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

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
7. In page 3, line 34, after "who" to insert "verbally (otherwise than on radio or television)".
—(Deputy Cooney.)

(Cavan): In the time at my disposal last night I pointed out that section 4 of this Bill is by far the most objectionable section in the Bill. It provides that any person who encourages or advocates the commission of an offence under section 2 or 3 shall be guilty of an offence. It goes on to say that any person who is a member of a group shall be guilty of an offence if any one member of that group encourages or advocates the commission of an offence under section 2 or 3 unless that other person can satisfy the court that he did not consent or approve of the advocacy or encouragement. Indeed, subsection (3), which was supposedly brought in in ease of the situation, lays down that the court having regard to all the circumstances, may accept proof of membership of the group or association as proof that the accused person consented.

Those are very far reaching provisions. They are provisions which genuinely disturb me and if they were fully appreciated by the general public they would equally disturb them. I believe that if the members of the Fianna Fáil Party clearly understood what is implied in section 4 they would not support the Minister in this section.

We have had what I would describe as selective speaking from the Government benches on this Report Stage. Yesterday we had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach making reasoned speeches at considerable length on amendment No. 6. They displayed that they are lawyers of very considerable experience and they displayed a very good knowledge of what was implied in section 6. I hope that before this amendment has been dealt with—at any rate before amendments 7, 8 and 9 which are on the one topic have been dealt with—we will have the benefit of the views of members of the Fianna Fáil Party of the calibre of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and see them coming in here and supporting their Minister on this particular section and opposing the amendments. I sincerely hope the Government will not delegate this important amendment to Deputy Joe Dowling or Deputy Paddy Burke who, while they are quite eloquent, could not be expected to appreciate what is involved in this section of the amendment. I challenge Deputy Andrews and Deputy O'Kennedy to come in here and support section 4 and oppose the three amendments that are tabled to protect the freedom of the Press. This is a most objectionable section and that is why Deputy Cooney and I have put down these amendments to it. It is most objectionable because it constitutes an attack on the freedom of the Press and I hope that before I sit down I shall show first, the importance of the Press, secondly, how it is endangered and, thirdly, how absolutely imperative it is that the Press be maintained as a free organ of public opinion.

Down through the ages the free Press has exercised a powerful influence in forming and guiding public opinion. That influence has rarely, if ever, been abused. We are blessed with a responsible Press both national and provincial which behaves in a responsible and reasonable way and performs an invaluable function. The Press is a far more powerful influence and a greater bulwark against infringement of the constitutional and other rights and privileges of ordinary citizens than Parliament itself. That may sound extraordinary but I believe it to be a fact because in Parliament you may have a strong majority, numerically at any rate, as in the present Dáil, and Ministers may, with their majority behind them, steamroll legislation through the House while all the Opposition can do is talk.

They can also vote and not support the resolution as the rope supports the hanged man.

(Cavan): I did not include Deputy Carter in the same category as Deputies Dowling and Burke; perhaps he will come in later and make a speech relevant to the amendment and support section 4 and approve the amendment.

Why not?

(Cavan): Provided it is relevant I shall listen to it with interest. All an Opposition can do in a set-up such as we have here at present is do their homework, come here and make speeches pointing out the dangers in legislation. As Deputy Carter says, they can also vote but as long as the Government party remain united for the purpose of voting here, remain strung together for the purpose of voting, the outcome of a vote is obvious: the Government will win. That does not mean that we should not discharge our duties here as an Opposition by analysing these measures and bringing them before the public. All our talk here would be of no value if we did not have the Press to publicise what is said here, to write leading articles on the implications of legislation introduced here.

This Bill has been before the House for a considerable time. I can truthfully say that it was only as a result of the Committee Stage debate—which is not usually the type of debate that gets across to the public being what I might describe as a ping-pong debate —that we did get over to the people the dangers of the provisions of this Bill. The Press rose magnificently to the occasion. If we did not have the Press as watchdogs of what is going on here and if we did not have the Press to communicate with the people it would be a bad day for Ireland.

This measure and this particular section is calculated to muzzle the Press, to warn the Press, and is drafted to make the Press think before they write, to make the Press be careful lest they become involved in the criminal law. That is wrong; that is a dangerous step in a dangerous direction, particularly when the other means of mass communication, the television and radio service, are under the direct control of the Government and subject to directions from the Government. This is written into an Act of Parliament.

(Cavan): Not in a statutory fashion, but we had one Cabinet member, who is not now a Cabinet member, admitting in this House that he did lift the telephone after hearing a news item and that he did speak to Telefís Éireann.

So do many thousands of others.

(Cavan): Not the employers of those who work in Telefís Éireann. The Government can sack these people, they can sack the RTE Authority. John Citizen can ring up and he will not do any harm even if he does not do any good. However, it is a different thing for a Minister of State who can hire and fire the people employed at Montrose.

In such a situation it is of the greatest importance that we have a free and unfettered Press, a Press that has not hanging over them a section of an Act of Parliament such as this which can be used to curb and to restrain them. The Press can influence Government and public opinion. They can bring the Government to their senses and compel them to have second thoughts, provided the Press is not muzzled.

We have only to consider the dole episode a few months ago. At that time circulars were sent to all exchanges telling them that it was proposed to withhold the dole from all single men in urban and rural Ireland. When the news broke there was a violent reaction from public opinion—a reaction from the better-off sections as well as from the poorer people who were affected by the order. Rarely have I seen such a reaction from the Press. Without exception, and without regard to political inclination, every national and provincial paper wrote scathing leading articles in which they condemned the proposals in the strongest language. I would pose this question to the House: two or three days after those leading articles were published, if the unemployed had decided it was necessary to protest and if the form of protest was the forcible possession of labour exchanges—which course I would not condone—would the newspaper editors be brought before the courts for encouraging the squatting?

The Deputy knows very well they would not.

(Cavan): I will go along further and I may prove the Minister might not be too safe a man to have had in charge at that time. In my opinion the newspaper editors who wrote the articles would fall within this section because they were influencing public opinion and were encouraging protests. The purpose of the leading articles was to bring to the notice of the people the outrage being committed on the helpless unemployed people, on the underprivileged section. If as a result of such articles some people broke the law—as they would under this Bill— the newspaper editors would be open to prosecution. It is no use the Minister for Justice telling me they would not be prosecuted——

They would not be committing an offence. They could not be prosecuted—it is not that they would not be prosecuted.

(Cavan): I hope the Minister will be able to explain that to the satisfaction of the House and the country. On previous Stages of this Bill I pointed out that some of the protests, that will now be illegal, were made to highlight the shortage of houses and the failure of the Government to live up to their obligations. If such protests continue in the future, are the newspapers to be mute and not at liberty to comment? If they are at liberty to comment, will they be confined to taking one line— to condemning the protest without making any reference to the cause? Surely that is not what we have come to? If they are confined to a condemnation of the protesters, without making any reference whatever to the cause of the protest, that is not fair.

(Cavan): If they refer to the cause of the protest, surely it can be said that they are encouraging the protesters to continue, and if they do this they are falling within section 4 and leaving themselves open to prosecution. Even if we are in the “July gallop” and even if we feel like going on holiday, and despite the fact that some of us had appointments in the country today, it is our duty to be here and to ventilate the situation which is created by this section.

I do not wish to indulge in personalities but I am fearful of putting this section into the hands of the present Government and the present Minister. This is not just a sweeping statement made without justification. The Government do not like criticism, neither does the Minister for Justice. Last Sunday week the Sunday Press published a front page news item drawing to the attention of its readers the fact that the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1935, was being violated.

What has that to do with the amendment?

(Cavan): I am fearful the Press will be curbed and restricted. Within the last week in this House the Minister has given evidence that he is the type of man who would have a go at the Press and who would bring the Press to heel. When I finish my remarks, if I have not made a reasonable case, I will listen to the Minister's comments.

Last Sunday week The Sunday Press published an article bringing to the attention of the country the fact that the Censorship of Publications Act, 1929, had been violated by the advertising of contraceptives in papers in this country. The Irish Press is controlled by a respected Deputy of this House, Deputy de Valera. He put down a question here last week on this topic asking whether the Censorship of Publications Act, 1929, would be uniformly enforced. He considered that he had not got satisfaction from the Minister in his reply and he brought the matter up on the Adjournment. I want to deal with that as evidence that no unreasonable provision should be put in a Bill which would enable the Minister, or any Minister, to attack the Press and to terrify the Press.

Deputy de Valera was making the case that the Censorship of Publications Act, 1929, had been used against newspapers for publishing a divorce case in the south of Ireland and that it had not been used in reference to publications which were sold in the city of Dublin advertising contraceptives. Referring to Deputy de Valera the Minister said:

He appears to complain that because a number of newspapers published in this country were prosecuted under section 14 of the Censorship of Publications Act, 1929, therefore, certain other prosecutions should be brought under section 16 of the same Act against certain other publications. Whether this is the view of just one newspaper proprietor—

the sting is there

—or the view of the proprietors of the four newspapers that I understand were prosecuted under.section 14, I do not know but I did inquire from the Garda what were the magazines that gave rise to this complaint and I was given four names. I was told that all four were printed and published in Britain, outside the jurisdiction.

Then the Minister went on to state that the publishers or printers of these magazines could not be prosecuted because they were outside the jurisdiction. He said to Deputy de Valera, who is a Deputy of this House and the proprietor of a newspaper that, as a result of the Deputy's intervention, certain unfortunate booksellers in central Dublin, as I understand it, forming part of Deputy de Valera's constituency, would be prosecuted or could be prosecuted.

I said "could be".

(Cavan): In other words——

I did not instigate the matter.

(Cavan): The Minister acted rather violently and impatiently. That, I believe, was a threat to the proprietor of a newspaper who is also a Member of this House—that some of his constituents could be prosecuted and that the people in England were to get away with it. In the same short reply the Minister said, as reported at column 1245, Volume 255 of the Official Report of 13th July, 1971:

I have a recollection of reading, in recent months, in all the Dublin newspapers, to a greater or lesser extent, numerous articles on the topic which is the subject of our discussion this evening. In particular, I recall quite a considerable number of articles by a lady who was, I understand, the woman editor of a particular newspaper—unfortunately, I believe she has left that employment now. On behalf of a recently formed organisation she consistently and almost daily appeared, to me at any rate, to advocate certain things which might or might not come within the ambit of section 16 (1).

Everybody in the House knew that the Minister was talking about Miss Mary Kenny who was employed by Deputy de Valera in the Irish Press and that Deputy de Valera was getting his nose rubbed in the muck, although he is a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, because he dared to protest both in the Sunday Press and in Parliament about something that he thought the people should know about. What sort of a reception would a Member of this side of the House get if he protested, when a person bearing the name of Major de Valera, a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, was ridiculed and threatened?

It was a most remarkable speech.

(Cavan): That is not the end of it. The most dangerous part of it is still to come. In the same reply the Minister said:

As a result of my attention having been drawn so eloquently and so forcibly to the very strict provisions of this section this evening, I consider the gardaí presumably will have to go through the files of a number of newspapers to see, not whether the advertising columns might potentially offend section 16, but whether the editorial matter also might be in breach of the section.

Unfortunately it may well place a heavy load on the gardaí to do this. As Deputy de Valera pointed out in the debate, the gardaí are overworked at the moment and I can say without doubt that this is so. However, the matter is one for the Attorney General and for him only. The matter has now been referred to him for decision.

I put it to the House and to the country that, if that was not threatening a newspaper proprietor, if that was not a threat from the Minister for Justice to a newspaper proprietor for having exercised what was a perfectly legitimate right, I do not know what it was.

He sought uniform enforcement—or is it to apply only to English magazines?

(Cavan): I will leave it to the House. It was a vicious little attack by the Minister for Justice who was narked and annoyed, and who was driven into a white rage.

I was in very good humour. I well remember.

It shows what his good humour is. What would he be like if he was in bad humour?

(Cavan): The Minister was in very good humour when he was making that speech— that is true—because he thought he was scoring at the rate of no man's business against the serious-minded Deputy de Valera. He did not realise, or he would not have been in such good humour, that he was really spelling out to the people what he could do to the Press, and that he would not put up with any nonsense from the Press. That is the serious part of it.

Uniform enforcement. Should it apply to some and not to others? Is that what the Deputy is advocating?

(Cavan): I am not advocating any such thing. I am treating this as a very serious matter.

Is it all right if A does it but not if B does it?

(Cavan): The Minister is in a mess and he can get out of it any way he likes.

It is the Deputy who is in a mess.

(Cavan): The Deputy is not in a mess.

A can break the law and B cannot?

(Cavan): I wish I could be allowed to develop my point.

Deputy Fitzpatrick.

(Cavan): I would have expected the Minister to have said in reply to this question, if this is his view: “Now that my attention has been drawn to this, the Garda have been asked to look at the entire matter and the law will be uniformly enforced.” I object to the Minister ignoring the other two Dublin dailies and picking out Mary Kenny from the Irish Press because she was employed by the man who dared, as a newspaper proprietor, to bring to public notice a matter he thought required to be brought to public notice.

Hear, hear.

(Cavan): That is the point. There was not a word about the Irish Independent. But why was he not prosecuted at that time? Why should he be prosecuted now simply in retaliation?

Hear, hear.


(Cavan): I will not be put off. If Deputy Bruton were a member of the Fianna Fáil Party his retort to that interruption would be that he was at Mass this morning. I will not be put off. This is a serious matter. It is just unfortunate that we have to indulge in this, but it happened. I happened to come in here the other night and I was present here during the debate; only for that I might not have known a thing about it. It is unfortunate that this threat and this attitude should be adopted by the Minister towards a newspaper proprietor and a Deputy of this House who saw fit and thought it necessary to raise in the public Press a matter of public concern. I am prepeared to leave this issue to a jury of the people, including fairminded people in the Fianna Fáil Party, to decide whether or not that was an attack on a newspaper proprietor, whether or not that was a threat to use a section of an Act of Parliament to bring a newspaper proprietor to heel and to prevent him putting down awkward questions here or writing embarrassing articles in the Fianna Fáil group of newspapers. It was altogether disgraceful, but I am not concerned about that; I am more concerned about putting section 4 of this Bill into the hands of a Minister who has demonstrated that he can behave thus and that he can think like that.

(Cavan): I have, I think, demonstrated to the House that this section needs serious consideration and that the amendments should be carefully considered, divorced from whatever heat has been engendered in this debate.

I said earlier that it is unfortunate that controversial Bills like this, any stage of them, should be debated here at this time of year when people are naturally anxious for the Adjournment. I would not, I think, be going too far if I said that they are introduced at this time of the year in the hope, perhaps, that they will be galloped through the House. I would not let section 4 of this Bill through under any circumstances. The Marts Bill was introduced at the same time of the year. It cannot be just a coincidence. We wasted enough time during the last 12 months talking all sorts of nonsense.

Who started it?

It was not Little Jack Horner anyway.

(Cavan): No, it was Little Jack Lynch. That is who started it. I have, I think, made a prima facie case. I will be glad to hear the Minister in reply. I sincerely hope the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach will speak on this and also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education. So long as I am here I will stand up for the rights of the Press. About 12 months ago I criticised the Press. I criticised it for not taking seriously indications given from this side of the House that things were not all right within the Government. Had those suggestions and warnings been taken up at the time, warnings about certain Ministers within the Government and about the Taoiseach, and had leading articles been written about them, I believe the Government over there and the Fianna Fáil Party would not today be in the mess in which they are.

The day we do anything to reduce the influence of the Press, or to take away the power of the Press, or curb the freedom of the Press, we will be embarking on an extremely dangerous course and moving in an extremely dangerous direction. We will be leaving the way open to one-party government, to the sort of situation in which freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of communication will be muzzled. That is what this amendment and amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are all about; they are designed to ensure certain freedoms. If I had any indication from the Minister that either of amendments Nos. 9 and 10 would be accepted, it would not be necessary for me to make such a strong case on this particular amendment. Surely there is nothing objectionable in writing in in black and white in this Bill that reasonable comment on a matter of public interest in any newspaper, magazine, periodical or book shall not constitute an offence under this section. If I had an undertaking that an amendment on those lines would be accepted it would not be necessary for me to speak here at all. Is there anything wrong with that? I wonder does the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education see anything wrong in it. I wonder does the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach see anything wrong in it. It is no use telling me this section will not be used because I just do not believe that. I believe that the Government are quite capable of using it and I believe the Minister for Justice —I said this to his face—is quite capable of using this section to bring the Press to heel if the section is not amended in the way in which I hope it will be amended.

A powerful case has already been made in favour of this amendment and against section 4 by Deputy Cooney, Deputy Desmond and Deputy Fitzpatrick, a most comprehensive case requiring an answer. When Deputy Fitzpatrick sat down, we were ready to speak, but we allowed a few moments to elapse to see whether there would be any attempt from the benches over there to answer at this stage. All we have had are occasional interruptions in answer to the powerful arguments put forward. We would like also and we deserve at this stage of the debate to have an indication as to what is the Government's and the Minister's attitude towards amendment No. 7 and towards this series of amendments. Deputy Fitzpatrick referred to three amendments that are designed to protect the freedom of the Press. With respect, I would like to point out that there are four such amendments, one of which is in the names of Deputies Pattison and Desmond.

It is desirable that we have a quorum.

If these gentlemen cannot provide an argument they might at least provide a quorum.

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

I was pointing out that at the commencement of the discussion on this amendment, there were three powerful statements, one from Deputy Cooney, one from Deputy Desmond and this morning and last evening from Deputy Fitzpatrick. Together, these statements amounted to a powerful case in favour of amendment No. 7 and the group of amendments of which it is first. They amounted to a strong constructive condemnation of section 4 and all its implications, this section that has already been condemned widely in the country generally.

When Deputy Fitzpatrick sat down I waited to see whether anything would be forthcoming from the benches over there. However, nothing was forthcoming except the usual mindless cries and repeated jokes in the atmosphere of the fourth form in some rather decrepit school. There was no argument and no answer.

