Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Oireachtas Members' Firearm Licences.

29.

asked the Minister for Justice if he will state in respect of each of the years 1969, 1970 and 1971, the number of firearm licences issued to Deputies and Senators; the reason for the difference in the numbers issued over the period; if the Garda have satisfied themselves that these arms are still in the possession of those who are licensed to hold them; and, if not, to whom they were disposed and when.

30.

asked the Minister for Justice if the Garda carried out any investigations arising from the statement made by Deputy Neil Blaney in his recent speech in Arklow that he knew the names of 25 Members and Senators who had handed over their own firearms for use in the North; and, if so, with what result.

31.

asked the Minister for Justice if he is aware that Mr. Blaney, former Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, is reported as stating that he knows the names of 25 Deputies and Senators who handed over their own firearms for use in the North; if the Garda have investigated this matter; and, if so, with what result.

32.

asked the Minister for Justice the number of firearm licences which are at present held and which were held in the past two years by members of the Oireachtas; if in view of recent public statements he will ask the Garda to inspect as a matter of urgency all such licensed weapons; and if he will report to the House the number of such weapons which are no longer in the possession of the licence holders.

33.

asked the Minister for Justice whether, in view of a recent allegation about Members of the Oireachtas in relation to firearms, it has been found possible to have a check carried out on firearms belonging to Members.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 to 33 together.

The compilation of the figures sought would require checking with Garda offices throughout the country. I see no sufficient reason why this should be done or why Members of the Oireachtas should be singled out as the only group in relation to which this information should be published. Likewise, I am not prepared to say to the Garda Síochána that they should single out Members of the Oireachtas from the rest of the community as a group who should be specially required to produce firearms for Garda inspection.

The Garda Síochána, as part of their normal duty, make such a check in any case where they have sufficient reason for suspicion but I do not accept that Members of the Oireachtas should be discriminated against in that or any other respect.

Is the Minister coming in to tell us that the man the Taoiseach last May praised in this House as an upright and honourable Minister, even after he had sacked him, is now a liar—that he gave false information?

This does not arise. It is not in order.

Is the Minister stating that Deputy Blaney, former Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, is a liar? He was a member of the Cabinet, he knew what was going on at the time. He as well as the Taoiseach——

I am saying no such thing and the Deputy knows it well.

He was involved in this whole rotten thing.

If any person comes forward with evidence the Garda can act on, they will act.

What is going on at the present time in this whole rotten business?

In tabling this question I had no intention of singling out Members of the Oireachtas. The person who singled out Members of the Oireachtas is a former Minister, a member of the Minister's party, and I think this should be checked out so that people in this country and in other countries cannot single out Members of the Oireachtas. My intention in putting down the question was to ensure that Members of the Oireachtas would not be singled out.

I appreciate that, but if the Deputy or any other Deputy is prepared to submit evidence to the Garda which would justify them in making a special investigation with regard to any Member of Members of the Oireachtas——

I understood the Minister to have said in reply that if the Garda were satisfied there was sufficient suspicion in any case, on Oireachtas Members or otherwise, they would investigate. Is the Minister aware that the Taoiseach in Cork has since said that this statement has cast suspicion on every Member of the Oireachtas? If the Taoiseach suspects that this has cast suspicion on every Member of the Oireachtas, does he not regard this as sufficient reason why the Garda should carry out this investigation—to clear his own name and to prove that the Minister for Justice is an efficient Minister?

The Deputy may not make a speech.

Could he not carry out this investigation and thereby do away with the allegation by that man who also stated that the Minister was a mere catspaw?

I do not propose to pick out any group in the community, Members of the Oireachtas or not, and ask the gardaí to carry out a special investigation on them on the basis of an allegation of this kind. The person who made the allegation has not since then produced any evidence or named any names, and I am not prepared to put 204 Members of the Oireachtas under Garda investigation on the strength of that.

The Minister is afraid.

One last supplementary by Deputy Desmond.

After all, I did put down a question. May I ask the Minister if, in view of the very serious nature of Deputy Blaney's allegation, he has considered requesting the Garda authorities to approach Deputy Blaney, asking for a list of the 25 names of Deputies who, he alleged, acted illegally, and if the Minister would accordingly, as a matter of courtesy, report the outcome to the House.

If Deputy Blaney has 25 names I have no doubt he can give them to the Garda without any great difficulty.