The Minister for Justice must be impressed already by the responsible approach of the Opposition to this emergency measure, an emergency measure that he considers to be absolutely essential because of the serious situation in which he finds himself. This responsible approach has been taken by us even though we know that the history of the Government has been one of moving from one crisis to another and from one piece of panic legislation to another. There is panic recruiting for the Army and for the Garda Síochána and there has been panic buying of equipment for the Army, but the situations that have warranted these panic measures should have been anticipated by the Government for some years back and provided for before now. The Government have been doing nothing in relation to serious matters affecting our country with the result that all the time we are being confronted with emergencies and with undesirable panic legislation. As a responsible party it is our belief that when matters reach crisis stage, we must support the Government but we should not be put in this position.
Committee on Finance. - Prisons Bill, 1972: Second Stage (Resumed).
Obviously, we are in such a position now and a measure has been introduced that we have had very little time to consider, a measure in respect of which some people have serious reservations. What all of us wish to ensure is that there should be no doubt in the minds of any lawless group that whatever legislation is required to deal with them will be enacted in this House and will receive our full support so as to ensure that lawlessness will not succeed. However, having said that I must say also that we will not have any part in the enacting of more legislation than is required to meet the situation. It is possible that on closer examination this Bill could be improved a lot and that perhaps many of the objectionable features that we suspect are contained in it, might not be necessary.
The Minister told us that there are serious objections to having a civil prison within a military establishment. I agree wholeheartedly with that statement but I am sure that every Deputy would like to rest assured that this situation would arise only in crisis circumstances and that it would exist only for the shortest possible time that would be necessary to meet such a situation. These duties are not the duties of the Aarmy and we do not wish to be seen to have a situation here that could be compared with the situation in, say, Greece.
The loyalty of the Army is something that can be depended on always in this country. If the Government are in trouble the Army will defend the civil authorities, regardless of the circumstances and regardless of whether the Government should have got themselves into such a situation. We are in the unhappy position that we could have a crisis not only in Mountjoy Prison but in many of the other departments of State because of the inadequacies that have not been met by the Government. In my view the present situation has arisen mainly because Mountjoy Prison was totally inadequate by any standards and it must have been totally understaffed. This is now obvious and, of course, panic recruiting had begun already and there is to be further recruiting as a result of what has happened. In view of what has been happening in the North of Ireland surely it would have been reasonable to expect that some overspill of this trouble was inevitable in this part of the country. Numerous warnings have been issued to the Government both from within this House and outside it as to the sort of situation that was likely to arise but these warnings were ignored by the Government and now they find themselves in the situation where they must come here and admit freely that Mountjoy Prison was understaffed. They have paid tribute to the prison officers who, in the circumstances that arose, did an excellent job and prevented something very much more serious from happening because of the way they stood up to this lawless attempt. We are presuming too much on the loyalty of far too few people, not only in respect of prison staff but also in the Garda Síochána and in the Army. No serious effort has been made to recruit and employ the necessary numbers of people to do the work that must be done and that could have been anticipated.
I am glad to see that there is provision in this Bill for normal visiting. I hope that this provision will be honoured scrupulously. During the time that this Government were putting the farmers in jail I had the experience of being refused permission by the Minister for Justice of the day to visit Mountjoy Prison. I was received at the prison but the Minister was contacted and I was told that the Minister's message indicated that I would not be allowed into the prison to see the conditions there. That indicated to me that the conditions were not fit to be seen. I have not had an opportunity of visiting the prison since but from what I have been hearing, it seems that the conditions there were not good. It would be my hope that the conditions under which people are detained, whatever may be their crime, are reasonable and humane and that these people are not merely dumped into any sort of situation in which the Army are expected to detain them. The Army do not wish to be involved in that sort of job and I hope they will not be pressed into that sort of service.
The Minister tells us that the destruction in Mountjoy Prison is such that it will be at least 12 months before repairs are completed. That seems an exceptionally poor performance. We have a situation in which the Minister tells us he is sorry to have to bring this measure before the House and he tells us that he is very anxious to have normality restored as soon as possible. Surely it should be possible to have accommodation available at the prison, and make it a better prison than it was before, in a shorter time than 12 months, if we take the matter seriously and if we put all the resources available to us in there in order to reconstruct and improve the prison, as the Minister proposes to do. We all want to see the duration of this legislation as short as possible so that we may get the civil prison out of the control of military establishments at the earliest possible moment. It is the military establishment that is the objectionable feature. The Minister will have some problem, I believe, explaining to us why it should take 12 months to restore Mountjoy and, indeed, improve it. He said all the plumbing fittings were ripped away and some damage was done to the roof. Why should this repair work take at least 12 months?
The Minister told us that about 40 prisoners were removed to the Curragh. Is this the full picture? What other institutions are involved? Portion of Collins Barracks, Cork, is being set aside also. Is there any other military establishment involved? I understand that the part of Collins Barracks being set aside is being removed from military control and handed over to the Department of Justice.
I should like to hear from the Minister why it is necessary, if it is necessary, to remove all the prisoners from Mountjoy? What is the total number involved? Why is it necessary that these prisoners should now be transferred to military control? Will the present staff not go with these prisoners? Could some of them at least not be put under the control of the Department of Justice? Why is it that they must be removed under this legislation and put under military control? This is the objectionable feature of the Bill. It is one which calls for explanation and I hope that, when the Minister comes to reply, he will be more specific about these matters. There will be an opportunity on the Committee Stage to go into the sections in detail and extract from the Minister the requisite information and the assurances we would like to have; but if the Minister is able to give us in his reply considerably more detail than he gave us in his introductory speech that might shorten the Committee Stage.
This emergency legislation should not have been necessary. That has been made quite clear by our shadow Minister for Justice, Deputy Cooney. Obviously it is necessary now and we are prepared to support the Minister in the interests of law and order. So long as the interests of this State are at stake we will support the Minister regardless of whether or not he should have got himself into this mess. There is no doubt in our minds that this crisis situation exists simply and solely because there has been no proper government in this country for the last three or four years.
This is possibly one of the most difficult decisions any Member of a democratic assembly has been asked to make for quite some time. By virtue of accepting a seat in this Assembly one subscribes, or should subscribe, fully and without reservation, to parliamentary democracy. We are all aware that there are at the moment in this country forces whose sole object is to overthrow parliamentary democracy.
As well as being aware of their desires and their activities, we should also realise that unless we, as democratically elected representatives, are convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that certain actions go outside what we regard as democracy or bypass some of our institutions, the transfer from a civil to a military authority is a responsibility that lies very, very heavily upon us and, so far, I have not been convinced that we have as yet reached that stage because there are several questions which have not been answered.
No one should underestimate the seriousness of the situation in which we are. We have been relatively fortunate in this part of the country compared with our fellow Irish men and women in the Six Counties. We have not had the full lash of the self-appointed leaders of the Irish people with, on one side, the Provisional IRA who, in my opinion, are hellbent on a Fascist type of State and, on the other side, the Official IRA, hellbent on a Left Wing takeover. I belong to a socialist party. I have belonged to it all my life. But we are a democratic party.
Whether it be a takeover by a Right Wing organisation or a Left Wing organisation, I want to make it perfectly clear, and I want it to go on record, that any type of dictatorship, left or right, is repugnant to me and to the members of my party.
I make that point for two reasons: first, we, in this party, particularly some Members of it, have been consistent in our condemnation of the violence engaged in by both sections of the IRA. Even people who had a kind of sneaking respect, or a tacit admiration, which, God knows, being Irishmen it was very hard to resist, have now come to see them for what they really are—mindless, senseless killers. I say that with some emphasis because I know that, in the event of my opposing this Bill, not only I but my party will be again subjected to the smear campaign of the Government party and will be branded as being pro-IRA, Official or Provo. I have gone publicly on record before and, in the event of my deciding to oppose this Bill, I will go on record again now to safeguard as best I can my fellow Members from that smear campaign, my fellow Members who may vote differently.
Everyone in this country is worried about the political situation. The people in this part of the country are not only worried about it, but frightened about it, because they now see where the activities of the IRA are leading us, namely, to the brink of civil war. If that, civil war really breaks out it will not be confined to the six north-eastern counties but will engulf this whole island and bring untold misery and suffering to the people in whom we are most interested, the workers, north and south, Catholic and Protestant. As a party we should do everything possible to avert that situation.
I am somewhat suspicious of the way in which this Bill was introduced and that suspicion is greatly increased by the behaviour of the Government and their attitude towards both the Provisional and the Official IRA over the past three years——
——because they have had one principle right through that period. Despite all the suffering, the deaths, the tarring and feathering and the burnings, they have been governed by one principle, not what is good for Ireland but what is good for Fianna Fáil.
I am sure it must have been very hard for Members who are a little older than I am to hear a Fianna Fáil Deputy condemning men for trying to overthrow lawful government and for not recognising courts. What we have seen and are seeing in Ireland today are the apprentices of Fianna Fáil coming out of their time.
There have been certain actions of the judiciary which, to say the least, have been irresponsible, indeed one might say, shameful.
The Deputy is well aware that the judiciary may not be criticised in the House.
I accept your ruling but if you will allow me a little latitude I shall relate it to a speech made by the Minister for Justice in the context of law and order.
So far as the Minister is concerned, he is subject to the criticism of the House.
I shall refer to the Minister's speech and leave out the judiciary except where the Minister brought them in in the course of his speech. At the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis held in Ballsbridge we had a very tough, virile, young Minister for Justice telling the judiciary in particular that if they did not do their duty certain action would be taken against them. Nothing was done before that nor since that and now we, as democratically elected representatives of the people, are told that there is no alternative but to hand civil prisoners over to the military.
Some of these men undoubtedly have committed crimes, have been brought before the courts and sentenced by them. I do not criticise that but while I mentioned the threat to democracy by both sections of the IRA there is another threat to democracy of which we should be very conscious, especially some of our legal members, and that is the misuse of our courts for political purposes. No matter how desirable the end result may be, if the means are wrong you threaten democracy, you undermine democracy, and I think this is being done.
I think some of the repeated remands have a political purpose—to keep out of the way people who are considered undesirable and who are possibly a danger to society. If we go along with that in regard to the IRA today, in regard to whom will we go along with it tomorrow? That is also a threat to democracy of which we should be very conscious. If these men broke the law and if charges have been made against them—as is the case—let them be brought before the courts as soon as possible and sentence them. If the justice has not the courage to do his duty or if he is so conditioned by his late 1920s Fianna Fáil upbringing as not to be able to do his duty to this State, let him be impeached.
We have heard much about the prison staff. By God, the prison staff do their duty which is more than can be said of the political appointees we have had to put up with in courts of law. I do not want to say much more but, as I indicated, unless I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that there is no alternative to military custody for these people I shall vote against it. What has further convinced me that there is an alternative is the Minister's own statement in this House this evening. When I read the Bill late this afternoon—the first opportunity we had to do so—I searched in it for the clause in regard to retrospective legislation because these people were removed last Friday, I think, to the Curragh and one would assume they were under military supervision and authority from then on and that it would be necessary for the Minister to include in the Bill a provision to legalise that retrospectively. In view of the recent decision by the House of Commons legalising the illegal activities of the British Army extending over 2½ years in Northern Ireland I am sure many of us would have found that most repugnant. But there is no section of that kind in the Bill because it is not necessary.
The sole reason we are asked to pass this Bill is lack of accommodation because of the riot in Mountjoy. Fair enough, if we accept that; we move the people to the Curragh. The staff in Mountjoy were not wrecked. The Minister told us that three members of the staff were slightly injured and he also said, talking about the 40 people in the Curragh, "these have since been under the control of two senior prison officers with the help and assistance of the military". As I understand that, military personnel are assisting two senior, experienced prison officers but it does not constitute military custody because they are responsible to the Minister for Justice and the soldiers acting under their instructions are answerable to them.
Surely the Minister is not asking this assembly to pass a Bill which is a departure from normal democratic procedure and institutions on the basis that he cannot spare two senior prison officers? That is what it means. The Minister states that. The Minister said:
It was my hope, at the time of the transfer, to utilise the detention barracks as a civil prison but, owing to the severe demands on the existing prison staff at the present time and the inevitable delay in recruiting...
What does that mean? The Minister says "severe demands on the existing prison staff". What are the "severe demands" connected with two senior prison officers? What is the "demand" about one senior prison officer? There is none. I am telling the Minister and the House that unless I get a very satisfactory answer to these questions, I would not feel that I was doing my duty as a democratically-elected representative to this Parliament, and as a believer in democracy, in supporting this Bill. If I do not get satisfactory answers, I will oppose this Bill at all Stages.
The last speaker referred briefly to the fact that this Bill is an attempt to justify something that is illegal. The Government are, in fact, at this moment in time in breach of the law, and they know it. Because of what they did last Thursday and subsequently, they are in breach of the law. This legislation is being hurriedly introduced at this juncture to change the lawpost factum so that the Government cannot be seen by the public at large to have broken it.
