asked the Minister for Justice what progress has been made in his promised investigation of the activities of an organisation collecting funds allegedly for the relief of cancer.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Investigation of Fund Collecting Organisation.
I do not think that it would be proper in the interests of the administration of justice to say more at this stage than that the matter in question has been under police investigation, that the Attorney General's directions have been given in relation to certain aspects and the investigations are continuing.
May I ask the Minister whether or not any steps were taken since last year to carry out further investigations into this matter, as I was assured would be done in reply to a question of mine? Is the Minister aware that an evening paper of today's date carries a headline "Cancer Fund Quits HQ", and that the birds appear to have flown? It also appears that the police official who had charge of these investigations has gone on holidays since last week. This does not, in fact, show that necessary attention was paid to what is a very serious problem—the fraudulent collection of moneys in the name of charity and of suffering people. In the light of this, and in view of the difficulty in regard to a shortage of time, I ask permission, a Cheann Comhairle, to raise this matter for fuller discussion on the Adjournment tomorrow evening.
They gave him the nod in the same way as they gave it to Singer to get out of the country.
If the Deputy wishes to raise this matter tomorrow evening on the Adjournment it is necessary for him to give the Chair notice tomorrow.
That will be done.
There is one aspect of this matter that I wish to mention. I do not think precedent should be broken and I do not think anything should be done here to impede the course of justice. I do not think that a discussion of this matter should be allowed in view of what I have said.
That is a matter for the Chair.
In reply to the Minister's attempt to influence the Chair's consideration of this matter, might I ask the Minister if he is aware of the fact that what I am engaged in is not an exercise to impede the course of justice but an attempt to facilitate and expedite the course of justice which has been very tardy in dealing with these crooks?
I think words like that should not be used——
They are facts.
——in respect of people who may or may not come before the courts. I have ascertained that this matter has been under investigation for some considerable time. I am sure the Deputy does not intend that anything he might say here would impede the course of justice but he could unwittingly do so by having this matter discussed here when it is under investigation and when, perhaps, people will end up before the courts?
Does the Minister agree that under present legislation anybody can set up an organisation to collect money for charity and would he not think it advisable now to look into this matter so that we would not have future cases like this or others developing?
I agree with the Deputy that the law in this matter is not as up-to-date as I would like it to be and I am having that matter examined. But that is something altogether different from the matter at present under discussion.
There would have been plenty of time to deal with it if it were not for the referendum.
In the light of what the Minister has said about the suggested inadequacy of the existing law—which I personally do not accept —would he accept a Private Member's Bill which I could take pleasure in proposing to prevent these abuses and to license charities?
I have told Deputy Dr. O'Connell that the matter of amending that particular law is under consideration.