Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Garda Border Patrol.

27.

asked the Minister for Justice if, as alleged by Deputy Neil Blaney in his recent speech in Arklow, an order was issued to gardaí on Border patrol duty to permit certain persons to bring arms across the Border without interference.

28.

asked the Minister for Justice if an order was issued during 1969 to the gardaí along the Border that no one crossing it or recrossing it with arms was to be molested; if such order has been rescinded; and, if so, when. dations to the Government in the matter.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 28 together.

There is no record or information in my Department of any such matter but, as I did not hold the office of Minister for Justice during the period to which the allegation clearly referred, namely the period from August, 1969 to April 1970, I also checked with the Commissioner, Garda Síochána, and he in turn, at my request, checked with his officers in Garda Headquarters and also with the appropriate divisional or district officer for every area adjoining the Border. This check covered the entire period in question with a margin to spare and it extended not only to any order or directive but also to any suggestion of any kind whatsoever on the lines indicated.

The Commissioner's reply, based on this comprehensive check, is that there was no such order, directive or suggestion. It may be relevant to mention that, at intervals throughout the period in question, various seizures of illegally-held arms were made by the gardaí and a number of people were prosecuted for illegal possession of arms or explosives.

The total amount seized by the gardaí from subversive organisations during the period 1st August, 1969 to date is 13 machine guns, 18 rifles, of ammunition, 39 detonators, 11 grenades, 31¼ lbs of explosives, five coils of fuse.

I should like to know if Deputy Blaney has brought forward since the date of his allegation any evidence whatsoever to the Minister or the Garda authorities in 31 pistols, 1 shotgun, 2,306 rounds support of his statement on that occasion in Arklow?

Not that I am aware of.

May I further ask, in view of the fact that the Minister assumes responsibility for the period in which he holds office only, quite apart from the understandable reports from the Garda Commissioner, if it could have been possible that the previous holder of the office, the former Minister for Justice, may have issued verbal instructions to the effect of Deputy Blaney's allegation?

That is not possible. I checked it with the Commissioner and he has checked it with his headquarters officers as well as with every appropriate divisional or district officer. There is no possibility that it could have happened.

Surely the Minister will admit there has been selective justice as far as the IRA are concerned and that a blind eye has been turned. Despite the fact that 13 machine guns, 18 rifles, 31 pistols and a number of other weapons have been found, not a single person is in jail for those offences. Will the Minister not further admit that seven men were found in Dundalk with machine guns, rifles, ammunition and explosives and that on a direction from the Attorney General they were allowed out under the Probation Act?

They certainly were not and I resent these allegations being made in the House. The courts in this country are independent of the Executive and the Deputy well knows that.

It was stated in the court by the prosecuting solicitor that those men were working for their country and that they should be let out under the Probation Act.

It certainly was not said by the prosecution. I want to deny that emphatically.

It is quite true and the Minister can check the records. Is it not also true that a man was arrested in Dundalk with a sub-machine gun and that he is out scot free, and is it not further true that shots were fired over graves in Mullingar and that the files were sent to the Minister——

We cannot have a speech.

——and that those involved are still free? A man fired a revolver into a public house in Drogheda——

Will the Deputy cease shouting and allow questions to proceed?

The allegations being made here now are entirely without foundation.

They are not.

I should like to ask the Ceann Comhairle why these questions were not answered by the Taoiseach? Is it that they would have embarrassed him?