As Deputy Cluskey mentioned, this is reminiscent of the situation which arose in the British House of Commons where legislation was hurriedly rushed through. In that instance the occupation soldiers in part of our country were, according to British law, acting illegally. The legislation had to be rushed through in order to make the occupation legal. It is hard for us to question why people break the law when the Government of the day break it, but the Government have the power to change the law so that, in fact, they have not broken it at all.
It is evident that the disturbances recently in Mountjoy had definite motivation. Contrary to what the Minister mentioned in his speech, I believe that the main motivation behind the disturbances was that prisoners wished to be termed political prisoners and treated as such. The Government did not see fit to recognise them as political prisoners. The Government must see themselves as partially to blame for the disturbances that erupted in Mountjoy recently. It is appropriate that the Government should inquire into the reasons for the disturbances and should report back, in an objective way, to this House. I am convinced that the disturbances were not the action of criminals just for the sake of breaking up the prison. This action was a protest on the part of those who were on remand in prison and who wished to be treated as political prisoners. They were refused such treatment.
I am perturbed at section 2 (2) of the Bill which reads:
(2) If and whenever Dáil Éireann is satisfied, at a time when this section is not in operation, that exceptional circumstances make it necessary that this section should be in operation, it may, by resolution, declare that it is satisfied as aforesaid and appoint a day on which this section shall come into operation.
If we are to accept what the Taoiseach said that this is an emergency—and the Minister for Justice has also declared that this is an emergency situation—we must ask how a Bill to meet this present situation can be brought into operation again at a future date. How can this Bill be classified as suiting the present emergency situation when it includes a provision that it can be re-enacted at a future date? If we are to take the assurance of the Minister and of the Department of Justice that the prison will be put into a proper condition to cater for the criminal intake, we cannot condemn our society for not being able in the future to cater for law-breakers.
Subsection (3) of section 2 states that the Minister may:
(b) direct the transfer to military custody of such of the persons aforesaid as are specified by him,
and thereupon the persons so specified shall be transferred to military custody and shall remain in such custody until—
(i) in the case of persons on remand, they are brought before the court to which they were remanded and, if they are further remanded in custody, until they are brought before the court to which they are so remanded,
I am very concerned about and question the fact that a Minister should put himself into a position where he, and only he, shall have the power and the right to transfer persons in this manner to military custody. Surely the courts are the only bodies to exercise and have this power. We must interpret this as meaning a little more than just catering for this emergency situation.
We must look at the situation in relation to persons on remand in prisons. People today are wondering why the Government are not capable of facing up to declaring that this is their form of internment. If custody on remand has the same effect as internment it is not altogether necessary that it should be classified as internment. It must be recognised as internment. I am satisfied that persons who may be charged for inciting unlawful behaviour at meetings may not, in fact, be guilty of such charges. They will have spent a considerable length of time in prison from remand to remand, cases being transferred to other dates and to other courts. The cases may eventually be dismissed. The accused may be found not guilty of the charges. In those circumstances have these men not been forcibly interned for that length of time? It is not unfair to recall the arms trial when the State refused to allow bail in respect of accused persons. The persons were subsequently found not guilty. In those cases if bail had not been allowed, would the persons concerned have undergone internment for a period of five months, awaiting the result of the trial?
They all got bail.
The State opposed bail.
The court decides this matter, not the State. They all got bail.
Is the Deputy not aware that the State opposed bail?
The State is one side in a matter. The accused is one side. The court decided to grant bail. A little bit of custody might not have done some of them any harm at all.
Prisoners who have been transferred from Mountjoy to the Curragh Camp must remain there for as long as it takes the Department of Justice to put Mountjoy into the required condition. It was not unfair of the leader of the Labour Party to ask for a time limit. I can recall members of the Fine Gael Party asking for a time limit.
In the circumstances that we are facing in Ireland, more particularly in the six north-eastern counties, we in the South are saying that it is a matter for the Dáil—as indeed it is written here—if Dáil Éireann is satisfied that these people should be brought back to Mountjoy or to some other prison.
At that time it will not be so much a matter of Dáil Éireann being satisfied. If we have a Government who at that time decide that they are not satisfied that the prisoners should be brought back to prison and if they have the support of the Fine Gael Party in this new coalition that they have developed, then those who may be on remand in the Curragh Camp could be doomed to stay in the Curragh Camp. I would much prefer that the courts would have the power to order that the prisoners be brought back when the prison to which they were committed is made ready for them.
The Taoiseach made a statement, reported in this evening's papers, that there is no danger of military courts being brought into being. I would like to ask the Minister, when he is replying to the debate, to answer a question put to me since I saw the Bill today: what will happen if, just for the sake of argument, prisoners who are now in the Curragh Camp conduct themselves as they have recently conducted themselves in Mountjoy and break up the prison in which they now are? Will they be brought before a military court or before a civil court, in that eventuality? The Minister stated today:
The account I shall give of the events of that night cannot be complete in every detail. For one thing, criminal charges will be taken against those of the participants who can be identified and I cannot prejudice these proceedings.
What will happen in such an eventuality as I have mentioned? Would it be the Minister for Defence who would be making a similar statement to that made by the Minister for Justice? I am not satisfied, unless the Minister can say that, no matter what should happen, the State will have involvement in the prisoners who have been transferred to military camps and prisons under military control. I am not altogether convinced that we may not have military courts in operation. This Bill will give the Minister power to fine comb the list of prisoners and to decide who shall be sent to the Curragh Camp. If he should select those prisoners who have been asking to be classified as political prisoners and if it should transpire that the bulk of those prisoners who are in custody in the military camp at the Curragh do in fact conduct themselves as I have indicated in my hypothesis, what will happen? I should like the Minister to answer that question when he replies to the debate.
There are many indications of the Government's dissatisfaction with the judiciary and with the rules of evidence as applicable in the courts and with the granting of bail. This dissatisfaction has been indicated in many recent speeches. While this Bill is introduced ostensibly for the purpose of coping with a specific emergency, there is scope in the Bill to go much further. Subsection (2) of section 2 seems to me to have been inserted to provide for an eventuality. If in 12 months time, Mountjoy Prison is put in order, if we are to accept thebona fides of the statement that the prisoners who have been transferred to the Curragh Camp will be retransferred to Mountjoy, to which they were committed by the courts, according to subsection (2) of section 2, the Government can reintroduce this provision and apply it to other prisoners who have been committed for political offences or because of their activities which have been interpreted as in breach of the law. Will they, and could they, be sent back to the Curragh, to what I can only describe as a form of internment? The scope of the Bill suggests to me that it is the intention of the Government to provide for a future contingency. The suggestion as to legal delays does not cover the real desire of the Government to intern persons. The Government should display some honesty. They should declare that they are willing to co-operate with the British authorities in part of our country to suppress the IRA by manipulation of the law here. Certainly the British Government are looking to the Government here for such a declaration. This Bill indicates to me that we are very close to that declaration by the Government.
I have not a lot to say about this Bill except that I have anticipated it for some time. Over the last few years we have noticed the growing incidence of crime and indeed how our prisons have been overtaxed. I do not know what plans the Minister's Department may have for extending and building prisons but it was obvious to me that this position would arise. I believe it has arisen quicker than the Minister anticipated.
We all regret the riot in Mountjoy Prison. I do not know the background to it but, according to the Minister's brief, considerable damage has been done to that prison. It is to the credit of the prison staff that they were able to contain the prisoners there until they were removed to safer quarters. We are told that some of the damage might possibly be repaired in 12 months. This would probably be of a makeshift variety and would not add to the security that is necessary.
I had a deputation some months ago on the growing lawlessness in Dublin and indeed throughout the country. The headlines in this evening'sHerald are unbelievable. There are gangs roaming the city who destroy property and there are citizens who will not even report that their property has been destroyed because they feel if they do so their lives are in danger. There is a growing number of criminal type people in this country. I do not know of anybody who has ever been detained under the name of a political prisoner. They are all detained under statutes passed by this House. Remands in many cases may take some time. I am not a lawyer but I believe that the collection of evidence and proof takes some time. These people can be released on bail if they wish unless they are dangerous if they are let out.
The co-operation of the military in making available their facilities to the Minister for Justice is very welcome. We had a long period here of lawfulness and the closing down rather than building of prisons. However, in the last four or five years there has been all over the world an era of protest. Nearly every country in the world today finds itself without adequate prison facilities or indeed adequate courts of law to deal with these matters as expeditiously as one would wish.
It is wrong to apply ulterior motives to anything contained in this Bill. The Minister has no alternative but to seek whatever facilities the House can make available to him to ensure that law and order will be preserved in this country. It is a very costly business to carry out a complete rebuilding of prisons. The training and selection of staff for these prisons is also a costly as well as a very specialised business. It takes time to train a prison warder because he must be a special type of person.
I welcome the introduction of this Bill. It provides for the utilisation of military accommodation when the Minister decides it is necessary and for as long as it is necessary. This comes under the civil courts and it is very clearly under the control of this House. I cannot see anything sinister in this Bill. Many Deputies welcome it but are very selective in their words and try to read into it a meaning which is not there at all. The underlying tone of the speeches suggests that it is a form of internment without trial. There is nothing whatever in the Bill that suggests this.
Some prisoners in Mountjoy Jail refused bail and also objected to the length of remand. The evidence to prosecute them successfully or otherwise in court was not available immediately and further remands were necessary. If the courts saw fit they could have extended bail to them. One must try to take a sensible approach to this matter. The concern of this House and of the Minister is the maintenance of law and order. If the Minister finds himself short of facilities either in the courts or in the prisons he would be falling down in his duty if he did not take steps to remedy the matter.
It is a sad state of affairs to find ourselves moving from the position of closing down prisons to extending prison facilities. The Minister should carefully review this matter before we spend millions of pounds building new prisons and also paying special staff to run them. We all hope that this era of lawlessness may pass and that the days when our prisons will be empty will return soon rather than have them filled all the time as they are at present. There is a vague suspicion in my mind that many criminals are today at large because there is not accommodation in which to keep them detained. There is a vague idea in my mind that due to this the Garda may not be as vigilant in the pursuit of their duties as they ought to be. If this Bill will provide the Minister with additional facilities then I welcome it and if, in the Minister's view, the transfer of prisoners to the Curragh or to any other military detention camp can help him in this interval and in the maintenance of law and order I would support him fully. I state here, strongly and clearly, that there is only one authority in this country and that is the elected Dáil Éireann. Should there be in this element of people those who would subvert that law and who would take into their own hands the imposition of law by force or otherwise then I would welcome the measure also. So long as I remain a Member of this House I will certainly see that the democratic institutions on which this State was founded will be maintained and should these ever be in danger from any source whatsoever then I will seek to strengthen the arm of this House at all times to maintain them.
I hope this measure will not be one of long duration. The shorter the better because it will mean, as far as I can understand it, a return to normalcy and we enjoyed many years of normalcy in this country. In regard to recent events one cannot but be appalled at the growing fear among the ordinary population to come forward and give evidence or to permit their names to be used as persons who will give evidence. This is a shocking state of affairs. All of this must be reviewed by the Minister and I hope he is so doing. I would ask this House to pass this Bill speedily so that we can get on with other more important and pressing business. I welcome the Bill.
It is not necessary for us on this side of the House to explain our position in relation to the defence of the institutions of the State or in relation to the declaration that there shall be only one Parliament, one Government and one Army in this State. In that sense, once we are told by a responsible member of the Government that legislation is needed to enable the Government to do the duty imposed on them under the Constitution then, in principle, that legislation must be given. It is in that sense that we agree, in principle, to the measures which the Minister asks of the House this evening.
Listening to the debate so far I cannot help feeling that, perhaps unconsciously, a little bit of humbug is creeping into our debate. I do not understand this to be a debate about the IRA or how to deal with them for if it were I think the situation would be quite clear and principles would be quite clear. There are certain Deputies trying to bring into this debate implications which I do not think fairly arise. Deputy Sherwin fears that this is an introduction to internment.
In my opinion, yes.
Deputy Sherwin is a member of a party led by a former Deputy who was responsible for internment in this country in 1957.
Part of that Government.
Let us come clean in matters of this kind. I do not tolerate humbug from any source——
And I can prove it.
——even from a very personally likeable Deputy like Deputy Sherwin, but I hear people like former Minister and former Deputy Boland thundering outside this House about internment—he came into this House and the first day he came in he sat there in the Government benches as a Minister charged as the jailkeeper of the IRA men in the Curragh. Humbug.
It is a pity he is not in the House to answer.
He could not answer either in the House or outside it. It is his own choice that he is outside the House. Let him answer me any time in my constituency, at any stage.
It is doubtful that he would get any advantage from the fact that he was inside the House.
Perhaps the Deputy is right. I will be kind. I will not say anything more.
He is well able for the Deputy.
