Criminal Justice Bill, 1967—Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
Debate resumed on the following amendment:
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."
—(Deputy M.J. O'Higgins.)

In connection with this Bill, the situation has materially changed since it was first mooted, but I think the Minister in his concluding speech will want to tell us how it came that he thought it right to submit the Bill in its original form in view of the radical changes in respect of sections 31 and 32 which he now informs us it is his intention to move on the Committee Stage. I want to make it clear that until we have had an opportunity of seeing these amendments it is not possible to give a fully considered judgment of the merits of that part of the Bill, and I want any observations I have to make in this regard to be heard in the light of that reservation.

I think the Minister has been persuaded to fall into an error that other Ministers have fallen into, that is, he has sought to consolidate and legislate at the same time. The result of that is that he has carried into this Bill a whole series of apparent anomalies that would not have been there if he had consolidated first, eliminated all the old Statutes and came before the House and said: "I am coming here with a consolidated Bill simply to clear out of the way a whole series of Statutes that have no longer any relevance to the conditions in which we live."

There is the elimination of the distinction between "misdemeanour" and "felony" which has involved a number of consequential amendments in the body of this Bill. These consequential amendments to the Bill have affected powers of arrest, have affected various intrusions on the private person by the police force of the country, which at first reading, unless the Schedule of the Bill was very carefully considered, appear to be wide extensions of the existing law; but probably when one has one's mind directed to the fact that in the process of eliminating the old Statutes certain consequential provisions had to be made, some of the new departures set out in the body of the Bill may not be as alarming as at first glance they seem to be.

If the Minister had introduced the First, Second and other Schedules to this Bill with the appropriate accompanying consolidating legislation, we would have asked him why he proposed to repeal Magna Carta. Doubtless the Minister will be in a position to give us some technical reason for doing so, but in every sovereign democracy derived from the British system in the world today, they fall back in defence of their individual liberty on the fundamental Statute, Magna Carta, and when the simplest creature in the land invokes his right under Magna Carta, most of us know what he is talking about. He is claiming in effect that there should be interposed between him and the executive government an incorruptible and independent judiciary.

Therefore, I see a proviso in an obscure Schedule of the Criminal Justice Bill repealing Magna Carta in the Irish Republic as something that the Minister, being himself a trained lawyer, might with propriety have dwelt upon when he was introducing this Bill. I do not think he will quarrel with any of his colleagues in this House, professional or unprofessional, if they wonder why it is thought expedient to avail of this occasion to strike Magna Carta off the Statute Book of Ireland. It cannot be done for the promotion of the Irish language because Magna Carta is described in the unobjectionable universal language of Holy Mother Church.

I am not sure that when the Minister comes to consider the position after this Second Stage debate, he might not think it well to withdraw this Criminal Justice Bill and adopt the legislative procedure which I have suggested: first, a Bill containing a repeal with the necessary amendments in order to fill up the loopholes that amendments created, accompanied by a certificate that his first Criminal Justice Bill does no more than meet the consequential amendments made necessary by the elimination of the archaic Statutes from Ireland's existing legal code; then a second Criminal Justice Bill in which the Minister would say to the House "I have now come before the House with certain new proposals which must be regarded by the House as amendments of the law". If that course had been adopted in the first instance we would never have seen sections 31 and 32, or I hope we would not have seen those sections.

The first thing I want to say in regard to the substance of the other parts of the Bill relates to the proposal to abolish majority jury decisions in criminal cases. I recognise, and no doubt the Minister recognises, this can be a hard rule from both sides. It is very important that the House should now know the history of this since nobody seems to know its history although it is very recent history in our own country. We had verdicts of jury trials in this country for centuries. Then in 1928 or 1929 the Free State was passing through a period of great civil disturbance. The civic guards were being murdered and people were being attacked. It became manifest that juries were being intimidated. About 1928 or 1929 the Cumann na nGaedheal Government of that day, largely under the influence of the late Mr. Kevin O'Higgins who had a passion for the re-establishment of civil law—no, it was after Mr. O'Higgins's time—he had been murdered in 1929—it was Mr. James Fitzgerald Kenny—there was the passion then to restore that rule of civil law, so there was a profound reluctance to depart from the jury system —thought up the very concept the Minister for Justice uses to justify the inclusion of the majority rule in the country. They thought in the kind of situation then obtaining that they could procure for jurors the kind of anonymity which would protect them from attack. This substitution of the majority decision for the unanimous system there just enabled the jury system to function even in the exceptional conditions that obtained. But they found it did not work.