That is very poor. The Deputy will need to do better than that.

Instead of answering, that is the kind of interruption that we have been getting. This is a perfect demonstration of what I mean. I am happy for these people to continue with such interruptions so that the country can judge the kind of argument they are capable of putting up.

They are offered an opportunity to debate but, instead, they sit on their benches and yap.

Bring in the smelling salts.

Would Deputy Carter please cease interrupting?

If they wish to waste time they can do so but that is not what we are trying to do. What we are trying to do is to gain sufficient time for the country to realise the importance of what is going through here and to give a focus for vocal, determined and effective opposition to this Bill and, in particular, to this section.

The amendments that we are now considering are intended to palliate section 4. They are only palliative of it. The proper amendment that we all really desire is the one that was put down by Deputy Fitzpatrick for the purpose of deleting the entire section. Without section 4 this Bill would be a mischievous, a trivial, and unnecessary Bill, a Bill which should be thrown out but not a Bill on which it would be worth wasting much time. It is this section which gives the Bill all its sinister importance. I will grant the Minister that. With section 4, the Bill is an important one; historically it will be important if it is passed because it will mark a milestone on the road towards undermining the law of freedom of the Press and towards the undermining of democratic institutions and free speech. It is important that we should not allow this stage to pass without sounding the alarm as we are doing here.

At this point I would like to issue an appeal. It is not an appeal to the Minister for Justice whom I wish were here but who, of course, has not been here for very long sessions of the debate on this Bill that he is trying to bulldoze through. In most cases he allows it to be bulldozed vicariously. I would not make an appeal to the present Minister for Justice because I think he is a man of violent impulses and confined understanding with a smattering of the law. That is not the type of person to whom an appeal can be addressed with any hope of obtaining a magnanimous response but I would address this appeal to the Government and, above all, to the several men of common sense within the Government. I appeal to these men to drop this section now. There must be many people in the governing party who realise that this section is totally unnecessary, dangerous and repugnant to democratic conventions and who must realise that to persevere with it can only bring the Government into disrepute. Putting it at a low level it will get them a bad Press and a bad continuing Press.

There are those of them who are alive to such dangers. I would appeal to them now to drop this section. I do not say that if they drop this section or if they accept this and the following amendments we shall drop our opposition to this Bill, we will not. We in the Labour Party will vote as we are committed to vote against this Bill. I would say that if section 4 is dropped now or if the amendments to it are fully accepted there would not be very much purchase for further argument against this Bill. We could not go on arguing forever about the difference between a £5 fine and a £50 fine. The difference is £45 and everybody knows it, there is not a great deal more to be said about that; but there is a great deal more to be said and a great deal that ought to be said about section 4 and about these amendments and we are determined to say these things. As long as it is within our resources we shall continue to fight this Bill as hard as we can and as long as we can until we convince the governing party of the need for these amendments and of the need to drop section 4.

This section has effects which are obvious enough. I shall not attempt to cover the ground which has been very well covered by the three Deputies who have spoken already on this section, but basically it is clear it restricts freedom of comment to an extent which we cannot know until we see how it is worked. Our only gauge of how it will be worked can be what our opinion of the Government and of the Minister for Justice is and in what spirit a Minister like that is liable to operate these things.

Deputy Fitzpatrick illustrated the attitude of the Minister for Justice in relation to Press freedom very powerfully by a study of how this Minister dealt here in the House, quite recently, with Deputy de Valera who, quite independent of his honoured name, is one of the most respected Deputies in this House. It was dismaying and chilling to listen to the account of how he was dealt with when one considers the implications of this for the treatment of the Press.

I was reminded briefly of an anecdote concerning the late Joseph Stalin, who was approached at one time by one of the most respected members of his party, Lenin's widow, who wished to remonstrate with Stalin about his treatment of certain old party members. Stalin was a young, up and coming, tough, disrespectful character, with no great interest in the past or the past monuments of his party—the great names of his party—and he simply took his pipe out of his mouth and said: "If you do not shut up we will appoint a new Lenin's widow." This rather brutal and intolerant attitude is not the kind of attitude that we feel safe in entrusting our liberties to. The country is increasingly conscious of this and I think with every stage of the discussion of this Bill this becomes plainer.

This section of the Bill, the defects of which this amendment in particular and these amendments in general are designed in part to correct, affects most directly the Press, radio and television, but it affects of course every man, woman and child in the country indirectly by reason of its wider implications about the continuance of democracy and civil liberty in this country.

Deputy Fitzpatrick said that in some ways the Press is more important than Parliament for the defence of liberty. I see the point of that remark but I would not wholly agree with it. It seems to us that Press and Parliament are interdependent, they are linked together. There is no country in the world which has a really free Parliament without a really free Press and there is no country in the world which has a really free Press without a really free Parliament. These institutions are linked, their fates are linked. We wish to link and interrelate our opposition to this section and our support for this amendment and these amendments with the manner in which the Press, radio and television are attempting to defend the same liberties which are vital to us all. This is not a question of just a sectional liberty; it is the cause of liberty which is at stake here.

We would hope that, as we continue our critical opposition to this section and as we argue the case for these amendments, the Press will work, as it were, with Parliament on this. The Press has diagnosed what the trouble is, the Press has seen the evil of this section and has stated it; but, through the Chair, I should like to point out to the editors of our papers and to those in control of the media that time is running out. We here can make a case for this amendment, and for this group of amendments, we can sustain it for a certain time as long as we have effective breath and argument, but we can only do that for a certain time, there are only a limited number of Deputies who have been working on this and time will run out.

The party opposite has talked of running into the month of September, nobody takes that seriously, we are not going to run into the month of September. This Bill unamended, if that is the Government's wish, will rather soon become law so that now is the time, not only for us here to oppose this thing as best we may and to amend it if we can, but for the Press in a more massive and concerted fashion than it has yet done to make known its condemnation of the principle involved in this section.

I would hope also to make known the fact—and I hope it is a fact— although it is only for the Press to say whether it is, that the Press of this country would entertain for all the future a settled distrust of the party which forced through this section and began a process which could be an irrevocable and fatal process of gagging the freedom of Press comment and possibly eventually the freedom of news coverage. If our national Sunday papers were to come out on Sunday in that sense and if all our national dailies without exception were to come out on Monday in that sense this Government could be given pause and it just could be that they might begin to think again. The Minister for Justice would not, of course, think again. It is rather doubtful if he thought in the first place. But, his colleagues, who include men of sense and prudence if not of great sensitivity, might think again.

If this section of the Bill could be withdrawn, if its withdrawal could be obtained or even if all these amendments which reduce its noxiousness to a considerable degree could be made, then the evil of this Bill could be turned into good because we would have stopped a tide. We would have said that interference with the freedom of the Press is not acceptable here; it will be fought in Parliament and the fight in Parliament will be taken up in the Press and in the country and it will be made unrewarding for the people who are trying to do it.

I would ask, with respect, the Press to consider that. I am emboldened to do that by the fact that, as Deputy Desmond said here last night, we have read a number of editorials on this matter and we have received a circular from the National Union of Journalists asking us to do our bit in fighting this section of the Bill. We think we are doing it and what we are asking in return is that the Press should consider this point of timing. It is not enough to fight this Bill when it is a remote possibility. It is good that the alarm should then be sounded when it is a remote possibility. The Press did that. But, it is very important that at this time, when there is still a possibility of stopping this section, that the Press should act concertedly and with unambiguity and with force to destroy this section, get it taken out either by the passage of these amendments or, preferably, by dropping the whole thing.

I do not know whether we may interpret the silence on those benches, the silence unbroken except by these strange gutteral cries we hear from time to time—I do not know whether we are to interpret that as meaning that an agonising reappraisal is actually in force. I hope it may be. I very much hope it may be and if it is so, if they are prepared to withdraw this section, of course, this series of amendments, Nos. 7 to 10, will become unnecessary. So that, if that is so, the sooner they can tell us that they are withdrawing it the better so that we may be saved a waste of Parliamentary time and breath.

We here do not regard ourselves as being engaged in an obstructing process. We regard ourselves as focussing criticism on a highly defective, highly dangerous section of this Bill in order that time may be gained for public opinion through the Press to express itself unmistakeably. I say "through the Press" because, as has been pointed out, radio and television are not entirely free. I shall come back to that in a moment. There are certainly people both in the authority and in the service of the authority and of us all in broadcasting and in television who are trying to make it free, trying to make it a vehicle for free, informed, responsible comment as well as coverage of the news and there are also those who are trying to work in the opposite direction, limiting the freedom of radio and television, which is a very vulnerable, fragile, tenuous freedom and are here beginning the assault on something much more securely established with us, and that is, the freedom of the Press.

We are conscious that there is nothing in our arguments which will be new to the Press itself, or to those who value the freedom of the Press. There is nothing new here but it is essential that these principles be reasserted formally and as tirelessly as may be whenever they are in danger, as they undoubtedly are in danger here.

I should like to draw attention in that connection to the recent case in the United States of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. This is very relevant because it was a case in which the Press of America saw Press freedom as threatened. What did they do? Did they allow simply a test case to be taken? Did they allow the New York Times to go out on its own and then wait cautiously and see what would happen? No, they did not. When the New York Times was prevented from publishing a section of these papers, then the Washington Post took it up, the Christian Science Monitor, and so on; right across that great country, newspaper after newspaper took on the cause of the defence of the freedom of the Press then menaced as it is now so clearly menaced here and they showed that their combination in the assertion of Press freedom was a powerful force which must be recognised by a Government even despotically inclined—and I believe there are perhaps people of despotic inclination in most Governments, it is a human characteristic—we have our share of them here and they have their share of them in the United States. Obviously there are two main things involved— freedom of comment and freedom of news coverage. They are inter-related but that is a question we will have an opportunity to discuss more adequately on section 10 where it directly arises but what is here at stake is freedom of comment and it is freedom of comment which amendment No. 7 is designed to protect.

This is not just an interest of the Press as a section, an interest of the Fourth Estate, a professional interest, if you like, a trade union interest. Certainly, it is not for us on these benches to speak in any way disrespectfully of trade union interest and to say "a mere trade union interest", and we do not say so. A trade union interest is important, something to be respected. But this does go beyond that. The defence of the freedom of comment in the Press is the defence of a public interest, the interest of every individual and every group. We all have a right to have somebody free to speak up in our defence. Even if we have done something which is unpopular with the Government, with the State, we have a right to have someone to come forward to show the provocation which led us to undertake an act, even a slightly illegal act, to situate that in its context. Now, to situate an illegal act, an act of forcible entry and occupation, in its context would become, under this Bill, a criminal act. That is what this Bill is for.

This section of this Bill is aiming —as usual, of course, in the actions of this Government—a very heavy, cumbrous, rusty sledgehammer to destroy a butterfly that is no longer quite where it was when the Government last aimed this object at it. What set it going? The idea, if idea it can be called, behind this section we are seeking to amend and to destroy was to be able to fine and to imprison the editor of a newspaper like the United Irishman if the editor of that newspaper defended squatting. That narrow, petty object was all that was in mind when this section was framed.

Of course the scene has long since shifted. It is no longer a question of sitting in, of squatting and so on: nobody is talking about these things any longer. This Bill and this section of the Bill have no longer any object other than in the amour propre of the gentleman or gentlemen who set this thing going.

However, the thing which they set going and which we are now trying to break, which we are now trying to stop, which we are trying to get rid of, is a lethal mechanism. It is a mechanism which can destroy Press freedom in this country, and the less it is opposed, the less it is fought, the more likely it is to do precisely that, because these gentlemen will say to themselves: "We got away with it, they made a general fuss, but then they ran out of steam, it died out, the Press were not seriously worried, they took it and they will take a bit more." You may be sure that if the public and the Press indicate their willingness to take a bit more from this Government and this Minister, they will get it.

I have spoken in relation to this section and this amendment about the Press and Parliament. This is a matter which essentially arises from a consideration of the section and of the amendment. I think we would be agreed that this is an amendment and a section which raise very broad principles which cannot be discussed merely as a narrow technical question. It is one with the broadest implications and perhaps at this stage, on the first of these amendments, it may be appropriate to look at what we aim to safeguard, what we seriously think to be threatened, which is freedom here—freedom as defended by the Press and by the institution of Parliament.

We are not saying this just rhetorically. We, like other sections here in this Parliament, say things rhetorically from time to time and sometimes a little more than we mean either in the heat of the moment or when carried away by the momentum of an argument. But this is serious. This, as they say, is for real. There is a real threat here. Making to encourage and to advocate a criminal offence is the thin end of the wedge. We are sliding in other ways, from other sources, including some of the actions or inactions of this Government. As a result of events in the North, which are outside the Government's control, we have been sliding gradually, almost imperceptively, away from a state of acknowledged, secure, democratic conventions and traditions. One gets away from these things a little at a time and then one no longer quite knows where one is until one does not realise what is happening.

This is a stage on that way and it is a noticeable stage. We owe the Government, perhaps particularly the Minister for Justice, thanks at least for that. By their clumsiness in the wording of this section which we are trying to amend, they have made the trend or the drift away from democracy tangible, they have made it something we can put our finger on as we are now putting it. This section we are seeking to amend or to destroy has its significance in a wider context, in the general context of the urgently necessary defence of a free Press and a free Parliament and of freedom generally in this country at the present time.

Relations between Press and Parliament are normally perhaps a little tense, a little suspicious. The Press— and this is what we are defending here —are critical. They are not just critical of the Government but they are critical of Parliament, of individual Members of Parliament, and naturally, being human, as the ladies and gentlemen of the Press also are, we often tend to resent such criticism and there is impatience in Parliament quite often about the Press as there is in the Press about Parliament. Nonetheless, the two institutions are inseparably connected. We have sometimes thought, at least I have sometimes thought, that in their coverage of Parliament the Press have tended to bring Parliament into a degree of disrepute which is dangerous—dangerous because the alternative to parliamentary government can only be something worse. However, as we say that, as we say that the Press have done that or have helped to do that, we must, of course, realise and confess that we, too, have helped it.

The Press have not just damaged Parliament by presenting a distorted image of it. Though they have sometimes done that—there is sometimes a type of jibe at Parliament and of the motivation of parliamentary men—but also, alas, we must say that sometimes the Press tend to bring Parliament into disrepute simply by accurately reporting its proceedings, and indeed if those proceedings were more fully reported, if all the interjections from those benches were faithfully reported for the edification of the multitude, Parliament would be brought into even more disrepute than it is.

I would wish that in the Press there might be a continuing sense and suggestion not only of the defects of Parliament as a working institution but of the necessity for Parliament as an institution which we are trying to vindicate at this moment and about which we are trying to stretch out a hand to the Press of this country so that our effort on this may be a combined, coordinated one.

I have said that relations between Press and Parliament in general are a little ticklish, a little strained, and that perhaps on neither side is there quite enough effort made to realise the interdependence of the two for the maintenance of freedom. Though these are general considerations, there are special considerations that apply in this country and that are relevant to this section and to this amendment. These special considerations arise in particular out of the peculiar and unique and never sufficiently consciously considered history of Parliamentary democracy in this country and of our attitudes to Parliamentary democracy, of the degree and kind of security which the conventions of Parliamentary democracy have actually secured. This is a very tenuous, fluctuating, interesting thing because most of the countries which achieved independence during the present century have either lost their independence or lost whatever democracy and civil liberties they originally possessed. These things flickered on for a while and then died out. With us they have shown much more life than that. They are still alive after nearly 50 years of a recognised, independent existence. They are still alive but we are wondering whether, among us too, as in these other countries, they are beginning to flicker and die down. We shall see whether that is so and the importance of this section which we are trying to amend is that it is a test case in relation to that.

The Irish people are, I think, ambivalent, of divided mind, about Parliamentary democracy. For quite a long time under British rule the concept of Parliamentary democracy meant almost nothing. It was something going on out there. Then towards the end of the last century Parliamentary democracy was made, for the first time, to seem relevant and, therefore, to be relevant by a group of men, the Irish Parliamentary Party under the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell, who were able to use the institutions of the British Parliament, use the House of Commons and even the forms of the House of Commons, in a way which the ordinary farmer in Mayo, the supporter of the Land League, felt to be relevant. They were helping him. They were getting from this legislature concrete benefits. They were changing the land laws and eventually they were getting the concession of the case for home rule. They were forcing Ireland's position on the attention of the world. They were doing this through the constructive and indeed brilliant use of Parliamentary institutions.

At that time the idea of Parliament, the idea of voting, gripped the imagination of Irish people. From the Ballot Act of 1872 they had the right to the secret ballot and their parliamentary representatives told them that indeed the ballot was effectively secret, which they would not have believed without being told by people whom they trusted. They used that ballot and they have been, since the general election of 1880, at least, using that ballot with conviction and with habit. They have grown used to Parliamentary institutions. No other country, I believe—I am subject to correction— that won or found or in some way obtained its independence during the current century had the practice of democracy that we have. No country was so used to voting and to getting something by voting. It meant something for us. To many of these other countries it meant nothing. It was something that was hurriedly introduced and used as a facade without any real leverage in the days just before independence. For us it meant something, that habit of democracy, and it is very much a question of a habit with most people more than of a principle which they have worked out, a precious habit because without it there is no way of changing your government without violence. That precious habit became part of our traditions in this time from 1880 or thereabouts to the great crisis before the First World War.

In that great crisis something else, of course, came in which has also entered our traditions and weighs heavily on them. That is the tradition of violence. We know, we are perhaps in some way too apt to refer to that, that the re-introduction of violence into a democratic parliamentary situation did not originate in this part of the country. It originated, of course, with the Ulster Volunteers who, with the connivance and enthusiastic encouragement of the Tory Party, set out on a course of armed opposition involving eventual armed resistance to the will of Parliament. There would be more to say about that but it would not be directly relevant to this Bill, this section and this amendment. There would be more to say about how easily we took it for granted that this minority could be voted in or out and its objections overruled from Britain but that is not the point here. The point which I am trying to concentrate on here is the defence and the fragility, in our conditions, of parliamentary institutions, menaced, along with a free Press, by the tendency to legislation like this.

