Committee on Finance. - Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill, 1970: Report Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
5. In page 2, to delete all words after "tenement" in line 31 down to and including "accordingly" in line 33.—(Deputy Pattison.)

Last night, under slight difficulty, I was dealing with the construction of this amendment and the nature of what is involved in it. Today I want to talk about a slightly different matter. Under the Interpretation Act, 1937, the singular includes the plural. Therefore the word "person" here includes a group of persons. There is a difficulty in connection with this kind of situation. Suppose a visitor to this country goes down to Brittas Bay and erects a camp on the sand dunes there. He will find that an Act passed by the Fianna Fáil Party in the middle thirties has enabled a well-known Fianna Fáil family to enclose the sand dunes legally—I do not think they are enclosed any more than they ever were; there is just a low wall—and somebody representing the owner can order him off.

There is an old custom in this country and strangely enough that custom which prevailed over most of the island for a long period did not prevail in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland. It has now been adopted in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland and the people who had control of places where there were beaches have been bought out, but in this part of the country the movement is reversed under this Act of the thirties. Sand dunes which are of no agricultural value are being grabbed by people who charge others a relatively large sum for going in on them when they go for a day's outing.

I am not making any case at all against the charge which is made at the Silver Strand by the owner of that fine field. I understand that the charge is 3s now. When I used take my family down there it was only 1s. I always thought that a man who owned a good agricultural field giving access to a particularly desirable strand was entitled to make a charge if he allowed you to have a picnic in his field. It is extremely objectionable that in 1971 this House should pass any Bill which would countenance the kind of thing that was done at Brittas Bay.

Instead of passing this kind of Bill, what the House should be doing at the moment is expropriating these people with modest compensation appropriate to what the place cost them, which was next to nothing. The various strands in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland which were cut off have all been purchased from the owners and, therefore, there is access to these strands without any payment. There used to be a sizeable payment in the fifties. I think it was 2s for a motorcar. I should like to say a word in praise of Wicklow County Council for what they have done.

No doubt this is all relevant to the amendment.

It is very relevant to the Bill and to the amendment also.

I consider it relevant to the amendment.

It certainly is relevant to the amendment. If the Minister wants me to spell it out for him I will do so in single syllable words. A man comes along and says to a person who has pitched a tent on the sand dunes at Brittas Bay: "You have no right to be here. This is owned by so-and-so. You get off." The person who has pitched the tent for the day, or the night, or the week, or whatever period it is, says: "How do I know you are acting for the owner?" The man says: "The man who employs me is well off. Look at my uniform. I am a person of authority"— a centurion in the Roman army kind of thing, in this private army which this section, as it is now, will allow. I think the Government have a different kind of problem on their hands as regard a much more serious type of private army at the moment and, therefore, it is a bit too much that the Government should be giving recognition to one kind of private army when, in fact, they are seriously concerned about another kind of private army, and rightly so.

Let nobody say that we, in this party, give countenance to private armies of any sort. There is no question that, if these words are taken out of this section, it will become a completely different section. Last night we had a lengthy lecture—I do not blame him for it at all; I understand there were similar speeches on this side of the House—from my friend, Deputy Carter; he was only carrying on the discussion but on several occasions he mentioned the politics of the streets. Why do people take to the streets? People take to the streets when they find there is literally no attempt to provide a solution, let alone provide a solution, for their problem. Therefore, the politics of the streets arise only when the Government have not attended to problems. The politics of the streets in this city have evaporated compared with what they were at various times in the past. An obvious cause for the politics of the street was the fact that there was a huge list of people looking for houses.

As I said, the need for this Bill has gone, absolutely gone, and the Government should be turning their attention to other kinds of private armies—I am sure they are—rather than to this situation, a situation with which the Minister is pretending he is dealing belatedly. All he is really doing is proving he is tough in relation to people who have been badly treated in not being provided with the houses that should have been built in the early sixties. Deputy Carter said he had watched this attempt to interfere with the normal procedure of the law over the past few years. On the whole, there is no squatting and it is against squatting this is obviously directed, despite the funny title "Forcible Entry". The only squatting in this city today, as far as we know, is that which arises in corporation houses where somebody, a nephew or a niece, or some other relation, moves into a house when the tenant dies.

This amendment is a genuine amendment, absolutely genuine, and, as a matter of fact, it would greatly improve the nature of the Bill. It would improve the Bill very considerably, if it is accepted, because it would put on the owner the obligation to assert his right of ownership. In the Bill as drafted unoccupied land is included. We are not so pressing on the means of subsistence in this country at present, with the population we have, that people should not occupy land for the purposes I have mentioned, putting a caravan on it, or something else. It is obvious from the amendment introduced yesterday by the Minister that a caravan is not regarded as a mobile home; therefore, a caravan is a vehicle. We want to remove this reference to a vehicle in this section, and properly so. This kind of thing must not be left in the Bill. This Bill is, on the whole, really a statement of the law as it exists. Deputy Carter referred to Acts of 1381 that we were supposed to be depending on. Any Act of 1381 which is still in operation is part of the common law and the common law as a whole preserves the rights of owners. That is the purpose of the common law. It may look well to make a joke about relating something to an Act of 1381 but the fact is the Act is not in operation still just because it was an Act of 1381; it is still in operation because it was an extremely sensible Act. People forget most of the legislation which passed through this House in four or five years. We have not misrepresented the aim of this Bill. We have not done that at all. We believe, and the facts have proved us right, that this Bill is unnecessary. The facts have proved us right.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

In this Bill, as drafted, the Government want the Members of Dáil Éireann to behave like lemmings just because the Department of Justice come up with nothing really new at all, except that the Government are tough. That is the purpose of this Bill, to indicate that the Government are tough. But the Government are not tough at all, not one bit They will not get us to behave like lemmings. That is certain. We will not have the ordinary liberties of the citizen undermined in this fashion by anybody.

Earlier I raised a very serious point: this section, as it stands, does allow private armies. As I said, if you go into a sand dune, which is now preempted by some fellow, he orders you off. In the first place he has no right to order him off. This was a law passed by the Fianna Fáil Government in the mid-1930s which had never been the case in this part of the country and the right to own sand dunes has been abolished in Northern Ireland.

Sandpits.

Sand dunes. I am not talking about South Tipperary. I am talking about the seaside. It may be a bit far for people to go from Cashel to Tramore but the people from Clonmel like to go there during summer.

What about Galway?

That would be a bit too far away for them. This is a serious intrusion on the rights of the ordinary people of the country to get into their cars and take their families to the seaside where they would squat in sand dunes. I understand that these gentlemen down at Brittas Bay made extraordinary money last Sunday in spite of the efforts of Wicklow County Council who have provided car parks alongside the road. Despite the efforts of Sinn Féin, who established that people had the right to walk in, the action in the High Court was settled on the basis that there could be a charge for cars but I understand from some residents of the area that the site was a remarkable one.