There was then a proposal made that there should be substituted for juries a panel of judges. When that proposal was mentioned the then Attorney General, Mr. J.A. Costello, was advised by members of the judiciary that they would not act. With profound reluctance the Administration of that day re-activated the military courts which it was necessary to use for the purpose of bringing certain types of criminals to justice.

Now, we know in London recently at Westminster the principle of majority verdicts of juries has been accepted in criminal cases. There they are dealing with entirely different and exceptional circumstances. These are very fluid times. People are only too ready to forget fundamental things. Britain has been troubled with a high degree of gang warfare. It was discovered in two or three criminal cases conducted in the Old Bailey in London involving immense sums of money, which one used to describe as grand larcenies, that part of the spoils had been used to corrupt individual jurors.

The British House of Commons took the view that no matter how carefully you shelter a jury if the corruption of one juror could secure a disagreement then the danger of allowing that to happen, in view of the gigantic size of the sums involved in the larcenies that have been recently perpetrated, is also too great permanently to endure. There was also the element of intimidation of individual jurors, which was not unknown in London. Men have had their faces slashed or their families attacked or threatened. To meet that situation it was decided that majority verdicts would confer on all jurors that degree of anonymity which would protect all the jurors from either of the dangers to which I have referred.

We have no such problem here. To our certain knowledge the jury system is working admirably in criminal cases. It may be that some persons who are guilty are going free, but it is virtually certain in the mind of every citizen of this State that anyone convicted, or indicted as it used to be, before a jury, before 12 of their fellow citizens, has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt to be guilty of the crimes that were adjudged against him and to have deserved the punishment that the law has prescribed.

Let us ask ourselves, if hereafter we are to accept the principle of a majority decision, are we not going to say in the case of a friend who finds himself in the dock, whose character we are intimately associated with, with whose ultimate fate one's own family is deeply involved, "the rule of criminal law is that the burden is on the State to prove beyond all reasonable doubt to 12 ordinary men or women that the defendant at the Bar is guilty? It is perfectly manifest that the State has failed in this particular case. But for a Statute compulsorily considered in Dáil Éireann my father, my son or my friend would be faced perhaps with a second trial but certainly would have another opportunity of vindicating his reputation and perhaps being declared guiltless of the crimes charged against him"? What kind of purpose is being served by denying to all of us that degree of certainty which we ought to have if the life of one dear to us is to be permanently stained with the taint of crime never mind the dilemma of any one of us who himself stands charged at the Bar of justice? Do we want to abandon the principle that the obligation on the State is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the man or woman charged is guilty of the offence alleged against him? I do not. I want that responsibility to rest squarely on the State and I want to burden the defendant with no greater obligation than that he should assert his innocence and challenge his accuser, the State, to prove to the contrary but, remember, if you are going to adopt the principle of the majority verdict you abandon absolutely the principle that there is that obligation on the State. I think the majority verdict is ten-two. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong.

Ten-two in a criminal case. Of course the Deputy is aware that there has been a majority verdict in civil cases.

Yes, I read with great care and diligence the Minister's argument that, after all, in a heavy civil case a person's personal fortune and circumstances might be most radically affected and yet that is committed to a verdict of the majority rather than a unanimous verdict. But there is no comparison between a man losing a great fortune of money that he contended belonged to him and is in fact found to belong to another and the man whose reputation is at stake. Who steals my purse steals trash, who steals my name steals all. It is idle folly, and I cannot understand how the Minister for Justice, himself a practising lawyer all his life, can seriously ask the House to identify criminal proceedings with civil proceedings. Is there an experienced barrister or solicitor in this House who has not gone into the heaviest civil suit with a light heart and done his best but who if his client failed went home to tea without a care on his mind and who has not had the appalling experience of carrying the burden of a criminal trial, worrying and aching in his heart, asking himself if he left anything undone or if he uttered an indiscreet word to the jury in the course of the proceedings which may have meant that the man who sought his discharge from the court of criminal law is in fact in Mountjoy waiting delivery to Portlaoise?