The point is that the armed Orangemen defied Parliament and successfully defied it and then that the most active younger Nationalists, those from whom both our great parties, our greatest parties in the numerical sense, derive their principal traditions, the Sinn Féin, Volunteer, IRB group movements agreed on one thing, that on the whole the Orangemen were right to take up arms. They were not right in their general idea but in taking up arms they were right. Patrick Pearse said—I quote from memory and I will be corrected if I am wrong—that an Orangeman with a rifle in his hand was less ridiculous than a Nationalist without one. With this you get a new trend in this counterpoint. We have established a habit of Parliamentary democracy but now there comes into this a rival tradition, that a minority even with rifles in their hands may set aside in certain conditions at least, the authority of Parliament or ignore the authority of Parliament and act on their own.

There is no doubt that the men of 1916 were in a minority at the time of their action. There is no doubt either that their action was retrospectively and posthumously upheld by a majority of the Irish people, excluding the northeast corner. The fact that the 1916 tradition is the central venerated one in our society and is essentially not one of Parliamentary democracy introduces an ambiguity in the relation of the Irish people to Parliament and to democracy, an ambiguity which it is very dangerous to upset, as I think is being done here. This question of limiting the respect for Parliamentary democracy, of watering it down or if necessary disregarding it was, of course, vastly compounded when, among the heirs of 1916, one section at the time of the Treaty rejected majority rule, rejected the concept of the ballot and all it stands for and reverted to something more ancient, an appeal through Rousseau's "general will" to the concept of an overriding, mystically envisaged nationality which means that those who go against your concept of this nationality no longer count in the nation; their votes are no longer to be measured.

Those who took that view fought a civil war and lost it and after a while they returned to the Parliamentary process. I doubt—I have always doubted—whether that represented or even now represents on their part, on the part of what are now the governing party, a genuine conversion to democracy. They lost originally on the Treaty; they lost on the ballot; they tried civil war and they lost on that. Then they came back into Parliament. I think they did not do that out of democratic conviction but because it was the best of their play; the civil war had been lost.

I have felt this in the past reading Dáil Debates, which I read dutifully for many years before I came into this House, and I have felt most strongly while I have been in the House that the conviction of Fianna Fáil and of the governing party is that this Parliament derives its legitimacy from the presence in it of Fianna Fáil and no other source, not from anything sacrosanct about it as a Parliament, not from anything specially venerable or cherished in Parlamentary democracy but simply because they and they alone represent the sacred tradition of nationhood and they are good enough, for conventional reasons, to share with the rest of us here in the formulae of discussion. And, as they have a majority, they are able to go on with that. I think many of their supporters feel much the same. We know that Sinn Féin in its earlier phases also did its best to bring Parliament—at that stage the British Parliament—into disrepute so that Parliament and parliamentarians became dirty words in the traditional language for many people and this still remains so; you still catch vestiges of this language.

The point I am making here essentially is that we are not living in a country in which parliamentary democracy and the conventions that go with it—and it is very close to Press freedom —are as securely established as they are in most Western European countries. They could go; they could crumble; wedges could be pushed into them. I think what we have here is a wedge being thrust into Press freedom which will tend in the direction of bringing about a different kind of State from what we have had, a State which could be defined as more national in which people who are outside the Fianna Fáil consensus could be dealt with because, once we have crossed this little bridge where we make it an offence to encourage or advocate an offence which the Bill itself sets up, we make it that much easier to pass Bills making it an offence to encourage or advocate anything else.

The Government have given several indications, some months ago and recently, that it may introduce internment without trial. It could, if we swallowed this one, be an offence to encourage or advocate any kind of resistance to internment without trial or any criticism of the Government's policy. This could become an issue. We are living on the verge of some kind of emergency. When we gave our notification to the Council of Europe in relation to the possibility of internment without trial we were indicating that we might be about to act under a section which refers to an emergency threatening the life of the nation. We had a declared emergency once before, during the war, and at that time and under pressures which made the step in the eyes of many people legitimate, there were provisions for the limitation of Press freedom as there were in most countries in wartime. We were not at war and I believe we applied a more stringent and more insensitive censorship than most other neutral countries. We could again have an emergency declared in peacetime and under it we could have the most serious limitation of Press freedom.

We are not urging—and I make this point in anticipation because the Minister in earlier references to this has seemed to claim that those who criticise or oppose the idea of making it an offence to encourage or advocate the practices referred to in this Bill want— absolute, unrestricted Press freedom. Nobody claims that. The freedom of the Press is subject to certain accepted restraints, restraints which are accepted by the Press itself and whose utility is recognised by the public, restraints on libel, restraints on obscenity and so on. There is no problem there; these are established conventions, but what is involved here is an innovation tending towards the further restriction of Press freedom. It is something that must be regarded with extreme suspicion in any country where Press freedom already exists. If there is to be any restriction on the freedom of the Press it must be seen that there is a threat to our freedom, to our lives, which makes this absolutely necessary. A Government can come forward in time of war, in time of a threat of invasion and say: "This is it; we must do something of this kind." But what is this? This is a threat that somebody will sit in Hume Street. This refers to a state of affairs which is already past and is no longer relevant but which is used to justify this massive intrusion of Press freedom.

We all know the conditions to which this Bill and, in particular, this section refers. There was a time when the Sinn Féin-IRA Movement, under the impulse of a group of young left-wing people, hoped and tried to influence the movement in the direction of non-violent demonstration, in the direction of the kind of protest movement which had emerged in certain other countries, connected with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the movement against the war in Vietnam and so on. They tried to get into the mainstream of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the movement against the war in Vietnam. I think they were making a mistake in so doing because they were dealing with forces they did not understand adequately. The fundamentally militaristic, romantic and chauvinistic character of the IRA movement remained and was bound to emerge. I respect an intention in this —an intention to divert the reserves of idealism and courage which undoubtedly exist among the young people who are drawn to that movement into an essentially non-violent protest.

That was never fully successful and it has long since been abandoned. However, this Government overreacted to it. They disliked very much this left-wing, relatively non-violent trend among these people. The traditional romantic IRA militarism, of going north and blowing up a customs post—and maybe killing someone— looked to them, and still appears to many of them, to be patriotism. The other procedure was new, foreign and undesirable. Undoubtely some of them wanted to return the IRA to their traditional course.

There was the trend which led to the emergence of the two branches of the IRA, one of which was partly encouraged from those benches. I do not want to go into that matter on this amendment but it is part of the background. Now that situation has gone. The "sit-ins" and "fish-ins" are no longer "with it"; they are lingering on as a kind of bug in the Minister's mind and they have bugged him into producing this sinister piece of legislation.

We are conscious that there are genuine dangers now coming from outside Parliament and directed against the freedom of all of us. We have been accused of wishing to follow a parliament of the streets. I do not know what that would be but we have no such intention. This Parliament is the Parliament because we are the elected representatives of the people. Sometimes we may wish that the people would elect someone else rather than X or Y but the index of the opinion and feeling of the people must be respected.

The people in the so-called parliament of the streets are not elected by anyone. They just happen to be on the streets, driven by some motive— perhaps adequate, perhaps not—to be on the streets and to protest. We regard it as important in relation to the functioning of the real Parliament that there should not be a parliament of the streets but that there should be freedom to protest, and to protest in the streets. This is part of the process by which Parliament came into being and it is part of the process by which Parliamentary democracy became a reality for our forefathers. For example, the great mass meetings of the Land League were the corollary and, in a sense, the guarantee that Parliamentary democracy, in which the representatives were involved in such public protests, was a real thing. It was not something going on in a remote formal building, it was part of the life of the people. That is our relation to protest—not that the protesters should usurp the role of Parliament but that the right to protest and the exercise of that right—especially when it is unpopular with the Government—should be part of the living process of the Parliamentary democracy we are seeking to defend.

We have been accused of very strange things in this connection. The Minister has spoken as though we were linked with people who were seeking to overthrow the State by violence. That is a reckless, vicious charge which the Minister knows to be untrue. However, that is no barrier whatever against his using it, as he has used it here. In an effort to make that charge in some way plausible to some very limited mentality, the Minister actually charged that in visiting the refugees in Bangla Desh my objective was to cause anarchy and civil war. That charge is contemptible even by the Minister's standards and I cannot make my criticism any stronger than that.

Hear, hear.

We have been accused of seeking to overthrow Parliament by force and violence. The Labour Party are the only party represented in this Parliament which consistently, since the State was set up, made no attempt to overthrow the authority of Parliamentary democracy by force, violence, or a show of force. It is an historical fact that the founders of Fianna Fáil undertook to overthrow by force and violence a Government that rested on the support of the majority of the people. Of the other party I would have to speak with respect but there was a time in the early 1930s when there was a rather disturbing monotony in the hue of the shirts affected by some of them. I do not wish to rake up these matters——

I hope the Deputy is not suggesting that our party had any hand in a movement to overthrow Parliament—in fact, we set Parliament up.

I would be very happy to discuss that question with Deputy Cooney at some appropriate time and place. I do not wish to go into this very thoroughly now, but I am saying that the only party which showed no sympathy with ideas or signs and symbols representative of views hostile to Parliamentary democracy was the Labour Party.

Would the Deputy not agree that were it not for that movement he could not talk so freely today?

I am afraid I would not. I will content myself by saying—and it is an illustration of the fragility of our Parliamentary institutions—there have been these threats from sections connected with both the major parties. That is why we particularly resent these constant insinuations that in some way we may have bombs in our pockets, or may know someone who has a bomb in his pocket. The Minister knows well how untrue these suggestions are.

We are living, it is true, in a period of crisis and danger, but the crisis and danger are not that with which this Bill and this section of this Bill have to do. The crisis and the danger arise not from any abuse of Press freedom. There has been none. No country, I believe, in western Europe has a more responsible, prudent, and I would even say sometimes rather timid, Press than we have. This is not the case of a scurrilous reckless Press. That which is being dealt with here, the squatting, sit-in situation which led to this Bill, is not the situation which now threatens our lives, our security, our institutions. That threat is of a different kind. It arises from the increased use of the gun and the increased influence of those who use the gun. This has occurred partly as a result of the direct effects of the events which occurred in the north.

That does not seem to be relevant to the amendment.

A Cheann Comhairle, if you will forgive me, you were not in the House to hear my remarks earlier on. If you had been, I think you would appreciate, as your predecessor in the Chair appeared to appreciate, that this is not an amendment, and this is not a section, which ought properly to be discussed within the framework purely of narrow technicalities. This section puts in question the freedom of the Press generally and thereby the section encourages or advocates the commission of an offence. It breaks a barrier. It introduces a new convention. Therefore, it raises the widest general issues about Parliamentary democracy and Press freedom. We thought—and my predecessors in this debate enjoyed a certain amount of indulgence in this regard—that, especially on this first amendment, we might say something about these broad principles.

The broad principles include this. We are trying to amend this section so as to deprive it of its sting. We ourselves can be deprived of our sting. We could sit down and have no more to say on amendments Nos. 7 to 10, and probably not very much to say on the remaining amendments which are not so important if, as I suggested at the start of my remarks, the Government had the simple common sense now to withdraw this obnoxious section. This section which we are trying to amend has been unanimously condemned by the Press and is, I think, condemned by everybody who does not actually belong to, or serve in some way, the Fianna Fáil Party machine. That is, of course, an important exception.

In that context what I was pointing out was that we would not be in the position we are in of having to struggle with this section, if it were a section which could be justified, which could be seriously and rationally justified, by reference to an actual emergency. I would agree that we either have or are on the verge of an actual emergency. That is what I was pointing out, Sir, when you came in. This emergency arises from the situation in the north. It is not an emergency of the Press. It is not an emergency in which we are threatened by frightening editorials, or by loose words or comments.

People are being frightened, and our State is being put in danger, and our people are being put in danger of sectarian civil war, by the re-introduced use of the gun and the rising influence of people who wield the gun. This is a tendency which this Government, far from resisting, have tended to encourage, particularly in the Taoiseach's first Government. I am not satisfied that that trend has yet ceased. I will not pursue that aspect of my remarks and, indeed, I am about to draw to a close. Our point is this. We have an emergency. We have a real, threatening situation. We also have a Minister for Justice who is unfortunate, who instead of using the machinery of law enforcement which is in his possession, and which does not seem to be in effective use at the moment—whether that is his fault or somebody else's I do not know—and instead of dealing with a real emergency with the powers he has to deal with it, sets up, or recreates, or exhumes, or digs up out of the past, a completely false emergency having to do with people who, in the past, entered and sat in certain premises, including Hume Street, and a few other people who have written editorials about that. In order to deal with that extinct and insignificant situation he introduces this massive blockbuster, section 4, which immediately knocks an enormous hole in the conventions that protect the liberty of the Press.

I do not think the Minister has any understanding of these conventions, any understanding of the importance of social habit, of a respect for freedoms which exist and for limitations on freedom. That is completely beyond the scope of his mind. The Minister has a kind of a lawyer's mind—I say "a kind of a lawyer's mind." We have seen in this debate, If I may spare the blushes of two of my colleagues—they deserve a tribute which most of us feel is coming to them—in the persons of Deputy Cooney and Deputy Fitzpatrick what legal training can do when it is being used by civilised minds for civilised purposes. In the case of the Minister I am afraid we see what happens when a little technical knowledge is injected into the skull of a person who remains essentially a barbarian. I speak with a due sense of responsibility.

A charming reference.

Does the Minister want me to withdraw that reference to him?

I could not care less whether the Deputy uses it or withdraws it. It is precisely the kind of thing I would expect from him.

Let me give the Minister a word of advice at this point. It is unwise for him to respond to personal criticism because, when he does so, he illustrates those characteristics of behaviour which form the subject of the criticism. Probably the Minister will not be important for very long. He may not be a Minister for very long. His conduct on this Bill and his conduct generally since he became Minister have been such that he may no longer be very useful to his Taoiseach and his Taoiseach has shown that he can dispense rather rapidly, and skillfully, and cheerfully, with the services of people who are not useful to him.

The Minister is not important except in this respect—and this is why Deputy Fitzpatrick who is a very charitable man had to touch on this aspect of the matter—that he is the Minister who will be responsible for the enforcement of this Bill. If we allowed this section to go through unamended and if we did not fight it at every step we would be giving into the hands of the Minister for Justice, Deputy Desmond O'Malley, whom we know, this outrageous instrument.

This amendment is totally unacceptable. Indeed, I think it hard to believe that the Deputies who sponsored it fully appreciate the significance of what they are proposing, or if they do appreciate it, that they are serious in asking this House to accept their suggestions. The amendment the House is being urged to adopt is one which would permit all forms of written incitement to commit offences under section 2 or section 3 of this Bill. Accordingly, newspapers, leaflets, pamphlets, books, roadside advertisements and cinema and television advertising of a visual kind could, with impunity, encourage people to break the law.

(Cavan): I do not want to interrupt the Minister, but might I ask him will he accept amendment No. 9?

We are discussing amendment No. 7.

That is right —amendment No. 7.

In addition, spoken words on radio or television could be used for the same purpose without incurring the sanction of the criminal law. Are Deputy Cooney and Deputy Fitzpatrick, and those who support them, seriously asking this House to accept that this is the sort of situation they would like to see develop in our society? Can they tell us what is the logic of making it an offence for a person to incite others to crime by verbal exhortation at the street corner and not making it an offence for him to do so by handing out leaflets to passersby at the same street corner? Why should the man who can speak to ten, 20 or 50 people at a street corner and incite, or encourage them to commit crime be himself guilty of an offence while the man who appears on a television programme and addresses, perhaps, 1,000,000 people and incites them in the same words to do the same thing not be guilty of a crime? If it were the other way round, if the inciting of a dozen or two dozen people at a street corner was not, one would say that this was, perhaps, a bit unfair and a bit illogical, but it would have far greater equity and far greater logic than the ridiculous situation proposed by this particular amendment.

I wonder what has happened to the righteous indignation with which Deputy Fitzpatrick regaled this House during the debate on the Second Stage of the Prisons Bill, 1970, when he urged me, as incoming Minister for Justice—incidentally, he told me I would be there for only a month or two; I have heard the same statement made several times since—to tackle the problem of sit-in protests, fish-in protests and protests of one sort or another, including occupations, which, he said, had been tolerated for far too long. Some of the word the Deputy used on that occasion make interesting reading in the light of the amendment he is now proposing. I quote from column 110 of volume 247 of the Official Report:

... I think the toleration of the taking over of public or private buildings, whether as sit-ins under the auspices of cultural or architectural activities or sit-ins in protest against lack of housing or fish-ins as a national protest is nothing short of tolerating anarchy and can lead only to total disrespect for the law and to the common commission of more serious acts of violence....

(Cavan): Is there a word in that about muzzling the Press?

Is there a word in the Bill about muzzling the Press?

(Cavan): There is a complete section.

There is not.

(Cavan): There is a whole section.

I should like to ask the House is this the same Deputy who is now asking the House to give approval to the idea that persons should be free to incite others, by the written word in any form or verbally on radio and television, to commit offences by taking over public or private buildings whether, in Deputy Fitzpatrick's own words, "as sit-ins under the auspices of cultural or architectural activities or sit-ins in protest against lack of housing or fish-ins as a national protest"? Why is it that Deputy Fitzpatrick now takes the view that these forms of criminal activity may be encouraged and advocated freely in the way in which the amendment would make possible?

The suggestion that, if section 4 of the Bill is passed in its present form, newspapers will no longer be able to take the risk of saying anything that might be construed as incitement, fails completely to take account of the fact that it is already, and has been from time immemorial, a criminal offence for anybody—whether he be a journalist or otherwise—to incite another person to commit a crime.