A changing constituency.

The day is fast approaching when Wexford will overtake Wicklow by reason of this.

The finest in Ireland.

When I used to take my family to Wicklow I considered the distance far enough but if a person found congestion of this sort, he would be prepared to travel further so that he might be more comfortable.

Is this a tourism Bill?

It is not a tourism Bill but we appear to be wandering into the realms of tourism and I would ask the Deputy to get back to the amendment.

The fact is that this kind of practice does interfere with tourism. Let me give an example——

Acting Chairman

I do not think that by any stretch of the imagination we can extend our arguments to tourism.

I wish to make a passing reference to tourism. Some years ago my wife and I were in Glengarriff where we met an English lady who said to us: "This is a wonderful place; you can have a picnic anywhere." That is the traditional Munster but I do not know whether such tradition extends as far as Cashel.

The Deputy is talking about the 18th century.

I know there were efforts by certain Germans to change that tradition but they got their answer from the people of West Cork and rightly so. If, by tradition, people have had access for a long time to such amenities, these amenities should not be taken from them. We are not nearly as careful about these matters as they are in England. In this Bill the Minister has included unoccupied land and to make matters worse it is proposed that anybody can act on behalf of the owner. It is a well established tradition in this country that people do not object to others walking over their land so long as they do not cause any damage to crops or fences. In fact, there are walks through private property by riversides all over the country.

The worst aspect of this Bill is in relation to the seaside where land is of no value whatever except as a means of making money that should not be made at all. That is about all I wish to say on the Bill. I am glad to see Deputy Davern applauding me. It is nice to know that my efforts are appreciated. Deputy Browne of Wexford certainly appreciated my efforts.

The Deputy is invited to Wexford from Monday next.

Do not draw him on yourself.

Certainly, it has been a much more comfortable place in recent years than has Wicklow. It is wonderful that it is within striking distance of south Dublin which, at the moment, is stretching to Bray. Deputy Browne's constituency should do well in the future. On the whole, the Deputy's constituency would do well but if the practices to which I have referred continue only a certain few will do well.

I have not spoken on this amendment before now because, in effect, there has been no debate on it. There has been little or no effort to debate the merits or demerits of the amendment except, possibly, by one or two Fine Gael Deputies. I am satisfied that even if I were to accept this amendment, which of course is totally out of the question, it would still provoke a lengthy and wrangling debate of the type of nonsense to which we have been listening for several hours past.

It is significant that various members of the Labour Party are able to debate, allegedly, this amendment and criticise my alleged failure to accept it although neither I nor anybody else has up to now indicated whether it would be accepted. If proof were needed this proves beyond doubt that neither this nor any other amendment on this Bill is of any interest to members of the Labour Party whose sole objective is to make a farce of this Parliament and to drag this topic and this Bill down to their own level.

Even from the Minister, this is a bit much.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

It is immaterial, as far as the Labour Party are concerned, whether I accept or do not accept this amendment. They have no interest in the amendment as such. They have no interest in the merits or demerits of it. Their sole objective is to make a farce of debate in this Parliament and to drag this Parliament down to their own level. They may, in their foolishness, think that by carrying on in this way they will obstruct or prevent the passing of this Bill. I should like to make it clear that as far as the Government are concerned this House will sit as long as is necessary to obtain the passing of this Bill. There was, as Deputies know, an agreement made between the Whips whereby the House was scheduled to rise for the summer recess on Thursday of next week.

On a point of order——

That agreement has been broken by the Labour Party.

A point of order, Acting Chairman. You have suddenly gone very deaf.

On a point of order, as acting Whip for the last two weeks I can say that no agreement was made which included the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill or any guarantee that it would be passed inside the next week or two. It was specifically excluded from any agreement that was made.

That, of course, is not so but in any event the House will sit on.

Is the Minister calling me a liar? He says it is not so. I was at the meeting.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy need not anticipate or infer something which has not been introduced into the debate.

He has, by implication, been called a liar by the Minister. The Minister is misleading the House.

Acting Chairman

The Minister is in control at the moment. Each Deputy has had his chance to speak.

The Minister is misleading the House.

The Minister is not misleading the House. The Minister is stating facts. The Labour Party having broken this agreement the facts now are that this House will sit on into the month of August for as long as is necessary to pass the legislation before it.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

The House, no matter how many quorums are called, will sit for as long as is necessary to finish the legislative programme that was decided on some time ago. This will presumably, at the rate we are going, entail sitting well into the month of August. It is unfortunate that many people connected with this House, other than the Members of the House, have made arrangements for holidays, and so on, which have to be broken but that is a matter which is beyond the control of the Government.

On a point of order, the Minister made a statement that there was a fixed agreement regarding legislation going through the House. I should like to make it quite clear that when the list of legislation that was to be done before the summer recess was put before the Labour Party we said that with the exception of the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill we would agree but we would give no guarantee in relation to the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy has made his explanation.

I do not accept it. I am informed that the opposite is the case.

We did not expect you would accept it. You tell so many lies yourself you would not believe it.

I know the opposite is the case.

Apologise to Deputy Kavanagh now for impugning his honesty.

Perhaps Deputy Kavanagh would apologise or Deputy Cluskey for impugning the honesty of the Fianna Fáil Whip.

I would not put you in the same class as the Fianna Fáil Whip. I have respect for him.

We made an arrangement last week for the sittings this week and for finishing next week. That arrangement was a very definite one.

You can finish except for the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill.

There was no mention of the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill at that meeting.

It was mentioned five or six weeks ago when the Taoiseach said in this House what legislation was to be dealt with before the recess.

We are on to a new one. It was five or six weeks ago.

(Interruptions.)

We know Jack Boot wants it.

Acting Chairman

Will Deputy Cluskey please cease interrupting? We cannot go back over the proceedings between the Whips. The Minister must be allowed to make his speech.

The Minister raised it.

The net result is that we will have to sit on into the month of August for as long as is necessary.

Do you not frighten us?

May I deal with the amendment which is nominally before the House? The amendment seeks to confine exemption from the commission of an offence under the Bill to the owner personally and to exclude from that any person entering on his behalf. It clearly is impossible to accept this amendment because one of its results would be that the ordinary common law right which any citizen has at present to try to recover possession of his property which has been wrongfully taken from him by a trespasser would be abrogated and done away with. The allegation has been made and continuously repeated that at the moment an owner has no right to act other than personally and that this Bill and, in particular, the words which are now sought to be deleted confers some new or additional right on an owner to act through agents. It is alleged that this right does not accrue to an owner of property at present. This is totally false. An owner has and always had the right to act through his agents. This Bill does not increase or affect in any way that right. The amendment that seeks to take away the right of somebody to act through his employees or agents endeavours, therefore, to make a major change in the existing law. The Bill, as drafted on this point, makes no change whatever and it is so ludicrous and absurd to seek to do what this amendment does that I think the best way I can demonstrate this to the House is to give some examples.