I beg the Minister for Justice to reflect for a month, to look around at any one of us sitting in this House and ask himself the question: Is there any true comparison between a civil suit in which we may be involved no matter what the cost, and our reputation? I most earnestly impress on the Minister for Justice that he should reconsider his decision and I think on reflection he will see that the energetic argument that he advanced on the introduction of this Bill based on the parallel between criminal proceedings and major civil suits had little or no relevance.

I congratulate the Minister on introducing the legislation in relation to flick knives. However, I would like to remind the Minister that on, I think, four but certainly three separate occasions I have heard Deputy Liam Cosgrave ask from his place in the Front Bench if and when legislation was being introduced to control the use of flick knives. I have heard Deputy Lenihan, Minister for Education, who was then Minister for Justice, I have heard Deputy Haughey, who is now Minister for Finance and was then Minister for Justice, tell him on three or four separate occasions that the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána strongly advised that no such panic measure was necessary. I do not know how many faces have been slashed: I do not know how many youngsters have been permanently disfigured and I do not know how many people are dead because successive Ministers for Justice of this Government did not think it necessary to listen to what they now concede was a very sensible suggestion.

I heartily endorse what the Minister said about the broad definition which he felt constrained to use in the Bill of "dangerous weapon" because it contains the proviso that the judge before whom the offence is tried shall have full discretion to determine whether a screwdriver or a pair of scissors or some other sharp instrument——

A broken bottle.

——is a dangerous instrument in the surroundings in which it was located. He is perfectly right in providing that. Having defined a flick knife, he has left it open for the district justice to say a person who brings to a dance hall a sharpened screwdriver and used it or tried to: "That is a dangerous instrument even though you allege from the dock that you brought it there for no other purpose but to protect the neighbours against a draught."

My reference to sections 28, 29, 31 and 32 must be heard in the light of the reservations I mentioned at first. They deal mainly with riots and in seeking to deal with riots they have manifestly gone too far as set out in this Bill as introduced by the Minister who has himself conceded that, and announced his intention of introducing formidable amendments.

I want the House to pause here and to consider fully the nature of the problem with which we are seeking to deal in this part of the Bill. We hear a lot about student riots and student disturbances. The first thing I want to do is to ask the House to get this business in proportion. It is true that adolescent people, many of them attending university, are to be found demonstrating, which is the popular word to use now, in the streets. However, we ought not to forget that at the same time there are hundreds of university students who tonight and every other night go out among the houses of the poor. They go into old people's rooms in this city papering, painting and decorating their rooms so that they may be neat and tidy to receive the visitors who call on them with meals on wheels, which not infrequently are delivered with the assistance of the students.

It is worth remembering that there are a great many splendidly disposed young people whose concern is to relieve suffering among the aged and poor and who are prepared to do this in their own time, with their own hands with no consideration present in their mind other than that of charity, which I consider to be a much more noble word than love.

For this reason I do not approve of people shaking boxes for Oxfam or Biafra or for relieving the hungry and poor in this or that place. Such contributions are purely a waste of time. This House stands ready, in the name of our people, to provide far more than ever could be collected in boxes, whether it be food and relief for people affected by the war in Biafra or whereever else human suffering exists. The problem at present is not to buy and to send the food; the problem is to get it there. I often see high-minded, idealistic, good young people overlapping in their activities to collect for half a dozen different funds which I have no reason to believe are prudently administered or which ensure that effective relief is being given to the objective in the name of which such collections are made. I compare this with the student who gets one, two or three friends to go out and paper and paint the walls of an old person's room, wash the floor and set up his or her comforts.