(Cavan): What about “encourage”?

The words used in section 4, encourage or advocate, have precisely the same meaning as the older word "incite" and the reason why the word "incite" is not used is because encourage or advocate, which mean the same thing, makes it very much clearer to people today, as the Deputy well knows.


I have already said, and I must now repeat that, while I do not always find myself in agreement with newspaper editorials and comment, I fully respect their right to speak out freely and I would certainly not wish to be associated with anything that would seek to curtail their freedom of expression.

(Cavan): What about the Adjournment debate on Tuesday night?

I emphasise the fact that this is not to say that newspapers are, or ought to be, in any way immune from the ordinary law of the land, which has always made it an offence to incite other people to commit crime. Deputy Cruise-O'Brien himself today in the last 20 minutes of his contribution acknowledged that fact, the fact that they were subject to the law of the land. Deputy Keating last night made a rather extraordinary statement that they should be free to say more or less anything they wanted to say.

Subject to the law of the land.

That would be far beyond the present situation. There is no mention in this Bill of the Press. There is no attempt in the Bill to put the Press at any disadvantage as against the situation in which they are at the moment.


Quite clearly, any attempt to use freedom of expression for the purpose of inciting people to commit crime would be an abuse of that freedom and could not be tolerated by society. It has never, in fact, been tolerated by society. At the moment the law of the land is that, if any person incites another to commit an indictable crime, the person so inciting, encouraging or advocating is himself guilty of an offence.

"so inciting".

Yes, and incite means encourage or advocate.

Has the Minister authority for that proposition?

The Deputy can go and look up the judicial definitions of "incitement" and, if the net effect of those is anything other than "encourage" or "advocate" I will be very, very surprised indeed.

(Cavan): There are probably judicial interpretations of the word “incite”. I do not know of any such interpretations of the words “encourage” or “advocate”.

The present law in this matter is one of the basic, common-sense rules which society has devised for its own protection. Even a moment's reflection will show that, without these rules, the rights and freedom of the individual would be non-existent. What, for example, would be the value of Deputy Fitzpatrick's right to own property if his neighbours could, with impunity, break down his front door and occupy the front parlour, or encourage others to do so? Subsection (1) of section 4 of this Bill merely expresses in modern form the existing law and spells it out for the benefit of those who may be tempted to encourage others to commit crimes and who may not be aware of the serious consequences for themselves of so doing. I can only repeat again that the facts as to the present law of this country are as stated by me and I defy anyone——

They are not.

——to tell me or to prove to this House or to any court that to incite people to commit indictable crime is not itself an offence. It is an offence and this section does not make it any more or any less an offence than to do what is done at present.

(Cavan): Why put it in, then?

Because it sets it out clearly and in modern terms. I have been criticised for a long time as have been predecessors of mine for using in Bills words and concepts that are alleged to be out of date and legalistic. This sets out the position. It sets out the existing law in clear and unambiguous terms. Nobody need be under any misapprehension as to what is the position. I could not do it any more clearly than that. The purpose of this whole section that has been discussed widely and outside of this amendment is——

(Cavan): To cut another stick with which to beat Deputy de Valera.

——to get at the people who are behind the front men in the forms of forcible entry and forcible occupation that we have witnessed so widely in this country during the past two or three years. It would have been very easy for me to introduce this Bill with sections 2 and 3 and without section 4. It would have been easy for me, when section 4 was objected to, to drop that section from the Bill but if I had done so I would have been failing in my duty to get at the subversive organisations and the people who made it their business to stay in the background but to encourage and advocate other much more innocent persons than they to commit these offences. We cannot solve this problem and neither can we solve a lot of other similar or analogous problems unless we get at those who are in the background and those are members of organised subversive groups whose only anxiety——

(Cavan): Why include the Press?

All we are asking the Minister to do is to exclude the public Press from his preoccupation. Is it that the Press are too objective?

Does the Minister think that the subversives are in the Press?

Why not put them into the Bill and have done with it?

This is not a court of law and cross-examination is out of order.

As the Chair said, this has nothing to do with law or justice.

The Chair did not say that. The Deputy should not twist remarks made by the Chair.

We listened to Deputies Fitzpatrick and Cruise-O'Brien say things that disgusted us.

The Minister should not pretend he was here during the debate.

For the best part of two hours this morning, they disgusted us but I have been endeavouring to speak for the past ten minutes and I have scarcely been allowed to speak two consecutive sentences. However, as I said yesterday, that does not surprise me because certain people will strive hard to acquire and to hold the right of freedom of speech but only for those who think like themselves. Unfortunately, that is nothing new in this world of today but it may be something new to this country and something that I would seek and wish to resist.

There is a great deal of irrelevancy that I could go into in reply particularly in relation to what Deputy Cruise-O'Brien has been saying at such extraordinary length today in his efforts to delay and obstruct the passage of the Bill. However, I will not do that but will confine myself strictly to the amendment before the House. Before sitting down I can only repeat once again——

It is not often that we either see or hear the Minister so, perhaps, it would be a good idea if we had a house.

I thought the Minister was going to read the letter that he sent to the Cork Examiner.

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

The letter that I wrote to the Cork Examiner and about which Deputy Desmond has expressed so much anxiety appeared in the issue of that paper, dated 9th June, 1971 and is as follows:

... The editorial sets out to explain to your readers that, because the effect of a section in the Bill is that it would be an offence for a person to incite others to commit a crime, newspapers will no longer be able to take the risk of saying anything that might be construed as incitement. Obviously your leader-writer must be unaware of the fact that it is already, and has from time immemorial been, a criminal offence for anybody—be he journalist or otherwise—to incite another person to commit a crime. It follows that there is no possible basis for what is said in the editorial.

In effect, that is the gist of what I have been saying today and what I must continue to say because that is the law and I have not heard anybody in this House or outside it say otherwise. Neither have I heard any responsible lawyer approaching the matter in an unbiased or non-political way and saying that I am wrong. That is the law as it is stated clearly but Deputies opposite in their efforts to stir up agitation against a Bill which they themselves called for only 12 months ago have taken the politically easy and obvious step of informing the Press that they are to be attacked and that they will be harassed or hindered in some way and the Press, believing them, naturally enough, take up the cudgels. The unfortunate thing is that members of the Press like many members of the public, as a result of this campaign are, in fact, misled. They are not lawyers and they do not know that the present law is as I have stated it and that this Bill and this section in particular will make no difference whatever to that situation.

It is suggested that if the Press were to write approvingly of some form of protest going on, if they were to say that people are right to protest against Georgian buildings being pulled down or were right to protest against some other form of activity that they are immediately and thereby committing an offence under this Bill. That is most positively and certainly not so. The only way that one can commit an offence of incitement or an offence under section 4, which is precisely the same thing, is by encouraging or advocating the commission of an indictable crime and to say that one favours the preservation of Georgian buildings and one is against Georgian buildings being knocked down——


Encourage and incite are two different things.

——is not by any possible stretch of the imagination the encouragement of an indictable crime. The two indictable crimes referred to in this section are those established under sections 2 and 3 and they consist of the indictable crimes of forcible entry and forcible occupation of property. A number of conditions that have to be approved of and complied with are set out before those offences can be committed. To say that vague or general encouragement of protest movements or even of squatting simpliciter constitutes a crime is entirely and utterly at variance with the facts. I am afraid that if I repeat that fact until I am blue in the face in this House and outside it I will still not get it across.

(Cavan): Accept the amendment.

It would be a very easy thing for me to run away but I will not run away because I am not interested in getting at the Press in spite of the motives that are attributed to me from the far side of the House.

And the Press. The Minister must not read the Irish Independent.

Both sides of it.

What about that dangerous subversive paper the Irish Independent?

I hope these lads will come under the Redundancy Payments Bill.

I am not interested in getting at the Press.

Look what the Minister did to Deputy de Valera.

It is a very easy and low way to attack me personally as I have been attacked in this House this morning and before that. I have no interest in getting at them, I have no wish to do it and I defend their right to express their opinions in the same way as I would defend my own right to express my own opinion, but I want to get at subversive organisations who put helpless people into flats and houses in this city——

The Minister dealt with the director of the Irish Press in a sharp fashion the other night.

——people for whom everybody would have sympathy, homeless women and children, who are put in there by bullyboys, the people we have heard so much about over the past few days.

Is it not the truth that the Minister does not have the guts to deal with subversive organisations?

These are the private armies we should be talking about in this House but in all of the talk about alleged private armies we did not hear about the private armies which go into the house belonging to a woman who is in hospital and remove all her goods and chattels and install somebody else in her place and when she comes out of hospital tell her that her house has been allocated to somebody else. We did not hear about those private armies at all. This section is here in order that I, my successors and the police may be able to get at those who cause these things, those who are responsible for the fact that a week ago 135 dwellings of Dublin Corporation were occupied by people who had been put in in this way. Section 4 will by getting at those who encourage or advocate the commission of these crimes get not at the people who are in there but the people who broke the place down to get them in and kept out the rightful tenants and the rightful occupiers.

The jails will be full.

Did it ever occur to the Government to build enough houses?

I love the use of the Minister's phrase "Get at".

I like the Minister's phrase, too.


I stand for the freedom of the Press and the freedom of the State. One of the things our party has always stood up for is freedom.

That is what Deputy Cruise-O'Brien said a few minutes ago.

My background is that of people who fought for freedom and who stood and were elected to uphold the freedom of this country. When one enters this House one sees a glorious proclamation, written by men who broke into the GPO. Perhaps, it was wrong for the British——

There was no forcible entry then.

I do not support elements who break in. I stand here for the freedom of the Press. Unless we have such freedom we are not free, we will have totalitarianism instead. Reference was made to another form of freedom, the Blueshirts; I was associated with another form of freedom, not freedom of the Press but freedom of speech.


Hear, hear.

More use is needed of the pen than of the sword in this country. There is failure on the Government side of the House as far as the pen is concerned. Have the Government enough guards to enforce all these laws?

They do not even have enough Deputies.

The Government do not have enough guards to enforce even one line of what is written in this Bill.

That is why they are bringing in private armies.

Deputy O'Kennedy told us yesterday how they were going to recruit private armies.

As I have said, my people were always on the side of freedom of speech and freedom for this country. My people stood for Sinn Féin when it was dangerous to do so, unlike many people now, irrespective of who they are licking on the far side of the House.

We know who the Government are trying to get at but we can thank the Press for the advice they have given when certain Bills were before this House. They have given their views the same as the Seanad and we are entitled to read those views. I do not see why this section is needed if the Minister says he has power to deal with the Press. Why does he not spell out who he is aiming at? Giving this blanket power to the Minister is dangerous.

We have a Gallery here which is provided for the Press and I do not see why members of that Gallery should be censored outside this House if they are not censured within it. I support the freedom of the Press. I shall always stand for freedom provided that freedom is not abused. We have enough power to deal with any abuse without introducing this section.

When Deputy Fitzpatrick was speaking on this section this morning, I understand that he challenged the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach and myself to come in and speak on this particular section. If that information is correct, I gladly accept the challenge. In any event, I think it would have been appropriate, as I said last night, that I should speak on this section in view of certain misrepresentations which have been made of the section and, indeed, the implications and purpose of this Bill. I readily welcome the opportunity to speak on this section and on the amendment that is down to it. There can be no neutrality in the fundamental issues as to the maintenance of normal order, of normal peaceable living, of normal responsible citizenship in this country or in any other country. Fianna Fáil have never stood for any such fence-sitting because our responsibility is, of course, to the community that has put us here in larger numbers than the combined total of these two other parties.

Our responsibility is to ensure, then, that however it may seem from time to time to be unpopular to take certain stands, nonetheless we must stand over the whole regulation and ordering of society by the laws which we introduce in this House.

Last night, apparently, for one reason or another, despite the attempts of the Labour Party to introduce an absolutely and utterly repressive amendment to this Bill, Fine Gael, for some strange reason, decided that they should not express the view. We must take it from that silence——

(Cavan): Of course, we expressed it.

——that Fine Gael, in not voting on that amendment, in not opposing that amendment last night, despite the calls which, apparently, they have been making for law and order—from Deputy L'Estrange every day, from Deputy Fitzpatrick so often—accept or, at least, are not concerned or, apparently, have not got sufficient understanding within themselves to vote against the amendment which last night was proposed.

Which amendment are we discussing?

We are discussing amendment No. 7 and I understand the Parliamentary Secretary is relating his remarks to amendment No. 7.

That is a new principle.

And to previous remarks made by other Deputies on this amendment.

It will be Christmas, 1972, before we get home, at that rate.

Or after 1972. As I say, Fine Gael spokesmen who challenged us to come and speak this morning, apparently had not the same anxiety to oppose a section last night, which, had it been accepted in this Bill, would have been totally repressive and it is now on the record of the House that the Labour Party persisted in that amendment, that Fine Gael were not concerned about the amendment and that it was left again to Fianna Fáil to ensure that that element of repressive legislation was not introduced into this Bill.

So, now you are ready to deal with the Press.

Get back to the amendment now.

If we had not the Bill, we would not have these amendments.

If you bring in a stupid Bill, we make it hilarious.

I accept, nonetheless, that Deputy Fitzpatrick is, as Deputy Cruise-O'Brien has called him, a charitable man. I accept this entirely but what I find very difficult is to understand by what criteria Deputy Cruise-O'Brien judges the charity in any man. I have heard Deputy Cruise-O'Brien this morning in a most cynical, savage and vindictive way, make very personal references, criticisms, not only of the Minister's capacity but of the Minister's personality, to the extent of the snide implication that the Minister is an uncivilised barbarian in whom the slightest knowledge of law is a dangerous thing. This kind of snide reference——

He actually made the statement.

He did not make the statement. He never makes the statement in a straightforward way. He likes to make snide references. The Minister did not see fit to answer that allegation although it was a shocking statement from any Member of this House. I respect the Minister's patience, his discipline and his dignity in not responding to that allegation from Deputy Cruise-O'Brien but, as I say, I totally question the capacity of Deputy Cruise-O'Brien to judge the charity of any man, particularly in view of the fact that in using that kind of language in a personal, vindictive way, he proves beyond any doubt that not only does he not have the capacity, he would not have even the first element of knowledge of what charity is all about.

Who are you to be talking about charity? You could not talk about charity, in the context of politics anyway.

Possibly what Deputy Cruise-O'Brien wants us to do here—and it seems to be behind the Labour Party's amendment last night and this amendment this morning and the Labour Party's total approach to this Bill—is to substitute for the principles of civil obedience the principles of civil disobedience. Deputy Cruise-O'Brien appears to hold these principles of civil disobedience as sacrosanct. Whence they have derived we have never been told. Why we should respect them or adhere to them, we have never been told. Deputy Cruise-O'Brien referred to street protests in America, with which he is not unfamiliar. They have, apparently, been drawn from some unknown source, not indeed, from the consensus of society.

What about the civil rights movement in the North?

They have been drawn from these unknown sources and the whole purpose, apparently, of the approach of the Labour Party, although I do not imagine of all the Deputies of the Labour Party because some of them have been significantly absent and I am quite sure will be absent as long as the views of Deputy Cruise-O'Brien are being posed on this or any other Bill——

There was a full vote from the Labour Party on Tuesday night and Fianna Fáil could not say the same thing.

There were ten of them here last night on their own amendment. They are so anxious now to ensure that the principles of civil disobedience be established in our law —these principles that derive from no source of authority—that they are prepared to create new criminal offences to accommodate those principles of civil disobedience. That may be the fashion in other countries where some of the Labour Deputies in their various peregrinations may have met them, but it is not the fashion here and it cannot be the fashion here and as long as amendments of the sort we have down to this particular section and of the sort we saw last night are being put down I think it is right that the public would understand why this approach is being taken.

We are told that the traditions of Parliamentary democracy are in danger in this country and that we can look to the Labour Party, apparently, to protect these great traditions. We are told that people outside the Fianna Fáil consensus, apparently, must be branded as criminals but the only difference between the people outside the Fianna Fáil consensus——

It is not a consensus any more.

There are greater numbers of people outside the Labour consensus than outside the Fianna Fáil consensus.

I am saying there is no Fianna Fáil consensus.

Another resignation this morning in Cabra.

That is the only measure of superiority you fellows have over the Fianna Fáil Party— there are more outside your consensus, there will be and there must always be, than outside ours.

You have now developed your party into a consensus.

I borrow the expression introduced this morning by Deputy Cruise-O'Brien. We come then to the efforts that have been made by way of the amendments to this section to convey the notion to the Press and through the Press to the public at large that what is concerned in this section is restriction of freedom of the Press. If one were to take the reasoning behind this amendment, one would find that we are being asked to distinguish between verbal incitement and written incitement, as the case might be. I am sure neither Deputy Fitzpatrick nor Deputy Cooney can see any legal basis whatsoever for the distinction between written incitement and verbal incitement.

Or encouragement.

(Cavan): Will the Parliamentary Secretary, then, accept amendment No. 9?

We will come to amendment No. 9 in its time.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary equating incitement with encouragement?

I can accept only what the words are intended to mean by the Deputies. What is at issue here is a written incitement or a verbal incitement.

Or encouragement.

Or encouragement. Well, the amendment does not refer to encouragement at all. It is simply to insert "otherwise than on radio or television". This amendment has no basis in law and I am surprised that it emanated from Deputies Cooney and Fitzpatrick who, I accept, are experienced in law.

They are only solicitors.

The amendment has no basis in law. I presume that they realise immediately how illogical amendment No. 7 is. As the Minister has pointed out, it goes further than I have said. Apart from distinguishing between written and verbal incitement it goes further——

Or encouragement.

It goes further and suggests that we insert the words "otherwise than on radio or television." I have seen some miracles of legal draftsmanship, and I saw some ignorance of the law last night during the debate on the Labour amendment, but it would take a lot to surpass this. As the Minister has reasonably pointed out, can it be suggested that it would continue to be an offence verbally to encourage or to promote or to advocate the commission of an offence provided it was not done on radio or television—that to do it outside radio and television would be an offence but to encourage it on television or radio would not be an offence?