A very great deal of property in this country or in any other country is owned, not by individuals, but by limited companies which have a legal significance and existence quite separate from the individuals who hold the shares in them or make up their membership. Individual shareholders or directors do not own the property of the company; the company itself is the owner and the company only is the owner. In this amendment, therefore, we have a suggestion that any property owned by a limited company cannot be cleared of trespassers because only the company, which is a piece of paper, is to be allowed to go to the house in question and remove those trespassing, squatting or forcibly occupying it. The directors and employees of the company would have no right to act on behalf of the company.

In this country there are many people who are wards of court because they are minors or perhaps mentally ill or they may have been taken into wardship for a variety of reasons. All their property is vested in the President of the High Court. He is the owner on their behalf of all that property, and the legal and equitable estate-in all that property is vested solely in him. A very great deal of property of all kinds is vested in the President of the High Court in his capacity as trustee for wards of court and minors. Acceptance of the amendment and deletion of the words would produce the equally ludicrous situation that the incumbent for the time being of the Presidency of the High Court is supposed to traipse up and down the country endeavouring personally to eject people who are trespassing or forcibly occupying the property of the many hundreds of wards of court under his care.

Similarly, in regard to ordinary trustees who hold property on behalf of infants or persons of unsound mind or other beneficiaries. Similarly, in regard to someone who happens to be in hospital or on holidays. I am told that a lady living in Dublin came to the House the other night and spoke to a number of Deputies complaining that she had just arrived back from her holidays and, to her horror, found her house occupied by squatters who had been put in there by a subversive organisation in her absence. This is an old lady living on her own who is quite incapable, physically, legally and every other way of getting those people out and resuming occupation of her property. But this amendment would put on her, as it would put on the man in hospital, the sole duty of ejecting such people.

These are the facts about this amendment and it is a terrible reflection on this House that last night and this morning we had to listen to hours and hours of unmitigated rubbish talked about it. We had statements made without reference to fact or having any basis in fact. We had headlines even in this morning's papers that acts which are now against the criminal law will be allowed and will not be criminal under this Bill, if passed, and particularly if this amendment is not accepted. That is equally arrant and total nonsense and is absolutely untrue. It is spelled out in subsection (5) of section 1 that nothing in this Bill shall be regarded as conferring on any person any right to entry or occupation of land which did not exist immediately before the commencement of this Bill. There is no act which at present is an offence against our criminal law that will not be an offence under our criminal law if this Bill is passed.

That is the incontrovertible fact and, no matter how often it is alleged from the benches opposite that that is not so, they cannot get away from this fact. Unfortunately, by constant nonstop repetition of misrepresentation about the contents of this Bill, I fear there may be many people who have been so grossly misled that they genuinely believe that things which are crimes at present will not be crimes if this Bill is passed. It is flouting democracy to create this situation. As I pointed out yesterday, the converse case is the next step in that unfortunate effort to flout democracy. The converse case is that if people are to suggest in regard to a particular Bill that there are not provisions in it which are, in fact, there, people can well be hoodwinked and misled into allowing a Bill to be passed that could contain the most dangerous provisions about which they did not know. The present situation is the converse of that. The Bill is being obstructed and a number of people are worried about it because they have been misled into believing that it contains things which, in fact, are not in the Bill.

I have no doubt this misrepresentation will continue for the remaining ten amendments on this Stage and all I can do is stand up on each amendment and point out the facts as I have done now. I must leave it to the conscience of the people who have misrepresented this Bill so consistently throughout the debate. Let them examine their consciences about the damage they are doing to democracy by trying to demonstrate that there are things in the Bill which, in fact, are not in it.

(Interruptions.)

It is a dictatorial Bill. Fascist legislation.

If the Minister feels that his threat to keep us here until September if we do not give him this Bill quickly has any effect on these benches he should dismiss that idea from his mind because we are determined to fight this Bill and every section of it and to expose it for what it is. We shall not allow ourselves to be curtailed by threats from the Minister or anybody else. The Minister was less than honest in his reply to this debate. He had the audacity to charge the people who spoke from these benches with making all kinds of wild statements and to say that the speakers on these benches spoke without knowing whether he was going to accept or reject the amendment. This is less than honest because the Labour Party speakers gave ample opportunity to the Minister to express his view on this amendment. However, the Minister did not offer to speak on any occasion. He could have offered after I moved the amendment but he did not do so. Now he has the audacity to criticise us for speaking on the amendment without knowing whether he was going to accept or reject it. Of course, there were opportunities for other Fianna Fáil speakers to express their feelings on this amendment but the only time Fianna Fáil members came into the House was when the quorum bells rang. That was the only time they kept the Minister company during the debate on this amendment. If the Minister had wished to speak he had ample opportunity to do so. We hope he will do his duty as Minister during discussion of the remaining amendments.

The Minister has failed to answer the case made in support of this amendment. The case was repeated by speakers that the section as it stood would encourage the formation of private armies and of private gangs of bullyboys. The Minister has not refuted that allegation; neither has he refuted the allegation that the homeless person and the person in the gate lodge of a big estate will be in a much weaker position if this section is passed. In fact, it is difficult to reply to the debate because only two speakers were against the amendment. One was Deputy Carter who did not speak on the amendment at all and the other was the Minister—

Is that a reflection on the Chair?

He was not speaking in his capacity as Chairman at the time; last night he spoke in his capacity as a Deputy.

I take it this is a reflection on the Chairman at the time?

I cannot reply to his contribution to the debate because it was well wide of the amendment. The case was made that the Bill would be weakened by acceptance of this amendment. This is wrong. The Bill introduces into the criminal law activities that were heretofore in the civil law. Because of this, we consider that only members of the gardaí should have these rights to act on behalf of owners. Every speaker who spoke on this amendment made that point. The Minister did not mention the Garda Síochána in his reply. The Labour Party are for law and order. We are not in favour of the creation of private armies or the protection of bullyboys by this type of legislation. We want the people who are properly qualified—the members of the Garda Síochána, who have shown during the years the greatest sense of justice in their administration of the law—to administer the law. No one should be given the right to employ others, whether private armies or individuals, to enforce the law. It is little comfort to the unfortunate victim who may have his skull cracked with an axe handle by some thug to be told that the thug will be prosecuted and may be fined a few pounds. This is no answer to the arguments that have been put forward in support of this amendment.