I shall not pursue that. We had Deputy Burke in his valued contribution talking about the dangers threatening the institutions of the State. I was very glad to hear Deputy Burke speak in that manner. If these sentiments, now spoken so bravely and honestly and expressly in Dáil Éireann in this year of 1972, had been expressed as clearly and as honestly and as courageously away back in the days when our esteemed Ceann Comhairle was first elected to Dáil Éireann, then a former occupant of the seat occupied by the present Minister for Justice might have continued for some years to be a Member of this House. But now we can accept these things and we can discuss them and perhaps we have grown up and are able to realise, all of us, wherein lurks the danger to democracy and to the institutions of this State. Maybe there will be a debate on that. I do not want to enlarge this debate any more than anybody else has done. I accept, because I feel I must, the manner in which this measure has been introduced here today. The Minister says it is an emergency, that by reason of what happened last Thursday night a situation has arisen in which people lawfully detained or lawfully in jail cannot, by reason of their own acts or the acts of people in Mountjoy Prison, be detained under legal ordinance of the State. In those circumstances whatever measure is required to deal with that situation ought to be granted by this House.
I must say I would have thought that the case made for this measure by the Minister could have been a more compelling case but he says that 40 of the people detained in Mountjoy are now detained in the Curragh under two senior warders. He goes on to say that he has obtained authority from the Minister for Finance to proceed with plans for the recruitment of an additional 100 officers over and above the 50 new posts recently created by the Civil Service Commissioners. Deputy Clinton and Deputy Cluskey were right in stating that this is very much a case of having to close the jail door after the prisoners have gone. We are now going to provide an adequate warder service at a time when a shortage of prison staff led to an inability to deal with an internal disturbance in Mountjoy.
I should have thought that the Minister for Justice and those concerned with the detention and rehabilitation of prisoners in recent years would have been aware of something that everyone outside the Government knew about, namely, that there has been a sharp increase in the outbreak of crime and that the criminal courts have a backlog which is stretching into 18 months or two years. The courts are clogged with criminal cases that have not yet come to trial and the Garda are running around in circles chasing every mob and gang and group of people who are committing a variety of offences. Yet while all this has been going on apparently the warder service was allowed to run down almost to a skeleton staff.
In this instance, as in so many other instances, the Government are just dragging along waiting for an emergency to arise and then take action. This emergency situation was not created deliberately by the Minister for Justice in that he did not cause the riot but he and his predecessors, because of the poor staffing in Mountjoy Prison, certainly made such an occurrence possible.
The emergency is here and it must be dealt with. Because of this Fine Gael believe the powers sought by the Minister should be given to him. However, as Deputy Cooney has pointed out already, there are certain implications in the Bill which must cause some concern. We have not the opportunity to examine these in a detailed way but we say to the Minister if this is an emergency situation and if it must be dealt with by legislation passed quickly through the Dáil, we are entitled to demand that a time limit be put on the legislation.
If the Minister gets this measure from Oireachtas Éireann today and tomorrow, we are entitled to say that there should be a period when this legislation will end unless it is renewed, after full consideration, by Oireachtas Éireann. We say to the Minister that if we agree in principle to the measure he seeks in this Second Reading it is on the basis that on Committee Stage an amendment will be moved by our party putting a time limit on the powers contained in this legislation.
A number of reservations have been expressed from our benches and by other speakers about this legislation, the manner in which it has been introduced and how it stands at the moment. It was introduced in a mood which is rather dear to this Government, a mood of very belated but frantic haste. The Government are very slow to move but when they move everyone else must move instantly; it is a case of out of the way, minimum discussion, we must get it through, guillotine, everything. I do not think that is the way to deal with a problem of this kind; it is not the way to get people with you; it is overbearing and it is a wrong approach. The leaders of the Opposition Parties could have been notified earlier that this was the Government's intention; we could have got the text earlier. If that could not have been done Deputy Corish's request for a 24-hour delay was reasonable and it is regrettable that this appeal was not heeded.
Secondly, the case for the time limit is extremely strong. I hope the Minister will tell us he accepts the principle of the time limit, that he does not ask us to give him a kind of blank cheque for an indefinite period to keep in force regulations which most of us here would regard as regrettable and undesirable. It is certainly something that should not be prolonged one instant longer than is absolutely necessary.
It is important for the future of this country that the Minister should be prepared to give that undertaking. If he gives that undertaking he will carry more people with him on this matter than would otherwise support him. Once this legislation has been passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas we are saddled to a great extent with the responsibility for it. It is important for the good name of the Dáil and for our democratic institutions that this point should be conceded. I would appeal earnestly to the Minister to do that.
The core of the Bill is the potential transfer of certain people to what is called military custody. I understand the difficulties many people have about this. Nobody likes the idea—I do not like it myself—and I understand the position of Deputy Cluskey whom nobody could tax with being any kind of sympathiser with any kind of violence or illegal defiance of democracy. I can understand the very serious difficulties he sees in this matter.
Nonetheless, after what has happened in the country and in Mountjoy Prison lately, the authorising of the transfer to military custody of certain categories of prisoners is a lesser evil. It is a lesser evil because we have a certain category of prisoner who appears, to some extent, to be outside the control of what might be called a normal prison system. This could have been foreseen. The Minister could have taken note of what happened at Crumlin Road jail and he could have set about strengthening the ordinary prison system, which he does not appear to have done.
The prison system broke down, there was a failure within the area of the Minister's responsibility. It would have been better if the Minister in his statement here had acknowledged that. There is no confession of any kind of failure there; yet a failure took place, and what we have to deal with is a rescue operation for the Minister's failure, because in these conditions where these men succeeded in obtaining control over an ordinary civil prison. I do not think we can simply say: "Let us carry on with the ordinary civil prison system." We have to do something to make sure these people do not further defy the law with impunity. Democratic institutions in this country are in grave danger from within and without. There are at least two military conspiracies going on in our country.
Some Deputies have suggested that this is essentially in some way not about the IRA, but of course it is, and the country sees that very clearly. It is only about part of the problem, that is to say, the problem of certain people accused mainly of arms charges who may reasonably be assumed, not in each individual case but as categories, to be involved in one or other of these military conspiracies. We have to take very good care to make clear to them that the elected Parliament of this country will not be set at nought, will not be set at defiance, by these people with impunity. I think we have to show that with responsibility, without over-reacting but nonetheless with firmness.
In the situation to which we have been brought in part by the Minister's own negligence, in part by something worse than negligence on the part of the party in Government to which he belongs, the granting of the main power in this Bill, subject to a time limit, is the lesser evil. I can understand certainly the position of Deputy Cluskey and others who hold that this is a serious erosion of civil liberty. However, we have been pushed to a situation where civil liberties are being eroded either by the illegal organisations themselves or by some measures necessary in order to control that situation. The people who have least right to complain about all this are the two IRA organisations and their two political fronts in Sinn Féin. After all, these organisations present themselves as being military organisations. They claim military rights. They even claim the right to parole in certain circumstances; they apply parole by refusing bail. They classify themselves, in short, as military prisoners. Whatever the rest of us may complain about, I think they have no right whatever to complain when they as military prisoners are placed in military custody. They are a tough, brave, ruthless set of men with a capacity for combination and determined action, and that in itself puts them in a different category from ordinary criminals in relation to the kind of detention that can properly be applied to them.
Some Deputies have said that no grave emergency justifying such action exists in this country. It depends on what you call "this country". Some of those who suggest that no grave emergency exists in this country are the same people who in other circumstances would be most loudly insisting that this whole island is one. I think a grave emergency does exist in this country. When people are being murdered daily in the North, a grave emergency exists in this country. When bombs are planted indiscriminately causing death and mutilation of civilians, a grave emergency exists in this country, whatever part of this country those murders and explosions take place in. When those murders and explosions are being planned and when they are being openly claimed as a subject of credit by organisations domiciled not merely in this country but in this part of this country, then a most disgraceful situation exists which is a grave discredit to the Government whose writ at least supposedly runs in this part of the country. Therefore, I have no doubt about the nature of the emergency.
On one ground I would like to welcome one aspect or implication of this Bill, that is to say, in so far as it may spell the end of the unholy alliance between a section of our Government party and the Provisional IRA. This is to be welcomed. In the sense that it may bring to an end the shadowy, grey collusion that has prevailed between the governing party generally——
This does not seem to have any relevance to the Bill.
It is entirely relevant.
It is not entirely relevant.
I must differ from you, Sir.
The Deputy may differ but it has already been pointed out that we are dealing with a Prisons Bill, and the Deputy is getting far away from the Prisons Bill.
We are dealing with military custody.
I almost always respect your ruling, but the relevance of the point I was trying to establish is that we regard this Bill in itself as undesirable. It is undesirable that there should be transfers to military custody. I think the Minister, by implication, admitted that. We think that a large measure of responsibility for the situation which has led to this grave condition rests with the Government for the reasons I have suggested. I would also say this, that one reason, and, I think, a weighty reason, why we here should demand a time limit—and I am glad Deputy Cooney in a very able and important speech called for that time limit—is that we need to see what will happen when these powers are granted. In particular, will there be even-handed justice as affecting prisoners belonging to or deemed to belong to the Official IRA and those deemed to belong to the Provisional IRA? Will justice be measured out unevenly? I was disturbed by the Taoiseach's reference, in relation to the IRA and illegal organisations, to an alien ideology.
Hear, hear. Very sinister.
I have entertained a strong detestation of both the organisations in question, but——
The question does not arise on the Bill.
I am sorry. It does. We need to be satisfied that these powers, if they are granted by this Dáil, will be evenly applied.
No preference for one wing against the other.
I see a reason in the Taoiseach's statement to doubt that, because when he is talking about an alien ideology we all know what that means. It means the Officials with their Marxist vocabulary; I do not think it goes any deeper than the vocabulary but they have got that. Of course, Karl Marx was an alien. He lived all his life within the framework of the expanded community in the Rhineland, in Paris and in London, and that makes him an alien of the most sinister kind in the view of the party which campaigned so strongly in the referendum. I think there are reasons for condemning that ideology, but its alienness is neither here nor there. It is no more alien than Monsieur Pompidou, and we all love Monsieur Pompidou.
Would the Deputy please come to the Bill?
What I am saying is strictly relevant, but by implication the Taoiseach failed to condemn the other sections.
We are not discussing the Taoiseach's speech.
We are being asked——
The Deputy must come to the Bill.
I have never left the subject matter of the Bill. We are being asked to vote certain powers. The Minister comes to us and asks us for these powers, and are we not to say why we have hesitation about granting them? I personally will vote for the Second Reading of this Bill for reasons which I mentioned earlier and which are valid, but I can understand the hesitation of a number of people in this House, including some of my colleagues, and I should like to see their hesitation set to rest. That is why I am speaking as I am.
Frankly, we feel these powers may not be applied evenly because we know there are people in this House who sympathise with the Provisional IRA and that some of them are over on those benches. We know that virtually nobody here sympathises with the Official IRA—I hope nobody does —but there are sympathies with that group and the Government have consistently taken note of those sympathies and been influenced by them, and we fear they may continue to be so. We should like our doubts set at rest in that respect, but most especially we would ask the Minister to meet the wishes of Members of this House on the matter of the time limit. It is very important that Dáil Éireann be enabled to keep on an even keel in this matter and that we are not left with the impression that the Bill is being forced through irrespective of the views expressed here or of the legitimate concern—I am not speaking of the concern of those who sympathise with the IRA or of any old arguments that come into my head—of people like Deputy Cluskey about this. Therefore I ask that the Minister respect those scruples and that he grants us the time limit.
I never cease to be amazed when a debate of this nature comes before us that the Government are always accused of either acting too soon or too late.
Or of not acting.
I remember not so long ago when the Taoiseach came before the House and announced that due to certain information if the people contemplating those measures did not withdraw from the position they then held he would have to consider the setting up of internment camps. There was a lot of opposition to that. I remember being in a debate on the subject with Deputy Cruise-O'Brien in the Kevin Street College of Technology when I argued that it was far better to warn in advance that if certain things happened certain actions would be taken. He disagreed. I remember very clearly a student asking him what he would do if he were Taoiseach and four of his Ministers were kidnapped—would he then take the same action as the Government were contemplating. He had to answer that he would. I said to him : "The only difference between what you are saying and what the Government are saying is that the Government say `If you do this we will do such and such', whereas you are saying you would not give any warning, you would let it happen and then take action."
We have a situation here where a riot has taken place in a prison and we are being told, with the usual tremendous wisdom, by the Opposition, after the event has taken place, that the Government should have expected this to happen, that it was obvious because of what had taken place in Crumlin Road. I do not recall any questions being put down to ask the Minister if extra precautions were being taken to prevent such an event happening. Because of the lack of prison accommodation, it has become necessary to introduce this Bill in order that the civilian population may be protected adequately. As far as I can recall, there has been no instance of where any measures taken by the Government, no matter how or when they have been taken, were at the wrong time. I am convinced that if the Minister had come before this House and had said that because of limitation of space in the prison and because of the possibility of not having enough accommodation, he wished to bring this Bill to the House, the Bill would have been opposed bitterly.
One thing that has emerged from the events of last week is the need for a high security wing in any new prison that will be built, and I suggest that the Minister bears this in mind. I am satisfied that the people who would be placed in these new prisons or temporary prisons will have the same rights as prisoners in any of our existing jails. When I hear little stabs from the Labour Party about the happenings within the Fianna Fáil Party and about who is sympathetic with whom, I say to myself that with all their talk of coalition there is a very uneasy coalition within their own party. Every time one expects a blow up, however, some little safety valve lets off steam somewhere. I look forward to Deputy Thornley's contribution. I am satisfied that no one in the Government benches has any sympathy with the Provisional IRA or their acts and I certainly have not.