But then we come to the idealistic students—a great many of them are idealistic—who feel that this House is not doing its job. I do not blame them. There is no use in our legislating for the due control of what we regard as disorderly demonstrations if we do not ask ourselves the question: what causes the demonstrations? This House, in my lifetime, used to be the vent for public indignation. If there was something going seriously wrong, it was debated here, often tumultuously. We used to shock some of our friends in the Press Gallery by the violence of our language and the disorderly nature of our conduct, but we were moved to that violence by our knowledge of the indignation that existed in our constituencies among our neighbours because of what they thought of as current evils. In the last seven days, the factories of this country providing employment for thousands of our people have been closing down slowly. In the last fortnight, secondary schools in Ireland have closed down.

I do not see what this has got to do with the Bill before the House on its Second Stage.

Let the Deputy proceed and you will.

The matter which the Deputy is now discussing does not seem to be connected with the Bill before the House.

Surely, I may discuss the reasons for demonstrations which an experienced public man knows to exist?

Are there not protest marches at the moment in regard to the closing down of the schools? Protest marches are one of the things in regard to which the Bill makes provision.

I should like to point out that Part VI of the Bill consists of seven sections. The first concerns unlawful meetings, processions and demonstrations; the second relates to power to prohibit meetings, processions and demonstrations believed to be unlawful; the third deals with meetings and processions requiring notice; the next deals with power to enforce conditions with respect to or to prohibit meetings and processions; the next deals with watching and besetting; the other deals with acting at a meeting or procession in a disorderly manner and the seventh concerns penalties. Surely it is beyond all reasonable limits if we cannot ask ourselves why——

What the Chair is concerned about is that we should not indulge in a debate on the economy of the country.

I wish to speak of the feelings of the people, the feelings that bring them out in the streets in meetings, processions and demonstrations. I wish to ventilate their right to do so and I wish to tell the House how I think these meetings, processions and demonstrations become unlawful and how best we may provide against that contingency. I say that when Parliament begins to fail in its function to provide the people with the assurance that they will get in the Legislature the leadership necessary to meet the current events of the day, it is then and only then that they take to the streets.

I ask myself, if I were looking on from outside and saw this country paralysed educationally and industrially, and turned to my newspaper day after day to read that the whole 144 Members of this House are wrangling about scraps of constituencies, about who will have this handful of votes and who will have that handful I would imagine that nothing was happening outside at all. Would you, Sir, be shocked if you took to the streets? It is not such a desreputable thing in certain circumstances to take to the streets.

My father, God be good to him, was conducted by a troop of British dragoons from Drogheda to Dundalk jail and he was glad of the people who took to the streets and cheered him on his way and gathered around the prison and sang to reassure him that they would remain faithful to the principles for which he stood. Was there anything wrong in that? The British thought it was wrong. I do not think our people did.

What I wish to emphasise is this. First, let us find out why this manifestation is showing itself in Ireland again. Let us search our consciences. It is manifesting itself because the people no longer believe that the nation's business is being effectively done here and I want to say, sir, with a full sense of responsibility, that I agree with them. I heard the Taoiseach state in this House no later than yesterday that, having asked Dáil Éireann not to discuss strikes or trade disputes, he himself, the Taoiseach, had sent the Minister for Labour down into West Clare there to state Government policy.

On a point of order. Surely this is completely irrelevant to the Second Reading of the Criminal Justice Bill.

The Deputy wants to resurrect an argument he had yesterday about a different matter altogether.

The Chair would wish the Deputy to relate his remarks to the sections of the Bill with which we are dealing.

Certainly, but I am saying, Sir, if that can happen, are you surprised that the people take to the streets and say: "The Taoiseach says that matters will not be resolved in the Dáil; they will be resolved in West Clare"? That, Sir, is what is bringing the crowds on the streets.

The Chair is concerned with the Bill before the House and the sections to which the Deputy wishes to refer. Will the Deputy relate his remarks to the sections?