We appeal to all Deputies to support this amendment in order to restore respect for the law. It is measures such as this now proposed that will bring the law into disrepute and public odium and, in the long term, will lead to all kinds of problems and difficulties in enforcing the law. This will happen when it is realised that the law will be used to protect the strong against the weak.

Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted from the Bill stand"—put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 56; Níl, 41.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Boylan, Terence.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Brosnan, Seán.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick J.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Colley, George.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Gerard C.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
  • Foley, Desmond.
  • Forde, Paddy.
  • French, Seán.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Lynch, John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Malley, Des.
  • Power, Patrick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Timmons, Eugene.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Browne, Noel.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, John.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cooney, Patrick M.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cott, Gerard.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Donnellan, John.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Finn, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Governey, Desmond.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Keating, Justin.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Donovan, John.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Reilly, Paddy.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Taylor, Francis.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Tully, James.
Tellers:— Tá, Deputies Andrews and Browne; Níl, Deputies Bruton and Kavanagh.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No.6:

In page 3, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following new subsection:—

"(2) A person other than a member of the Garda Síochána who forcibly removes from any land or vehicle any other person or the goods of any other person shall be guilty of an offence and it shall not be a defence to a prosecution under this subsection to show that the person charged was the owner of the land or vehicle or acted on behalf of the owner or that the occupation of such land or vehicle by such other person, or the presence therein of the goods of such other person was unlawful."

This amendment is necessary because of the nature of this Bill, a Bill proposing to confer powers under the criminal law on people other than members of the Garda Síochána. The administration and implementation of the criminal law should be confined solely to members of the Garda Síochána. The Minister may argue that this amendment would impose extra duties on the Garda Síochána but, as has been pointed out already, this Bill proposes to confer certain powers on owners of property and on people acting on behalf of owners of property. These are very dangerous powers indeed. The Minister may also argue that these private armies, these gangs of bullyboys, will be subject to the same laws to which they have always been subject, but that is very little consolation to unfortunate victims of assaults by these groups, unfortunate victims who may have their skulls smashed in with the handle of a pickaxe. It will be no consolation to such victims to be told that these gangs will be dealt with through the normal course of the law. We want to prevent that type of situation arising. The old saying is that prevention is better than cure. We believe this amendment is the only way in which to give some shred of responsibility to this Bill.

There is no need for me to make the case that the Garda Síochána are the only people who should implement the criminal law and ensure that it is enforced. There is no need for me to make the case that they are and have proved to be the most suitable people to do this. We have been accused by the Minister of being in favour of all kinds of lawlessness. That is quite untrue. We want to see the law properly administered and implemented. We want to see the law properly honoured. We want people to abide by the law. We believe all this can be achieved only if the law is administered and implemented by those best qualified for that task, namely, the Garda Síochána. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that proper respect is shown for the law and that adequate protection is given to occupiers of property as well as to owners. We believe this is the best way in which to safeguard the rights of both owners and occupiers.

There is provision in this Bill to make occupiers of property responsible for damage done to that property, damage done on behalf of the owners of the property. This could lead to abuse. I see no good reason why the Minister should not accept this amendment. He need not accuse us of giving extra duties to gardaí or bringing gardaí into an area of the law in which they have not been hitherto involved, because the Minister himself has already done just that. He has brought ownership of property into the criminal law and, having done that, the least he can do is ensure that the law is administered in the fairest possible manner. We submit the Garda Síochána are the only people qualified to do that. They are the only people who will command the respect necessary.

We must be practical about this amendment. We have to ask ourselves are we going to have law and order. A previous Deputy introduced the idea that this is a criminal law that is being brought in instead of civil law. That is not true. If I should go home tonight and find squatters in my house is it not a crime for them to be there? Must I stay on the roadside or sleep in the back garden and tell them that they are very welcome? If, however, I eject that individual from my premises, am I, then, a criminal? If they refuse to leave after being asked gently to do so and if I should then use a little force in order to eject them, am I a criminal? A man is entitled to his own property and in this measure we are only trying to protect the decent people of this country.

I have no wish to endure again what happened in this city because of actions taken by the parliament of the street— those people who can say anything they wish about public representatives. This Parliament is a sacred Assembly that was created for the purpose of administering law fairly. It is the parliament of the street that is responsible for the Bill being introduced and these people are being helped by others. According to Deputy Pattison, I am a criminal if I eject from my home anybody who may be there illegally. Where are we going in this country? There are pressure groups outside this House who have people within the House to talk on their behalf. Are we to abolish Dáil Éireann and leave the country to these street parliamentarians? I have seen enough of the actions of these pressure groups in Dublin city and county during the past few years. It is because of them that the honest and decent person who is waiting his turn for a house cannot get it. I saw an ex-Member of this House, a decent man, the late Deputy Seán Dunne, being hit with a rat while leaving a corporation meeting where we had been trying to do our best to obtain houses for people.

What has that got to do with the amendment?

The hypocrisy that has been displayed here on behalf of those trying to oppose this Bill is disgusting. Where do they want us to go? Is it their wish that law and order should not exist? Do they wish that the street parliamentarians would do whatever they wish? Those of us who have been here for any length of time, while we may be as charitable as anybody else, are fed up listening to this type of drivel. So far as this party are concerned, we are charitable towards everybody but if anybody decides to break the law he must be penalised. There are citizens who should be responsible but who are backing up those pressure groups. If, when I go home this evening, I find 20 squatters in my home, I shall not send for the gardaí but they will get out as fast as possible. Those parliamentarians of the street who have a number of agitators here to speak for them do not care what they do. Men died to free this country. The greatest document of all times was that written by the seven signatories to the Proclamation.

Charity, goodwill and all these other fine qualities were embodied in that document.

It was written at a time when they were in forceful occupation of the GPO.

I have much personal regard for Deputy Browne and I welcome his interjection. The particular time we are referring to was a time of revolution when, after 700 years, these people were declaring that this country should be governed by the people of Ireland. So far as Deputy Browne's colleagues are concerned, they wish this Parliament to be governed by the mob in the streets. They do not want recognised democratic rule of any kind. I advise the Minister to stand up to all of this criticism. We are behind him. It is not our intention to interfere in the rights of any decent man or to say that a man is a criminal so long as there is civil law to deal with whatever may be the problem. However, it is up to us to ensure that law and order prevail. I hope the day is not too far distant when these mobs will be told that they must obey law and order or else——

Or else, what?

Oh yes that interjection came from the man who makes false statements. He is the one who has made false statements in Skerries about the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Is this in order?

I am entitled to reply. He is the one also who made false statements in relation to a committee of this House.

This does not arise on the Bill.

I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle. Are we to have law and order or are we to have chaos?