I would say that within the Fine Gael Party, which has such a great look of unity, there are certain people whom I know who have very different views from those sometimes expressed by their speakers. Here is the great party, who last weekend howled for law and order, saying the Government were not taking action but who, every time the Government endeavoured to take action, come in with their little stabs whenever they can.
Yes, but they are not running arms to back up their opinions.
The Deputy has not been listening to their point of view.
The point to bring forward is the question of limitation on this.
We are supporting the Bill until Mountjoy is ready.
It would not take 12 months if the Government were serious about it.
I understand from reading the Minister's speech that the damage is extensive.
Washbasins and the roof.
The Opposition have already stated that the existing accommodation there was inadequate and that there was need for extra prison accommodation. I believe that extra prison accommodation is needed and that not only should Mountjoy be put back into operation as quickly as possible but that work should be begun urgently on a prison along more modern lines in which certain prisoners who respond to more humane type treatment will not be victimised because of the inadequacy of Mountjoy prison for the operation of a high security wing as opposed to an ordinary wing of the prison. That need is definitely there and I hope the Government will announce that a sizeable amount of money will be provided with which to build a modern prison containing all the features needed in a modern prison.
I will conclude by saying that the Labour Party cannot have it both ways.
Do we worry the Deputy?
I do not think that the Labour Party will ever worry anyone again.
The Deputy mentions us so often!
Is that Republican Labour or National Labour speaking now?
Is the Deputy worried?
There are two new Labour Parties.
There are about six Fianna Fáil Parties.
In the Labour Party there are 16 alternatives. I can assure the Deputy that Fianna Fáil are in good shape.
Provided they do not need to stand up and be counted.
I consider myself quite a good forecaster. I stood up so many times here before and forecast the results that I like to retain a certain amount of modesty.
The Deputy is worried.
I am not worried.
Like Jack. He is all right as the Deputy will find out.
Time will tell.
Time will tell. I think I have said all I wish to say.
I did not think that at this stage of my life I would see a Bill brought into this House to jail any citizens of the State or to hold them in prison. I am sorry this occasion has arisen. I speak for the generation that suffered the penalties during the war of independence and later during a Fianna Fáil Government's term of office. I speak with more authority on this subject than any Member of the House. I am not speaking with malice, or with a feeling of vengeance, or with any other feeling like that. I speak as an Irishman who was prepared to play his part and prepared to take the punishment that goes with it. If I believed I was doing wrong I would not have been in that position, but I believed I was doing right. When you are doing right you can suffer a lot.
Deputy Clinton asked me to appeal to the Minister to replace the Garda sergeant's car which was overturned and burned outside Mountjoy during the recent trouble. This man was doing his duty and it is only right that private property which was destroyed should be replaced. I hope the Minister will consider this and replace the vehicle belonging to that Garda sergeant.
Looking back on prison sentences and prison life, I can say that when the Fianna Fáil Party had the power they used it to the fullest extent. They used it on the Republicans and they used it on us, the Blueshirts. They meted out punishment as tough and as severe as that administered in any prison in the world. I can prove that to any Member of this House who does not believe me.
I can prove that the prison conditions in Arbour Hill and in some of the other prisons I was transferred to —for instance, the Glasshouse in the Curragh—were inhuman. The people of this country had no idea of the conditions in the prisons. During the five years sentence I served we were not allowed even to see a newspaper. We were not allowed to see a book except the prison Bible and we had that off by heart.
And adhered to it, I hope.
I said at the start that anybody who goes into prison for doing something which he feels genuinely is right must be prepared for the conditions and must not be looking for a feather bed when he goes into prison. Thinking of what happened in the past, and thinking of who was responsible for the conditions, and who kept iron control, I am glad to see that under this Bill a prison visiting committee will be set up. Nobody came into the prisons where we served our sentences except the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Defence. They had a look at us through the keyhole in the cell door. That is all they thought about us. There are many people throughout the length and breadth of the country who can prove this. When the people who are crowing today and shouting about internment had the power they used it and used it to the full, and there was neither humanity nor charity in them.
Maybe the Deputy would come to the Bill now.
He is on the point.
Nobody is better able to come to the point than I.
The Deputy is talking about 50 years ago.
This is not about 50 years ago.
I do not want to see those conditions imposed again on any human being. I am saying that in this House with a knowledge of what happened. As I said, I am not speaking with malice or looking for vengeance. I never held anything against anyone who was responsible for those conditions, or against the prison guards, many of whom served in the Army with me. Some of them did not flash us a look of recognition because they were scared they would lose their jobs. Some of them were better than that, but if many of them would draw on their memories now their conscience would affect them.
The need for this Bill may have arisen, but this is a delayed action. Why was action not taken when the thing was in the bud? Why was it not nipped in the bud? Because we had a hesitant Government who were afraid to govern. That is why they are coming in here now cringing and looking for powers which they should have adopted years ago. They have allowed this country to slip on the slippery slope of revolution. Now they are making a last effort to save themselves. Their day has come. This country will not accept a Government like that in future, and they proved that very recently.
I hope that nobody will be sent to Arbour Hill prison. That prison should have been closed down years ago. It is not fit for human beings. I remember that during the heat of the summer we had to break the glass in the window, and they left it out for the winter when the frost and the snow came in. What were the lighting conditions? A flickering gas jet in a cell is not fit for any human being. I hope nobody will go in there and I hope also that whoever is on the visiting committee will insist at least that the conditions are fit for human beings, not for animals. I remember in the Glasshouse in the Curragh when the concrete roof split and the water poured down on us. When the South of Ireland Asphalt Company came in to do the repair work, there was some signal from the prisoners in the yard and because they were afraid that something might happen, they left the prison that way for the whole year. Surely there was somebody in Justice and Defence, some Minister, with humanity enough to go down and see the condition of the people in there. I hope this will not happen again and that is one of the reasons I stand up here. While I do not plead for the anarchist or anybody else, I am pleading that human beings get conditions in which they can at least survive, and I appeal to the Minister and the Government to see to it that that will happen. I would also insist that the prison committee should not be composed entirely of members of the Fianna Fáil Party, that there should be on that committee representatives of the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party.
I want to say also that I hope the need for this will not be for very long. I hope the Irish people will come together and work together to make this country fit for decent people to live in, a country in which everybody can live and work in harmony. I hope that will happen in my lifetime. I hope the past will be forgotten, and so far as I am concerned, I can say that I do not and never did hold ill feelings against my jailers or the Government who gave us such inhuman treatment.
This is no time for polite meaningless words. Today I enjoyed the unique, lonely and not particularly pleasant eminence of being the only Deputy to oppose even the printing of this Bill. Let me make it quite clear that in no possible circumstances could I vote for the Second Stage of this Prisons Bill, 1972. When I say that, I am not differing from my colleague, Deputy Cluskey. In fact, I am extremely close, almost identical to his attitude on this Bill. The assurances I would seek from the Minister are identical with the assurances which Deputy Cluskey would seek but I know that my chances of obtaining these assurances from this Minister are nil.
These assurances would involve a time limit for the operation of this Bill, if it becomes law; they would involve a definition to me of what constitute the exceptional circumstances which give the Minister these powers; they would involve the deletion of words like "military custody" from the Bill; they would involve the deletion of all references to the Minister for Defence and the making absolutely clear and explicit that all powers under this Bill will be vested where they belong, in the Minister for Justice; they would involve finally an act of faith on my part in believing that the Minister was sincerely coming to this House to introduce a measure solely and explicitly made necessary by events in Mountjoy Jail last week. The sum total of the possibility of my getting those assurances is so completely ludicrous that I will walk into the Níl lobby, if enough Deputies stand up to be counted, to vote against the Bill, even if there are only four or five of us.
I would like to take this debate back —I am not criticising any previous speaker—to two speeches in particular, one being the severe, precise, detailed, clinical and immensely impressive speech on points of law made by Deputy Cooney. After all, we are talking about a major measure of law. The other is the speech made by Deputy Cluskey, and I mean no disrespect to any of my other colleagues in this party when I said that I found his speech particularly moving because of the agonised balance in which he found himself as a self-confessed and self-admitted pacifist, with no affection, loyalty or inclination towards those who practise violence by the bullet or bomb, north or south, but on the other hand, a democrat concerned with the proper administration of the processes of law and the problem of arresting people, making sure they get fair trials and legitimate sentences, if found guilty. Listening to Deputy Cluskey struggling with his conscience, I was immensely impressed by the dilemma, which is not simply the dilemma of Deputy Cluskey but in many ways the dilemma of the decade in Ireland in which we live and it is a revulsion against violence practised by self-appointed armies, on the one hand, and an equal revulsion against the consequent adoption by the State of short-cuts in the legal processes which are tantamount to violence in themselves, a desperate and terrifying dilemma which is summed up in the terse and dangerous wordage of this Bill.
Let us pass with respect to some of those who have spoken before and say what this Bill is not about. It is not about the physical condition of Mountjoy Jail at the moment and anyone who is so gullible as to believe that this Bill is about the length of time which it will take to repair physically the surroundings of Mountjoy Jail does not belong in this or any other assembly; nor is this Bill statutorily about the IRA, either wing or wings or bits or fragments or individuals, and I know as much or as little about that as anyone in this House. It may be consequentially about the IRA but the IRA are not mentioned in this Bill. This Bill is about the manner in which you arrest, charge, detain and bring to trial a person, an Irish citizen. I would oppose this Bill equally if the likely victims of its consequences were Mr. Craig, Mr. McKeague, the ordinary shoplifter, the ordinary wife beater or wife murderer. The principle would apply in the same case. We know of course that this Bill is not aimed at these ordinary criminals. What is an ordinary criminal? I do not know. At times, criminals seem to be ordinary and at times, not.
In his introductory speech the Minister denied that certain categories of prisoners should be getting any special status. Perhaps he is correct in this but in anIrish Times interview with Dick Grogan on Saturday last he differentiated between ordinary genuine prisoners as opposed to other categories of, presumably, extraordinary prisoners and it is at these categories of prisoners that we know this Bill is directed. With due respect to Deputy Gallagher's speech, anyone who thinks that this Bill is designed to reduce the incidence of vandalism or itinerancy in a Dublin constituency belongs in St. Brendan's. Such person does not belong in this Dáil.
Secondly, let me say what are not the reasons why I am attacking this Bill. I am not attacking the Bill because I am pro-IRA. I am not attacking it because I am hostile to the Gardaí who are doing an excellent job under the most trying of circumstances. I am not attacking the Bill because I am hostile to prison warders who, similarly, while being understaffed and underpaid are doing a difficult job under trying circumstances. Neither am I attacking the Bill because I am hostile to the Army or because I am making any implication that the Army treats fellow human beings in a different manner from the way any other Irishman would treat fellow human beings.
I am attacking this Bill because there is a principle involved. I am not a lawyer but I have had legal advice today on this. If I commit a crime I go forth from this assembly where laws are made and certain processes of law bring me to account for that crime. These processes of law belong to the civil authority of the State, the judiciary in the first instance and the courts in the second instance. This is as it should be. As one gets a plumber to mend pipes or seeks a doctor to attend to one's medical health or as one engages a carpenter to repair wood-work, a soldier should be used for a specific military purpose. With due respect to the Army, a soldier should not be used for the enforcement of the ordinary law. Suddenly we are told here that we are confronted with a crisis situation occasioned by the damaging last week of Mountjoy Prison, an emergency situation which justifies an open-ended piece of legislation which is as likely to remain on the Statute Book indefinitely in the same way as a declaration of a state of emergency that was declared in, I think, 1940, in this country still remains on the Statute Book.
Deputy Gallagher, perhaps un-intentionally, made the most revealing remark of the evening when he said that for some time he had anticipated this legislation. So had I anticipated it and so had many of us. I am choosing my words very carefully in what I wish to say next so that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle may not pull me up. I think there are people sitting on the Government benches who are very happy to see the normal judicial progress fail to work so that substitutes may be found for them. We all know at whom those substitute forms of legislation are directed. What are we talking about here today? We are talking about a short Bill which, I understand, deals with 40 men. These men are at present incarcerated in the Curragh under the guardianship of seven warders. The exact figures do not necessarily count. The fundamental point here, and it is not a point of technicality, is that as long as prisoners, be they allegedly political, be they what the Minister—who cannot remember whether Kevin Barry was hanged or shot—called ordinary or extraordinary, are under the supervision of prison warders and of the Department of Justice, the normal processes of the law are being fulfilled. As I have said, I am no lawyer but I have taken legal advice on this matter. If the Minister for Justice had come here today and said "Mountjoy Jail is no longer viable as a prison: I am constituting some other place a prison and I am empowered to do this under the 1877 Act", it would have been very difficult for any of us to oppose him. I understand that the basement of this building can be constituted a prison but this prison would remain under the supervision of the Department of Justice and under the normal process of the law. I am open to correction on that.
