians held on possibly minor criminal offences, is in my opinion not altogether right. I urge the Minister to consider an amendment to take out this question of military detention. This is all I have to say on that point except to reiterate my thanks to the Minister for the manner in which he met my objections to the Bill and indeed the objections of quite a number of people.

The main purpose of the Bill is to be a consolidating Bill. It repeals totally 120 enactments and partially repeals many others. When one considers that the repeals can be traced back to 1269 to the Statute of Marlborough, 52 of Henry III, one can well understand that this was a most necessary Bill. TheMagna Carta of 1297 was mentioned and it was suggested that this founding document of the rights of man, rights of individuals and rights of society, the beginning of the foundation of such a concept, has been completely abandoned. This is not so. The Magna Carta has not been totally repealed and Chapter 16 of this historic and oftquoted document still remains.

We are discussing a Bill that has aroused considerable public interest because many people feel that in this Bill there is latent a threat to rights which have been enjoyed by our people ever since the State was formed. When this Bill was circulated the Fine Gael Party tabled an amendment which is in the name of Deputy Michael O'Higgins. May I repeat that it was the Fine Gael Party that tabled the amendment. No other Party understood what was involved or did anything about it.

It was, as I recollect, towards the closing stages of the referendum campaign that suddenly people became alert to the dangers involved in this Bill. The amendment tabled by the Fine Gael Party had already focused public attention on the Bill's provisions which were inimical to the rights of individuals and which, if enforced, would bring into operation the kind of society which unfortunately exists in many parts of the world where the rights of individuals are controlled by the bureaucrats and the governments. We do not want a situation in this country such as exists at present in many parts of Eastern Europe whereby the right of people to hold a public meeting and to express opinions they legitimately andbona fide hold depends upon the authority of some little local gauleiter or autocrat. For that reason this amendment was tabled by the Fine Gael Party. We welcome now the support for the amendment that is coming from the Labour Party. Long may they hold these views on the right of the individual in this country to enjoy freedom of speech without being beholden to any representative of the establishment whoever that establishment may be.

Let it be clear to those who have spoken outside the House so stridently about this Bill that it is inside the House that opposition to it was first tabled by the Fine Gael Party and by no other Party and that it is inside this House that the rights of free speech and free expression of political views have always been defended by the Fine Gael Party and always will be so defended.

We have opposed this measure and, in particular, Parts VI and VIII because they seem to us to offend against the liberal tradition which has always been part of the tradition of the Fine Gael Party and which I believe is shared by most other Deputies. The idea that anyone in Ireland in 1969 should have to notify a Garda officer of his intention to hold a political meeting and to receive his consent to the holding of that meeting offends against our tradition. The right to hold meetings is something that the Fine Gael Party have fought hard to ensure as a right shared by all. It is for that reason that we initiated opposition to this Bill in the House and throughout the country.

I want to pay tribute to Deputy Andrews who has just spoken. It is a good thing to see at last in Fianna Fáil that the tail is wagging the dog. Long and stronger may the tail grow and weaker and mangier may the dog become.

That would affect the tail also.

Deputy Andrews had the courage to declare his views in relation to — while he did not acknowledge the fact — the Fine Gael amendment. He was a precursor of so many others not inside this House.

Deputy Andrews declared on television that he would not support sections 30 and 31 of the Bill. The strange thing is that after Deputy Andrews had so spoken, if my recollection serves me correctly, the Minister went on television irate and angry, full of conviction for the cause which he was supporting, which is this Bill, and he declared he was being opposed by traducers and a whole lot of other adjectival persons of a variety of hues and colours, but that he would not budge one inch. Then, I recall, the Minister travelled south to Cork and delivered another declamation to the people of the south and of Cork that this Bill was necessary and essential, that it was not an infringement in any respect of the rights of the people and that it would not be changed.

It is now being changed. In what way it is not quite clear, but it is perfectly clear that the climate of the people is at last being assessed, that the Government appreciate, that they have begun to understand, that at last people are beginning to speak in Ireland and that they will no longer accept decisions being handed down from any group of people, Government or otherwise, and so certain sections of the Bill will be changed. It is good to see that in this respect as in many others the people of Ireland are beginning to follow the lead of Fine Gael.

This Bill can be condemned on many other grounds. It is the child of the bureaucrats in the Department of Justice who have taken a long time to conceive it, who have been in labour and who have produced it. In each section it bears the scars arising from some difficulty that a bureaucrat has come up against. It is another example of the kind of legislation that we, the people's representatives, are forced to entertain, which comes entirely from the Civil Service, passes through the hands of an indolent Minister who scarcely bothers to read what is involved, who trots it before an inefficient Government, who pass it, and it becomes a legislative proposal in this House.

This Bill would have been passed by this House were it not that a Fine Gael Party are here to make sure this kind of legislation will not pass without examination. The Labour Party, no doubt, would not have been here. The Bill would have passed through this House if this Party had not been here.

Do not be talking nonsense.

When Deputy O'Leary has been as long here as I have been——

Nonsense is nonsense no matter who gives it out, no matter how long he has been here. Do not be talking moonshine.

The Labour Party are rarely here.

The Labour Party have been in this House and have never changed their name.

I understood the Labour Party were now the Socialist Party.

You are the disappointed Party. If you are to get a Fine Gael Government, do not come in here like a scorned woman.

Do not worry, we will get it.

We will get it, too.

We never reneged on our responsibility.

There will always be room for you in Opposition.

This Bill, coming from the Civil Service, passing through the Minister and through the Government, might well have been passed through this House and have become the law of the land, were it not for the fact that there is a watchful and vigilant Opposition sitting on these benches.

It will always be there.

I advise the Parliamentary Secretary to contain himself. Shortly, he may well find himself to be the only Fianna Fáil Deputy in Laois-Offaly.

Thanks very much. We will always have the tail to drag you in.

Fan go bhfeicir. Part V gives rise to a personal objection I have got to make. It deals with proof by written statement. Deputy Booth may appreciate what it contains and so may Deputy O'Malley. The lawyers in this House may perhaps be particularly attuned to section 24. I do not wish to make this a lawyers' debate——

It is great that it is being discussed at night.

——but here is a proposal which is a repetition of one disgraceful episode or incident in the legal history of this country. Many years ago, almost three decades ago, an unfortunate man was charged with murder before a special criminal court. An Emergency Powers Order, or an Order under the special powers the Government had at that time, was passed making a statement made in a Garda station evidence at his trial before the Special Criminal Court. That man subsequently was convicted and executed, there being no evidence other that that against him. I am happy to think that the conscience of those concerned did not allow that statement, which was authorised by the Order then made, to be used at his trial. But somebody had a bright idea, and in section 24 of this Bill we have a repetition of the same kind of legal device — that you may have in criminal proceedings proof by written statement, that you may now have in a criminal trial a statement handed in and accepted as evidence at the trial, the only condition being that the statement purports to be signed by the person who made it, that it contains a declaration to the effect that it is true to the best of the person's knowledge and belief and that he made the statement knowing that, if he stated something wrong, he might be prosecuted, that before the hearing a copy is served on the other parties — presumably that is the defendant, the accused — and that nobody objected to the admission of the statement.

If the defendant does not object, where is the injustice? Perhaps I am confusing the Deputy.