We are protecting the news media.

There is no suggestion in the amendment that the news media would be guilty of an offence. I can see a situation in which, without advanced planning, somebody would make a statement on television. How could the television authorities be held responsible?

That is what we are afraid of.

I cannot see how any person with any background in law could tell us how, if a person who comes on television and spontaneously, without notice, makes a statement, would incite or encourage and that this would involve the authorities in radio or television in the commission of an offence. The amendment is here to create the impression that the Bill is intended to do something which it was never intended to do. We have been talking about freedom of the Press. What is happening is that the Opposition party, Deputy Fitzpatrick included—he has called on the Minister to take action against developments—have introduced this amendment for some strange persuasive reason and have suggested that what is being got at in the section is the freedom of the Press.

That is what the Press think.

That is what you think. The Minister has stated unequivocally that there is no reference to the Press.

Accept the amendment and do not be arguing.

If the Deputies have any concern for the Press they would accept that if it were to happen that an individual or a group were to advocate or to encourage an offence under this Act——

(Cavan): Fair comment on a matter of public interest.

I believe that the Press know enough about freedom of the Press to acknowledge that it does not confer on them, by virtue of being pressmen—I think I had better wait until the loading and unloading has finished——

I apologise, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

They do not seek that it should confer on them any exemptions from the normal law that the normal citizen is subject to. They are free to comment fairly on matters of public interest, of public importance. I do not want to go into an essay on the freedom of the Press, but it is clear that any right minded journalist——

Right minded is right.

——or television journalist would have to accept that they are not entitled to any protection other than that which is available to every citizen in the expression of views, not about the advocation——

——I thank the Deputy—or the encouragement of a crime or an offence. The suggestion that they should be so exempt is the case the Opposition are trying to make in this amendment. Although Labour Deputies would sometimes like us to think that there is absolute freedom, there is no such thing.

Am I permitted to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question? The Parliamentary Secretary made the point that if somebody in the course of a programme incites to crime, the television or radio authority are not in any way indictable in respect of that crime. Is that what the Parliamentary Secretary said?

That is what I said.

In fact, they are indictable.

Let us be reasonable about this. If it is clear or if it were established that the television or radio authority connived with a person to offer him an opportunity of doing something in the knowledge that he would do it, that would be different. The whole basis of the criminal law is that there must be mens re. I cannot see how it could be suggested in any court of law that because a particular person who happened to be on television made a statement which of itself was an incitement or an encouragement to commit an offence that the television authority themselves would ipso facto be guilty of an offence.

Encouragement is not an offence. Incitement is.

If the Deputies opposite would even accept that, it might get us somewhere. The purpose of this Bill is not to restrict the channels of communication in anything they would do, or to totally control by way of repression or otherwise anything that would be said. The law must work within the elements of reason and normality which we hope will continue to prevail in our society. We hope that the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party will approach this Bill, its purpose and functions, and this section, in that normal and rational fashion and that they will not try to raise hares about the restrictions on the Press and on radio and television that are nowhere implied or stated in this section or in any part of this Bill.

The Deputies opposite should realise that initially such a suggestion or implication will cause concern to people who are concerned about the fundamental freedoms but when the reality has been explained and experienced— in other words when the Act has become law—and when the Press see what the purpose of the Bill was and how it functions they will realise how irresponsible are the implications that have been made for some irresponsible reason by certain Deputies in this House. I would hope that, apart from the irresponsible conduct which we are witnessing in the whole approach to this Bill and in the mockery of the Parliamentary procedure, even at this late stage such Deputies might come to their senses and might desist from making savage, personal, bitter and— I might almost use the word—uncivilised attacks on the Minister.

You did that two years ago in the general election.

They made personal attacks on the Minister for accepting his responsibilities here. If the issues must be argued, let them be argued on what we are concerned with here and not on the issues of the nature and personality of the Minister. If it came to that, I can only say that if the Bill were to be balanced on the personality, dignity and integrity of the Minister as against that of some who have been most vocal in their criticism of him, it would be an even stronger vindication of this Bill

The issue which this amendment is concerned with is the freedom of the Press. It is clearly intended to exclude from the operation of this particular section the Press, radio and television and indeed other forms of printed matter such as pamphlets which must be protected by the freedom of the Press and have always been so treated traditionally. The battle for the freedom of the Press, when originally fought several generations ago, was fought as much in relation to pamphlets as in relation to newspapers. The freedom of the Press is always under threat to some degree. Authoritarian governments fear responsible Press comment. I emphasise the word "responsible". Governments have not much to fear from irresponsible comment which sinks into the sands of public opinion and has little effect. What really irks a Government is when a responsible medium of the Press or radio or television criticises in a responsible way that will carry conviction. Then, and only then, do Governments really worry. The section as drafted has the effect of seeking to intimidate the Press, radio or television and to prevent them from expressing views which they would otherwise express. What is really at issue here is the expression of responsible views rather than of rash and ill-considered statements in the correspondence columns of the minor journals of extremist views.

In a country which claims to be democratic, Governments are always slow to interfere directly with the Press. Governments which are sensitive to criticism and wish to dampen it do not proceed by suppressing newspapers or in times of peace by censoring them. Indirect methods are adopted. We have seen in this country one of the most insidious attempts in Western Europe in recent decades to limit the freedom of expression of the media of public opinion. I refer to the "7 Days" Tribunal. That tribunal sought to shift the onus of proof of any statement in the newspaper on to the paper in such a way that any paper which made any statement it could not prove in court according to the rigid standards of evidence required could find themselves called before the bar of public opinion and facing the enormous expense of a public inquiry for daring to air some grievance or ventilate some injustice.

I think that the "7 Days" Tribunal backfired. The courage of the RTE Authority and staff in refusing to be intimidated has meant that its effects have been less than the Government intended. There have been some effects. I do not think that anybody in touch with RTE could deny that a greater mood of caution prevails there. There is a tendency to censor themselves with a view to avoiding a repetition of such an event. There is a more cautious mood there than previously prevailed. This has had adverse but not fatal effects. The only purpose of setting up that tribunal and giving it the terms of reference which it had was to bring about the effect which was produced. Had the purpose of the terms of reference been to arrive at the truth, the terms of reference would have been very different. The tribunal would have been asked to establish whether in fact there was a money-lending problem. Instead, the terms of reference were so designed as to shift the onus of proof to RTE so that if any statement in that programme could not be fully proved before this tribunal in accordance with the rules of evidence the RTE Authority could have been found at fault. The judges of that tribunal, acting in accordance with legal precedent, applied themselves to this problem along those lines. Their report was a fair one within their terms of reference. Unfortunately, they were called upon to do something which they should not have been asked to do. It was an abuse of the law that they should have been called upon to act in that way and that they should have been called upon to find fault in such a programme if the statements in it could not be proved to be true or were found to be exaggerated.

Conscious of their duties to the public the judges, although bound by the terms of reference to carry out their functions in that way, highlighted the value of the programme and its great merits. On balance, their report was clearly favourable to RTE, and the statements of the former Minister in this House were found to be as false as we in the Opposition said they were at that time. On balance, RTE came well out of this report and, although the programme was found to be, in the main, accurate, nevertheless the effect of having to face such an inquiry was adverse on any medium of public opinion as in some degree it reduced the abrasiveness of comment on the Government and the shortcomings of their policies.

This Bill is designed to do something similar. This section which we are now considering is one which is unnecessary for the stated purposes of this Bill. The Minister has explained why this Bill is necessary. We on this side of the House do not agree that it is necessary, but if for the sake of argument we accept his thesis that it is necessary in order to deal with the activities of some band of revolutionaries trying to overturn our country and its Constitution—although one would be more impressed by that argument if the genuine revolutionaries were being dealt with by the Government—if one for the moment accepts the validity of the Government's argument that that was the purpose of this Bill, then this section of the Bill in its present form without this amendment has no justification. There is nothing in the basic case for this Bill which requires that the media of public opinion should be silenced on these issues.

The Minister's argument on this point is one which is so weak that it barely deserves comment and I shall not waste time on it—the argument that he is merely repeating the existing law. If he is repeating the existing law, then this is superfluous and our amendment should be accepted. If the section goes further than the existing law, it is dangerous and objectionable and should be deleted. The arguments the Minister put forward do not by any standards of logic or debate justify the retention of this section unamended.

The Minister has made a case for the Bill. We do not accept that there is a case for it. One can see his line of argument. If his facts were correct and if his priorities were correct there might be some case for the Bill. One can argue about whether his facts and priorities were correct, but one can see his line of argument. One can see he is making a case for necessary powers to deal with people who conspire together to organise squatting. We do not believe that the organisation of squatting is on such a scale or operates in such a manner that requires this Bill, but one can see the Minister's case, even if one does not accept it. However, one cannot accept his thesis that this amendment must be rejected, when no case is made for the Bill other than that it is already the law. The fact that the Minister refuses to exempt the Press, radio and television from the provisions of this section is clear and irrefutable evidence that his intention is to limit their freedom of expression on these issues. This must be resisted by all means. The Opposition in this debate are playing the role an Opposition must play in any country when freedom of speech is under attack from an authoritarian Government.

The Minister may even have claimed when I was not in the House to hear him that of course the power would never be abused. This is the customary argument of authoritarian and bureaucratic Governments. It is an argument which at times carries some cogency because very often when the Opposition are seeking to amend some piece of legislation on the grounds that it could be abused it is fairly evident that no normal Government would in practice be bothered with it or want it. Sometimes it is tidy-mindedness on the part of the Opposition when they seek to amend legislation in that way.

That is what the Labour Party said last night on their amendment on which the Deputy abstained.

The Parliamentary Secretary is aware that I am paired on account of the Public Accounts Committee and therefore any abstention of mine has no significance. The fact in this instance, however, is that we have concrete evidence that a Fianna Fáil Government, given the power of censorship they are seeking here, will abuse it. The Parliamentary Secretary who is somewhat younger than I may not have the recollection I have of the wartime censorship and the way it was exercised by Fianna Fáil. I can recall when a religious denomination was unable to advertise the services in its church by the proper name of that church because the censorship of the Fianna Fáil Government was exercised against it as a measure of political bias. Does the Parliamentary Secretary remember that? Does he remember when the Kingstown Presbyterian Church was not allowed to advertise itself by that name? Does he remember when the censorship designed to preserve our neutrality was abused by the Fianna Fáil Government to force that church to change its name to Dún Laoghaire, an act of petty-mindedness which even for a Fianna Fáil Government has few parallels? That is the way in which censorship can be abused by a Fianna Fáil Government.

The Parliamentary Secretary has no recollection of either the 1920s or the 1930s. I would have thought that the Deputy, unlike most Deputies, would not have been concerned to recall events and attitudes of that time.

I am not concerned with recalling events of the 1920s or the 1930s. I am talking about the last occasion when censorship was operated by an Irish Government. I am talking about the 1940s, the wartime period. This was the last period when an Irish Government had the power of censorship and in that period the Fianna Fáil Government in the person of Deputy Aiken, then Minister for Co-ordination of Defensive Measures, used the censorship in that way for petty purposes and abused it. Nobody can tell us that, if a Fianna Fáil Government are given powers in this sphere of activity, they will not abuse them. We have seen what they did in regard to the "7-Days" Tribunal. We know how they abused it. We know, therefore, that, whatever may be the case with other legislation, there is one kind of legislation in which no loopholes may be left which could be abused by a Fianna Fáil Government in order to limit the freedom of the Press. That is the kind of legislation we are dealing with today.

I do not think any Government should be entrusted with power of this kind, particularly any Government capable of irritation at times. If the Government have got power of this kind they may foolishly use it; but, fortunately in democracy, when they do so it usually rebounds on their own heads. I do not think this power should ever be given for any Government to use. When the Government introducing it are the Government who abused it the last time they had similar power we are required by the democratic traditions of this country to reject this proposal.

Let us consider what would have been the effect if this section unamended had existed in law 18 months or two years ago. I propose to read for the House some of the statements of the Irish newspapers made in December, 1969, and in June, 1970, on a relative matter, the squatting by students in the houses in Hume Street. These quotations show what responsible newspapers—I shall quote from the three principal newspapers—had to say at that time. Unless the Parliamentary Secretary suggests that there are no responsible newspapers in Ireland, I take it he will accept that the Irish Press, the Irish Independent and the Irish Times are responsible newspapers.

I have never made any such suggestions.

I appreciate that. I quite accept that. I said unless the Parliamentary Secretary said that, although I know he will not say it and that he is bound to accept that these are responsible newspapers. These are the things which responsible newspapers said at that time. The first one I will read is the one which is least emphatic. It is the one which I believed offered encouragement to the students. I was in contact with the students at that time and I can recall the impact on them and on their morale as a result of Press comment. Although this editorial does not explicitly mention encouragement to the students, it had the effect of encouraging them. Therefore, I believe, though it was less explicit than the other editorials, it could have come within the ambit of the law which the Parliamentary Secretary and his Government are seeking to impose. The editorial of the Irish Times, Tuesday, December 16th, 1969, stated:

The Dublin streets were noisy yesterday with protesting groups converging on No. 45 St. Stephen's Green—to be put up for sale and already in process of demolition. What are the physical facts of the matter? Once again, No. 44 is owned by the Green Property Company, No. 45 has previously been mentioned. The Green Property Company is stated already to have an interest in this house. No. 46 and No. 1 Hume Street (adjoining it) are to be sold by the Board of Works, which occupies them. Nos. 2 and 18 Hume Street belong to the Green Property Company. Next come Nos. 47, 48 and 49 now demolished. Beside them is the Board of Works, a fine building, the last great house to be erected on the Green. It can be seen that these houses form a block upon which, if razed to the ground, it would be possible to construct two large buildings or one enormous building. Several questions spring to mind. What interest has the Green Property Company in the premises? If none, does it intend to acquire them when a sale makes this possible? Why is the Government so patently anxious to sell? Why does it ignore the very representative outcry for the preservation of what is left of this historic and lovely Dublin square?

Is the Government in a difficulty? Has it—or has anyone connected with it—committed it to a course from which it is unable to withdraw? If not, why is the Dublin public being ignored over the matter? How can Mr. Noel Lemass appear at a preservationist meeting in Brussels without, as it were, bringing down the House when his equivocal position is made known to the other delegates? The dire result of Government obstinacy is now apparent in Fitzwilliam Street, where the new ESB offices chill the stoutest heart and bring tears to the steeliest eye.

Are the same people to do the same in this area? How does the Minister for Finance reconcile the determined philistinism in St. Stephen's Green with his patronage of artists and the arts in other directions for which he has earned a meed of praise?

That. I think, was the first editorial following the occupation. By drawing attention to the matter and by putting the Government on the spot it did, in fact, encourage the students.

Is the Deputy suggesting or trying to sow into the record the fact that that would be, even after this legislation, an offence?

I am going to ask, in due course, the Minister to give his views as to whether this constitutes encouragement. To me, these editorials taken together do, on the face of them, constitute encouragement because they do encourage what was done and as I was in contact with the students throughout I know they were greatly encouraged and heartened by these editorials. If words mean anything these editorials encouraged that squatting.

I sometimes think that the Deputy's interpretation of words and mine must differ, but certainly as far as sections 2 and 3 are concerned, having regard to that, we must have very different interpretations.

Surely that is the essence of the difficulty, that encouragement means different things to different people?

It does, apparently, to those who want to raise the wind and to raise fears if that is an example.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary tell us what he means by "encourage"? I am absolutely mystified now.

We will let the Deputy have the definition.

I would be most interested to hear.

It will be more precise than economic definitions, at any rate. There is such a thing as a legal definition and it is not of the kind that the Deputy would be suggesting arises from that editorial.

I am well aware that to lawyers, such as the Parliamentary Secretary and others, words often do not mean what they appear to mean, but I find it hard to believe that any court having read these editorials could say that they were not encouraging. I shall come to the next one. It is headed "Constructive Protest". The very words are encouragement in themselves. It is from the Irish Independent of Saturday, December 27th. I quote:

It must be only a Scrooge who would frown on the energy and zeal of the students who have occupied No. 45 Stephen's Green, over the Christmas holiday. They have suffered discomfort for the sake of an ideal and that is to be admired.

I would be interested to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary what words he could use in an editorial that would offer more encouragement than that.

The Chair must point out that any Deputy may speak only once on the Report Stage. The Deputy will appreciate that the Parliamentary Secretary is prevented from speaking by reason of that fact.

Fortunately it has not totally prevented him from intervening and perhaps I am wrong to tempt him to disorderly interruptions although I find them extremely helpful. It goes on:

One need not agree with their methods in order to welcome their public spirit. It is only fair that we should recognise student virtue in an age when we so often condemn student excess.

Their holiday has been literally constructive. They have gone ahead with interior restoration work on the controversial house, they have elicited sympathy from many quarters and have been visited by TDs from the three major parties.

Encouragement even from the Fianna Fáil benches.

Whatever one holds about demolition or preservation—or indeed about the law of trespass (which eventually has to be upheld)—one must surely commend the peaceful nature of their protest—so strikingly in contrast with the violent methods used on the O'Connell monument elsewhere in Dublin.

An interesting contrast that, a contrast between the peaceful methods of these students, which this Bill is designed to deal with, and the violent methods of those who blow up monuments and buildings throughout this country and against whom the Government are afraid to take any action. The contrast made there 18 months ago has considerable significance today.

Those are some of the things said in December, 1969, but, of course, that did not end the matter. As the House will recall, six months later the students did occupy that house for almost exactly six months. It required a very sustained effort indeed to put up with that discomfort. Their principles carried them through for that long period despite the effect it had on their studies and it did have an adverse effect on their studies. I recall one student who, on the day after the occupation finally ended, three days after the attack on Hume Street, on the very next morning after the midnight message from the Minister for Finance that settled the matter, had to go and do an examination at 9.30 and suffered very much as a result of not being in the best of condition to complete her examination. It took a considerable degree of dedication to carry on occupation of that kind for six months, even at the expense of one's examination.