Instead, in order to deal with the situation involving a handful of men, the Minister introduced an open-ended Bill, with no time being given for its conclusion, which makes possible the transfer, at his order, to military custody of persons specified by him. If it is not patent from what I said that he is using a temporary situation to justify one of the most substantive changes in the manner of treating people subject to criminal prosecution in this country, then I am even more stupid than I thought.
So much for the legal complex of the Bill. I have only one further point to make. So barren has been this Government's performance during the past two and a half years that their motivation for this Bill must, to any logical man, be inseparable from the content of the Bill itself. Here I was glad to find myself in agreement with Deputy Cruise-O'Brien. Not merely have we got the arrogance of our present young but not bashful Minister for Justice but we have the Taoiseach trotting out all over again, as he did last night, this "alien ideology".
So far as I understand the situation in terms of violence in this country, both North and South, the people who are doing irreparable damage—the Provisional IRA—so far from practising an alien ideology are practising what is probably the most native ideology in the country, an ideology bred on those benches over there, an ideology of violence for the sake of violence, of sacrifice and of death for death's sake—death is the expression of a mission, often a sectarian mission—an ideology held very nobly and very warmly and anything but an alien ideology and certainly not one which in any way need trouble the future prospects of the Minister for Justice or any of his colleagues. Some of the people for whose future I fear—and I am declaring not loyalties and not sympathies but, perhaps, affections in this case—could fall into this category of an alien ideology as practitioners of a Marxist form of Republicanism. These are the people whose record in such matters as housing, health and unemployment in this country is extremely good. These, I fear, are the people who would find themselves categorised most readily as being such people who could find themselves in, quote, exceptional circumstances, unquote, transferred to military custody.
The Deputy will agree that their bombs and bullets are just as decent as the others.
Frankly, I would. I wonder, though, if Deputies on that side of the House would. I have the most cynical and deeply suspicious interpretation of the relationship of certain people on that side of the House to certain people who practise illegal activities in this country. Deputy FitzGerald takes my point.
I make one last point, which I would address, in his absence, to Deputy Cooney and, more particularly, in his presence through you, Sir, to Deputy FitzGerald who, amongst his other qualifications, is also a lawyer. Sometimes the law has to lean over backwards. I am not stating here an abstract objection to military custody or even to internment because I can conceive of circumstances in which both might be necessary. If I found juries were being intimidated, jurymen shot, judges intimidated, then I would, perhaps, have to say to Deputy FitzGerald that he is right and I am wrong. The Minister in his interview inThe Irish Times made reference to the delays, for obvious reasons, in transfers of cases to the Central Criminal Court. What are these obvious reasons? Why is it necessary to introduce a measure of this Draconian severity? One of the best defences offered in More, as some speaker said earlier, is not to meet violence with violence. Meeting violence with violence is a never-ending spiral and I believe this kind of Bill is infinitely more likely to provoke the confrontation every one of us fears than any attempt fairly and reasonably to administer the due process of the law.
I cannot believe that the physical damage worked upon Mountjoy last week and the consequent apparent necessity to place in particular security 40 men justifies bringing in here a measure which transfers from the Department of Justice to the Department of Defence certain rights and obligations traditionally associated with the Department of Justice. To me, this measure is repugnant in every respect, except in the retention of trial by jury, and that in turn is modified by a continuous remand in the case of some of these men. In every respect this measure is a cynical one which takes advantage of a temporary and slight difficulty in one particular prison to bring in here Draconian legislation. I find it in every respect similar to section 6 of the Offences Against the State Act, except in the retention of trial by jury. I fear it will be the harbinger of worse things to come and, when it is passed, as it will be, we will be embarking upon one of the most frightening processes in the history of the State. That is why I so vehemently opposed its printing today. That is why, even if no one else were to accompany me into the "No" Lobby tonight, I would argue that the administration of justice in this manner can only be justified by circumstances bordering upon imminent revolution. It certainly would not be justified by the destruction of the dental department in Mountjoy.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I thought, Sir, the people in this party were entitled to some type of representation.
The Chair has already acknowledged that.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I think I am as much entitled to my say here as anybody else.
The Deputy's rights in that matter are protected in the same way as everybody else's.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I am not being protected at all.
I, like the other members of my party, find myself in a rather invidious position. We accept the Minister's word that legislation is necessary to deal with the situation arising as a result of a riot in Mountjoy last Thursday night but we are doubtful of the case which necessitated the Minister stating today at four o'clock that he wants all Stages of this measure now. This riot took place last Thursday night. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday have passed. On any of these days the Dáil could easily have been recalled for the purpose of passing this legislation. I saw in one of the papers, and there was an oblique reference to it in the Minister's speech, that the Government met on Friday to consider the situation. The Minister said in his speech:
I have obtained the authority of the Minister for Finance to proceed with plans for the recruitment of an additional 100 officers over and above the 50 new posts advertised recently by the Civil Service Commissioners.
That must have been on Friday last and it must have arisen as a direct result of the riot in Mountjoy on Thursday night. If the situation was so grave as to necessitate this immediate recruitment of so many additional officers, surely the Dáil should have been recalled before today to deal with this legislation. The first intimation many Deputies had of this legislation was when they read about it in this morning's papers. The Minister comes in here at 4 o'clock this afternoon, circulates the Bill and demands all Stages now. This puts this party in a difficult position. We accept the necessity for seeing that the law is upheld and that those who are detained remain in detention. Remembering the history of past legislation of a similar kind we find ourselves somewhat dubious now and it is for that reason we insist on a time limit being put on this measure when it becomes law. The time suggested has been three months after the repairs have been carried out. The Minister said it will take 12 months to carry out the repairs. He lists the repairs: several windows broken, toilet bowls and wash-hand basins smashed, the dental laboratory destroyed, the new kitchens destroyed. The repairs he says will take 12 months. If we add three months on to that it means we are talking about the end of 1973 or the beginning of 1974. I do not think we could agree to allowing this type of legislation to remain on the Statute Book for that length of time in the hands of a Fianna Fáil Government.
We heard the rather emotional speech of Deputy John J. O'Sullivan tonight. There are other Deputies in this House who were imprisoned by Fianna Fáil Governments. There was legislation introduced for that purpose in the 1930s, in the 1940s, the 1950s and the 1960s. Imprisoned men have alleged that the treatment they received in prison was appalling. I do not go quite so far as that, but I think the treatment they received makes us dubious about giving such powers now to a Minister of State. We are faced with a situation arising as a result of the mishandling by the Minister and the Government of the general political situation in the last 18 months and, because of that mishandling, the Minister now insists that he should be allowed to house 40 prisoners somewhere for whom he alleges he cannot find accommodation in existing prisons and who had to be put into the Curragh Camp last Friday morning.
I am disturbed by some of the wording in the Minister's speech. There is talk of an emergency situation and self-styled political prisoners. I do not care for the tenor of the speech. The Minister says:
What is particularly regrettable is that the continuing substantial progress that was being made in the provision of better rehabilitative facilities and amenities in Mountjoy has been completely stopped, if not indeed reversed.
There is a threat of action against these prisoners who rioted or were caught up in the riot situation last week and the Minister justifies his looking for this legislation on the ground that he cannot give a reasonable assurance of protection to prison officers and other prisoners:
... against the background of the risk of a repetition of last week's disorders unless I have the authority, which I am asking the House to give me now, to transfer to military custody certain prisoners who are liable to cause trouble.
I think this is what may come out of this. In the beginning of his speech he infers that he wants this power because he has not prison accommodation for 40 prisoners outside military custody and has not prison officers to look after them outside military custody. He says he is asking the House to give him authority to transfer to military custody certain prisoners who are liable to cause trouble. It seems to me that he wants to put into military custody persons who are outside prison and have refused to accept bail, those whom he terms in his speech, in inverted commas, "self-styled political prisoners". If he wants to do that there is the danger that it may be carried further. For that reason we on this side will be very insistent in looking for very firm guarantees from the Minister that if this Bill is passed the time limit will be as short as possible and that the Bill will only remain on the Statute Book for the minimum period necessary to carry out repairs to Mountjoy Prison and no more.
Like other Deputies, I am unhappy about some of the terms of this Bill which has come to us with such haste, in such mysterious circumstances and having such a superficial connection, on the face of it, with the events in Mountjoy last Thursday night. Various sections of the Bill make one uneasy if taken in connection with the haste with which it has been brought to the House. For example, there is the contrast between the Minister's speech, where he seeks the authority and says:
... unless I have the authority, which I am asking the House to give me now to transfer to military custody certain prisoners who are liable to cause trouble...
and the calm wording of section 2 (3) of the Bill under discussion which says:
If and whenever, at a time when this section is in operation, the Minister is of the opinion that prison accommodation or prison staff is insufficient to provide secure and reasonable conditions of custody for all persons then in custody...
There is the contrast between the actual Bill and the intent the Minister appeared to show in his opening speech and against the implementation of which intent the provisions of the Bill seem to give little protection.
This is sufficient to make anybody unhappy. I am no lawyer and I take the word of the lawyer Deputy who referred to this area of detention as being an area of great technicality, one that even a lawyer would be reluctant to speak on with any great authority. How much more reluctance there must be on the part of many of us who have slight acquaintance as yet with prisons or the administration of prisons. An area of technicality, a Bill produced with great haste containing clauses that appear to be loose, gives the end product, apparently, that prisoners sentenced in civil courts will be detained under military custody.
On the other hand, I cannot go along with those who see in the Bill almost the same thing as internment without trial. Some Deputies have spoken as if this Bill were similar to that. This Bill refers to the conditions of detention; it does not take away the right of the courts. It is the civil courts which impose the sentences: it is the place of custody that is in question. Therefore, I cannot see in the Bill any semblance of internment without trial; it is not that kind of Bill. This is not to say that the Bill does not include sections with which one could not be happy. For example, section 2, subsection (8), says:
The Minister for Defence shall make regulations in relation to the places and the manner generally in which persons transferred to military custody pursuant to this section shall be kept in custody and, in making such regulations, the Minister for Defence shall have regard to the desirability of ensuring that the conditions of custody of such persons are not less favourable to them than if such persons were subject to the rules for the time being in force under the Prisons Acts, 1826 to 1970, governing the treatment, employment and control of persons in prison.
The Minister of Defence, this says, shall have regard to the desirability, mark you, that their conditions are not worse than if they were in the places of civil detention to which they would have been assigned but for this Bill. In that section alone one can see ample grounds for disquiet on the part of any Deputy.
On the other hand, we are not asked to make high-sounding speeches on our cherished concepts of democracy. We are not here to prove that one is a greater democrat than another. We are not here to prove that one would go to the stake for liberty and would burn more fiercely in sacrifice than another in our dedication to the concept of liberty. The Minister says he is faced with an emergency situation. We may have our own opinions of his culpability in regard to the degree of the emergency which has led him to bring this Bill before the House but, according to him, we are facing this emergency situation and he requires this Bill from the House which would have the effect of making civilian and military custody interchangeable.
We cannot make speeches all night describing our dedication to democracy and at the same time, knowing the situation we face, refuse to give the Minister the authority he seeks but in giving the Minister that authority and our support on this Bill the Minister should tell the House that it will be subject to a time limit, as suggested by previous speakers, and give an assurance that he would consider that the military custody mentioned in the Bill should be open to civilian inspection and should somehow have a connection with the civilian section of the prison service. The Minister should meet those who wish to support the Bill on these necessary requirements, that there should be a time limit and he should reconsider the clauses that cause disquiet.
We are not looking at a Billin vacuo. This Bill does not come before us simply as a result of a riot in Mountjoy. That may have been the immediate circumstance which suggested it to the Minister but the fact is that in the country, north and south, we face a para-military organisation commanded by seemingly autonomous war lords who have decided—these enemies of democracy—to go their own way without regard to the will of the majority. We, of all parties in this assembly, must be careful lest we resign ourselves to acting as they would wish us to act.
What is the design of both the IRAs in the Twenty-six Counties at present but simply to force this assembly to the point where this democracy would be compelled to bring in internment without trial? That is their desire in the Twenty-six Countries at present. We must oppose it. We cannot accept it. We know from the SDLP and from Austin Currie—who has said it and who should know it—that the Provisional IRA in the North of Ireland want internment without trial to continue in the North of Ireland for their nefarious political designs. The SDLP are locked in mortal combat with these assassins. These assassins want internment without trial to continue in the North of Ireland because it has solid political advantages for them. Similarly, they wish in this Twenty-six Countries, where a democracy operates, to push that democracy over the top.
I see no connection between this Bill and internment without trial. The headline propagandists next week will suggest that anybody supporting this Bill was somehow an enemy of democracy, somehow supporting internment without trial. With their twisted, warped logic these assassins will put out this sneer about those who support this Bill. We are not here, however, to make nice speeches about our dedication to democracy. The Minister asks us for authority in this Bill here tonight. It is a hastily-drafted Bill but, on my reading of it, it does not in any way invoke internment without trial. It speaks simply about conditions of custody but it does not take away the right of appeal to the courts. We have asked for this time limit. We, the democrats of all parties in this assembly, must not give way to such fear in the crisis before our country at the present that we may not act at all. We must not become so afraid that we are powerless to act. This request may have come from a Fianna Fáil Minister, but I trust him more than I trust these tribunes of killer organisations up and down the country who are planning the demise of this assembly, as they are planning and plotting the demise and assassination of elected representatives in the North of Ireland.