I appreciate the Deputy's point. I accept that he makes itbona fide but may I assure the Deputy — I do not want to go into percentages — that large numbers of people who find themselves in the dock are illiterate; they are, in fact, of lowgrade mentality and intellect. Many of them require the positive protection of the law. There may be a percentage — I do not say there is not — who are quite capable, more than capable — I give as an example Doctor Singer — of demonstrating a legal acumen which is not possessed by the entire legal profession; but a very large proportion would not appreciate what is involved even if they were served with a notice such as that mentioned in this section.

But they have legal aid.

Many of them do not.

Why not?

(Cavan): They are usually ensnared before they get that far.

They are not usually tried.

(Cavan): Ensnared.

Many of them do not have legal aid because they do not appreciate what their rights are. Apart from that, here is a proposal to fill a gap, if you like, in relation to the evidence necessary to lead to a conviction by handling in a document signed by a person whose evidence has not been tested on oath and through cross examination in the witness box before the jury trying the case. This is the beginning of a trend which, if it continues, could lead to a situation in which people could be convicted on evidence adduced in their absence. A statement given — it does not matter in what circumstances it is given — which is sifted and tested at the trial of the person charged is surely the only basis upon which a charge should properly proceed.

The other section in Part V to which I should like to refer is section 26. I am sorry the Minister is not here because I should like to know what the purpose of section 26 is. The section provides:

A previous conviction may be proved against any person in any criminal proceedings by the production of such evidence of the conviction as is mentioned in this section, and by showing that his fingerprints and those of the person convicted are the fingerprints of the same person.

Does that mean, as it seems to mean, that if there are fingerprints, and a person has a previous conviction, his fingerprints may be handed in? Or is it subject to the general rule that a previous conviction may not be the subject of evidence? What is the necessity for this elaborate section?

Section 27 appears to me to be merely a restatement of what I understand the law to be at the moment: in criminal proceedings previous convictions may be given in evidence if they are tendered merely to prove a course of conduct or a particular knowledge relevant to the offence being investigated. Section 27 does not appear to declare any new law. It appears to declare the law as it is. I am puzzled, however, as to the reason for the inclusion of section 26. I do not want to turn this debate into a lawyers' debate and so I shall pass from these details.

As one goes through this Bill — the provisions for appeals, the provisions in relation to majority verdicts in criminal cases and a variety of other provisions with which we shall deal in more detail on the Committee Stage — it becomes more and more apparent that this is a Bill designed to counter many of the difficulties which bureau cracy has encountered in the actua conduct and prosecution of criminal cases in the courts. Why should the provisions in criminal cases in regard to majority verdicts be different from the provisions in regard to verdicts in the case of a civil jury? I do not know why. I have no strong view about it but as one who has appeared for the defence in criminal cases I know well that, generally speaking, the odds are against the unfortunate defendant. The scales are weighed against him. The forces of the State are arrayed against him. He may have to depend on the services of an advocate who may or may not be satisfactory. The one thing — I do not think it has worked any injustice over the years — which has righted the balance to some extent is the fact that the jury must be unanimous in their verdict. I do not think that has worked any great wrong on society. It may have meant that in some cases the jury were not able to agree. There is, of course, the obligation to prosecute such a person again and he is involved for a second time in the anguish and anxiety of a trial. Often he may be convicted on the second occasion, or often the jury again may have valid and significant doubts about his guilt or innocence. Generally here he is not prosecuted a third time and generally in those circumstances the State enters anolle and leaves it so.

I cannot feel that the need to provide for a majority verdict in criminal cases has been established. Again I feel this is another example of bureaucracy saying: "We will stop another gap", and so on. In many of the other sections there is a variety of other provisions in relation to appeals which also indicate that this Bill has emanated to make more efficient the prosecution of accused persons. I am all for efficiency in the normal activities of the State, but I would suggest that efficiency in the prosecution of offenders may, if you start to streamline it, lead to a miscarriage of justice. It is better to have many miscarriages the wrong way round — in other words in relation to people getting off — than a miscarriage which results in an innocent person being found guilty.

Deputy Andrews referred to Part IV of the Bill which relates to offensive weapons. Deputy Seán Dunne also referred to this part of the Bill. It contains provisions which have been the subject of many Parliamentary Questions from Deputies on all sides of the House. In fairness, it is right to recall that not only did Fine Gael Deputies raise this matter from time to time and Labour Deputies, but I also recall that Deputy Vivion de Valera raised a number of times the problem of flick-knives and so on. This has been worrying the people in this city for well over the past decade. It is a little bit thick that it is only now in 1969 that this legislation should come before the House. It should have been passed a long, long time ago. When we realise that people with criminal tendencies or habits that can lead them into difficulty or danger can go around with flick-knives, and having weapons of that kind in their possession and committing no offence, it is appalling to think that it has taken so long for legislation to deal with this problem to come before the House.

I do not want to refer to recent happenings but it is true to say that there have been a number of deaths in this city in the past five or six years that might not have taken place had legislation of this kind been passed by the House. It seems to me to be a great pity that this Bill should have been so delayed in coming before us because so many people were concerned to deal with other aspects of criminal prosecution rather than in dealing with the things which matter. Legislation to prohibit the possession of knives could have been passed through this House ten years ago without the slightest difficulty. General legislation prohibiting the possession of any offensive article could have been passed through the House ten years ago, but it was held in suspense while this enormous Bill was being built up depending on current and crude and different experience being learned in relation to the prosecution of offenders.

Could such a Bill have been introduced 15 years ago?

The problem was not as acute then.

Under the Coalition there were no flick-knives?

I do not recall. Does Deputy Booth?

Deputy O'Higgins.

I am most interested. Obviously Deputy Booth has a long memory. I do not recall it. Perhaps Deputy Booth does. So far as I can recall the flick-knife has been a phenomenon of the past decade or so. Perhaps Deputy Booth knows more than I do. May I suggest that if in the experience of the ordinary affairs of the country something such as the flick-knife menace becomes apparent to the Minister for Justice — the flick-knife problem will not arise again but some such problem such as the problem in relation to drugs: have I Deputy O'Leary's attention?— a situation should not be allowed to develop in which the responsible Minister has to sit down and wait. That is the kind of legislation which the House would receive quickly and be glad to see passed through. It may be dealing with a small problem but it is a very real problem to the people. The flick-knife menace has certainly been known to people for the past ten years and this legislation should have been through a long time ago.

The objectionable provisions of the Bill which have been the subject of so much comment were recognised by the Fine Gael Party in the motion in the name of Deputy Michael O'Higgins which was tabled some months ago. We understand that some of the objectionable provisions are to be deleted, but in what sense it is not quite clear at the moment. The majority of the provisions of the Bill are worthwhile. No doubt one can criticise particular sections but, generally speaking, the Bill has been in preparation for a long long time. It is a bureaucratic measure designed as such and I suppose, like the curate's egg, it is good in parts. We will deal with the parts that are not good on Committee Stage. We feel, however, that the public attention which has been focused on this Bill has been a good thing. It has been a good thing that people not normally concerned with political affairs have reacted when there has been an apparent infringement of their rights as individuals.

I do not know to what extent the sections of this Bill intended to prohibit meetings near this House are at all desirable. It may be that at times this House has been out of touch with people outside. It is not a very good thing that, merely because there has been a breakdown in communications between the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the farmers, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the electricians and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and the postal workers, and these affected people seek to bring their grievances to the doors of Leinster House, the Establishment react and say "We are going to banish you at least half a mile from any sitting of the National Parliament" because that is accepting a breakdown in communications. It is something that one must approach with suspicion realising that the Parliament in our sister island, the Parliament of Westminster, has no such legislation and operates to provide merely the ordinary law in relation to unlawful or riotous assembly to deal with situations of that kind. It is a poor thing for us that we must seek these special powers in a Criminal Justice Bill to insulate this House from people affected by the decisions of elected Government by their decisions outside and that we must put a ring of steel around Dáil Éireann if it is sitting.