Ask Deputy Blaney.

Deputy Desmond, who runs with the hare and hunts with the hounds.

He goes a bit of the road with everybody.

Fianna Fáil are the experts on that.

The Deputy had not the guts to remain on the Public Accounts Committee and after leaving it he told so many lies——

Answer the charges. There has been no public statement about them. Six days of silence but they dare not answer.

On a point of order, is it in order for a Deputy to say that another Deputy has told lies?

A terminological inexactitude.

I am referring to Deputy Andrews who said that Deputy Keating told a lie when he accused the Taoiseach of conniving in full knowledge of the arms conspiracy.

(Interruptions.)

Was that a lie? Why does the Taoiseach not deny it if it was a lie?

It was an untruth.

It is untrue and Keating knows damn well that it is untrue.

Why do you not answer it?

Because we do not want to give it the publicity you are obviously seeking for it.

You have no answer.

Order. Will Deputies allow Deputy Burke to proceed on amendment No. 5?

We will answer you in good time. Do not worry. In our own time, not in your time.

I am sorry I am affecting the equilibrium of Deputies. In this amendment the innuendo is that we are bringing in criminal law to deal with things that could be dealt with by the civil law.

Say a word about the amendment, will you?

You are very welcome back from foreign parts, Deputy, you were away a long time. It is nice to see you now and again in the House. When you come into the House you make a lot of noise. You made a lot of noise yesterday. You are not concerned about what Deputies were doing yesterday when——

We cannot discuss this on the amendment.

Deputy Pattison is a very honourable, decent man. I could not speak too highly in his praise. His father before him was a decent man. Would you ever imagine that Deputy Pattison wants to uphold the gardaí now? When the street mobs come along the Labour Party supports the street parliamentarians throwing rats at members of their own Party.

They are playing the lowest type of politics. This is our parliament and we are here to defend the rights of our people. If a garda does anything wrong there is a question down—did he kiss the fellow before he arrested him and did he give him a glass of whiskey? They play one tune today and another tomorrow. I am with the Minister on this. I reject strongly the implications in amendment No. 6.

My opposition to this Bill initially was that it sought to bring what was essentially a matter of trespass within the realm of criminal law. I have pointed out that all that was needed to avoid this Bill was to update and streamline the civil law relating to trespass. I pointed out that one very important aspect of the existing civil law was the right of any owner of property to personally eject a trespasser on that property and to use whatever force might be reasonably necessary to achieve that end. That is still my belief. For that reason I regret that I am unable to support this amendment as it is drafted. I sympathise with the spirit of the amendment because, unfortunately, the spirit of the Bill is so repressive and can lead to such undesirable consequences and can definitely lead to the position of unscrupulous owners employing private armies to do their dirty work in a situation never envisaged by the civil law. I can sympathise with the spirit of the amendment when it seeks to prevent that situation arising and to ensure that the only person who would be involved in a situation like that would be the member of the Garda Síochána. Unfortunately, as drafted, I think this amendment could interfere with that very ancient common law right of the owner of property to eject and to use whatever force might be reasonably necessary to do so.

This highlights what I have always held about this Bill—that the law as it stands is adequate. All that is necessary is a change in the rules of procedure to allow an aggrieved owner to move quickly. Statutory changes are not necessary. In England which had a bigger problem of the type which this Bill is alleged to be aimed at it was not found necessary to bring in new criminal repressive legislation. The English, with all their faults, have a great feeling for democracy and a high respect for the rule of law. They were prepared to update and streamline the existing civil law so that property owners would have a speedy and effective remedy. If the Minister was prepared to do that here all the acrimony and all the disquiet which this Bill has raised would have been avoided. He was not prepared to do so. At the same time when the civil law is still there I should not like to see the rights of property owners in any way diminished. Consequently I regret, while in full sympathy with the spirit of the amendment, I do feel that if passed it will have the harmful effects I have referred to.

This amendment will interfere quite unnecessarily——

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

As I was saying before the usual interruption which is called every time I stand up to speak in this House in an effort to prevent my speaking because there are certain people in this House who would wish to deny the right of free speech to anyone except themselves and those who think like them, this amendment, if adopted, would interfere quite unnecessarily and in a drastic way with a person's right to defend and protect his property. Under existing law if Deputy Pattison, or any other Deputy or citizen, returns to his house some night and finds it unlawfully entered by a stranger who is squatting in the parlour and refuses to leave, the Deputy is entitled to eject that intruder and to use such force as is necessary to enable him to do so. I see no reason why the Deputy should not continue to be entitled to act in this way without being threatened with the sanction of the criminal law if he does so. I see every reason why the Garda should not automatically become involved which is what this amendment would entail. Where property is forcibly entered or occupied by unauthorised persons the law has always recognised that it is primarily a matter for the lawful occupier to regain possession of the property with only such assistance from the Garda as may be necessary to prevent a breach of the peace or to protect human life or to obviate any risk of serious injury to any person or serious damage to property. It is not the job of the Garda to enforce the private rights of individuals unless such action is necessary to prevent crime or to bring to justice those responsible for crime already committed.

The proposed amendment would produce such ridiculous effects as making it necessary for an owner to call in the gardaí to eject a stray horse which he finds grazing in his front garden or to remove a neighbour's cattle that have broken into a field of wheat. This Bill is concerned only with the unauthorised and forcible entry and occupation of other people's property by persons who have no semblance or colour of right to the property. I must emphasise again that there is nothing in this Bill that confers on any person any right to enter or occupy land which he does not have at present and there is nothing in the Bill that condones or authorises conduct in any way contrary to the existing civil or criminal law.

Many of these amendments are ridiculous but this one exceeds them all in the ludicrous extremes in which it would seek to place the owner or occupier of property. If a man is to be a criminal, as Deputy Burke has pointed out, because he tries to eject a trespasser or squatter out of his own parlour, then law has come to a very unfortunate position. As the Deputy also pointed out, this is what certain people in this House would like to see. They would like to see no law, law reduced to the situation in which it was a complete joke. If ever an amendment was proposed to any Bill that would make law and order a complete joke it is the present amendment. That is why this amendment is tabled —because there are men in the House who would seek to reduce this country to outright anarchy—but this Government and this party will stand in their way as long as we exist in this House and we will halt the anarchy——

(Interruptions.)

——these men, these world travellers who look in here now and again on their way from Pakistan to Mexico and seek to reduce this country to the level to which various other countries have been reduced by the kind of alien imperialism they would be glad to see here and which has brought the unfortunate people of so many lands into a state of degradation and terror.

The Minister and his party appear to have lost their cool.

(Interruptions.)