The Minister seeks this authority. I am prepared to give him that authority and permission with the provisos we have sought. I am glad to see we have so many Deputies in this House who are converts to law and order. I can remember a time when that was not the most popular subject in this House. Probably the conversion dated from the Heath initiative. Probably the referendum had a great deal to do with the conversion of certain Deputies. I can recall debates on matters connected with force and killing which did not evoke a great deal of speech-making from the ranks of the Government party. I am glad to see the conversions. We should be grateful for them.
Deputies in this House were not asked to make speeches suggesting the fineness of our feelings, sincerely or otherwise held, on matters of democracy. The most eloquent thing any Deputy can do in this House is to vote. We know the manner in which a Deputy thinks by the way he votes. That is how we judge how people in this House think on political issues.
When the speeches are over we watch which way a Deputy goes and we know what his politics are, though I accept that a Deputy could consciously object to the provisions of this Bill. The question before us demands a decision of us all.
I accept that the immediate circumstances in Mountjoy would appear to be unsatisfactory. The trouble there would not appear to warrant action of this size, but I take the Minister on trust. He is the Minister for Justice. I can read the newspapers and I know the situation in the North of Ireland. I know something of the characteristics of the enemies of democracy in this country.
I see nothing in the Bill before me that suggests that it is in any way an opening of internment without trial which, in my opinion, is the set design of both sections of the IRA. They wish to drive this country to the point where Deputies from this House will actually advocate the introduction of internment without trial. This would be disastrous. It would imperil the democracy which we have in this part of the country. The way to deal with the threat of these anti-democratic forces is to use the law we have and to see our political leaders fearlessly answering the insinuations and charges. They, the IRAs, are obviously involved in a propaganda war. These forces have taken the prison section to be one of their arenas at present. They have been rejected in other arenas. They have been rejected in Bogside in Derry at this moment. They have been rejected in these open areas of conflict and now they are attempting action on a new front in the prison section.
They are looking for status as political prisoners. The prisons of this country are filled by people who break the law. There is no class distinction or grading between those who break the law for one reason or another. I do not know what the conditions were in Mountjoy a few weeks ago. I will take the word of those who say that conditions were bad and services over-strained. I deplore the fact of people being held on long remand. They should be brought to trial. I understand that many of them refused to accept bail. I recall some weeks ago two or three paragraphs inThe Sunday Press, I think, reporting General Stephenson speaking from Navan. General Stephenson said——
He is O/C of that organisation and the O/C of any military organisation is a general. General Stephenson said that things would happen in Mountjoy if other things were not done. Things did happen in Mountjoy last Thursday night. It would not be too inaccurate to suggest that we are faced with a conspiracy stretching over the entire country and a propaganda exercise which, in the past, has benefited from the efforts of clergymen, journalists, Deputies of this House, and people on television who have given the ideological gloss to these killers and people who set out to start the civil war, the first signs of which we now see in the North.
The people who believe in the importance of this assembly must not fall dupes to the propaganda of these enemies of democracy. They use the slogans of democracy. They know the name of democracy but not its spirit. They are ready to exploit democracy at its weak points in order to overturn it. Democracy must fend for it-self. We must not permit ourselves to be pushed into taking up internment without trial, which would be a disastrous error. We must take them on all the way to that point. We must use the laws to the full all the way to that point. There must be no evasion. The leaders of political parties and the Deputies of particular parties here must not be guilty of evasion in the struggle before us.
I belong to a party that, in the period up to Christmas, spoke out on this matter. I belong to a party which, in open conference, before the Heath initiative, rejected the whole idea of the use of force in the North of Ireland. I belong to a party that went through the open, agonising, democratic exercise of deciding where their sympathies lay on a settlement of the Irish question. I am glad to say that, at our conference in Wexford, overwhelmingly we came down in favour of a democratic solution.
I have no apologies to make for the stand of this party. There are people in it who feel that there are parts in this Bill which they cannot accept and I accept their sincerity. The crisis which we face amply compensates for certain of the more questionable matters of detail which are undoubtedly in this particular Bill. I do not like the Minister for Justice personally. That is immaterial. I know that the Minister will sleep soundly tonight even though I do not like him personally.
He is the most unpopular Member of the House.
The people of Limerick, of Deputy Coughlan's constituency, may always remove the Minister for Justice in their own good time if they wish.
There is nothing surer than that it will happen at the next election.
Indeed it will. Deputy Coughlan would know about that.
We will see to it. Do not worry.
What about the referendum?
The Minister got in without the quota. He will not get in the next time.
Deputy O'Leary. We are not dealing with the referendum.
Underneath all the colouration and political animosities in this House, there is one thing we all hold in common, that is, that we must all appeal to ordinary people and for good or wrong reasons they may send us here and they may send us from this Assembly again. The strength of this Assembly solely resides in that weakness that this Assembly has, the instability of our stay in this place, the insecurity which goads us to be honest on most occasions. That we all share. The Minister is coming here for this authority and I think the crisis before us should mean that those of us who are worried about certain sections of the Bill, should give him that authority. I would appeal to the Minister to accept the sincerity of those of us who say by all means give him authority for the Bill, by all means we accept that there is a crisis, but ask for this time limit for its operation, so that the propagandists who will tomorrow be painting black and white in the press and on the walls on what has not happened here tonight may not have a field day. I appeal to the Minister to consider these items in the Bill.
Other Deputies say it. I can accept that people in this Assembly could legitimately feel a certain disquiet about the section of the Bill. Any democrat is so entitled to feel that. Although they will be vocal about it tomorrow, I cannot understand how the puppet organisations, the Sinn Féins of both the warlord gangs of assassins in this country, the Officials and the Provisionals, can shed their tears tomorrow and suggest that democracy is being imperilled. Both these organisations, especially the Provisional IRA in the North at present, intend keeping internment without trial there but both these organisations observe no niceties when they have enemies—whom they designate as enemies. They observe no niceties when they decide to despatch the enemies of their particular state. It is a case of internment without trial. They showed no mercy to poor Best in Derry over the weekend. They showed no mercy to him. I think of certain people, here in Dublin especially, having sentimental attachment to theReaders Digest Marxists of the Official IRA. I think of these people having any sympathy for these people who only yesterday, in The Irish Times by the way—this is a slight digression but I am concluding, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle—under the guise of something called the Army Council, spoke about the necessity for a popular struggle in the south and said there was no necessity to call off their campaign in the North because it was a defensive campaign from first to last. I just wonder in what category poor Best came, the young chap killed in Derry over the weekend. Was this a defensive or an offensive operation? We do not know. At least, the people of that area are taking the right lines in their approach to both these viper organisations who have infested their area and are acting in it. It would be a very poor comment on this elected Assembly if because a few clauses were not drafted in correct language —since there is no derogation from the authority of the courts; the people held in custody come as a result of sentence handed out by the court— some of us should evade our duty in refusing to vote for the Bill if, in fact, the Minister gives us the guarantees we seek. I support this Bill if the Minister will give us the conditions we are looking for.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I am not going to oppose the Bill. That does not mean exactly that I absolutely support it, especially after what I saw happening here this evening, because it could possibly happen that we lads up on these benches could be rammed inside. On the other hand, there is, I suppose, a good deal to be said in favour of the Bill, especially at the present moment.
I have seen very few Bills in my time here that contained one section of 44 lines. I do not understand how it could require 44 lines to provide for some fellow being put into a barracks or a prison or a camp. A person who would require 44 lines to do that must be rambling or raving and must have just left a pub, or something like that. It does not make a lot of sense. Surely the provision could have been put in much terser language and it could have been made applicable to these cases, without the necessity to write in all this junk, the purpose of which is purely and simply to give soft money to legal men.
There is an Act referred to in the Bill—an Act passed in 1826. What has an Act that was passed by British landlords in 1826 got to do with these people? I ask the Minister, in common sense, to remove this stupid joke from the Bill. A man like him whose people, like mine, were good Nationalists, should not quote a British Bill of 1826, passed by the landlords.
Does the Deputy remember that during the Forcible Entry Bill controversy an Act of 1285 was being pressed on us as something that we should use?
Mr. J. Lenehan
If the Minister is as smart as he tries to get the House to believe, he should be able to draft his own Bill and not have to quote a British Bill. Nobody but a clown would accept that it was just the row in Mountjoy that brought this Bill in. I was told it was in, or on the way, before there was a word about the row in Mountjoy and it was because information was leaked to the prisoners in Mountjoy that they had the riot. The Bill was not introduced because they had the riot; they had the riot because they knew the Bill was coming. Let us be straight about the matter.
I admit that I am not going to oppose this Bill tonight because most of the people who are here to oppose it are theFreeman's Journal type who called for the execution, in my lifetime, of the people who fought for freedom in this country, who called for their execution and to a great extent got it. It is very strange to hear some Labour Deputies getting up here tonight and talking against the Minister after many of our own founders were executed as a result of the activities of the Freeman's Journal, which is now, of course, known in Dublin under a different name. I do not know how many people in the House know the present name. I know it.
It has been dead a long time, has it not?
Mr. J. Lenehan
Mr. J. Lenehan
Yes. It became independent.
A lot of good institutions did.
Mr. J. Lenehan
Mr. J. Lenehan
We have boyos here who will get up and make speeches which are purely and entirely political gimmickry. They want the IRA locked up in the morning and they want them let out in the evening, just because they themselves want to make publicly some type of representations which they can get some newspaper reporter to put in the paper so that they will get cheap-jack political advertisement.
I do not know whether the IRA should be locked up or not. After all, if we went back to 1916 and to 1922, the army whose members won freedom for us at that time were, according to the laws of this country, completely illegal too. They were illegal armies just the same as the IRA are illegal but there is no good reason for locking them up. I admit many of the things they are doing are anything except right but I cannot stand by and see people being put into prisons or prison camps without trial. I want to say, without fear of contradiction, that a great deal of the trouble here is that judges and justices have no guts in them.
The Deputy is well aware that he may not criticise judges or justices.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I am trying to deal with section 2 of this Bill.
The Deputy may not criticise judges or justices.
Mr. J. Lenehan
Judges and justices who are appointed purely and simply on the basis of their political initiatives and because some local fellow——
The Deputy will not proceed on that line. The Deputy will not be allowed to proceed on that line.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I may not be very right.
The Deputy knows he is not right.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I know I am not.
If the Deputy knows that then he knows he is out of order. He will desist from that.
Mr. J. Lenehan
They can promote a district justice and at the same time——
The Deputy cannot proceed on that line. The Chair will not allow the Deputy proceed on that line and will ask him to resume his seat.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I am not resuming my seat for a moment.
The Deputy will remain on his feet if he is in order but that is all.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I remember the decisions of the IRA courts in days gone by. I do not know whether this is relevant or whether it is not.
The Deputy knows we are dealing with a Bill which is before the House.
Mr. J. Lenehan
This Bill is brought before us because certain people have thrown before the Irish people a threat of civil war. There is no country in the world in which there was ever a second civil war. I got more medals for the people who fought in the last civil war and the War of Independence than all the Deputies here ever bought at a stand in Knock. There will never be a second civil war in this country.
Did the Deputy decorate himself?
Mr. J. Lenehan
I got a scapular.
The Deputy should have a pioneer pin.
Deputy Lenehan on the Bill.
Mr. J. Lenehan
I am not sectarian. I could not be. There are only two Protestants in the territory in which I live and they are the only two decent people in it. They are certainly as decent as any of us. I could not be sectarian. I have no opposition except when I come in here.
Is there no other publican in the area?
Mr. J. Lenehan
There are a couple. Allegations have been made against the Border. Some of the people who made those allegations belong to the same party which in 1923, 1924 and 1925 appointed sergeants in my area of the country who could neither read nor write and Fianna Fáil were not in power at that time.
Whose side was the Deputy on at that time?
Mr. J. Lenehan
I was not confirmed.
The Deputy is confirmed in more ways than one now.
Will the Deputy cease the interruptions and will Deputy Lenehan deal with the Bill.
Mr. J. Lenehan
These things happen and today we have people in the Opposition coming in and telling the Fianna Fáil Party that their attitude towards members of the Garda Síochána is not right. I have seen cases where people have applied for membership of the Garda Síochána and some of them have been too thick to get in and some of them have not been thick enough. It has nothing to do with education. People can be taken into the Garda Síochána simply on the basis of being too thin or not being thin enough.
There is nothing in this Bill about taking people into the Garda Síochána. This Bill has to do with the prisons.
Mr. J. Lenehan
Will they not be dealing with it?
The House will deal with the Bill first.