However, there it is. Those are some of the provisions in this Bill and it seems to me again indicative of a point of view in which the Civil Service say "Well, we are going to get new powers to prevent people doing things which have been a source of annoyance to the Establishment in the years gone by". This is largely a Committee Stage Bill and we will deal with many of these things in Committee. I have no doubt that many Deputies will vote for the amendment we have proposed to this Bill and which will become the first matter falling to be voted on at the conclusion of the Second Stage.

At the outset I should like to say that the issue in this Bill is too important and the Bill has implications which are too serious for any Party to claim sole authority for raising opposition to the Bill. The Labour Party give second place to none in their opposition. Our opposition to this Bill led to the opposition shown by other organisations and it is pathetic for politicians to come in here and to say that they are the commanders-inchief of the opposition movement to this Bill. I am glad that Fine Gael oppose this Bill; I am glad of any support from Government Deputies in opposing this Bill but the Bill is too important for any of us to start claiming that we are responsible for the opposition which there is to it.

The variety of organisations opposing this Bill indicate the wide cross-section of emotions which have been aroused by the Bill in all parts of the country and prove conclusively that the opposition to it cannot be confined to that mysterious and favourite target of Fianna Fáil Ministers: some sinister organisation. There is nothing sinister about the NFA, nothing sinister about the tenants' organisations or the residents' associations. Certainly there is nothing sinister about the Gaelic League. These, together with the General Council of County Councils, are among some of the organisations which have come out in total opposition to the Bill. To take refuge in some mysterious knowledge which the Minister says he has about certain subversive groups in the country and to claim this as the basis for attempting to put forward this ridiculous Bill is not being honest with the House and is not doing a good job for the reputation of justice in this country. After all, that is what is at stake in the passage of this Bill.

I am sure no Member of any Party in this House wishes to see the guardians of the peace, the police force, being saddled with an unworkable Bill and our chief criticism is that sections of the Bill are unworkable and place an unnecessary burden on those officers and attempt to enrol, into the position of cumann secretaries, superintendents up and down the country. This clearly is what certain sections propose. I did not even go along with the kind of action mounted by the Minister for Justice at last week's jamboree, the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, at which he was reported to have retreated from the ire of the floor delegates. Let it go from this House to these floor delegates and to the people who had some power, so-called, for a few hours last week at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, until they are called again to the next Ard Fheis, that the Minister has not retreated so much from his original position and that several unsatisfactory features still remain and which still imply interference by police authorities in the legitimate right of any group of citizens to hold a public demonstration. Admittedly we are promised that at a later Stage of the Bill the Minister will introduce amendments which go some way to meeting the opposition. He has been good enough to say that his amendments, at least one of his suggested amendments, would have the result that sole responsibility will be placed on the organisers of a perhaps lawful, legitimate and peaceful meeting for any damage that might accrue to public property or any damage that might result——

When did the Minister say that?

He implied that one of his amendments will have that result.

In his brief.

No. If the Deputy reads the Minister's brief he will see what the Minister said.

According to Deputy Booth every speaker who expressed some opposition to the Bill has been wrong. I know that Deputy Booth is an expert in his own kind of revelation but if I have the time I will listen to what the Deputy has to say.

The Deputy was referring to what the Minister said, not what is in the Bill.

To the suggested amendments. The Minister has been rather coy about the full implications of the amendments, but my reading and hearing of what the Minister inrin tends in the amendments would indicate just what I have said. I am trying to be as fair as possible to a Minister who has presented a Bill to the House which he promises he will amend. I am doing my best to read, according to what that Minister has said, what his amendments will amount to. The Deputy will appreciate the difficulty of any Opposition Deputy placed in the peculiar position that, in what the Minister has put in the Bill and in what amendments he brings in at a later stage, there may be some difference. It is an awkward position for Deputy Booth, too, and I sympathise with his position and my own.

In this very year when other parts of this island have resounded to civil strife, to a great deal of agitation in connection with meetings and demonstrations, and where we have seen a Minister for Home Affairs use in a very biased fashion his powers under the Act in that State to ban a public meeting, it is ironic that the so-called republican party of reality in the South should be attempting to bring in something similar for their area of jurisdiction. It is ironic that, in a year in which we have seen that Unionist administration covered in odium by most civilised nations, people with whom they were shaking hands a year ago should not have learned the lesson of the contagion involved in proximity to such Unionist people and that they are attempting now to bring in legislation that goes some way beyond what the Northern Government have brought in. So here are the strange bedfellows in coercion in Ireland in 1969—Fianna Fáil under Deputy Ó Moráin in the South and Captain O'Neill and his own beleaguered Unionist administration in the North.

I am one of those who always considered that the most eloquent proof of our dedication to freedom for our people in the North of Ireland must lie in our dedication to the same principles here in the South in the area under our jurisdiction and that this is the most meaningful expression of unity we can have at this time with people fighting for such rights in the Northern area.

It can therefore be described as a stab in the back to the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland for the Fianna Fáil administration to bring in this unnecessary Bill at this time. I would indicate that I am referring here to the portions of the Bill which refer solely to the right of peaceful demonstration and public meeting. There are other items in the Bill which are certainly necessary and long overdue and it is regrettable that these items should be tied together with such elements as I have described in relation to public meetings and so on.

One fails to see the necessity for the kind of prior information that is called for in this Bill. If people make a nuisance of themselves at a public meeting and break the civil law there is ample power under existing legislation to bring these people before the courts. There is no need to bring in extra legislation. I recall another unworkable Bill brought in here and supported by too many Deputies of this House. I refer to the ESB (Special Provisions) Bill. That was an unworkable Bill and it contributed to the worsening of industrial relations in this country. I am suggesting that this present Bill will contribute to a worsening in the situation of the publicversus the public authorities. I do not see it as necessary. I see it as leading to further strife because, if one attempts to implement this Bill, to work it out in all its details, the last section must mean public disorder—perhaps desired by some people but certainly not to the good of the State or of our democracy. There is ample opportunity under existing law to bring before the courts anybody convicted of public misdemeanour. Sections 30 and 31 are unworkable and must lead, if implemented, to further disorder and certainly to further trouble for the police force.

People in this country have a pretty easy rule of thumb in deciding their politics. The present Government Party have attempted by means of the big lie to suggest that a socialist movement must lead to State tyranny. In fact, as anybody who knows the slightest thing about it must know, if there is any weakness in socialist policies it is that they go too far perhaps towards decentralisation of State functions and to too much power being given to the individual and to the subordinate groups in the State.

Perhaps the Deputy will give us some instances?

We do not really have time but, though I am a democrat, I really despair of trying to influence the Deputy's attitude on anything.

I do not wonder the Deputy will not give any instances. I do not know any either. That makes two of us.

Yes. At any rate we did not have to wait for any change in our system here or cite any other system because this Bill in some of its provisions amounts to little more than an extension of State tyranny and inroads into the rights of citizens. No case is made for its necessity in the area of the rights of citizens to come together in freedom of association, in freedom of public meeting. There is really no case built up for limiting this right of public assembly by citizens. What makes one more uneasy is that the Minister presiding over this extension of State tyranny, over this Bill which certainly proceeds some way on the road towards totalitarianism in this country, should be the one who himself has given rather unsavoury evidence of his own crude notions of political matters.