Have I a right to a hearing from these friends of free speech? The Minister at the start of his waspish and apoplectic statement just now complained of what he called the tactics of the Opposition, referring to the fact that we have from time to time called for a quorum. Whatever Deputies opposite may think, the people would regard it as entirely reasonable that there should be a quorum when matters of important public business are being discussed and we have no apologies to offer for calling for a quorum and it is the duty of the governing party to provide that quorum.

How often is the Deputy here?

I hope the newspapers will note that there are three members of the Labour Party in the House at the moment.

On a point of order, we did not see Deputy O'Brien here twice during the past 12 months and now he is talking about a quorum.

That is not a point of order.

If Deputies opposite wish to prolong the time on this Bill I do not mind. I am quite prepared to stay here. We in the Labour Party have made it abundantly clear that we are opposed to this Bill as a whole and we are offering our amendments not as frivolous amendments—which they are not—but as an attempt to palliate some of the worst effects which we fear from this Bill. We regard the Bill as a whole as quite unnecessary, and probably many members opposite secretly agree with us, and it is being pushed on by the personalamour propre of the Minister for Justice who wants to put through this unnecessary piece of legislation. In order to temper its worst results we have put down certain amendments of which this is one. We think that the whole matter of the Bill could have been handled differently and if the Government and the Minister had shown a little consideration for our amendments or some appreciation of at least the kernel of our concern, things could have gone more smoothly and the debate need not have been so prolonged and acrimonious as, unfortunately, it has been from time to time.

People of the city and of the country who were shocked by the occurrence at Hume Street when strongarm men, commercially employed, used violence on defenceless people were concerned about it. Whether these amendments are perfectly calculated to achieve their ends or not, they refer to a real subject of concern. This has not at any time, either in relation to the last amendment which, of course, is linked with this or to this amendment, been conceded by the Minister. On the contrary, he has treated all the amendments offered as beneath contempt, not merely in form but in substance, and he has discerned behind them all sorts of sinister intentions of reducing this land to chaos unless his silly little Bill is passed with the minimum of discussion. On these benches we think that this attitude of the Minister is not conducive to the discharge of the business of the House nor is this insistence on getting this unnecessary Bill through at all costs helpful to parliamentary government and to the kind of consensus which can exist and which other Ministers have known how to elicit on other questions.

We also think that the callous failure to acknowledge the danger we have in mind, that is the use of private armies, is in itself disquieting. The emotional quality of the resistance which is shown to these amendments reveals something of the spirit in which, under such a Minister, a Bill such as this could be administered. That is the source of our disquiet.

Deputy Cooney had criticisms of substance to make of this amendment and we would have hoped that the Minister would have pursued the discussion in the same reasonable tone which we can provide on matters here when we like and which has, unfortunately, been abrogated and from which we have wandered in this discussion. It has been suggested that if this Bill, as it stands, without any amendment is not passed, the rule of law in this country will in some way fail.

In relation to the previous amendment, the Minister said that if the words we sought to have omitted were omitted an ordinary common law right would be abrogated. It is an exaggeration to claim that a right which exists in common law could be suppressed by the omission of certain words in a statute which has yet to be passed. At the moment the words do not have force in law and we fail to see how their omission could abrogate a right in common law. Nor do we see that this cranky—and possibly unconstitutional—statute can add anything to the power of the rule of law or to respect for the law.

We were accused by Deputy Burke, in a moment of emotion, of seeking rule by the mob in the street and of seeking chaos. In a personal remark, which in a cooler moment I think the Deputy will withdraw, we were accused of encouraging the kind of people who threw rats at our colleague, the late Deputy Dunne. That was an unfortunate thing to say.

We have no such intention. We are as concerned for the rule of law as any other party in this House and we have shown our concern for it and for the avoidance of violence more consistently than have the Government party. The rule of law involves and extends protection to people with property but it also involves protection of other people in their relations with the owners of property. The balance between those two kinds of rights always has been a delicate matter. As we know, the law at one time was almost exclusively concerned with the protection of the rights of people of property and there are still vestiges of that remaining. The trend of legislation in modern times in most civilised countries has been to extend more sensitive protection to people without property in their relations with owners of property.

This Bill as a whole goes against that tendency. It tends to unleash the arm of property which can be used in such form as K Security. The Bill tends in that direction and the disquiet this has caused in our ranks and in others is serious. While the letter of the Bill is open to serious objection, the spirit in which the case for the Bill has been argued is more dangerous. If that spirit is to be the spirit in which this Bill is implemented, we consider we should redouble our opposition to it and to press our amendments as far as we can.

I had intended to be brief on this subject and simply to add my voice concisely to those who support this amendment. I think the Ceann Comhairle was in the House for the contributions of Deputy Burke and the Minister and I trust he will extend to me the opportunity to deal with matters he permitted those speakers to deal with. Before going on to my general considerations of this amendment, I should like to refer briefly to the speeches of Deputy Burke and of the Minister.

Deputy Burke raised the objection at the beginning of his contribution that if a person finds squatters in his house he has the right to eject them. Deputy Cooney has pointed out that there is an ancient common law right to protect one's property and in the history of this Parliament the Labour Party have never tried by the various mechanisms available to them to introduce legislation to abrogate that right. I can say without any danger of contradiction, or without any need to ask anyone's opinion on the matter, that we uphold that ancient common law right, as I am sure do all Members of this House.

However, the reality is that trespass, which is a well-understood though complex and ancient category of transgression in law, is brought by this legislation within the criminal law. This poses a new situation. The transfer of trespass into the criminal law is implicit, and, in fact, explicit, in this legislation, and we must point out the dangers of that course and the anomalies that will exist if the Bill is to become an Act of this Parliament.

Of course, people in possession of their houses object if they find squatters on their property. All persons of all descriptions in possession of a home protect their property—one could generalise and say that this applies to every living thing. The protection of a home, of territory, or a nest, is a basic instinct of all living things. It is right that this should be recognised by legislation and that the right should be protected by legislation.

To pose such unpleasant possibilities for people in possession and occupation of homes is to distort entirely the real nature of the problem of squatters. People do not want to squat for fun, they do not do it out of wickedness, and they do not do it on a major scale. They squat out of need, out of exasperation, out of outrage. When real need is expressed in such actions as squatting, when there is real exasperation because of the unavailability of adequate accommodation, when there is outrage at the contrast, on the one hand, between the provision of insufficient housing—which creates the pressure—and certain kinds of commercial buildings, on the other hand, there is a situation in which a small number of people—never a significant number of the entire population—do things for reasons of protest and of expressing their outrage and indignation.

You can deal with that sort of genuine problem in two ways. You try to crush it by legislation or you can deal with the point that is producing their outrage. I said a long time ago that agitators— and there are agitators in Ireland—are symptoms and not causes. At times it is improper to agitate, and at other times it is obligatory. When the housing situation gets to the stage it has got to in Dublin, agitation is, in fact, obligatory and not an offence, not a crime, not a socially undesirable action.