I come now to the Irish Times of Monday, 8th June, 1970. This was headed “Desecration Sunday”. May I point out to the House, all Members of which may not recall the sequence of events, that although there was a violent eviction of the students on Sunday, 7th June, the building was reoccupied for three days after that. Consequently, we are not dealing here with the termination of the occupation and the editorials written and published on Monday, 8th June did, in fact, encourage the students to reoccupy. To that extent they could come within the framework of the Bill. I quote:

The action early yesterday morning by agents of the Green Property Company, who ejected the occupiers of No. 45 St. Stephen's Green and proceeded to demolish it and other of the company's houses in Hume Street is not necessarily the end of the battle.

This is not the place to decide the legal issues involved which embrace the rights of owners to use reasonable force in ejecting trespassers and the law against forcible entry even of one's own property of which other persons have unlawfully taken possession.

The occupiers, whatever their legal condition, were motivated by a cause for which there is growing support. And it is noteworthy that the long siege of the property was occasioned not because cranks or frivolous rich or titled persons wanted these premises as playthings, but because ordinary members of the public cared about their city sufficiently to put themselves to considerable personal discomfort.

The cause is not lost, because the Government still controls the two key houses, and whatever excuse its spokesmen may give, it can ensure that at least the external appearance of this part of Dublin be preserved. Deputies Garret FitzGerald and Noel Browne both suggested yesterday that Mr. Colley was a friend to the cause of preservation.

I am glad to be able to quote that remark. It is something in favour of somebody on the other benches in this matter.

Even Communist countries have shown more regard for their architectural heritage, inherited very often from alien rule, than have the people of Ireland.

If the awakening of responsibility is late, we can only blame ourselves. The fact that it is late does not mean that it is insincere. What the blind see on the restoration of sight is what was there to see when they were in darkness. Their new vision is to be welcomed, not decried.

Confidence has been expressed in certain quarters that, if left to themselves, the Green Property Company would put up in this area worthy buildings. We do not apologise for again drawing the attention of readers to the new ESB building in Fitzwilliam Street. Does Dublin want a repetition of that sort of harmony in St. Stephen's Green?

There is still time, if heads keep cool, to ensure that a better compromise is insisted upon. The time has come to set up a body to relieve the Minister for Local Government of a function, in part aesthetic and historical, for which no recent holder of the office has shown a natural aptitude——

That is a very light comment on the relevant Ministers.

——and, indeed, it is a thankless job,

One does not have to be unaware of the rural tragedy of abandoned houses all down the west coast and in many other Irish counties to deplore the razing of worthwhile buildings in Dublin. Hume Street does not represent the best of eighteenth century building, but it has a decency which may not be matched by its replacement.

It is worth commenting that the second editorial under this one is headed "Owen Sheehy Skeffington" and that the first line of it is:

It is a sad irony that one of the first people whom the students from Hume Street wished to telephone for support in the early hours of yesterday was Owen Sheehy Skeffington. He had died in the night.

The only significant thing there is the reference to Deputy FitzGerald and Deputy Browne. I cannot see how it is relevant to anything the Deputy is saying.

He is not as petty as that.

I see much encouragement in it which the Parliamentary Secretary apparently does not see. I am sorry he is not with me on this but the whole editorial was designed to and did, in fact, encourage the students to maintain their position. I do not want to re-read anything and waste the time of the House but I think——

The Deputy would not be judging the matter if it came to court. If the Deputy would read that into it it is as well the judges would not take that interpretation. That is the Deputy's interpretation.

There can be differences of opinion on these things. I am reading all the editorials to give the House a fair chance of judging. Some of them are more specific in encouraging than others. As a matter of fact that one did encourage students. Some people may think that they should not be so foolish as to be encouraged by it. On Tuesday, June 9th in the Irish Independent——

The section says not to encourage the students or otherwise to encourage the commission of an offence, which is rather different.

They went back in again. That is right. And a number of us went in with them, I would point out. This editorial is headed: "Planning or Chaos" and it says:

The present reprehensible development in the Hume Street houses affair can be laid largely at the door of inept, confused and short-sighted planning arrangements. No one can blame public—and aesthetic-minded citizens from recoiling with horror at the thought of the collapse of old Dublin. Nobody has blamed them; on the contrary they have attracted a vast amount of sympathy from the general public and from eminent persons alike. In passing, it might be mentioned that the conduct of the six-month sit-in by young people has been a model protest in this age of frequent violent demonstrations.

Even the Parliamentary Secretary could hardly suggest that those words are not an encouragement.

To be fair to the developers, however, it seems that their action in acquiring a property put up for sale by public auction and proceeding to have plans for its development ratified is entirely in keeping with their rights. Developers have a role, at present a big one, in Dublin and they are presumably entitled to accept planning permission as an authoritative mandate to proceed with their plans.

It is quite normal in a free society that these plans may conflict with the views of other sections of the public. There is nothing wrong in that. But what is very wrong is the fact that protest action and physical conflict of the kind that occurred at the beginning of the week should happen after one of the parties involved has received the official mandate—if that is indeed what it is—of an official organ of the democratically elected administration of the State. This does not mean that the protesters should hold their peace once the planning permission has been given; it means that there is something radically wrong with the administration of our planning system when it goes in direct conflict with the predictable wishes of a vast sector of our society.

The anomalous situation where planning permission is given over buildings, one of which is not yet in the hands of the recipients of the permission, is indicative of the chaos invited by our present inefficient planning administration. The true culprit in the present impasse is neither the developers nor the protesters but a planning system which can treat a central issue with careless and roughshod arbitrariness which seems insensitive to any but the most immediate considerations.

The first paragraph of that and the paragraph in the other Independent editorial could scarcely be more specific in the terms of their encouragement. There is another in the issue of the Irish Independent of 10th June which is peripheral, perhaps. It is called “Bringing up Preservation”. It is more about Dr. Spock than about Hume Street. It starts by saying:

The contribution of Dr. Spock to the Hume Street debate last evening must have resulted in a pleasant feeling of goodwill all round. For the young protesters the moral support from such a well-known figure brought further prestige to a prestigious campaign.

It goes on about Dr. Spock. In the Irish Times on June 11th there is an editorial which expresses great satisfaction with the outcome of the affair and it refers to Mr. Colley's “conciliatory statement yesterday which marks not only the end of the Hume Street affair, or the major phase of it, but hopefully also a nascent awareness on the part of a Government that needs to listen more....” In so far as this editorial was written after the end of the occupation I do not think I should read it as it would scarcely be in order.

Only in so far as these quotations are relevant to the amendment.

Exactly. Therefore I must adhere to the rules of order and as the occupation was over this did not encourage them to do anything at that time. It may have encouraged people to do things later on but did not encourage anybody then and so I shall not dwell on it. There is another volume here——

At least this will give the Deputy good physical exercise if it does not do anything else.

I have not looked at this yet as it was brought in late and I did not have time to see it. I got the wrong volume earlier.

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

For the sake of those who have just come in——


No. No.

——let me recapitulate and then I can read on because I propose to read on. If I may inform the House as some Members were not present before, I have been reading various editorials written by the newspapers at the time of the Hume Street affair, all of which in greater or lesser degree use words which were of an encouraging character to the occupiers and which, because of my contact with them, I can inform the House did, in fact, encourage them. The point I am making is that the three Dublin papers —they were most concerned as it was a Dublin affair—all offered encouragement. Under the terms of the Bill, if not amended by amendment No. 7, they would have found themselves in trouble because they could have been prosecuted for these editorials. Deputy Browne said that as I was dealing with the Irish Press there should be more Fianna Fáil people present. I shall now quote editorials in that paper on the 8th, 9th and 10th June, 1970. On 8th June, 1970, an editorial in the Irish Press read as follows:


Whatever the rights or wrongs of the Georgian controversy, yesterday morning's action in Hume Street was bloody-minded in the extreme. The use of strong-arm tactics in a dawn swoop against the handful of occupiers struck a very ugly note. The whole approach, including the wanton destruction of restoration work, had an aura of arrogance about it.

They are familiar words in this House. The editorial continued:

The group which has been occupying Hume Street for the past six months behaved extremely well in their unorthodox manner of trying to save the buildings. It was not politically activated. Its purpose was constructive and not destructive. During their time in occupation the members of the group had set about restoring and repairing the building——

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, is the Parliamentary Secretary listening? He was very concerned about responsibility in the brief time he spoke. I should like him to listen to this editorial.

The Chair has no control over what Members of the House may do in that respect.

I am not in any way faulting the Chair. However, I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to hear this.


The captain is deserting his ship. They are now leaderless and rudderless. I was anxious for the Parliamentary Secretary to hear this because there is reference to responsibility. The editorial of 8th June, 1970 continues:

their sense of responsibility, combined with their very obvious concern for the future of their city, had won them a great deal of admiration and respect.

——including, of course, Deputy Haughey's turkey some six months earlier. The editorial continues:

Many people whose interest in the affair up to now has been neutral will view with distaste and with some trepidation the strongarm methods employed. Most certainly the Green Property Company's line of action will create wider interest in the whole question of preservation and redevelopment. At the moment the arena is shared by two committed groups—the preservationists, on the one hand, who feel that certain designated areas should be preserved if the city is to retain its individuality and character, and the businessmen who see in development a quick and profitable investment at comparatively little risk.

There are, indeed, many areas in Dublin which would profit from demolition. St. Stephen's Green is surely not one of these areas, and yesterday's action gives a new urgency to the need for a social determination of what should be preserved and, possibly more important, as to how the cost would be borne. In this instance private enterprise was within its constitutional rights in acquisition of the property and in seeking rights for its development. But if it can be proved that the great mass of people want to retain the characteristics of the city, then the common will must prevail. When there is so much that is old and dilapidated in Dublin and obviously crying out for redevelopment, it is sad to see the bulldozers in the excellently designed vistas of other generations.

The occupiers in this instance were told that they were extremely well-behaved that they were not politically activated, that their purpose was constructive not destructive, that they had a sense of responsibility and were interested in the future of their city, and that these qualities had won them much admiration and respect. If such words were spoken of a Member of this House, would he not be heartened and encouraged? The students were heartened and encouraged by these words from the Irish Press. The Irish Press took this matter so seriously that they had daily editorials on the subject. On June 9th, 1970, they had another editorial on the matter——


(Cavan): Deputy de Valera has already been told off and has been written off.

I shall deal with that later on because the attempt to intimidate the Irish Press in this House the other night is a matter with which I should like to deal.

The Deputy should deal with the amendment before the House.

Anything I say will be relevant to this amendment—as has all I have said previously.

Is the Deputy going to sell the file in front of him?

The files are the property of the House. Deputy Davern may not be a newspaper reader in the Library here. I can tell the Deputy that the Library has a fine collection of newspapers and journals and he would be edified to read them.

I thank the Deputy, but I buy my own newspaper.

Deputy Davern's house must be full if he keeps the papers for years afterwards.


One has become increasingly aware in recent times of the growing feeling in the Fianna Fáil Party about the Irish Press but I did not realise it had reached such depths.

The Deputy should get back to a serious discussion on the amendment.

The next editorial in the Irish Press is headed: “Hucksterisation or Conservation?”, and it states:

As the Hume Street saga continues, with the issue still unresolved and with a perceptible rising of tempers all round, this might not be a bad time to look at the whole problem of preservation and redevelopment in a wider context, for this is a problem which is going to loom large in the controversies of this coming decade.

The Deputy reads that in a most dramatic way. It would do justice to Mícheál Mac Liammóir.

This may be interesting to the Deputy but the Chair is concerned with having order in the House. The Chair would ask Deputy FitzGerald to speak on the amendment before the House. The Chair tells Deputies that interruptions are not in order.

I was making good progress until the noisy Fianna Fáil interrupters came in. I am afraid Deputy Browne made a mistake in getting them in here because it was a good debate until they came into the House. The editorial in the Irish Press on 9th June continued:

The problem is given an added urgency by virtue of the fact that we live in an age of unprecedented redevelopment and building. The great majority of this is to the benefit of society—never before have people had better houses, schools, hospitals, offices—even if there is still a long way to go. In the process however, there unfortunately has been a considerable amount of indiscriminate and unnecessary pulling down; fine buildings have been destroyed and once elegant streets have been hucksterised. Nor is it just a city problem—Avoca, Shelton Abbey and Bantry Bay all bear inelegant testimony to what can happen. With an improvement in the standard of living there is a demand for better homes, but today, too, people are concerned for better environments of a pleasing standard. The good environment can no longer be the exclusive stamping ground of the gentry.

Each one of us has a vested interest in the future shape and appearance of the countryside.

On a point of order, is this relevant to section 7?

That is not a point of order.

(Cavan): We are not on section 7.

Amendment No. 7. Is it in order to talk about Bantry Bay on amendment No. 7?

The Deputy is in order in quoting if it is relevant to the amendment.

What is he quoting from?

The Irish Press of Tuesday, June 9th, 1970, from an editorial headed “Hucksterisation or Conservation?” It is on the subject of the whole Hume Street affair. It is one of the many editorials in the Irish Press that offered encouragement to the students.

(Cavan): Deputy Davern probably read it himself and used it according to himself.

Well, used it anyway. I do not want to waste the time of the House. The rest of the editorial goes into the general issues of conservation and planning and to quote any further would not be particularly relevant. I want to stick to the parts of editorials which, in the wording used, and in the effect they had, encouraged the students.

In the Deputy's opinion.

There followed then on Wednesday, June 10th, an editorial headed "Treaty of Hume St." which started off:

There should have been dancing in the streets this morning in Dublin and, without a doubt, the people, mainly boys and girls, who fought so long and bitterly for the preservation of St. Stephen's Green and Hume Street had reason to rejoice.

I do not want to pursue that because it did not offer specific encouragement to the occupiers since the occupation was then at an end. Those are the quotations and I do not think anybody who was present in the House when I read them—and not everybody was, of course—could have any doubt that the words used were words of encouragement and had the effect of encouraging the students.

In the Deputy's opinion.

I am saying that in my opinion no one in this House could have any doubt but that the words used were encouraging. If Deputy Sherwin wishes me to repeat some of them and test them out word by word I am prepared to do so.

The Chair will not put up with any more of these interruptions. If Deputies interrupt, the Chair will ask them to leave the House.

Then we would not have a quorum.

If Deputies do not wish to listen to the debate they have their remedy. The debate must be conducted in an orderly fashion. The Chair will insist on that.

I have given the quotations and it seems to me that they were in every respect encouraging and offered strong encouragement to the students. No one can doubt that. That means that if this amendment is not passed, in a similar situation, similar editorials could not be published without risk of prosecution. That means that the newspapers would have the choice of facing prosecution under the Bill, or alternatively, if they were not prepared to face it, of not saying the kind of things they felt it proper and responsible to say.

If newspapers went ahead and published editorials of that kind, in a similar situation again, they would be liable under section 7 of the Bill, on summary conviction in the case of a first offence, to a fine not exceeding £50 or imprisonment—presumably the editors—for a term not exceeding six months, or both such fine and such imprisonment. In the case of a second or subsequent offence, they would be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both such fine and such imprisonment. On indictment the newspaper editors concerned would be subject to a fine not exceeding £500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both such fine and such imprisonment.

The suggestion—and the suggestion is there in the refusal to accept this amendment—that newspaper editors who publish editorials of this kind, using the words of encouragement they used to these occupiers, should be sent to jail for periods of up to three years, is one which no democratic society should tolerate. Although I am properly critical of the Fianna Fáil Party, although I have many criticisms to make of that party, I am surprised —and I mean this genuinely—that members of the Fianna Fáil Party would support this section. It is not necessary. It does not come within the ambit of what the Minister says is the purpose of the Bill. The purpose of the Bill, he says, is to restrain organised groups of people organising squatting. Clearly it is not necessary for that purpose to restrain the freedom of the Press, and to prevent them from publishing an editorial if they see a group of public-spirited people doing something in the public interest and doing it courageously and at cost to themselves.

To make it a crime punishable by imprisonment for up to three years for a newspaper editor to publish editorials of that kind is not in accord with common sense and the common view of ordinary members of the Fianna Fáil Party. Frankly, I do not understand why the party have not told the Minister for Justice where he gets off, and that he should drop this section— whatever about the rest of the Bill— accept the amendment, and get the Fianna Fáil Party out of the ignominious position they are in, where they are being accused by this side of the House, properly on the face of the Bill as it stands, of authoritarianism and of seeking to silence freedom of speech.

What possible advantage is it to the Government party to go through the experience they are going through now? Why should the party put up with it just to satisfy the vanity of one Minister? If the people opposite had any guts they would have dealt with him long ago on matters of this kind when he digs in his heels on something stupid which can only bring ignominy on Fianna Fáil. It does not do the party any credit that they have not had the courage to deal with him on this matter.

Six months of Parliamentary time has been interfered with in relation to this matter. The Bill was introduced in January last and we are now in July. I fail to see the value of the Bill to the country or to Fianna Fáil. I find it hard to visualise anybody other than property developers—who, no doubt, number a couple of dozen people— being induced to support Fianna Fáil because of the Bill. I know many people who have been encouraged not to support them any longer because of the Bill. It is not necessary, and this provision in it is clearly damaging to the public interest and damaging to the name of the Government. The Fianna Fáil Party are still having party meetings—a point upon which some doubt was cast recently, incorrectly I gather—and, before we meet again, they ought to go to the Minister and tell him to accept this amendment and stop this farce which is doing no good to the country or to the Government party.

Amongst other things this Bill deals with the kind of occupations called "fish-ins". I am not in favour of fish-ins but I can understand people holding a divergent view. I am not a rural dweller. I have never lived in rural Ireland, but I must respect the views of responsible people who have better knowledge of rural Ireland than I have. I have been impressed to hear very conservative businessmen, who could by no possible means be described as radical, expressing themselves in literally forcible terms on the subject of the restrictions on fishing and property rights in relation to fishing in rural Ireland.