In the late lamented effort of this administration to change the Constitution of this country in regard to the little matter of how people should vote and how governments should be elected, I recall this Minister investigating, accusing, referring to groups he called "political queers". I regret having to use such a term. It is humiliating for any Member of this House to realise that a Minister of this House should use those terms, but that term was used by the Minister for Justice and it is quite obvious that the Minister has rather eccentric views on political matters, to put it very mildly. At any rate, his politics come to him, let us say, neat and very neat at that. It is all the more alarming that a Minister who does not appear to know a great deal about how politics should be organised in a democracy should be presiding over a Bill which has such a totalitarian inspiration in several of its provisions.

I said at the outset that it is in the interests of all political Parties in this House that our police force should be seen to carry out impartially the work of preserving the law in this country, but this Oireachtas has a duty also to the people that we do not pass Acts which will have the effect of making the Garda Síochána unwilling accessories or allies, or giving them the job of carrying out the political Party edict of whichever one is in office at anytime in the future. Under sections 30 and 31 they are given such power. I have heard the Minister express what he may do in the amendments, but the fact is that we are giving to Garda officers the power of deciding whether a meeting should go ahead or whether there are unruly elements in it. The fact is we are now giving into the hands of the guardians of the law the power to make, in effect, political decisions about a meeting which may or may not take place. I believe this is an unnecessary burden to give to them and I believe it is an unfair one.

The Minister for Home Affairs, it has been said, gives such decisions in Northern Ireland. But here we are prepared to hand over to police officers up and down the country the power to say whether such meetings should take place. Reference has been made to meetings near Leinster House but I think we may exaggerate this. I, for one, am not afraid of any group holding meetings near Leinster House. I do not believe any of the meetings which have been held by farmers or others over the last year or two have in any way been a threat to the deliberations of this House. All of us who believe in the democratic system must be jealous and always vigilant about the important position of this House in the country. The real question we should ask ourselves is: if large demonstrations take place, from whatever section in our community they may be —whether they are farmers or otherwise—and if those people feel that their problems are such that they have to demonstrate outside Leinster House, then surely the Government of the day have not being carrying out their mandate in the correct fashion? Government Deputies and the Government of the day must look at the kind of legislation we are passing in this House.

I believe if a democracy is unable to absorb and unable to live with the right of citizens to parade when they feel like it in the streets or elsewhere, then that democracy is in effect showing lack of confidence in its own future. This Bill, it seems to me, represents a lack of confidence in the permanence of democratic rule in this country. I have this confidence in the permanence of democratic rule in this country but I do not believe it will be safeguarded by Bills such as this.

There are several features in the Bill we have praised, which have been called for and which are long overdue. The matter of offensive weapons has often been referred to. The only regret is that legislation which was necessary on the possession of offensive weapons should be a part of a Bill such as this. There have been several tragic incidents over the last year or two. Possibly, if we had hurried up with our legislation in the matter of offensive weapons, the incidents which have occurred could have been avoided. At least it can be stated that there was no need to delay the bringing in of legislation to deal with offensive weapons until it had become part of the relatively irrelevant Bill which we have before us now.

We consider that sections 30 and 31 are unworkable. I would appeal to the Minister to bring in honest amendments, in fact to delete from this Bill those sections dealing with public meetings. I am mystified as to where the edict for those sections came from. Some people think it came from the bureaucracy of the Department of Justice which has spawned rather curious events, and which certainly has given strange manifestations of its idea of public good. It is one Department of State which I think would do with a spring cleaning. I do not know whether it would be asking too much of the present Minister to look about him in that Department and see whether some officers in that Department——

We cannot discuss the officials of the Department. The Minister is responsible for the Bill before the House.

The Minister is responsible for the Bill but he has given his surmise about where this Bill is necessary and it should be open to Deputies in this House who find his surmising in this manner unsatisfactory to direct the Minister's attention to his own Department and perhaps to suggest to him that it could do with a spring cleaning.

Or allow the members of the Department to intervene in our debate and point out where it can be done.

Deputy O'Leary on the Bill before the House.

We had an incident recently in regard to interference from this Department where precedent was interfered with.

The Deputy should relate his remarks to the Bill.

Precedent was interfered with by the Department of Justice.

I am not to be taken as assenting by my silence with regard to that. I do not think this is the appropriate time to discuss this.

I would hope the Minister would delete those sections which I consider inappropriate in this Bill. There are several other aspects in it which other Deputies have referred to and it would be only repetitive to refer to them again. However, I am more concerned with the kind of statements which have already been made by the Minister for Justice. I am not confident that he will accede in his amendments to the undoubted opposition that there is across a very wide section of opinion from the Gaelic League to the NFA. There are several matters in this Bill where the rights of many of those people would be limited in the matter of public demonstrations.

I do not believe any Bill in recent times has had as much opposition as this Bill. I do not know whether the present Minister or the administration realise the extent of the opposition there is in this country to the Bill. There are several examples in recent months of their inability to grasp what opposition there was to matters which they felt were important and matters on which they felt they had the support of the country. On those other matters they did not accept the views expressed in this House. They considered it was merely party prejudice when public opposition was pointed out to them. When a Bill like this can unite opposition such as tenant organisations, farmers organisations and the trade union movement, it must be very seriously examined.

I hope there will be a free vote of the House, that it will not be allowed to become a matter to be decided on by the Whips and that the Government will not see this Bill purely as something in which their own sense of righteousness is involved, but that they will see that a Bill with such complications as this Bill should be left to an open free vote of the House. If it is, it will be a mark of the maturity of this House if we are wise enough to change the Bill. Otherwise it will be a mark of the increasing irrelevance of this House if we allow this Bill to go in the shape the Minister has presented it here or in the direction in which his suggested amendments lie. I would appeal to the members of the Fianna Fáil Party and to Fianna Fáil Deputies who may have begun to question the infallibility of commands from the Cabinet to be on their guard in accepting advice from on high in this particular Bill because more than a few amendments may be involved.

I am one of those who were not opposed to this Bill from the beginning. I was never very happy with sections 30 or 31. I felt they were rather unworkable but I did not fall for all the propaganda which poured out from individuals and organisations who had not taken the trouble to do as I have done and read the Bill and the explanatory memorandum and try to understand them both.

Initially, the reaction to the Bill was that it was an intolerable extension of the power of the Garda and that there was an overpowering tendency to amend the law. These criticisms came from people who, if they had read the explanatory memorandum, would have seen from the outset that this was largely a consolidation Bill dealing with existing legislation and really a giant tidying-up operation. As is the case in any tidying-up operation, there has to be a certain amount of polishing, a certain amount of discarding and of bringing matters up to date. I agree with the Minister when he says that most of the opposition which has been voiced in public has been based on a complete misconception of what is involved.

The first section which gave cause for comment was probably section 12. This was the one which came under comment from the Irish Association of Civil Liberty. I cannot imagine that this very respectable organisation could really have been advised, as they claim, by a legal committee consisting of university professors of law, distinguished members of the Bar and practising solicitors when they came to submit the memorandum on the Bill. Incidentally, as an ex-solicitor myself I always take exception to the fact that members of the Bar are always referred to as being distinguished members of the Bar while solicitors are referred to as "practising". That, however, is only a technical objection which does not come under the heading of the Bill.