To say that every home peacefully occupied by the population of this country is under threat by squatters is to say something that is a ridiculous distortion of the real situation. I noticed a word occurring a number of times in what Deputy Burke had to say. He said: "We are only trying to protect the decent people of this country." He said later on in a totally different part of his speech: "We are not going to interfere with any decent man." I wonder if by "decent" people Deputy Burke means people he and his party approve of. People have the entitlement to legal protection whether they are decent or whether they are rotten.

You cannot say on somebody's arbitrary judgment that something is a characteristic of decent people whom the law will protect and with whom we will not interfere, leaving other people out. The law has to protect everyone. You cannot make judgments as to who is decent and who is not decent. Other than in the explicit carrying out of that law, the State must not interfere with people whether they are decent or not decent. If you start creating categories like this you move into the authoritarian area which is in the mood of thís Bill, the mood of the Government Party, and the mood of the current times. You face the possibility of the abandonment of fundamental civil rights, of internment, of the use of the whole oppressive apparatus of the State against those who are not, to quote Deputy Burke's phrase, "decent people".

He says that we have suffered from the parliament of the streets. The Labour Party have played their part in the history of this Parliament to uphold it and defend it. He says we want anarchy. The Minister said there were certain people in this House who would like to see no law, certain people in this House "seeking to reduce Ireland to anarchy". I will come back to that in a moment. He said that we in the Labour Party want to replace the Parliament in this building, of this nation, with the parliament of the streets. I think those things were said in anger, in irritation, in chagrin, and I do not propose to take them too seriously. I do not propose to spend time in trying to rebut them.

I want to come back to the point that when ordinary citizens who are trying to live reasonably useful lives take to the streets in large numbers, it is not because of agitators, but because of real issues that are not dealt with. If you want to have a reasonable, decently functioning, calm, legal Parliament which is not being pushed by the parliament of the street, you must remove the cause which results in ordinary citizens going out on to the streets. We must never try to legislate street demonstration or agitation out of existence. When people's irritation with the proceedings of this House, when people's fury with the unsolved problems such as the problem of housing, express themselves in waves of public demonstrations, serious public representatives must listen and must see what the cause is and try to remove it.

We must not make conflict situations between this Parliament and the parliament of the people. The parliament of the people in the streets in a structured legal sense is subordinate to us but, in fact, the word we use to describe members of this assembly, the name we call ourselves by, is a good name. We call ourselves Deputies. We come here as the Deputies of the parliament of the streets, the houses, the fields and the villages all over the country. In fact, in the long run, the people are sovereign, not this Parliament. If large numbers of them come out on the streets on serious issues it is for serious reasons.

I am not suggesting that the speech of my colleague from North County Dublin, Deputy Burke, was a Fascist speech. This is a Fascist piece of legislation but I do not think his was a Fascist speech. Yet there are the beginnings of these authoritarian echoes, the echoes that we protect decent people and that those we do not characterise as decent are outside the law, the echoes that the parliament of the streets is something alien, something wicked, something not to be listened to, something in conflict with this Parliament and something which, if it becomes too serious and too extensive in the end, must be repressed.

I do not see a conflict between the parliament of the streets and the Parliament that sits here. I would very much regret the day that there ever came to be such a conflict. We are Deputies and we must listen to the streets. We must try to find the real causes that put people there. If the grievances are real, we must try to remove them. That is the only way that agitation, the parliament of the streets, demonstrations, can be ended, not by repression.

We were accused of hypocrisy by Deputy Burke for trying to oppose this Bill. Had I got up sooner I would have said rather bitter things about this word "hypocrisy". If I simply refer to it as having been uttered by Deputy Burke, those who know him will know what I mean without my being more explicit. He accused us of not wanting law and order. He said we do not want Parliament to exist. I will come to that later in a different context in regard to what the Minister said.

I thought we were having a reasonable discussion on this Bill and on these amendments until this was injected into the debate by Deputy Burke and by the Minister, until they were permitted to do so by the Ceann Comhairle. That having happened, we have no option but to take up those points and answer them. I would turn his own word "hypocrisy" back on Deputy Burke in the context of last year, when the threat to law and order in the most central and profound way in the heart of the Government came from his party and when the Minister introducing this legislation is kept in office by persons against whom that threat can be made legitimately. This is where the law and order threat in Ireland is coming from at this time. When that member of that party has the effrontery to stand up and hurl from those benches that accusation, then he has brought it on himself and on his party that we reply in the way in which I am now replying. Nobody in that party has the right to make threats or accusations about law and order at this time in this Parliament and about wanting the Parliament to exist.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, you were not in the House and I realise you may be wondering at the relevance of what I am saying to the amendment we are discussing. I am following it, Sir, as quickly as I can because these were points permitted to be raised on this amendment by speakers on the Government benches; I am following it, Sir, entirely in that sense and I am dealing with quotations from things which they said and which they introduced into this debate. I realise I am talking not directly to the amendment, but I am talking to the points made by previous speakers and, so long as I stick to the points made, I have the right, I understand, to reply to them and I feel this ought to be done as quickly as possible.

We were accused of not wanting law and order to exist and I think I have given the reply to that. We were accused of not wanting Parliament to exist. But where has the threat to Parliament been in the last couple of years? I am amazed at the effrontery that can make that charge from those benches. I am also amazed at the foolishness and the forgetfulness of the events that have been convulsing Ireland in the last year. They have not originated in either of the Opposition parties.

Deputy Burke also accused me of making false statements. I do not propose to pursue that except to say that I still await the rebuttal of those statements. I still await an answer. I have been waiting now for some time. If they were false Deputy Burke and his party owe it to this country to show how they are false. A simple statement that they are false is horrible and ridiculous, a bald statement without any indication as to the way in which they are false.

I want to turn now to the extraordinary accusation made by the Minister for Justice. I do not propose to spend a great deal of time on the petulant interjections of the Minister for Justice and the extraordinary accusations from a man in his responsible position that we are seeking to reduce Ireland to anarchy. There are certain people I am quoting, certain people in this House, who would like to see no law. There are certain people in this House who would wish to deny the right of free speech. These ridiculous and petulant interjections are unworthy of the Minister and the same observations I have made about Deputy Burke's charges apply to him also. As Minister for Justice he must be aware more than anybody in this House as to where the threat to law is coming from in this island at this moment. It is his responsibility to know that as Minister for Justice. He must be aware as to where the threat is coming from in this island at this moment. He must be so aware in his professional capacity as Minister for Justice. For him to hurl, in the possession of the knowledge he has as Minister for Justice, these accusations at us is so ridiculous as to give one yet further reason, if further reason be needed, to doubt his competence to fill this sensitive Ministry, an important post at an important time.