Suppose the people outside come to the conclusion that this House is completely indifferent to the housing conditions in this city, do you blame them for taking to the streets? I said, when I was sitting in that Front Bench as Leader of the Opposition in this House, that if I were living in a single room, with my wife and three children—cooking, eating and sleeping in the one room in a tenement house in this city—and if I went down to the City Hall and they told me there they would not even put my name on the list and, as I walked back along Dame Street, I saw a new skyscraper going up, three floors of which had been taken by the Government for offices, I would have a rock through the window. Now I may have said that in hot temper, but I am not so sure that, if I thought of these conditions now, I would not repeat it. If the people know that there is actively functioning here a Legislature which seeks to remedy their grievances, which knows of their grievances and makes those grievances their constant concern, then no one will be able to bring the people out into the streets to demonstrate. Mark you, when you find them in the streets demonstrating, the first people to search their consciences ought to be the Deputies of this House.

Might I remind the Deputy again that the Chair does not wish to restrict the debate, but what the Chair does not want is a debate on economics or——

Sir, I am not talking economics. Surely, the heaving of a brick through a skyscraper is not economics. It is sociology, God bless the mark, and I am not sure that that is a science for which I have any great respect. There is only one for which I have less and that is psychology.

I am sure the Deputy will also agree with me that a discussion of Parliamentary reform is not relevant to this Bill.

Indeed, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I do, but I think this House would be a damn sight better employed examining its own conscience before bringing in a Bill of this kind, which proceeds to repeal Magna Carta and goes on to provide that, when Parliament ceases to function, as it ought to function, no other recourse is available to our people. Mark you, this Bill is a pretty wide Bill and, if you want to relate what I am saying and you are not satisfied to relate it to sections 31 and 32, have a look at the Schedule. Perhaps your attention has not been drawn to that. I want to be fair to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle but, if the Leas-Cheann Comhairle wants me to keep to the Bill here, there are not many crimes in the calendar that I cannot bring within the ambit of this debate because this Schedule refers to Acts passed in the reign of Henry III, Edward I and right down to legislation enacted in the days of Queen Victoria. But I do not want to widen the debate. I want to speak on processions and demonstrations. Mark you, if the Minister for Justice were not so sensitive, he might discover that what I have to say on this Bill is more conciliatory to his position than much of what he has been obliged to listen to. I think the great problem that confronts a democratic Government in seeking to steer an even course, giving all due respect to individual liberty and, at the same time, to the maintenance of public order, is the presence of elements in our society, as in every society in the world today, who are concerned to make that course of moderation impossible.

I have said on a previous occasion here that what Deputies of Dáil Éireann ought to wake up to is that we are in the middle of the Third World War and that war is not being fought with armies and navies and ultimata. It is being fought in the streets and on the campuses of every democratic country in the world. The position is this—it is important the House should know it and, perhaps, if Deputies are not here to listen, they will subsequently read—that, if you allow an evil to develop and fail to make it manifest that we here in Dáil Éireann are diligent to curb it the next step is that perfectly well-intentioned, honest good people answer a call to march in a procession or to participate in a demonstration. Then there appear the agents of the forces of disruption who are, in fact, the soldiers of the Third World War. Fortunately they are branded with a clear and certain trade mark, which every adolescent and every citizen of goodwill can readily discern; one is the bullhorn and the other is the summons to protest against police brutality. I have myself heard that cry and seen that instrument employed in Berkeley, California, in Chicago, Illinois, in New York, in Washington, in Paris, in Bonn, in London and in Dublin.

Now if I, as one simple citizen, have seen that with my own eyes in eight cities of the world, stretching from the Pacific Coast of America across the Continent of Europe and right up to the Iron Curtain, and back again to London, surely it is idle to imagine that there is not a system operating to back it up. Unless we are fools or children we must legislate in the knowledge that that loathsome beast is abroad in the world, because that is the spirit of anarchy. Young Deputy O'Malley is here. It will not be difficult for him to remember this. When we were young, all of us in our hearts were anarchists. It was our heads that taught us better. Every decent man, when he is young, believes however fleetingly in the Pelagian heresy of humanism and the perfectability of human nature. It is only experience that teaches that human nature is corrupt and, but for the grace of God, would sink to the level to which Hitler, Stalin and Mao would drag it, given the opportunity.