In this memorandum which the Irish Association of Civil Liberty has produced reference is made to section 12 (4). They claim that a Garda will be empowered to arrest without a warrant a person who, no matter how long before, has committed a breach of the peace. As the Minister pointed out, that is nonsense. Section 12 (4) says no such thing. It says that a member of the Garda Síochána may arrest a person without notice where he is satisfied that the person has committed an offence, if he has reasonable grounds for belief that the person is likely to engage in further conduct whereby the commission of an offence may occur and it is not reasonably practicable to apply for a warrant. The member of the Garda Síochána has to be satisfied on the first two points. He must also be able to justify in court that he was not reasonably able to apply for a warrant before carrying out the arrest. This criticism shows the complete superficiality of criticism by an association which numbers among its members some very responsible people. I do not know who produced this memorandum but whoever did should be ashamed of it.

Section 12 (7), they say, would empower a garda to arrest without warrant any person whom he suspected of being guilty of an offence under section 59, that is, possession of a thing obtained in contravention of the criminal law. I do not think one needs to be a lawyer to read section 59 and see what is actually involved and what is behind this section. Section 59 says that a person who knowingly and without lawful authority has in his possession or on his premises or conveys in any manner any thing obtained (Whether by himself or any other person) in contravention of the criminal law shall be guilty of an offence. That is clear to me. It means a person who has knowingly and without lawful authority in his possession stolen goods.

Yet this memorandum accuses the Minister of putting forward legislation which would make it possible for a garda without a warrant to arrest a person who had in his possession a bottle of brandy which a relative brought back from abroad the year before without declaring it to the Customs. I never knew that was a criminal offence. I do not believe it is, nor do I believe that the possession of a banned book would be a breach of criminal law. This is the sort of superficial, stupid and, in fact, irresponsible criticism which has come from a body which should be a responsible body. When this association produces and publishes criticisms like this, it is no wonder that more gullible people begin to feel that this legislation is essentially sinister. They go on to talk about protective custody, where a garda is entitled to arrest a person he is satisfied has committed an offence and has reasonable grounds for believing the person is likely to engage in further conduct whereby the commission of an offence may occur. A garda may arrest a person without notice where he is satisfied there has been some sort of row in which this person has been involved and which has caused a breach of the peace or was likely to lead to it, and where his conduct is such that he is likely to engage in further conduct leading to a breach of the peace. The Explanatory Memorandum gives the case of a person involved in a fight and where it is possible he is going to get into another fight. It is not protective custody; it is a matter of trying to preserve the peace. In that case a garda is not able to go looking for a warrant because John-Joe has already been in one fight and is about to get into another fight. By the time the garda gets the warrant for an arrest John-Joe will be in his second, or even his third, fight. It is in the interests of John-Joe and of the public that he should be taken into custody quickly before another row develops.

It is time we looked at this Bill in a commonsense, reasonable way, as I believe the Minister himself has done. There is nothing sinister in it. Deputy O'Leary keeps on saying that there is no necessity for introducing this bit of legislation. What the Minister is doing is modifying the existing law into one Act. He is tidying it up as it were. Deputy O'Leary asks why there should be this provision about the creation of disturbances at meetings and he asks why we could not rely on existing legislation. That is precisely what we are doing. Under section 33 we are simply re-enacting the provisions of the Public Gatherings Act of 1908. There is nothing new in that.

That is one of the things that always disappoints me about Deputy Michael O'Leary. He does not do his homework but prefers to talk off the cuff. He is saying that the Minister and the Government are doing something dreadful but he has not checked up to find that they are not doing any such thing. There is always the danger with Deputy O'Leary that he feels it is unwise to search for facts because these may only confuse him. His prejudices and his tendency to bring Northern Ireland into this debate is typical of his approach, as there is no connection and no comparison to be drawn whatever.

I am surprised at that statement.

I suppose when one fails to find facts which correspond with one's arguments, one must rely on emotional appeals. We come now to section 15 and the business of searching premises. We find that Deputy Dunne is strongly opposed to this section and, I suppose, for his own good reasons.

On a point of order, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I should like Deputy Booth to explain what he means.

Deputy Dunne was very honest about it when he stated that his only experience of courts was when he was sitting in the dock.

As a political prisoner, but the Deputy knows that as well as I do.

This is just another case of Deputy Booth's setting himself up as Jehovah.

He may have been there for minor offences.

Deputy Booth is trying to make out that a Member of this House is a law breaker.

This is typical of the Deputy Booth smear campaign.

If the Deputy would like to check with the official records he will find that Deputy Dunne said he had been in the dock on a number of occasions for minor offences but he said that he would rather forget about the serious charges. It is not unreasonable that, under the circumstances, Deputy Dunne is not prejudiced in favour of the Garda Síochána since he has been on the other side of the fence. He went on to say, however, that the main responsibility of the law was to protect the individual against the State. I have never understood that to be a cardinal principle of the Socialist Party policy but I am always willing to get further guidance in the matter.

Deputy Dunne then went on to describe the present state of the country, the present unrest and the tendency towards protests and he made one remark with which I entirely agree. He said that if we go on like this we may be led into some form of Nazism or Fascism. With that, I entirely agree. I am not very worried about the existing tendency to protest but I am very much worried that, if this continues to become worse and worse, some Government will be forced to take excessively repressive measures which will mean a serious deprivation of liberty for one and all. This has been the inevitable experience of countries in the past and is the experience of countries like Greece where a state of anarchy and chaos had reached such a degree that the people actually welcomed the military dictatorship which is now governing ruthlessly in that country despite the fact that it is about to be thrown out of the Council of Europe. That ruthless and tyrannous Government is supported by a tremendous number of people in Greece simply because it appears to be the only way in which the country can be saved from complete anarchy and chaos.

There is a danger there and if the Government do not take some action to restrict this disruptive element in our society, they will be storing up trouble for themselves and this Government or its successors will be faced with a situation where they will have to be much more ruthless than this Bill, even in its original form, ever intended to be.

I am not resentful about the extension of the power of the Garda Siochána to enter my private property and to search it. It is absolute nonsense for people to get up on their high horse and say "My home is my castle and I will not allow the Garda in to make investigations in defence of the community and in their efforts to deal with crime." If a crime has been committed and a member of the Garda Síochána comes to my door and says he is making investigations in connection with a certain crime, whatever it may be, I would welcome him in and say "There are no stolen goods on the premises as far as I know but you may make your investigations." I believe that any normal citizen would do the same but we have this tendency, which the Minister referred to, of regarding the detection of crime as a sort of game hunt having an element of chase about it—the keepers of justice being the hunters and the evildoers being the hunted. There is also this curious quirk in our own makeup that makes us want to give the maximum help to the hunted.

I have very little respect for these pompous individuals who say that this business of having the gardaí come in without a warrant is an intolerable imposition or an infringement on their liberty. That is absolute poppycock. The only people who would object to a member of the Garda Síochána entering his premises would be those who have guilty consciences. Citizens should co-operate in every way.

There has also been the question of the desperate infringement of individual liberty by the taking of fingerprints. Why should the taking of fingerprints be an infringement of one's independence any more than the taking of a photograph? If fingerprints are taken from a witness and if there is no conviction of the accused person and he is acquitted, the fingerprint records must be destroyed and will be destroyed. Why should anybody be afraid of having his fingerprints on the records in Dublin Castle or wherever they may be? I am not afraid of them, and I cannot think who would be. Why should anybody be frightened of having his fingerprints taken? If this procedure will help the forces of law and order to protect the majority against the minority I am all in favour of it. The late Deputy Hogan referred in one of his statements from the Chair to the fact that the majority has rights as well as the minority, and it is the duty of the forces of law and order to protect the community against the infringement of liberty by a minority of criminally and evilly disposed people.