Mr. J. Lenehan
They are the people who will deal with the people who will be rammed into jail. These people should not be rammed into jail. In 12 months from today this Bill will be absolutely irrelevent because it is not in keeping with EEC regulations. I do not know any country outside the Eastern Countries where that type of Bill would be acceptable under EEC regulations. I am sure you have read that Bill and I am sure you will agree with me that next January it will be completely irrelevant. Deputy Barry asked that it be suspended three months after it is passed. I do not think we will have to wait that long. We are told that it will take 12 months to repair Mountjoy. There must be good contractors in Dublin if they can repair it in that time.
That was my point.
The Board of Works will do it.
Mr. J. Lenehan
The board of imagination. That Bill will be completely irrelevant in 12 months time. That is why I advocate it should be accepted at the moment because it will be completely irrelevant when we enter the EEC. The people of this country have given an 82 per cent vote for entry into the EEC.
83 per cent.
Mr. J. Lenehan
Yes. I am a bad counter. I am not a mathematician. They gave an 83 per cent vote to accept the regulations which will be imposed by the Treaty of Rome. Is their word to be accepted? I presume it is, no matter what Deputy O'Sullivan is smiling about. It will mean that that Bill is not worth the paper on which it is written. For that reason I would advocate accepting it at the moment and there should not be much trouble afterwards. By the time they have taken it to the President we will probably be in Europe and that will be the end of the Bill. However, I support it.
The position is clear in relation to this Bill. You either vote for it or against it. There can be no half measures. The Minister has explained the new situation which brought about the need for this type of legislation and blame placing is no solution to this problem. The solution lies in the legislation. Many people who have spoken here today want to be on both sides, they want to be both for and against the Bill. That cannot happen. You either vote for or against. No doubt we will have other speakers who will want to whitewash in the same manner as did Deputy Thornley and others who have spoken. Deputy O'Sullivan spoke about the Blueshirts and about other periods and never mentioned the Bill or the present situation. There is a situation here which demands that remedial action be taken to ensure that lives and public and private property are adequately protected. The release of many prisoners, it was indicated, could take place if this Bill was not enacted. People who are already sentenced for offences could be released and would be a danger to the social order. This Bill is necessary and desirable. Some doubts have been expressed about the situation in Mountjoy by Deputies who spoke here, about the period it would take to repair the premises. I wonder would the Minister consider allowing a committee of this House to visit Mountjoy or indeed to visit the Curragh at a later stage when prisoners are housed there——
——particularly Mountjoy, in order that we could see, at first hand, whether the extent of the damage is as reported. I am absolutely satisfied with the Minister's word but there are certain Deputies who have some doubts about the situation in Mountjoy, about the amount of damage that was caused there during the riot. It is depressing to think that even the dental service unit and the kitchen were destroyed. This type of vandalism could not be tolerated. I should like to see, and I am sure other Deputies would also, the extent of the damage there. I would ask the Minister to consider seriously allowing Members of this House, as a committee, to visit Mountjoy and see for themselves that there is no exaggeration. I have absolute confidence in the word of the Minister. I congratulate the Minister on his courage in dealing with the many problems with which he is confronted.
It was tolerated for six hours that night.
There are many people concerned about freedom and liberty in this nation, about the democratic institutions, about the authority of this House, who have spoken here in a very roundabout fashion. They have spoken about the authority of the House and the maintenance of the democratic institutions but at the same time have not the courage to face up to their responsibilities in this issue. It will be interesting to hear other Members trying to whitewash the situation and ride two horses in this race. This cannot be done and the hypocrisy will be seen tonight and on the other occasions when votes will be taken. If people are concerned about sections of the Bill they have a right to put down amendments and have them discussed at the appropriate time. If the democratic decision of this House is that these amendments are not acceptable then they must abide by the democratic decision of this House. These people want to project a picture of themselves as being something different to ordinary individuals. They want to maintain law and order but, on the other hand, they want to disassociate themselves from this type of legislation. Possibly it is not easy for many Deputies to face up to their responsibilities on this occasion because of the type of support they have been attracting to themselves. It is only people with courage and understanding who will face up to this situation in a genuine and definite way. I should like to congratulate Deputy O'Leary for much of what he said tonight. He made a speech which in many ways was courageous. He had some criticisms of the Department, of the Minister and of some events but he dealt with the situation in a creditable way. This should be the approach of all responsible individuals on the other side of the House. Deputy O'Leary is not the only one. I just mention him as a member of the Labour Party because other members of the Labour Party have devoted much of their time to criticising the Government and the Minister without offering any solution. Deputy Thornley this morning objected to the First Reading but it would appear he got some corrective training and he is now prepared to support the Bill if certain amendments are accepted and certain assurances given by the Minister. If the Minister gave all the assurances Deputy Thornley wanted about the time limit, about exceptional circumstances, about military custody, about the Minister for Defence, these men would still be retained in prison or somewhere. It would not mean liberty for one of these people an hour earlier than they will get that liberty.
In relation to the situation that developed in Mountjoy, I should like to congratulate the gardaí, the prison warders and all those others who assisted. The handling of the situation was creditable in so far as no life was lost when that could very easily have happened in a tense situation such as that. The prison warders and the people responsible for the conduct of the prison deserve to be congratulated on the manner in which some of them restrained themselves.
The situation which developed resulted in the necessity for this legislation. This large amount of destruction which will take 12 months to repair will be very costly. This cost will be borne by the housewives of Deputy Thornley's area in Ballymun. They will have to pay in taxation for the vandalism that took place as will the housewives in Ballyfermot, Drimnagh, Coolock and Finglas. Those unfortunate housewives will have to pay for this vandalism. I hope Deputy Thornley will remember this when he approaches these people in the nottoo-distant future. I hope he will indicate that he was one of the people who supported this vandalism in a roundabout fashion.
I support this Bill. I ask the Minister once again to consider allowing a committee to visit Mountjoy to assess the situation and to assure themselves that the damage is as indicated in the public press and by the Minister. I have absolute confidence in the Minister's word, I accept it fully and without hesitation, but it would appear to me that 12 months is a very long period to take to repair any amount of damage. The damage must be very considerable.
The problem facing us here is one that arises from the failure of the Minister to carry out his responsibilities.
In democratic countries the general practice is that a Minister accepts responsibility for defaults, mistakes and mishaps that occur in the Department under his control. In this country we have gone so far away from that concept of ministerial responsibility that I do not think many people even thought in terms of the Minister being responsible or wondered if he would resign. In any other country in the democratic system a failure of the kind that occurred here with its disastrous consequences would have led to the immediate resignation of the Minister concerned. For example, I could not conceive of a British Minister in a similar position remaining in office. Yet, so accustomed have we become to the abdication of responsibility by Ministers and to the situation where they do not accept responsibility that most people never thought of the possibility that the Minister would resign. This is an indication of how far our standards have fallen under this Government.
I should like to ask the Minister when we can expect the results of the inquiry. The House must be concerned that a situation arose in which, according to reports we have had through the media and the Minister's own report, a prison officer was in the proximity of a number of IRA prisoners carrying with him a master key to all the cells in the prison. That such a situation should arise appears to be an unheard-of thing in the history of the prison service here or anywhere else. One can understand that in any prison prisoners may catch someone by surprise but I should have thought that under no circumstances would a prison officer travel round the prison carrying a master key when the prisoners might well be in a position to surprise him. The Minister is responsible for that situation. He should accept his responsibilities—in fact, he should have resigned. He should tell us when the inquiry will be completed and when the House will hear the results.
I was completely taken aback about a minor aspect of this affair—minor in the overall picture but important to the person involved. I was very concerned to hear from Deputy O'Sullivan that there was some suggestion that the car belonging to the sergeant of the gardaí was destroyed and that he would not receive any compensation. It is inconceiveable that such a defect could exist in our legislative structure, that a member of the Garda could have been put into that position. I should like the Minister's assurance that where a member of the Force suffered a loss of property through his involvement in trying to bring the affair outside the prison to a peaceful conclusion that he would be compensated for any loss. I expect the Minister to answer this point in his reply.
We approach this Bill with considerable suspicion. There are a number of reasons for this. First, there is a record of this Government of trying to introduce unnecessarily repressive legislation going beyond the needs of the moment. On this side of the House we have no hesitation in backing the Government in any measures they may take that are necessary to deal with the situation we face in this part of the country at the present time. However, we will always examine such legislation to make sure it is necessary, that it does not go beyond the needs of the moment, and that it does not extend for a longer time scale than appears necessary. Unfortunately this Government have a record of going beyond the needs of the moment and of being unduly repressive.
On this side of the House we have the peculiar responsibility on the one hand of pressing the Government to take adequate action within the law against forces outside the law which the Government have failed to tackle. At the same time, we have the duty as a vigilant Opposition concerned with individual liberty to ensure that the measures the Government take in pursuance of their duty and in response to our pressures go no further than is necessitated by the situation.
The Government have a record of inaction in the face of serious danger to the security of the State and of a weakness or unwillingness to act; they over-act in other cases where there is no serious danger to the security of the State but where particular forces in the community attract their dislike or hatred. In this case they act against them in a way that goes beyond the needs of the situation.
On this side of the House we have a special problem in maintaining a balance faced with a Government which act so erratically on these matters, which act at times in a discriminatory manner. In this connection I should like to echo what was said by Deputy Thornley regarding the Taoiseach's speech as published in this morning's newspapers. On this side of the House we have been concerned about the way the Government have handled their responsibilities in dealing with illegal organisations here. Some of us have noticed an apparent partiality in the handling of the situation, the tendency to raid more frequently the headquarters and the homes of members of the Official IRA than those of the Provisional IRA——
That does not appear to have any relevance to the Bill we are discussing.
I am explaining why we are approaching this Bill with suspicion.
We cannot have a debate on illegal organisationsper se.
I understand that the riot in Mountjoy was caused by prisoners of one or other wing of the IRA. We are concerned lest the power given to the Minister to allocate particular prisoners to particular kinds of confinement, which may be more onerous to those prisoners, might be exercised in a discriminatory way in view of the Government's record of apparent discrimination between illegal organisations. This record is reinforced by the extraordinary reference in the Taoiseach's speech last night when he used a phrase which, I think, has been used by the Provisional IRA about the Official IRA. When I hear the Taoiseach and the Provisional IRA using the same phraseology about a group whom both regard as an enemy I begin to wonder if the Government's attitude to the Provisional IRA is what we would hope it to be.
I cannot see the relevance of that remark to the Bill we are discussing.
I think I have established its relevance. I do not need to dwell on it any longer because it is so obviously relevant to the debate. I think I have made that clear. We are concerned because there has been clear evidence in this House that members of the Government Party do not accept fully their responsibilities. We had the remarkable case in this House in early February in the debate on Derry when the Tánaiste and Deputy Leader of the Government was speaking. On that occasion a number of Deputies—I am sure they were not representative of Fianna Fáil as a whole, but nevertheless they were members of the Government Party—sat behind him and gave him a conspicuous lack of support in his courageous speech which had the entire support of Fine Gael and Labour. It was so obvious that when the Tánaiste finished his speech he turned back to see who were the Deputies who were so conspicuously unwilling to support him in his courageous stand against the IRA.
In a situation where a Government Party have such supporters in their ranks, where we have the Taoiseach making a speech which seems to distinguish so carefully between two wings of the IRA—the "alien ideology" group, and these nice local boys who murder only Protestants—we are entitled to be suspicious of a measure which puts into the Minister's hands powers that could be used in a discriminatory way between different groups. We want both wings of the IRA dealt with. We do not want any discrimination or choice between them; we want both dealt with with even-handed justice of a kind which we have not seen in this country recently.
In the Bill there are grounds for reasonable suspicion, quite apart from the background I have outlined regarding the Government's handling of the current security situation in this country. First, we have had the remarkable statement that it will take 12 months to repair the damage in Mountjoy. Mountjoy is a building with fairly strong walls and I have not heard that any of them were knocked down in this riot. The damage that has been caused is damage that could be repaired in a much shorter period; damage to windows, to wash-hand basins, to some doors and locks. There was some damage to the roof which might take slightly longer to repair but it would not take anything like 12 months. The speed at which building works are carried out here for private profits—sometimes for the private profit of people not dissociated from the Fianna Fáil Party —suggests that if the Government wished to repair Mountjoy quickly they could do so.
There has been some suggestion from the other side of the House that the Government want to take this opportunity to effect useful improvements in Mountjoy. We should not try to fool ourselves about this. Many improvements are required but, had the prisoners not wrecked the prison, these improvements would have had to be carried out in the ordinary way by dealing with different parts of the prison stage by stage and making the improvements while the prisoners still inhabited part of the prison. I do not see any reason why the immediate damage could not be repaired quickly and the prison restored at least to partial use. Then the further improvements that need to be carried out could be carried out in the same way as they would have been carried out had this damage not been inflicted. The fact that there is this extraordinarily long period of 12 months creates suspicion. However, one would not be too worried about that were it not for the fact that this long period is associated with the total absence of any time limit on the Bill itself. The Bill itself introduced as an emergency measure, drafted hastily and with defects in it, as the Minister has just admitted on television a few minutes ago, is a measure which one could justify as anad hoc measure to meet an emergency if it were to be confined to that emergency. The Government have not done that. What they have done is to introduce a Bill which purports to be permanent legislation to be implemented sporadically as and when needed. The Bill is not designed solely to deal with the Mountjoy situation but is expected to deal with future situations which may arise.