So young people find it hard to learn, except in the hard school of experience, that the anarchism for which their hearts yearn is never static. Anarchy never stands still. Anarchy is merely a bivouac from democracy to authoritarian Government from the right or from the left. It does not matter which source it comes from. It is the same dirty murderous tyranny which it is so easy to permit but so nearly impossible to be rid of.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, you rebuked me for seeming too widely to spread the debate. You paid me the compliment of forgetting how old I am. I saw the Wiemar Republic in Germany. I saw the German Reichstag function which was democratically elected. I saw a German Reichstag function within a Constitution presided over by as venerable a President as we now have. I saw that very Reichstag, by its indolence and reluctance to face its duty and grasp and crush the nettle that threatened its survival, degenerate into the Nazism which burned 5,000,000 Jews, and boasted of it.

Remember, Sir, that happened in the homeland of Goethe and Beethoven. All the greatest artists in the world have had their peak in Germany. I have lived to see that horror overthrown by a horror just as loathsome, which eliminated the Czar it overthrew by slaughtering him, his wife, four little girls and one haemophiliac boy, on the orders of a vicepresident who himself lived to see the day when his skull was penetrated by an ice pick in Mexico, wielded by the paid hireling of the man who had succeeded him in the bloody dictatorship he created. In that country, the country of Tolstoy and of Dostoevsky, and of the music and the poetry of Russia, I have lived to hear its leader boast that he had murdered 2,000,000 of his own countrymen, and add that it was painful but it was necessary.

Do not let us make any mistake about it; they may bury Stalin and they may put a round clown's hat on Khrushchev who succeeds him, so that we would all think he looked like Good Pope John. He is followed by Kosygin and Brezhnev, and there are many innocent people travelling the world today who admire their methods and purposes. I want to say, Sir, that the people who stand behind the crowds in Dublin and exhort them to attack the police are the conscious or unconscious instruments of the same system that murdered in cold blood 2,000,000 of its own people for what they said was economic necessity.

Now, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, this may sound incredible to you, and I do not deny that I sometimes feel like Cassandra coming down from the heights to the windy plains of Troy to warn the Trojans that a wooden horse drawn in amongst them would contain those who would destroy them. Mind you, Priam felt as you feel: "What is this old woman talking about? How can she expect us to listen to her and we preoccupied with the defence of the walls of Troy. Get the horse in and shut the gates. Send this old woman back to where she came from." That is what they did. They brought in the horse and they barred and bolted the gates, and they chased Cassandra back into the hills and, in the morning, Priam was dead and Troy was taken, and all the struggle and all the bloodshed that had been spent to defend it against the Greeks was lost in one hour's folly when they preferred the Trojan horse to the Trojan prophetess.

It is an unrewarding task to discharge the role of Cassandra. I am trying to tell this House things they find it hard to understand. I am asking this House to insist that the Minister will mend his hand in respect of this provision for controlling riots and disturbance in the streets, and to remember that, while we should be resolved to vindicate individual liberty and freedom, we should remember the bullhorn and the meetings summoned to protest "police brutality". I do not think people in this House understand fully the strategy and tactics represented by the bullhorn and "police brutality".

I hope Deputy O'Malley is a symbol of my error, but I am afraid he is the exception rather than the rule—but one of the tragedies of my time is to see the rising generation growing tired of the burden of freedom. We were brought up to strive to preserve it. It came to our hands hot from those of our fathers and grandfathers who fought strenuously to secure it. We were reared to treasure that as a prize superior to all things. It was better to be poor, it was better to be hungry and free than to accept any degree of affluence burdened by servitude and strength. I have got the feeling as I watch young people waiting for the bullhorn to direct them, waiting for the bullhorn to tell them what to say, waiting for the bullhorn to tell them to turn right or to turn left or what song to chant, that these young people have no one to direct them. In so far as we have failed to channel their youth, enthusiasm and energy into the channels of our several political Parties we are delivering them into the hands of the gentlemen with the bullhorn.