I do not pay any attention to people who get up on their high horse and say there is something sinister going on. There is nothing sinister. I have never been aware of any secret planning among civil servants in the Department of Justice. Deputy O'Leary said this was an effort by civil servants to interfere with the administration of justice. With the worst will in the world no civil servant can interfere with the administration of justice. The administration of justice is, and very properly so, entirely in the hands of the judiciary.

There have been comments, too, on this question of the double peril, putting a man in danger twice on the same charge. I would be the first to support the view that, if a man is given a full trial and acquitted on the merits, on the facts, of the case as disclosed, he should not be liable to be tried again. However, what is being envisaged here is a situation where the case has not fully gone for trial at all but where, on a legal technicality, the case has either been taken back from the jury or dismissed outright by the judge. That has not been a complete trial. What we are interested in here is the full implementation of justice in the community. There is not a full implementation of justice where a crime has been committed, a person has been indicted and he has still not been tried but the case has been dismissed against him without a full trial.

Then there has been the argument about the admission of additional evidence after the prosecution case has been closed. That does not alarm me because it is still a matter entirely within the discreation of the judge. He may allow the prosecution to bring further evidence after the case has been closed where there is a gap of proof, but if it is a case of irresponsibility by counsel, where he obviously should have done something and where through sheer carelessness he did not, I cannot imagine any judge in this land looking kindly upon him and saying "Well, my learned friend has dropped a very large brick here and I shall help him to pick it up". Those who are promoted to the Bench in this country are men of whom we should be very proud. They are men of very high standing and men who are wellknown for their impartiality except in so far as their main objective is to enforce justice with all the benefit of the doubt being given to the accused in every single instance. I can see no way in which this could possibly react unjustly on the accused.

Deputy Tom O'Higgins referred to section 24, "Proof by written statement". He made a tremendous appeal there for the complete elimination of this reprehensible provision because he said it was completely unjust that a written statement should be accepted in court with the same force as a verbal statement. I was glad to see that he was slightly embarrassed when I referred him to subsection 2 (d) of section 24, where it refers to the admission of the signed statement where:

none of the other parties or their solicitors, within fourteen days from the service of the copy of the statement, serves a notice on the party so proposing objecting to the statement being tendered in evidence under this section.

Deputy O'Higgins was trying to convince himself—I do not think he did, and he certainly did not convince anybody else—that this was a section which would allow the prosecution to rely on signed statements instead of the production of witnesses in court, whereas, in actual fact, as again is made perfectly clear in the explanatory memorandum, this is only to speed up a hearing in court by allowing the court to accept a signed statement where it is admitted by all parties to the proceedings. It does speed up the proceedings tremendously, but where any one party, whether it be one of the defendants or all the defendants, whoever it may be —objects, it is out. It is only a matter of expediting proceedings, but poor Deputy O'Higgins tries to work this up into some fearful infringement of the natural law. There is nothing sinister about it.

Dealing with sections 30 and 31, I have never seen anything sinister about them, but I do feel, as originally drafted, they were probably unworkable. We are faced with the situation where there are many small disruptive elements in society who are not interested for one moment in peaceful demonstrations or peaceful protests; all they are anxious to do is to create a row and make sure that the TV cameras are trained on them. In this way they get publicity far beyond what they could get by any normal means. One cannot get this publicity by peaceful protest. One has only got to consider a recent case of protest through the city by the employees of the fertiliser factory. It was an enormous march, and it went round in a most orderly manner. I saw it go up Dawson Street, then along Saint Stephen's Green then down Kildare Street and stop for a moment outside the Department of Industry and Commerce while a deputation handed in a letter, then down past Leinster House here and then off into the blue: I do not know where they finished up. However, it was an entirely peaceful procession and nobody paid any attention to it. It got very little press coverage and very little television coverage. However, if one finds three men lying across O'Connell Street in front of a bus they get television coverage, press coverage, radio coverage, photographs—the lot. It is exactly the same with a Teachta Dála. Nobody knows it better than Deputy Seán Dunne. If he wants to get publicity he does not have to make a good speech—nobody bothers about that. He knows that if he gets himself expelled for disorderly conduct he will get publicity.

Some Deputies have not the guts to do that. They are much better at criticising people in their absence.

A Deputy will get publicity if he rides roughshod over the customs of this House. The people most vociferous in their pleas on behalf of the right to peaceful public protest are those few people who——

On a point of order. Is it fitting that the Deputy should sneer at Deputy Seán Dunne in that fashion and impute motives to him? I am serious about this. It does not matter what Deputy Seán Dunne may say, it is not right to speak about him in that fashion in his absence.

(Cavan): It is absolutely in character for Deputy Booth——

One may or may not agree with what Deputy Seán Dunne has to say on any particular matter—I agree with a lot of what he says and I disagree with him on certain points—but he certainly has the courage to say it and to say it here. I do not think it is right to speak about him like that in his absence.

What is the point of order?

The people most vociferous in defence of this right of peaceful public protest are the people who are least interested in any peaceful meeting whatsoever. They are people who are interested only in creating the maximum amount of disruption of society, of obstruction of traffic and generally of causing chaos. To say that they are defending the sacred right of peaceful assembly is the most hypocritical nonsense. Nobody wants to stop people from peaceful assembly and from giving peaceful expression to their opinion but that is not what is going on in the world today, and we know it.

If we do not deal with this in some way—and I do not know what the answer is—we shall find such a reaction against authority of any sort that we shall be faced with anarchy. We see it happening right beside us at the moment in England where students are demanding the right to appoint their own professors, to set their own courses and are insisting that any member of the staff of a college—not necessarily the teaching staff, even, but the maintenance staff—should have a say in the running of an academic institution. This is not a serious proposal: it is a reaction by young people, and other disruptive elements playing on their emotions, to disrupt society. Small pressure groups, who know well enough how to bring public opinion with them by ordinary democratic methods, are trying to force the majority to agree with them simply by obstruction, by causing the maximum amount of trouble. I am not going to stand for that.

I believe that, as a Government, we have a very heavy burden laid upon us to hold all the elements of society together as far as we can, to hold a balance between conflicting elements in society and, above all, not to allow the ordinary forces of law and order to break down—which would leave the power in the hands of the few strong ruthless men who might grab it. That is the thing we have to face. Once we allow people, under the guise of peaceful protest, to hold the whole community up to ransom, we are taking a first, if not a second, step on a very slippery slope. We have got to do something about this right of public meeting. We do not want to restrict any peaceful demonstration or any gathering of people together for free exchange of opinions: that is a very healthy sign in any community. However, once it comes to the question of breaking up private property, of smashing windows, of bursting into shops, of burning buses and then of turning on the police whom they immediately accuse of "police brutality", we are on very dangerous ground altogether.

One has only to look at television to note that almost every night we see an almost identical demonstration of disruption maybe in Japan, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, America, France, Italy—anywhere. The pattern is identical. Everybody has learned it from the television. You start off with a peaceful protest. Then you gather and link arms, then you start blocking the traffic and then you lie down. The policemen try to lift you up so that the traffic can move. You kick the policeman in the teeth if possible. If he reacts, you immediately say "police brutality", and you hoist the banner you have carefully minded and hold it up in front of the television camera. It is an absolute routine. We have to get some sense into the people. We have to get them to realise that this is not the way to make their views known.