I heard one such person say that he would cheer if somebody blew up the weirs that restricted the flow of fish for the benefit of landlords. I do not share that sentiment for a number of reasons: because I am not interested in fishing and, because I do not know much about the conditions which create this state of mind. Clearly there is a sense of great injustice in people's minds, even if I am not capable of sympathising fully with them, on the question of fishery rights.

In those circumstances, even though I would not share the view, it is legitimate for any newspaper editor to write an editorial saying that these fish-ins are a valuable exercise in drawing attention to a social evil which needs legislative remedying. I would not write such an editorial because I do not happen to share that view but I could sympathise with somebody writing it and I could understand his writing it. I do not think that somebody who wrote such an editorial in a newspaper or said this on television should be prosecuted and sent to jail for up to three years for saying it.

I know that on the benches opposite there are many Deputies who regard the fishery rights position in Ireland as thoroughly objectionable and who wish it could be changed and who, although they may not wish to express their views openly, sympathise with the fish-ins which are carried on. There are many people in the party opposite who are far more radical on this issue than I could be. They must agree that, to create a situation where the expression of this view by a newspaper, or on radio, or television, renders the person concerned liable to prosecution and imprisonment for three years, is not something we should be seeking to do. Even those who do not agree with fish-ins and who think they are objectionable must accept, as we all must, reasonable freedom of speech. If such fish-ins take place, and if some people feel that they are putting pressure on that will encourage a change in the law, even if you do not agree with the views expressed, you cannot and should not send people to jail for expressing a view that this may contribute to speeding up legislative change in this matter.

Again, here, the intolerance of dissent on the part of Fianna Fáil is carried to such a degree that it even involves intolerance of dissent by responsible members of their own party; I do not mean the dissidents, but even some of the Lynch-ites who share this view. This suggests to me that this legislation was never properly considered by the Fianna Fáil Party. It suggests to me that other preoccupations prevented the full analysis of it and I wonder whether, in fact, the Minister, when he prepared this Bill, went through it clause by clause with his party and whether all his party fully understood the implications of this particular section. If not, if members of his party were not fully informed, if they have been misled into the position in which they now find themselves of being pilloried for this attack on the freedom of the Press, then they have the remedy in their own hands and they will be able over this weekend, or next week, to prevail on the Minister to change his mind. If they do not do so, then they deserve the public obloquy that will follow for their lack of courage and their lack of conviction.

We are dealing here with the question of the freedom of the Press and attacks on it. It is relevant to refer in this context to a recent statement by the Minister for Justice, a statement which indicates his attitude of mind to the freedom of the Press. He is the Minister piloting this Bill through. It is he who is seeking to impose this restriction on the freedom of the Press, upon the country and on his own party, not all of whom, I am sure, agree with the Bill. There was the striking episode of the speech by Deputy de Valera and when I, on the following morning, read the newspaper account, which, no doubt, was incomplete, of that episode, I must admit it was one of the occasions when reading the Dáil report caused me to feel real anger. It was, I thought, a most disreputable episode. Deputy de Valera is a respected Member of this House—I mean that sincerely—and he is respected by the Opposition as well as by the Government party.


Hear, hear.

He had raised properly in this House questions related to the lack of uniformity in the operation of the law. He is concerned, as many of us on both sides of this House are concerned, that we should not have laws which are not enforced or are enforced arbitrarily; and, above all, where the freedom of the Press is concerned, that the law should also exist and be enforced or should not exist. Newspapers, radio, television must not be left at the mercy of a sporadic and uncertain implementation of the law. This kind of cat-and-mouse game in which newspapers are allowed to publish things, and feel that the law has fallen into disuse, as it has in not allowing them to refer to the IRA, for example, and then they are suddenly prosecuted without warning in a particular case, is anathema It is unjust and it is inimical to the freedom of the Press.

There must be clearly defined laws operated clearly and Deputy de Valera feels this, and rightly so, and it was for that reason he raised this issue in this House. The Minister's response was a sinister response; it was to threaten his fellow-Deputy with a prosecution of the newspaper of which he is managing director because of articles that were published in it, thinking apparently that he would thereby silence Deputy de Valera. I know Deputy de Valera well enough to know that it will take more than that kind of threat and that kind of Minister to silence him. But it was a disreputable performance and it indicates the attitude of mind of this Minister who will not tolerate dissent and, if there is any criticism of the law and how it is enforced, and of the way in which he enforces the law, he will turn on anybody, even a distinguished Deputy of his own party, and threaten a prosecution in order to silence him.

We cannot give to a Minister who takes such an attitude to people within his own party any power of the kind that is being sought in this provision. That is why, on this amendment, on this side of the House we are pressing it as strongly as we are and, I hope, pressing it strongly and "longly" enough for the party opposite to be given the opportunity over this weekend to reconsider their position and to retrieve some of their reputation by, in this disreputable Bill, modifying at least this provision which threatens the freedom of the Press.

Before Deputy Keating intervenes, could I ask the Government side of the House has the Minister for Justice completely abandoned this Bill, so completely that he never appears at all to rebut the case made so eloquently by Deputy FitzGerald?

He is treating the House with the same contempt with which he treated his fellow-Deputy.

Perhaps his absence may possibly be due to the sort of rethinking we have been urging on him. He may be receiving in private the opinions of other members of his party, opinions we know for a fact that many of them have. We know they are acutely embarrassed by this particular section.

I want to follow very briefly the thought introduced by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Kennedy. He repulsed the attack made on this clause by the Opposition with the suggestion that it was irrational and abnormal that we should seek to inject malice and malevolent intent on the part of the Government and on the part of the Minister for Justice where, in fact, none existed. He said he wished we had approached this Bill in a normal and rational fashion. The debate from these benches, according to the Parliamentary Secretary, was characterised by a great distrust of the Minister's intention. It is fair that Deputy O'Kennedy should say that, but it is neither abnormal nor irrational that we should feel that distrust, considering the events of the last year. From all of the Ministers in the Government we received statements which caused us to believe things which were subsequently denied. In other words, language was used in this Parliament in the last year in a very complex, delicate and misleading way by the most senior people in the Government and in this Parliament. We were deliberately misled by these people. I make the point. It is a valid point. It is one held by the vast majority of the Opposition. Government spokesmen have been using words for the purpose of concealing their thoughts and misleading us. They have used passages, which, when we went back to them, we found were phrased in such fashion that, while not actual lies, they nonetheless resulted in misleading us. That was the intention and we have, therefore, now reached the stage at the end of a period which, by no stretch of the imagination, could be described as a normal one that we look at words very carefully, and with profound distrust, and we look at the intention, as expressed, with profound scepticism. We would be very foolish were we to do otherwise. This exercise on our part has been imposed on us reluctantly as a culmination of a period of the most extraordinary events. The distrust is there, but it is not an improper distrust. Were it in the middle of five or ten years of calm and normal Parliamentary evolution it would certainly be improper for us to approach Government initiatives in this way but, in the culmination of our experience in the last year, it is obligatory on us now. This makes us want to look very seriously at the wording of this Bill.

On an occasion like this a person like me suffers from a lack of legal knowledge. When I hear contributions from people of legal expertise I inevitably experience a certain amount of inadequacy and a certain sort of regret that I do not possess that expertise. Lawyers, because of their profession, use words accurately and precisely but sometimes I console myself a little with the thought that I have a different sort of discipline in my training and, if I might be bold enough to say so, a different sort of expertise which I can bring to the matter of legislation. That is the training of a scientist. There are quite a few lawyers in this House but there are very few here who have had scientific training. When I am considering certain words I consider them with the eye of a scientist and not with the eye of a lawyer. I find such misuse of language in the very heart of this Bill as to leave it entirely without meaning and to render it ridiculous.

Last night we were accused by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Kennedy, during a very interesting speech, of creating new categories of criminal offences by reason of this amendment. As a layman I listened with interest to his contribution and I pondered on what he had to say. While I disagreed with him, I was impressed by his arguments. However, that interest was spoiled for me today when I found the same vehemence being delivered in defence of something that is totally indefensible in the Deputy's attempted defence of section 4 of the Bill against this amendment. However, he is a skilful person and puts his words together so that they sound impressive. At any rate I wish now, as befits us at a time when we no longer have any faith in the goodwill of the Government or in their intention to behave honourably— I do not have that faith anymore—to ask the Deputy what the words mean. As a result of my experience here during the past year my conviction is that if the Government get this power they will use it to the letter; they will use it with evil intent and in a repressive manner. It is with regret that I say I no longer have faith in their goodwill and that is not a conclusion that I reached quickly or lightly.

In the light of that let us turn to line 34 which this amendment seeks to alter. That line refers to encouraging or advocating the commission of an offence. In a moment I shall be speaking about what we can catch, conceivably, in that net of "encouraging or advocating." Provided there is evil intent and provided there is malice at ministerial level, the net, defined by the terms "encourage" and "advocate" as they occur in line 34 is an extremely wide net. Then we ask what is it that is being encouraged or advocated? What is the offence? The offence involved in the Title of the Bill is forcible entry. I am not going back, except to recall precisely in relation to line 34, the very kernel of the Bill. This is line 10, beginning of section 2, which says that:

A person who forcibly enters land or a vehicle shall be guilty of an offence...

Of course, there are "unlesses" but that is the kernel of the Bill. Because of evident malice and an evident wish to muzzle and trap people and an evident wish to use the law in an improper way, we have to look at the meaning of these words very carefully because once a Bill is enacted, persons in high places who wish to misuse that legislation will consider it precisely in that way. They will ask "How can this law be stretched to permit the clobbering of people whom we do not like?" It has been argued overwhelmingly and convincingly that this whole exercise is unnecessary and that the powers to do what the Minister wishes to do are in existing legislation anyway. We shall come later to the matter or why the existing legislation is not being used.

Let us then consider the crime of encouraging or advocating the crime of forcible entry. First, let us consider the word, "forcible". In the preamble of the Bill there is a definition of that word. Not surprisingly "forcible" is defined as meaning:

using or threatening to use force in relation to person or property...

This may seem like semantic quibbling but after our experience of recent years we have to indulge not in semantic quibbling but in very careful examination from a semantic point of view of what is meant and exactly how wide is the net of the new criminal offences which the Minister is creating because if we do not define the limits of that net we will not know who can be caught in it. This is where we must consider the definition of "forcible". It may be obvious to everybody what is meant by using force until one begins to consider the word very carefully. Inevitably people approach such matters on the basis of their life experience and training. Therefore, I approach them as a scientist. In science the concept of force is central to the whole of physics. "Force" in the most general and most central definition that one can find of it——

Might I inquire if this has anything to do with the amendment?

Is it in order for me to reply to the Minister's inquiry?

The Minister has expressed doubts as to whether the Deputy's remarks relate to the amendment.

There should be a House for this explanation.

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

I was about to validate the relevance of what I was saying. I was endeavouring to delimit the size of the net which the Minister is now spreading to catch this new category of criminal which he is in the process of creating. I was trying to find out if it applied to five people, a thousand or a million people, and in the course of doing that I was going back to examine the fundamental——

I cannot hear the Deputy.

Deputy Davern does not think he is missing anything, does he?


Notwithstanding the badinage, this is a serious matter. I am trying to point out that the opening line of section 4 of the Bill unamended is extremely wide. It creates a criminal offence which would unwittingly be committed in my view, if I interpret the intention of this Bill correctly, by literally millions of persons. The drafting is so loose and so meaningless that a vast new category of criminal is being created. By trying to analyse the meaning of the word "used" in the Bill I was seeking to indicate why this is so.

I accepted the definition in the preamble of the Bill that "forcible" means, "using or threatening the use of force". I was then going on to look at what this means if one analyses it— what is force? I will even leave the word "threatening" out of it for the moment and narrow the category to "the use of force". Now, this is a wide definition, but it is the most central and fundamental definition of force that one can find It is a definition which embraces all the other definitions of force and all the other definitions of force are subsidiary to the one I am about to give. Force is any influence, which is measurable in quantity in regard to its intensity and its direction of action, which operates on a body so as to produce an alteration of the state of rest or of uniform motions.

A Deputy is making animal noises.

No better judge.


Clearly Deputies on the other side feel that this is very funny. The Minister may find it funny because he has put his name to an effort at drafting legislation which creates a ridiculous situation.

Like this amendment does.

This whole concept of legislation, this whole concept of forcible entry which is now being legislated for either has no meaning at all or, if it has any meaning, it is an offence which will be committed literally by hundreds of thousands if not by millions of people, because any entry on to land or a vehicle which involves the physical action of moving oneself is a forcible entry if one analyses words precisely. Any of us coming into this House by the expenditure of muscular energy, and we can only get into the House by the expenditure of muscular energy—if one is to use words precisely in a legally definable way—is committing a forcible entry. All sorts of human actions are forcible entries in the sense that the words can be defined and in the sense that it could be interpreted. This is a permissible interpretation. The Minister can, of course, say that judges would not interpret it in that way. I heard him use this argument in relation to another amendment earlier on in the week.

This is a scientific explanation.

No, with respect, I did not say it was only a scientific explanation. I said that different people approach things in different ways and that I would approach it in the light of a scientific training rather than in the light of a legal training. The explanation is a basic explanation of the meaning of the word "force". One can understand that the colloquial use of force is understood by people as catching a hold of somebody and shoving them. It frequently is understood in that way, but it is not sufficient to draw up legislation on the basis of what is frequently understood. The use of words in legislation has to be precise and accurate. I do not envy the task of anybody who has the duty of producing legislation because it is extraordinarily difficult. This is the sort of mess one gets into when one departs from something which is as deeply-rooted as the concept of trespass. There is very expert legal advice in this country—I would not be in a position to judge—but I have seen lawyers disagreeing both inside and outside the House in regard to the belief that the concept of trespass is quite sufficient to deal with the problems that are facing the Minister in regard to squatters, political demonstrations and things like that.

That may be right or it may be wrong. I do not have a strong opinion about it. But, when you decide to alter this concept of trespass, ancient and historically evolved legal teaching about trespass, when you move something from the civil law into the area of criminal law and when the actions that the Minister is trying to prevent would then become categorised as criminal offences, you are entering into the whole area of trying to define how many people you would catch in the net of your new offence and then you have to look at the meaning of your definition quite clearly. When you do that you find, and this is where the particular line that we are talking about, line 34, is so important, that if forcible entry is to be understood as being as wide a term as I have understood it to be and if there is no narrowing or diminution of the scope of that phrase in the Bill—and there is not because all the definitions leave it as wide as I have indicated that it is— then anybody who urges you, to use the terms of the Bill, "encourages or advocates" this extremely general action of forcible entry, is himself or herself guilty of an offence. You get to the point then that people who urge you to go and visit the Zoo or who urge you to go and examine the contents of the Museum are urging you to forcible entry and you have this incredible category that anybody who says practically to anybody else: "Get on that bus"——

"Follow that taxi".

OK—I do not know that following a taxi is a forcible entry. I doubt that it is. Certainly if you say to somebody to get on that bus he is then caught in this immense and ridiculous net that the Minister has so unthinkingly furnished. I know it was not his intention. I know it is just the result of the imprecise and sloppy use of words but it is absolutely ridiculous. It is vastly more ridiculous than the hypothetical trespassing cow that we heard so much about last night.

The point is that the situation we are in because this Bill is so ghoulish and ridiculous and ill-drawn, is that you get to the stage where it is hard to think of any action in regard to moving from one place to another, of going from somewhere to somewhere else, of entering somebody's property, which could not be construed as a forcible entry. Entering a shop which you do not own, getting off the public street, could be considered as a forcible entry because you have to use force to make the entry and the definition of the word "force" is in its most essential form as wide as that.

Of course, I do not for a moment suggest that that is the Minister's intention but there is no use in looking into his head for his intentions. We have to analyse what he has done. Although he is a Minister and is a busy person and although he has had a legal training, I do not suppose he had too much to do with the drawing of this, the actual formulation of the words. I have no doubt he said to people "Formulate me something that will clobber Sinn Féin and the Dublin Housing Action Committee" but, beyond that, I do not suppose that putting words on paper describing exactly how you do it was his task. It may be that when it was done he was so busy that he did not read through it with his trained legal mind and see that it was a bit silly and a bit impossible— in fact, not "a bit", but very silly and very impossible, so that now it has got to the stage where here it is on the floor of the House. Because it was so controversial and we have had this disgraceful manoeuvre which was used about the Marts Bill and is being used again, although it was originally brought to the House in January, it was left and left and left, month after month, when we were dealing with other things, and then banged in right at the end in the belief that we would all be tired, that we would all want to go home, that we would all be amenable to the arguments of the people around the House and of everybody else who say, "Come on. Let us go on our holidays" and, therefore, we would permit it to be bundled through. This was a stunt, in fact, a tactic, to prevent legitimate opposition being expressed to this Bill, legitimate opposition that extends vastly beyond the confines of the Opposition parties. Opposition has been expressed by all sorts of people.

The categories the Minister is formulating of offenders by forcibly entering or by encouraging or advocating forcible entry, when interpreted with an eye to disruption, with an eye to repression, are so hopelessly wide as to make almost anybody in the State punishable under this law. If the Minister wants to argue, as no doubt he will want to argue in due course, that that was not the intention. I totally accept that it was not the intention because nothing so foolish, so completely disruptive, could be any Minister's intention. Then he may repeat the arguments he produced in regard to an earlier section that it would not be so interpreted, that it might be written down like that but that nobody would interpret it like that. That is no good either, in my view, because we have to produce legislation that will stand up, however it is interpreted.