Wait a moment, if your patience will so far extend. I am asking the House to examine with care the provisions the Minister has undertaken to amend because after the bullhorn is operative then comes the most insidious event. I have watched it. The bullhorn operates from behind. It is the decent element in the crowd, full of no other purpose than to come out in lawful demonstration, who are pushed from behind against the civic guard, the policeman who is on guard or the representative of the civil power—mark the words, the representative of the civil power— whatever uniform he wears, until eventually those charged with the responsibility of protecting the fundamental rights, not of the individual but of society itself, is constrained by the pressure exercised from away behind to warn all those in the front rank to stand where they are because he must move to disperse.

Remember Mr. McAteer, the Nationalist member for Derry, recently found himself in the Square in Derry being struck with a truncheon and he was in the front rank. I do not believe he ever went out into the streets of Derry to go against the civil power. He is a member of the Northern Ireland Parliament. I have seen outside this House in Molesworth Street a crowd of young people and I have seen the bullhorn gentlemen urge them to rush the gates of Leinster House. I saw a Member of this House move out among them and counsel prudence and restraint and warn them of the people who were among them. I remember one philosopher saying: "It is half-past five and the landladies will get after them if they do not go home". In the interval between a quarter-past five and a quarter to six, but for the activities of certain prudent Members of this House, there might have been rioting and mayhem outside those gates and it would have been instigated by individuals in this city at present with express instructions from carefully organised headquarters to search out causes of public malaise that may be successfully exploited for the purpose of bringing the ordinary people into conflict with the Garda Síochána, so that the organisers of riots may then hold a meeting protesting against police brutality, so that the confidence of the public at large in the Garda Síochána may be undermined in the confident hope that, once civil power is stripped of the only instrument it has to vindicate the laws enacted by this House, the next step is anarchy and out of that they will make certain that the leadership will be one they control.

Does that all sound remote to the Members of this House, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle? To me it is as present as the gates of Leinster House. It is the threat to every democracy in the world at the present time. Now, I admit freely that the poisonous, rotten element in the whole Communist assault on freedom is that in the very effort to repel it we ourselves have recourse to procedures which in some sense undermine the very freedom we seek to defend. That is the task the Minister for Justice seeks to perform. I believe much of his difficulties have arisen from the procedural problem of his approach to this whole matter. I believe if he had taken the Consolidation Bill first and then looked at the law as it then stood he would have realised in the proposals he has made in the part of the Bill to which I now refer he was asking the House to vest in the police authorities discretions which do not properly belong to them at all.

I want to protect the Garda Síochána of this country from the kind of misrepresentation which the enemies of individual freedom are deeply concerned to make against them. The general principle is sought to be drawn that the Garda Síochána are yearning for power to circumscribe the individual freedom, liberty and integrity of every person in the State. That is a fantastic element. We who have lived in the country, having the gardaí as our next door neighbours, do not believe in the sergeant at his desk in some dark corner in the barracks having power to come down and circumscribe our daily lives, when we know his prime consideration is that the tinkers are down the street. The one thing he wants is to be left in peace in the barracks if his duty will allow it. To imagine that he is yearning to come down knocking at my door or anybody else's door is utterly fantastic.

The fact that we have maintained that situation is something we should be very proud of. The fact that we are in a position to say to people at a public meeting: "Look at the Garda Síochána uniform and recognise in it the symbol of Irish sovereignty" is something we should be very proud of. We should not allow a situation to arise in which we ever tempt the forces of the State, especially the Garda Síochána who are in intimate contact with the people, to be lured into the illusion that they are anything other than the servants of the people whose uniform they wear. But, in so far as they have demonstrated so successfully down through the past 50 years that they are the servants of the people, they have made themselves an inestimable treasure in the preservation of individual liberty and democratic institutions in this State. I want to renew my suggestion to the Minister in view of the fact that it has now transpired that certainly in regard to the proposals in this Bill there is general agreement that he is doing the right thing in regard to flick knives and offensive weapons, that he should take back this Bill——