People may say: "This is the only way in which these unfortunate people can make their views known. If you restrict them in that way you are only putting a cork into a bottle and there will be an explosion when it blows out." There are plenty of ways for people to contact the Government, if they want to do so. There are plenty of ways for people to influence public opinion by normal peaceful means if they want to do so. We are up against a situation now where people do not want to do it by democratic means. They want the short cut simply by force of numbers or force of violence. In that situation, no Government can stand idly by. It would be most irresponsible for us to say to the Garda Síochána, in effect: "Keep the peace, boys. We will not give you any authority. Do not use your batons. Do not use your boots. Wear bedroom slippers and soft gloves. Treat everybody nicely." That would only hamstring law and order and create disorder and there would be nobody but ourselves to blame.

I am not in favour of ruthless oppression. I never was one for that. Possibly because of the Army training which Deputy James Tully and I share, I have a respect for discipline. I know the value of it in any community. I know that a well-disciplined unit is a happy unit and that an ill-disciplined unit is the worst in the world. Discipline in a community is not a burden. It is something which can free every one of us to express ourselves properly and as we would like to. It is only when we get these forces of disruption acting in a community that people are afraid to express themselves. The only people who are expressing themselves are those who have thrown caution to the winds and are out for trouble.

I see nothing sinister in this Bill. It does need tidying up. Sections 30 and 31, I think, were clearly misconceived and unworkable. That has been admitted now and we are seeing what we can do better. I would hope for some co-operation from the Opposition in this so that together we can work out an even better scheme than was originally suggested because we must realise that this is a very real problem. Let us not fiddle around with little objections to small sections like this business of transferring of prisoners from civil to military custody. The Minister made it perfectly clear that this is something that, we hope, will never have to be invoked but which we cannot say will never happen. It could be that a large number of people would have to serve short prison sentences all together at one time. Let nobody say that military custody is the very last thing in brutality. The idea of the military being "the brutal and licentious soldiery" is long gone. A military prison is not any more fun than a civil one. I admit that, but it is no worse. You are locked up and that is the beginning and end of it. Nobody will be hammered or flogged at the stake. Those things do not happen. Where a man or a large number of men have to be kept in custody and the ordinary prison system is unable to deal with the situation you may have to transfer them to military detention barracks, whether at Arbour Hill, the Curragh or Athlone, Custume Barracks has one also and there is one in Cork. There are various Army detention barracks where these sentences could be served and nobody would be any the worse for it.

I deny any suggestion that the military police—and I hope Deputy Tully will back me—will beat the brains out of people coming into their custody. Neither Deputy Tully nor I ever loved the military police very much, but they are not as bad as we made them out to be and they are certainly not savages. There is quite a lot of unnecessary and quite unfounded criticism about this Bill. I hope more attention will be paid to it on the Committee Stage. There are matters which are of significance mostly to the lawyers but the main problem of the Bill—we are all agreed about flick knives, offensive weapons and so on—is what we are going to do to preserve society from disruption through the actions of irresponsible people who, by the exercise of what they assert is their inalienable right, would tear the community apart.

As the Minister said, there is no unqualified right of public assembly in the Constitution simply because the Constitution was drawn up by realists who knew what they were at. The right has to be qualified to some extent. Nobody may exercise his right to the extent of infringing on the rights of others. I hope that, sooner or later, we shall get round to the point of view that we shall talk less of our rights and more of our duties. We all have a duty to the community, to serve it, to build it up and bring it together.

References have been made to Northern Ireland already. The only reference I want to make is this: there is a society which is flying apart and where anything now may happen, a terribly dangerous situation, no matter what politics you have. Everyone realises that something catastrophic is happening in Northern Ireland at present where everything is flying apart and you have this complete disintegration.

(Cavan): If measures such as some of the provisions of this Bill counted for anything Northern Ireland would be the ideal state.

That is utter nonsense and well the Deputy knows it. There is no comparison between anything in this Bill and what they have in Northern Ireland.

(Cavan): It is tactics like those in sections 30 and 31 that——

What the Deputy is saying is untrue. It is utter nonsense. You are giving them fodder to use. It is typical of the Deputy's Party's attitude. He wants to give them fodder to use up there. He sold it out to them in the first place.

I shall give Deputy Fitzpatrick the benefit of the doubt. I do not think he is as stupid as he pretends to be. I do not think he really believes what he says. I hope he does not because if he does I am very sorry for him. There is no comparison whatever——

(Cavan): Of course, there is.

——but there is a danger in our own society, which we see breaking out on all sides to a comparatively small extent at the moment in this business of sitting down, lying down and obstructing traffic. It is a mercy that so far we have not got around to burning buses or actually beating the gardaí or breaking up private property. If we honestly believe that in this holy island that we shall never do these things I believe we are codding ourselves. The infection is spreading. It will only be a matter of time. Unless there is some control we shall find certain elements in our society desperately trying to get a grip on it in order to tear it apart and destroy it.

I do not want to mince words about this. I do not want to restrict the right of expression of opinion as I have said before, I am one of the few in the House who can speak as one who is congenitally in a minority. I know what it is like to be in a minority since I was born and brought up in a minority and I am conscious of the necessity to safeguard the rights of minorities all the time. But there are rights of the majority also and I should be the last to allow a minority to exercise its rights to the extent of endangering society. We are facing that. If we regard this in a cool quiet way we ought to be able between us all to frame legislation which will give sufficient power to the forces of law and order and command sufficient public support to prevent these disruptive forces gaining control. I am not afraid of a defeat for a political Party.

It might be a remedy for much of this trouble.

I am afraid of the disruption of a complete political system, a political system which has been built up over the years and which has safeguarded the rights of minorities and given a stable society. Let us not throw that to the winds. I do not say that the ultimate disaster would have occurred if an alternative Government were put into power. I do not believe that, but I do believe that all of us are guardians of a system which has been established and has worked well and kept this society coherent, and if we throw that to the winds and allow this disruptive element to gain control, all the blood, sweat, toil and tears will have been in vain.

I think this is a good Bill basically. It has done a good deal of tidying up and codifying. When you go through the list of repeals you can see that an enormous amount of research must have been done. It is obviously a good idea to get as much as possible all together in what will be one Act. This is a good effort. It is not the final answer to anything, not even flick knives. The fact that we make it illegal to carry them in certain places does not mean that nobody will ever again be found carrying a flick knife in a dancehall. All it means is that if you are caught with a flick knife you will get the hammer and that is right and proper. We have got to show our teeth as legislators: we will not tolerate the flouting of the forces of law and order and sit idly by. We cannot do that. We have too heavy a responsibility.

I commend this Bill to the House. I had been reasonably happy with it, with small reservations. They have now gone because sections 30 and 31 will be rephrased in a more workable way. I never objected to them because I thought they were wrong. I thought they were right in principle but hard to make practical. I sympathise with the Opposition because they were all geared up to make a big issue of this, but when sections 30 and 31 were so readily conceded by the Minister, they were left with very little to bite on. Even poor Deputy Michael O'Higgins had to go back to the Association of Civil Liberty and to quote their nonsense from their memorandum. It is a pity for them, now. They had made a tremendous effort to defeat this Bill, to oppose it tooth and nail. They discovered that there were virtually two sections which they opposed and they are now under review. Even the Civil Liberty Association approved of the Bill but suggested that another look be taken at these two sections. We had a rainbow or a mirage, but now there is nothing contentious in it: most of it is a re-enactment and a recodification of existing legislation. I did disagree with Deputy Andrews—he and I have had many arguments—but we have come more closely together on this. There has been give and take, which is a healthy sign in any political Party. We are determined that we shall get this Bill.