I have been a bit depressed by the sort of legal decisions that have been handed down around the country in the last few years. I do not at this time propose to enter the area of discussion as to how we appoint our legal people and why they behave in this way. Some of them are very admirable and very good and some of them are awful. This makes it all the more necessary for us to have legislation that does not leave them the latitude to interpret things either in a cowardly or a vindictive way or that leaves that latitude to the Minister who has not, to my knowledge, demonstrated cowardice but, I am satisfied, has demonstrated vindictiveness. The point I am making is that, as I understand the scope of the crime which is being instituted in clause (4) it is enormously wide and therefore I support an amendment which wishes to narrow it. Although, of course, it does not narrow it to anything like a sufficient degree in my view, it is some narrowing of the category of criminal which the Minister is producing but, while this amendment goes in the right direction, it does not go far enough.

I want, then, to turn to the matters that have been referred to over and over by other Deputies, the matter that implicit in this section there is an effort to muzzle the media, the Press and radio and television. It has been argued vehemently by Deputy FitzGerald, for example, with his legal expertise, that this is the intention. That has been argued very rightly. This is the belief of the National Union of Journalists who have expressed their sharp sense of uneasiness about this section. It has been argued by somebody else with legal expertise, Deputy O'Kennedy, that not alone is there no such intention but that no such power is given here. We have two lawyers who are also Deputies disagreeing on this issue. Ordinary mortals may express their own opinions. The section reads:

A person who encourages or advocates the commission of an offence under section 2 or 3 shall be guilty of an offence.

It does not say that there is any limitation on the person encouraging or advocating. One may encourage or advocate by saying to a fellow "Good, stay there" just as a personal speech from one person to another. One may encourage or advocate in the course of a speech at a public meeting, at which there is no amplification by artificial means in regard to the number of people communicated with, but just the number who hear when one shouts. One can do it by writing. There the multiplication takes place simply by the use of the mechanism of the printing press. It could be done by recording a message or by participating in a radio or television broadcast. There is no division of category. It is not said that one has to be one of the principals in this encouraging or advocating. In an effort at defending this section which was made from the Government benches it was suggested that if one deliberately went on television or on to a radio programme and advocated the committing of an offence then one would be guilty of the offence, but that would not apply to the executives of the broadcasting authority.

It was also argued that if a person wrote a piece of material which was produced in a newspaper and that this material encouraged or advocated the committing of an offence then the person would be guilty, but the owner, editor and printers would not be guilty. Over and over again we have seen that if something appeared in a newspaper which was an offence then all the persons who co-operated in the production of that newspaper, from owners to printers, and from editors to sub-editors, would have collective responsibility and they would be collectively guilty where there was collective effort. There is collective effort in the production of a newspaper. It is exactly the same thing with the production of a television programme. There was no effort to differentiate between the man who went in, not as an employee of the television station, and gave his opinion on the one hand, and the man who, on the other hand, earned his living by working for the television station and whose duties included taking the scripts given to him, provided they did not violate deeply held beliefs, and to deliver them to the public, through one of the regular team of the "7 Days" programme, for example, or as a newsreader, or as a person who writes the news or the number of people who are never seen and who are collecting the material. No effort was made to break up the categories of criminals. I am not using the word "criminal" abusively or casually. If it is a criminal offence that means that the people committing the offence are in the area of criminal law and are criminals. These criminals could range, in the section we are striving to amend, from the person who speaks in a one-to-one relationship to a law-breaker and who says to him "Good, stay there" and the person who shouts up to the students in a window of a Hume Street house saying "I think you are great Stay put". That person will be committing an offence if this section becomes the law in a different way from the newspaper editor who may be disseminating 300,000 copies of a Sunday newspaper.

This seems to me to be spreading the net very wide. That is why I think the new offence which is being introduced by section 4, lines 34 and 35 covers a wide and dangerous category. Let us look at the words "encourage" and "advocate". How do you encourage people to commit an offence? I am not a lawyer but if one brings to bear goodwill and common sense and a desire to keep the wheels of society turning when looking at this legislation one will see that we are getting into deep water. It is said that a person who encourages an offence is guilty of an offence. A new offence is created. How does one encourage anything? It was the conviction of the Government during the war that merely reporting certain actions without comment constituted an encouragement. It is the conviction still in regard to reporting the activities of the IRA —although that has been enormously breached in the last few years and one notices the diminished use of the euphemism "an illegal organisation" which has been used during most of my lifetime. The law which supports that euphemism is based on the fact that merely reporting without comment constitutes an encouragement. Otherwise why would you make it illegal?

The object of the law was to inhibit the growth and influence of an illegal organisation. The law said that this would be done by forbidding the mention of the name of the illegal organisation. The inevitable conclusion of that is that simply reporting can be held to be encouragement. It is possible that I am wrong in this. I am not being frivolously wrong. There is some precedent to indicate that my reading of "encouragement" is a valid one. Most of the censorship in the world is based on the recognition that in many circumstances simply reporting something as having happened constitutes an encouragement of it. Censorship is not just saying "I think that is scandalous". It is not offering valid judgments. It is not urging people to go out and do something. Censorship applies to the reporting of fact and the reason for that is that such reporting of fact in certain circumstances is certainly an encouragement to the repetition of the acts reported. I am not a lawyer and there may be niceties in this section which I do not appreciate. It seems to me arguable that that point of view is the correct one and that it will be upheld in court. Therefore I was interested in the lengthy quotations from editorials in the three Dublin daily newspapers in which there was a voicing of opinion about the actions of students in Hume Street. Deputy FitzGerald pointed out that the approval for that action involves the value judgment about what they were doing which was offered in the editorials and that this would have made the editors criminals under section 4. He argued, to me very convincingly, on this and I am now making the point that the mere reporting of the events in Hume Street as a simple act—going out and sending in reports, without any editor offering an opinion in an editorial—could be interpreted as encouragement. I believe any censor in the world would recognise that to be true.

Therefore, it is not just the editorials on Hume Street which would have encouraged the students in their conservative action—sometimes conservative actions are good—which would be in breach of section 4. Also in breach of it would have been the reporters who went there and described the size of the crowd. Also in breach of it would have been the photographers who took pictures of the crowds. The participation in the duplication of the copies by the printing presses would have been involved in the culpability.

This is the awful, enormous, unconsidered net the Minister has fashioned, the net that would have retained in its meshes the small number of people active in the Dublin Housing Committee and active in Sinn Féin. Within the meshes of that net would be retained many other persons, to the detriment of the basic liberties of our society, to the detriment of our democratic institutions the survival of which at certain moments seems a little less than certain.

I believe sincerely, not as a matter of political point scoring or anything of that sort, that you cannot escape the conclusion that this Bill as it stands will muzzle the Press and radio and television, because I take the word "encourage" in certain circumstances to embrace the mere reporting of a set of events of actions that would be contrary to this section. The people so participating in those crimes would be criminals.

That brings me back to the question of intention. There was a plea from Deputy O'Kennedy for what he was pleased to call a normal, rational approach. We have reached a stage when we are told that what is normal is not rational and that what is rational is not normal, regrettably. It is my experience that that is so. We are accused of having persecution complexes, if we think the Fianna Fáil Government want in any way to interfere with the rights of the Press or of broadcasting. Now they have motivation they did not have in the past for this sort of muzzling.

I have personal recollections, very bitter recollections, of a period of my own work on television for two and a half years. It was not in any way political work and it was never suggested that it was. It was useful work in the building up of Irish agriculture and it was recognised as being so. It is a period in my life of which I am proud. Therefore, I know the machinery of television. I know the persons in television. I am a member of the branch of the workers' union concerned with broadcasting people. I know the power structure in television. I nearly accepted an offer to become a fairly significant part of that power structure.

I claim to know Irish television not just as someone on a camera but as someone who has participated in the making of an efficient Irish television structure. Though there are people who have greater experience, I would yield to nobody in this. I know from experience, before any Press Council, that there was an effort to muzzle, to interfere with broadcasting outside the existing law—that is what I object to —to influence the content of the work of honest and honourable broadcasters.

There is a mechanism in the Broadcasting Acts which was never invoked for interference. It is a surreptitious mechanism but nonetheless an unpleasant one. What I am challenging is the willingness, the intention of the Government to exercise control of what the newspapers publish and the broadcasters speak. I have no doubt that this intentional willingness existed for as long ago as my connection with broadcasting exists, 1965. If that was true in a period of comparative political calm, with none of the clouds which are now so ominous and which are now on the horizon, to use a cliché, how much more true is it now? If they were willing in my knowledge and experience to behave in that way six years ago, how much more willing are they today in regard to television, the newspapers and radio, if they are given the chance.

I have no doubt about their intention to exercise this sort of improper power on the news media. What we are doing, what we are asked to do, is to give a legal structure to the exercise of that power. I have never been a newspaperman but I can imagine the influence that sort of pressure continuously could have on the work of newspapermen and broadcasters. It has to be exercised only once every two years, the whip has to be cracked only now and again, for the innuendo to be felt every day. Years ago I can recall people resigning in outrage and disgust and the psychological results of their resignations are still felt. The creation of the "7 Days" Tribunal is still echoing and will do so for many years.

You cannot pull a stunt like that and expect its effects to blow away in months. They do not. They remain for a long time. I shall not discuss television now because there will be another time for it. We have seen the dissipation of the vigour of the early days, the enormous sense of fun and innovation and we have seen a sad atmosphere, that of putting your head down and waiting in RTE, which is bad for broadcasting. It is bad for the ability of people to put out programmes good enough to hold an audience for Irish television originating in Ireland when we are in competition with programmes from other countries. This is chopping at the very basis of successful broadcasting.

I have not a shadow of doubt about the intention of this section. This is giving the power to make a criminal of everybody who communicates, not just a reaction of approval but a set of facts about other persons who commit crimes under sections 1 and 2. This section is that wide. The person who shouts at Hume Street: "Good on you, stay there" is a criminal as is the newsreader heard by millions of people, who simply reports the action which has taken place. I should like to think that my interpretation of this is wrong but I do not believe it is. I have to rely on my own sense of the meaning of words and when I look at those words I can put no other interpretation on them.

It seems to me that in the interpretation of this section lies national madness. I do not have words to express the awfulness of the echoes which come out of that section. I am shattered that inside the Minister's party there is not the recollection of other traditions, other attitudes and other times which would produce the revolt in his own party which would entirely inhibit the possibility of his proceeding if not with the Bill as a whole certainly with this section of it.

How precise does the action have to be to constitute encouragement or to constitute advocacy? If you say to somebody: "I urge you on day A to go to place B to enter on the lands of Mr. C and to fish in River D" over a beach over which he has legal rights it is perfectly clear that that is encouragement. How general do you have to be to be caught inside this net of encouragement?

It is not denied by anybody that there is a housing crisis in Dublin and I do not intend to discuss housing now. What happens if I, outside the privilege of this House, talking to a group from NATO or ACRA say that I will fight with all my strength to solve the housing problem in Dublin? This is a seemingly harmless expression and the type of thing which every politician does. We say that we are pledging all our strength in fighting different ills in our society. We have endless last drops of blood which we pledge to endless causes. This is the rhetoric of politics and is understood as such by those listening to us. When you say you will fight with all your strength to solve the housing problem in Dublin, and if, at the same time, there are people squatting in Dublin, all my strength could be interpreted by some people as just the words of a politician but you could also say that the politician meant them. You could say that this is encouraging squatting and you could say that the person who utters that perfectly harmless phrase is guilty of a criminal offence under this Bill.

Politicians of different parties often say: "We will be true to the historic traditions of our party." I am not just referring to my own party here. The historic traditions of my party contain many actions which would be crimes under this Bill if it becomes law. I am not just referring to the period before the establishment of the State. The Labour Party in what I consider to be proper agitation about inadequacies in our social system have done things which I am proud of and which five or ten years after the event we find that many others are glad to say they are proud of also. Any of those would be offences if this Bill, as it stands, becomes law. Secondly, not alone would they be offences but if I said: "I will be true to the historic traditions of my party" that would also be a crime. The historic traditions of this party contain many sit-ins in factories and other places. The Labour Party are proud of those. Now, not alone have they become criminal offences but the expression of admiration for that category of action now apparently becomes criminal. We have regular auctions as to who is more republican than somebody else. We have many bids from socialist republicans, republican republicans and commonwealth republicans. Then we have republican, republican, republicans and neo-republican republicans. There are all sorts of sub-categories. However, we all say that we will not betray the traditions of the Republic. There is not a politician in Ireland who does not say it, but we are busy slapping muzzles on ourselves with this piece of legislation. If you take out from republican actions all the things that will become illegal if this Bill becomes law you will have very little left.

I am not just referring to the period of alien rule, as Deputy Burke was pleased to call it. I am referring, for example, to the period of the early thirties during which Fianna Fáil became the national party they now are. We could have great fun—I would be delaying the House, so I just commend the exercise to anyone who wants to undertake it—in taking the writings of Tone, the writings of Mitchel or, perhaps, most explicitly and clearly of all because his writings are brief and very much to the point, the writings of Fintan Lalor, the writings of all the people we claim as the fountainhead of our ideas and our aspirations and measuring the actions they advocate against the crimes enumerated in this document and we would see, first, that all actions in regard to land were criminal actions by these standards.

There is another interesting thought, that if you stray outside the period when there was special punitive British legislation in Ireland, for a great deal of the period prior to the establishment of the State the British never needed a law, even in the context of a continuing effort to establish independence, that was punitive and that created criminals of trespassers the way this does, that created criminals of the persons who encouraged trespass or, as I hold, who even reported trespass, as this does. Certainly there were periods when there was special legislation, periods of extreme crisis, but, in general, there was no legislation like this at the very worst and most difficult times for the British Government. It is that ridiculous; it is that wild; it is that far out.

This is part of a consistent effort to muzzle the newspapers, to muzzle the television, as well as to muzzle political meetings. They are not very different in kind. They are an ultimate right, to put it in words of one syllable, to get up and shout out, to stand up on a chair and see if you can gather a crowd and get people to listen to you. It is a basic democratic right. This is not a slight departure from existing law. It is a fairly radical one. It has to be asked: why at this extraordinary time? There is no doubt that the first decade of the life of the State which contained a Civil War and which culminated in the Fianna Fáil Party coming to power, was a period of quite extraordinary turbulence, with a great deal of trespass, a great deal of forcible entry, if we accept that phrase as having any meaning at all; I have said this is a meaningless phrase, but let us for the moment take it to mean what the drafters of the Bill think it means. In the whole of that first decade this legislation was never found necessary. Common law was good enough. The existing law of trespass was good enough.

The second decade saw the beginning of the Blueshirt movement and went on through the conflict inside the State in regard to the fading away of the Blueshirts, the departure of O'Duffy's Brigade to Spain, the Spanish Civil War and the outbreak of World War Two. When the Republican Movement—I do not mean the Fianna Fáil Party; I mean all that was left after the Fianna Fáil Party walked away from the Republican Movement —was vastly more numerous and influential than it is now, this was never found necessary. During the IRA campaign it was never found necessary. There is now a crucial and critical period in the North, but here, notwithstanding all the stresses and the crises inside the Fianna Fáil Party, taking society as a whole, it is a more peaceful time than the twenties, a more peaceful time than the Blueshirts' time, a more peaceful time than that of the IRA campaign, a more peaceful time than when there were large demonstrations about things like unemployment in the fifties.

What is the increase in pressure inside our community that now the State, which is half a century old and has been consolidating itself from these very tenuous beginnings, wants to control the Press and broadcasting? I can see no reason for it in society as a whole which is stronger now than it was then, 20, 30 or 40 years ago. In fact, the justifications you might seek in society are weaker now than they were in those bygone years.

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

I cannot escape the conclusion that lines 34 and 35, subsection (1) of section 4 are an effort to muzzle the media. I was asking what are the new influences in our society which make such a muzzling necessary now.

May I go?

Does the Deputy want to leave the room?

I would not recommend it. I will call him back in a minute.

Will I stay, so?

I think so. Save your feet.

I am satisfied, both by my own perusal of this Bill and my thought about it and the arguments put forward by others here and outside the House, that lines 34 and 35 do constitute an effort to muzzle the media. I was seeking, in our social evolution, a reason why that should be necessary now when it was not necessary in extremely turbulent times during the last half century. I can find no reason in the general structure of society, I can find no enormous turbulence, no enormous threat inside this part of the State, though there is a terrible threat for the island as a whole, which necessitates a move such as this.

One is with regret forced to the conclusion that the reason is not to be found inside the development of society which makes the special powers necessary when they were not necessary in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. I think the answer to the question as to why they are necessary now would be found in the evolution of the Fianna Fáil Party. I say this with great regret but I think that with the inner crisis and with the possibility not just of the loss of power, which can happen to any party, but with the possibility of the loss of the unity and the credibility to enable them ever to return to power staring them in the face they are departing from ideas and from standards which, if one is to speak truly, they upheld in earlier times. While there were occasional examples —Deputy FitzGerald gave the one of the improper use of censorship in the war—by and large the fact that that censorship did not result in serious damage to the organs of communication was because at that time in the Government Party there was a basic belief in the value of a free Press and the value of free broadcasting such as it then was, sound radio, and in the value of free communication. This is a belief that to me is inseparable from all that I understand republicanism to be. I believe it was a genuinely held belief at that time.

It is a credit to the Fianna Fáil Party that by and large censorship was used in the minimum way. In the extraordinarily difficult and dangerous period of the first five years of the existence of our State, I must give to the first Cumann na nGaedheal Government credit for very considerable determination to uphold a free and open democracy when the pressures were great and when the possibility of doing otherwise was great. We have this irony that it did not happen in the twenties, it did not happen in the forties but it is happening now that there is a serious move against communication. That can only be accounted for by the crisis inside a party which sees a very serious threat to its future and is therefore coerced by the danger of the loss of power.

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

I was contrasting the difference in attitudes indicated by the present Minister with that of his predecessors during the life of the State, both of the old Cumann na nGaedheal Party in the first decade of the State and also of his own party in more critical times—for example during the war.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 4 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 20th July, 1971.