——and give us a Consolidation Bill first, providing the Schedules with the consequential amendments made necessary thereby. The Schedule which abolishes the difference between "felony" and "misdemeanour" involves other amendments in the Statutes between the sections. If the Minister came back to us with such a Bill and said: "This Bill contains the repeal and amendments of other Statutes requisite to leave the law substantially as it is", I think that Bill would pass almost in a day once adequate assurance was provided. That is the kind of Bill this House will gladly pass in a day. That is the kind of Bill this House ought to pass in a day. That is the kind of Bill on which, in passing it in one day, this House should show its capacity to legislate First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Stages because it is merely clearing the way for legislation of substance, to which this House must pass with care and circumspection calling for due intervals between each Stage. That procedure we will adopt cooperatively in respect of the Criminal Justice Bill No. 2 which would amend the law. I think the Minister would find that he would be received on all sides of this House with understanding —perhaps not with entire agreement but with reasoned argument and fair discussion. I would not despair of his saying: "I have thought again about majority verdicts in criminal trials" just as the Minister thought again about Part VI of the Bill.

I am certain that if the Criminal Justice Bill passed this House ultimately, with virtual unanimous agreement or certainly with goodwill attending such differences as we were unable to reconcile, it would be a better Criminal Justice Bill, than this one promises to be, which the Minister is obliged to concede is already two years old, for its title is Criminal Justice Bill, 1967. Having sat upon this egg, hatched it for two years, the Minister is obliged, on rising from his hatching, to concede before the nation that the bird had come forth in a most unexpected form and that he proposed to perform a major surgical operation on it before he allows it to strut forth upon the dunghill of the legislation. I think the House and the country would be favourably impressed if, as a result of our discussion here, the Minister for Justice would say: "It seems to me to be a reasonable representation. I am happy to have the help of rational Deputies who seek to help me in the necessary amendments of the law. The dual procedure proposed will undoubtedly facilitate all of us in that task. I am prepared to act accordingly". I am convinced that, if he does that, he will find his way much less controversial than it has proved to be so far. Mark you, if he adopts the course I propose, he will be relieved of the obligation of explaining to Dáil Éireann how it is that, for two years, he was energetic in his defence of Part VI of this Bill and that it is only within the past two months that he suddenly awakened to defects so grievous that, in his opening address in presenting the Bill to the House, he announced his intention of removing them.

May I say in conclusion, however, that if he is prepared to mend his hand now, I am prepared philosophically to reassure him that it could happen to a bishop. What matters is that what is wrong is now being put right and we all lend a ready hand in the accomplishment of that relatively simple task.

I had intended to follow a certain line on this Bill but, having listened to Deputy Dillon for one and a half hours, I am afraid I shall have to comment on some of what he said before I can proceed to my own particular theme. Two minutes tonight is not very long in which to do it. I always enjoy Deputy Dillon, even though I do not agree with all of what he says. I agree with a lot of what he said tonight but I must again point out that I do not think he is doing himself or the country any good by his continual reference to what some of the newspaper people refer to as "the Reds under the bed". I do not believe international Communism considers Ireland is so important that it will set up cells here and pay people to look after the interests of this country. Those who profess to be Communists here——

——are never the real ones.

I did not interrupt Deputy Dillon when he was speaking. Those who profess to be Communists here are going so badly that they seem to be finding it awfully difficult to get enough to live on.

I think "Internationalists" is a different title.

They are a different set altogether. In my opinion, they are a group of little brats. If their parents had the good sense, when they found out that they were masquerading in this city from some of the universities to bring them home to do some work, instead of allowing them to fool others as gullible as themselves, it would be better for all concerned. The newspapers——

There are some warriors down in the middle of the city who are no children. Their parents are decrepit old men and women.

Unfortunately, Deputy Dillon has the last word.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 13th February, 1969.