I want to turn now to the direct content of this amendment. I think it is generally recognised, if one compares populations with different ethnic origins in countries in which there is a mixture of ethnic groups, such as the United States of America, parts of Britain, Australia, and so on, that we, as Irishmen, have a national propensity to come to blows with each other rather more rapidly than other ethnic groups. This may have racial origins, to the very limited extent that the Irish are a race. It may have origins in the distant ethnic past of our country, but it also has more recent origins in our behaviour and our attitude towards each other.

I think there is a bullyboy tradition on the Irish political scene. I think, and I say this seriously, that if one were to look at the documentation of the history of every general election, particularly since the late twenties, one would see that in the main the exponents of that bullyboy tradition came from within the ranks of the Fianna Fáil Party. The willingness to "lurry up" the people, if I may use that phrase, with whom one does not agree, this tendency—in the past, fortunately, not expressed in a very structural way, just the little but of intimidation here and there, the little bits of the offer of physical violence here and there—this tendency built on top, of course, of what I have already admitted to, far transcends the tradition of party politics. This tendency to come to blows with each other is, I think, a national characteristic, and a regrettable one. But, then, in recent years, far from an effort on the part of the Government party, which has been in power and has been the largest, in many ways the most influential party, and, therefore, an extraordinary source of reaction of influence in this area, far from seeing a deliberate and conscious effort to move away from this national tradition, which, I think, all of us will admit is a national tradition, and a regrettable one, the evolution has been all the other way. We have not seen the structural effort to move away from it and I believe that this Bill is an example of just that and it is with that that Deputy Pattison's amendment is specifically concerned. We have seen by the Government party a strengthening of the tendency towards the bullyboy approach, rather than a weakening of it, rather than a deliberate effort to remove that tendency from the public scene. We have seen this, to me, strictly distasteful sight of the growing up of private security groups under the guise of the protection of private property but which were, in fact, on the road to becoming paramilitary organisations functioning similarly to the police, dressed like the police, carrying batons, but not, of course, subject to the control to which the police are subject. We did not have to wait for Hume Street to see the emergence of groups, which were formerly allegedly designed to protect private property, being used on the streets in a way I consider to be altogether wrong. We saw it at the time of the general election. We saw a security group being employed and used by the Government party. I think that was a retrograde evolution. I think it was one that any political party should have set its face against but, above all, one against which the party in power should have set its face.

To come to the events then which had a significant part in the genesis of this Bill: we had the events of Hume Street, a formal justification for the protection of property and, yet, it is implicit in the 1916 Proclamation, to which Deputy Burke referred so fulsomely, that the heritage of the Irish people is more than just the property of a person who happens to have legal title to that building. We saw a specific organisation—K Security—used in what was to me an authoritarian, arbitrary, ruthless and disgraceful way. Of course, if you dress people like police and give them some of the physical force equipment that police possess, batons and the like—in this case they had pick handles—and if they function in circumstances in which they believe they have the approval of the Government, one must not be surprised if the individual loses the distinction between what is permissive legally and what transcends the limits of legality. On that particular occasion these people behaved disgracefully and beyond what ought to be permitted in a democratic society. It was an escalation of the bullyboy tendency that I believe to be a fundamental part of the thinking of the entire Fianna Fáil organisation. This time their actions were structured. They had uniforms and pick handles and they believed themselves to have approval of the Government and of the entire Fianna Fáil Party. Indeed, nothing has been done since then that would give rise to any doubt in their minds as to the existence of such approval.

If we take a parallel with the treatment of the students who were trying to preserve the Hume Street buildings—we have a tradition also of pushing around tinkers. I suppose it is more polite now to refer to them as itinerants but the usage of a more polite term does not help them in their dilemma as people who are outside society—Irish men and women who are deprived of their rights. They have always been pushed somewhat more than have other citizens and they have been intimidated more too. We have known of scandalous cases in some parts of the country where they were intimidated by this bullyboy psychology to which I refer. That is the sort of treatment that, from ordinary people, deepens their sense of alienation and makes more difficult their integration into our society. I know that in many ways they constitute a problem that is a source of irritation but we have a responsibility to integrate them because if we keep them separate from the rest of the community we are then faced with a totally different set of rules and attitudes towards them. The only possibility is to treat them as equal citizens and to do everything possible to integrate them.

Briefly, that is the background against which Deputy Pattison moved this amendment which I am supporting because were it to be simply an effort to take away the ancient common law rights of a person to protect his property, it would be one which I am convinced our party would not have put forward and would be one which I would not support but that is not the point. The reason for putting down the amendment is that this ancient recognised category of transgression which is known as trespass, by this extraordinary and, to my mind, scandalous piece of legislation that is being pushed now through petulance rather than for any better motive, has been brought within the criminal law. The object of our amendment is to emphasise the impossibilities, the anomalies and the ridiculous situations that will arise if this Bill is enacted. When one gets into the category of a relationship regulated by criminal law, one must use the evolved mechanism of the police for regulating that sort of relationship. One must take the force of what the Minister said when he talked about the situation that would arise in removing animals from a field in which there were crops of corn. The situation can arise, too, in relation to rights of way and in relation to children who stray. All of these actions would constitute trespass— actions that occur normally but which are sometimes deliberate or malicious or which sometimes are devised for the purpose of deliberate political demonstration. Who are we with our historical evolution to deny the validity of the trespass which occurs in the pursuit of political protest? Deputy Burke said that this House was sacred. If by that he meant it was a place that must have the respect of every Irishman, I agree with him but it is worth saying that this House and none of the institutions of this State would exist if, during many years, Irish people had not, at times, had to choose to break laws. There could be very little demonstration of a valid kind——

That was under English law.

I take the value of Deputy Burke's distinction but my understanding is that the vast bulk of our common law from which trespass is being removed is, in fact, the carrying into the legislation of our State of what was the common law in England. While I know that the source of that legislation was an alien government, at the same time, the content of the law is the common law of England which is, in fact, the source of our common law.

The point I was making is that ridiculous and impossible situations arise, situations that make impossible the working of law and order to which so much reference has been made and for which all of us profess allegiance, once trespass is transferred into the area of criminal law.

In other words, the Deputy wants mob rule.

Has the Deputy ever read the history of Fianna Fáil? He should not talk about mob rule.

What I have been saying at some length is a total reversal of what I intended saying.

The Deputy wants the crowd on the street to rule.

The source of the breaking of our laws and the source of anarchy and of the whole threat to law and order in this country during the past year or so has come precisely from Deputy Burke's party.

Debate adjourned.