(Cavan): A three-card-trick on the people of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown: one supports it, the other opposes it.

It is better than the other Deputies there who never open their mouths. I am determined that we shall get some replacement for sections 30 and 31 which will give power—I deliberately use that word and I do not make apology for it—to the community to defend themselves. Let us stop talking about giving power to the Government, to the State. This is giving power to the agents of the community, to all of us, to protect ourselves against violent minorities. We have examples to follow from other countries, but do not let us follow those examples all the way. Let us act now while we still have time. If we do not, either this Government or their successors will be forced to take the most brutal measures which will kill freedom for many years.

(Cavan): I rise to support the amendment standing in the name of Deputy M.J. O'Higgins, which proposes:

To delete all words after "That" and substitute: "Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that certain of the provisions contained in PartVI and Part VIII constitute an unnecessary interference with long established democratic rights of citizens and may involve An Garda Síochána in matters of a party political character."

I believe that the Bill, as drafted and brought into this House, represents the climax in a dangerous trend in Government thinking and legislative proposals which has been apparent here for some time. I refer to the trend of using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. That trend has been most apparent in many Bills brought into this House by the Government in recent years. For example, we have the power conferred by the Road Traffic Act of arrest for dangerous parking. This is the sort of unnecessary proposals I have detected in Government thinking since I came into the House.

Deputy Booth made a song and dance about this Bill and about the virtues of many of its sections. He skated very lightly around sections 30 and 31 and more or less dealt with them as if they had never been intended by the Minister to come into effect. These sections are still in the Bill and they represent Government thinking and Government proposals up to a very recent date. They represent the thinking of the present Minister until he was forced and coerced by the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis into giving in on these sections. These are the sections we are against and I can only discuss this Bill and approach it with the provisions of Parts VI and VIII in it.

We are in the strange position of having to give a Second Reading to this Bill, not as it stands but on the vague assurance contained in the Minister's speech that on Committee Stage it will be a different Bill. It would have been a decent thing for the Minister, when he saw the light and when he got the message from public opinion, which has been in the air since this Bill was circulated, to withdraw the Bill and redraft and reintroduce it into the House so that we would have a proper discussion on the Second Reading.

I ask myself why did the Government bring in this Bill with sections 30 and 31. I do not believe that it was introduced by the Minister's predecessor after mature consideration; I do not believe that these sections were written into this Bill in the Minister's Department after prolonged consideration and after full assessment of their effect on conditions in this country. I am convinced that these and other objectionable sections in this Bill were written into it in a fit of bad temper by the Minister for Justice on the direction of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, following the dispute in 1967 with the farmers. I think that within this Bill, and the White Paper which accompanies it, there is ample evidence that these sections were written into the Bill in pursuance of a war being waged by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Government on the organised farmers in this country because Deputies will note that this House ordered and gave permission for the printing of this Bill as far back as 22nd June, 1967. We all know that in the ordinary course of events a measure is circulated to the public and the Press, very often within a matter of days and, usually, within a week or two. What happened here? The First Stage of the Bill was taken on 22nd June, 1967. From the explanatory memorandum we learn that the Bill was not released for public consideration until nearly 12 months later in May, 1968.

What happened in the interval? We know that the Government and the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries went to war with the farmers. We know that members of the NFA were taken off State boards. We know that Government advertising was withdrawn from the official organ of the NFA. Between June, 1967, and the circulation of this Bill in May, 1968, these obnoxious sections were written into the Bill, the sections which the Minister is now compelled by the strength of public opinion to withdraw, the sections from which he is now running away. Simultaneously, and with quite indecent haste, the Marts Bill was introduced. That Bill had to be rushed through this House. Everything else had to be dropped in order to get a crack at the farmers and the NFA.

On a point of order. The relevancy of the Marts Bill or the NFA on this Bill is not apparent to me.

(Cavan): This is a Second Stage debate.

It is, but the Deputy cannot discuss Croagh Patrick on the Criminal Justice Bill.

(Cavan): I do not intend to discuss Croagh Patrick.

Or the smuggling on the Border either.

(Cavan): I want to relate the reasons for introducing this Bill to the contents of the Bill. I say this is not a measure introduced in good faith, after mature consideration, for the protection of the majority; it is introduced as part of a private vendetta between the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries—the Minister who has been disowned by the Taoiseach, but not sacked—and the farming community. I submit that that is relevant.

It is a matter for you, Sir.

(Cavan): The arguments adduced in favour of this Bill have not convinced me. Is it suggested that existing law is not sufficient to enable those responsible to achieve the alleged objectives proposed in this Bill—the preservation of law and order, the maintenance of the freedom of the roads and streets? I suggest that existing law is sufficient to achieve all that. Indeed, during the dispute with the farmers in 1967 the Minister and his colleagues had enough machinery under the existing law to preserve peace and the freedom of the roads and streets.

I suggest that this measure has been introduced in bad faith. It is quite unnecessary. I should like the Minister to "come clean" with the House and tell us now whether or not he approves of the Bill. As far as I can ascertain, the Minister stands over every syllable in the Bill, though he has been somewhat reluctantly compelled to amend it. The Minister stood over the Bill on television. He is reported at a meeting in Cork as strongly defending it. He attacked every newspaper that disagreed with him. He alleged that those who opposed the Bill were professional agitators who had no interest in the welfare of the country, who were interested only in creating disturbances. I should like to know if those are still the Minister's sentiments. Are the views he expressed a month ago his real views on this Bill?

At the Ard Fheis, as far as one could gather from television, he seemed to resent deeply the reports in some of the papers and the challenge laid before him at the Ard Fheis. He was compelled to defend the Bill. The chairman at the Ard Fheis sought to avoid a democratic decision on the Bill.

Was the Deputy there?

(Cavan): Television is a tell-tale medium.

It is flattering to discover the Deputy takes such an interest in our proceedings.

(Cavan): It was a study in democracy. It was a study in handing down decisions. I should like to discuss it, but it would be a lengthy discussion.

It could be well emulated by the Deputy's Party.

(Cavan): Indeed, we had one newspaper reporting the delegates as unanimous in favour of Taca and also unanimous against it. I am sorry for discussing parts of the Ard Fheis which are not relevant to this Bill, but the Minister more or less invited me to do so.

The Minister should have withdrawn this Bill and introduced a new measure, a measure we could discuss on Second Stage and amend on Committee Stage. Instead of that we have here the most objectionable sections being, as it were, ditched; we have vague assurances. I have read the Minister's opening speech carefully and I do not believe that the Minister himself believes in these assurances he gives that he will amend the objectionable sections.

When will we have the Committee Stage? Will we have it before the general election? Or will the Bill be shelved? If we do not have it before the next general election I shall be quite happy because then we will never hear of it again; it will fall with the Minister and his Government.

Whistling passing the graveyard.

(Cavan): In fairness to the people as a whole we should, I think, have a fairly short Second Stage debate so that we can see the Minister's amendments as soon as possible and thereby enable those who are very interested in this measure to assess the Minister's bona fides.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 5th February, 1969.