Why should it be necessary to make this permanent legislation? Of course one recognises that the situation which has arisen has shown up a defect and that if this Minister or a future Fianna Fáil Minister fails equally in his responsibility and if there is a recurrence of this situation, further legislation will be necessary. We on this side of the House will accept that there must be permanent legislation to ensure that, in the event of a prison or prisons being damaged, prisoners are kept in custody, but that legislation should be carefully considered, brought into this House and debated at leisure. It should not be introduced in such a way that we only have a couple of hours to read the Bill before debating it, in such a way that we have to draft the amendments during the Second Stage debate and try to listen to the debate and listen to the Minister on television simultaneously. It should not be done in such a way that the entire range of amendments—and there will be many —will have to be debated through Committee Stage and through Report Stage in a period of five hours in this House. This is no way to draft permanent legislation.
The fact that the Minister has sought to make this permanent legislation and has introduced it in a form that will enable it, once it has been implemented by way of resolution in this House, to remain in force indefinitely long after, perhaps years after, Mountjoy has been restored, gives grounds for serious suspicions about the Government's and the Minister's intentions.
Again there is no provision in this Bill to limit the number of prisoners to be accommodated in military custody to the minimum number necessitated by the legislation at any given time. Under this Bill as I read it—and I am open to correction if there is something I have missed—the Minister could, once this Bill is through, put the entire prison population into the hands of the Defence Forces on the grounds that various prisons are in some way or another unsuitable, because the wording used is so vague and general that, in fact, given the present poor condition of our prisons today, he could probably justify closing all the prisons and handing all the prisoners over to military custody. The provisions of section 2 (3) refer to prison accommodation or prison staff being insufficient to provide secure and resonable conditions of custody. As I understand it, the present prison accommodation is insufficient to provide reasonable conditions of custody anywhere in the country. We understand the prison staff is inadequate in number. Then the Bill goes on to make provision that the relevant sections of the Bill can be put into effect if the accommodation "is insufficient to provide such conditions without serious detriment to the maintenance in prisons of the normal arrangement for the rehabilitative treatment of prisoners..."
Does anybody think that in any Irish prison today the conditions are such as to permit the normal rehabilitative treatment of prisoners? I do not think that any court in this country, if it were put to it as an issue under this legislation that the Minister wished to transfer all prisoners over to the Defence Forces on the grounds that in no prison were the arrangements for the rehabilitative treatment of prisoners normal or adequate, could hold against him and say the conditions were adequate and normal. Therefore, the Bill as drafted does enable the Minister not just to transfer 40 prisoners for whom he cannot find a home in an ordinary prison to the Curragh but to transfer the entire prison population, if he wishes to do so, into the hands of the Defence Forces. We must look at this Bill and see if it tries to do more than needs to be done. To the extent that under every heading it does so much more than needs to be done we are entitled to regard it with considerable suspicion.
There is also the argument for security. The curious introduction of the concept of security here is not merely a question now of not having room for prisoners but a question of the prison not being secure enough, and the suggestion has been made in this debate by several Deputies that with the kind of behaviour that went on in Mountjoy last Thursday and Friday perhaps it will no longer be possible in future to house IRA prisoners in a prison because they cannot be secure there and therefore in future they will have to be in military custody. The introduction of the concept of security rather than the availability of prison accommodation introduces a new and other sinister element into this Bill. This has not been explained by the Minister and is another good reason for being suspicious of the Bill.
Therefore this Bill is one which requires intensive and extensive amendment, and we face a problem of having to do this in a few hours tomorrow. That is most unsatisfactory and I think the Minister was wrong to bring into this House a Bill which is expressed to be permanent legislation, which of its nature raises so many problems and requires so much amendment and which he tries to bludgeon us to accept in a few hours.
In addition to the matters I have raised, there are other matters which in the course of the Committee Stage we shall have to deal with. I find no provision in this Bill for setting out who will be the responsible officer or how one can identify the responsible officer in charge of the prisoners. It is a feature of the prison system that prisoners are put in charge of a named person, the governor of the prison. It is the governor of the prison who is responsible to the courts. It is he who has to produce a prisoner if there is a habeas corpus action. The courts know to whom to go in such circumstances, but there is nobody responsible here. Will it be the officer in command of the camp or will it be a prison officer, as we feel it should be, who will be put in charge of the prisoners of the camp? Will it be the Chief of Staff of the Army? Who will be responsible? To whom do the courts go? Who do they demand should hand over the body of a prisoner so that he may appear before them and so that the authorities concerned can give an account of themselves and state why he should not be released?
This Bill to my mind is full of uncertainty because of the absence of any provision as to who would be in charge of the prisoners and we shall have to insist on the Committee Stage on the acceptance of an amendment to nominate a responsible official and to provide some means through which he can be nominated. In my own view which is, I think, the view of my party, such an officer should not be a military officer but a governor of the camp who would be a member of the prison service seconded, if that is the appropriate word, for that purpose. We do not think it satisfactory that prisoners should be taken out of the control and away from the authority of the prison service the staff of which have the training in duty and in skills to look after prisoners.
We have heard from Deputies in the House, particularly Deputy O'Sullivan, how within the lifetime of this State he found himself in a military prison. He told us of the conditions in which he found himself. That prison was not under the civil authority of the State He made it clear that not because of any particular ill will or ill treatment of a positive kind on the part of the military authorities but simply because they were not equipped to run a prison. he found himself year after year housed and living and accommodated in appalling conditions. It is not to be expected that the Army, whose job it is to maintain the security of the State, to deal with internal and external security, would be in a position to provide the kind of skilled service that the running of a prison requires, including the many provisions a modern prison should offer in respect of the rehabilitation of prisoners. It is clear that the officer in charge must be an officer of the prison service and that he must be certified as such so that it will be quite clear who is in charge of the prison.
I support Deputy Dowling in his proposal for an Oireachtas committee of inspection. I realise there is provision in the Bill for a board of visitors but I am not satisfied that is sufficient. This House has a very special duty here. We are rushing through this legislation to meet an emergency. If, as a result, any prisoner suffers, we are responsible. We must in the discharge of that responsibility have a continuing direct interest until a normal situation is restored. It would be intolerable if we should find ourselves in a position of finding that prisoners might be living in conditions which we could not stand over and indeed that we could not find out for ourselves if we had put them in that position. That would be an abdication of responsibility on the part of this House, and Deputy Dowling was quite right to press that point, to require that we should have the ability to inspect any such prison.
I remember in the late 1950s, when I was not in politics and had as little sympathy with the IRA as I have now, being very concerned about the conditions in which they were housed at the Curragh. As an ordinary citizen at that time I did not know how I could do anything about it but I must say it was on my conscience. As an ordinary citizen, however, I did not know how to set about taking action. I am not an ordinary citizen any longer in that I am one of the 144 Members of this House who have a special responsibility. I am one of those Deputies who support this Bill and who therefore will be one of those Members directly responsible for housing prisoners in circumstances other than normal. I therefore have a responsibility to ensure that they will be housed and looked after properly and that they will not suffer as a result of the action of a small group of prisoners—only a group are involved in this. I can exercise that responsibility only by ensuring that this Parliament has a committee of inspection who can inspect these establishments and make sure conditions in them are satisfactory. That is something on which we must insist on Committee Stage.
Moreover, we must insist that normal prison rules will apply. The provisions of the Bill are entirely inadequate and they have been stigmatised by what Professor John Kelly, Professor of Jurisprudence and Roman Law, said on television in the last hour. He said these provisions in their present form are unconstitutional because the Constitution does not permit—if I understood him correctly this has been established in a certain case within the history of this State—a Minister to vary adversely the treatment of a prisoner by discriminating between prisoners. Therefore, if the Minister does not ensure absolutely that the treatment of prisoners in these camps, or whatever they may be called, will be identical with and certainly no worse than the treatment prisoners normally undergo, and if he selects prisoners to go to a place where conditions are worse, he would be in breach of the Constitution and the Act which we will have passed will therefore be unconstitutional. We do not want to find ourselves in the position of being called back some weekend if the Supreme Court takes action——
I would draw the Deputy's attention to the time.
Sorry, I am just about to conclude. We do not want to be coming back here again because the Supreme Court has found that what we have done is unconstitutional. We must therefore amend the provision including the words "have regard to the desirability of ensuring". These words are totally inadequate for this purpose and we must ensure that normal prison rules apply in these camps.
I am glad that on this occasion I have Deputy FitzGerald partly on my side—only partly, but at least he views this Bill with suspicion. That is a good sign. I am delighted that the Fine Gael Party are moving towards us. Indeed most members of the Labour Party view this kind of legislation with detestation, not because there is more than one Army in this country. As far as I am concerned at any rate there is only one Army in this country. Going back to 1922, always there has been only one Army here. I will say no more about that. I should like to say, however, that apart from the point raised apparently on one of the media, as they are called, by Professor John Kelly, there is a question which I must raise on this Bill. Because I am not a lawyer the question I am about to ask may not be relevant but I should like to get an answer from the Minister. I raised a few such points recently and I was treated with scant courtesy but I was later vindicated on them.
The point I am making is that I cannot see any provision in the Bill to bring the Act into operation. In his opening speech the Minister said subsection (1) of section 2 provides that the Dáil may at any time decide that the section should cease to be in operation and the Dáil may, by resolution, declare that it is satisfied that the section should cease to be in operation, but that in certain circumstances the Dáil, also by resolution, might decide to put the section into operation again. The words of significance there are "put into operation again". I hope the draftsmen are sure about their drafting this time. We had this type of legislation previously. Every occasion on which this House hurried to do something it was at its worst.
Why do I look on this kind of legislation with detestation? It is because I get the odour of internment from it. Let us be quite frank about that. To put into military custody persons convicted under the civil laws of the country without the most serious reasons cannot be justified. As regards riots in prisons and that sort of thing, we have had them not alone in uncivilised countries such as South Africa and the United States, but we had a major one in Italy in the last 12 months. Riots in prisons are not grounds for putting people into military custody. The Government were faced with a problem and they took rapid action. I appreciate that they sent prison officers to the Curragh with the group of prisoners.
In a sense, there are two different sections in the Bill. Section 3 has very little to do with the previous section which relates to military custody and does not at all mention military prisons or anything like that. Section 3 states that the Minister may from time to time specify a place or places to be used as a prison or prisons but I cannot understand why the Minister did not get around this problem by specifying some places, not necessarily a military barracks at the present time. There are such places in the country which had been used as military barracks and which are now unoccupied. I cannot understand, in view of its past and extremely bad history, why the prisoners should have been lumped down to the Curragh. Deputy O'Sullivan spoke about what happened to him. I do not think that the military were in any way responsible for that and I do not think they will now be responsible for anything that may happen to these prisoners.
I have been in Mountjoy on a couple of occasions. I went there to bring books to the library. The warders in charge of the library told me that prisoners like reading books about crime. I would have thought that they would have been interested in something else.
When internment was mentioned in this House by the Taoiseach at the end of 1970 we in this party would not agree to it. At the time the Government were making a great show of putting through the Prices and Incomes Bill. We said we would not give internment in exchange for the Government dropping the Prices and Incomes Bill. A different situation arose subsequently and the Government dropped that Bill. The history of this party has been against internment. I do not mind what arguments are advanced or what grounds are stated, there is definitely a smell of internment about this Bill. I take it this is why Deputy FitzGerald is suspicious of the Bill and I agree with him 100 per cent.
I also agree with the point made originally by Deputy Cooney, repeated by Deputy FitzGerald, and supported by members of the Labour Party, that there should be a time limit on the Bill. I would be much happier to see the skids put under the Office of Public Works or the "office of no works" as they have been frequently called. There is no reason why the kind of damage that was done— breaking washhand basins, breaking lavatories, breaking windows—should not be repaired within a reasonable time and three months would be reasonable. My objection to the Bill in principle would still exist even if there were a time limit. I do not agree with transferring civilians to military custody, not because I am suspicious of the Army, but because of a basic objection in principle. Therefore, regardless of what anybody else does, I will vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
If the Bill consisted of sections 1, 3 and 4 I would see no objection to it. Section 3 provides:
The Minister may from time to time specify a place or places to be used as a prison or prisons and each place so specified shall be a prison to which the Prison Acts, 1826 to 1970, apply.
The Government could also without difficulty transfer people on special leave from the Army to act as warders. I do not see any reason why some of the many large edifices in the country could not be called prisons. I do not know to whom the Government are making a bow. I am not making any allegations, but they must be making a bow to somebody. There is a touch in this Bill of the Offences Against the State Act. I am not being unduly suspicious. I will not take up any more of the time of the House because there are many other Deputies who would like to speak on the Bill and I have said what I want to say.
This Bill arise out of the trouble in Mountjoy on Thursday night last. The Minister has to transfer a number of prisoners to other parts of the country. There are a number of prisons in the country and it would appear to me that there is something radically wrong if we have to introduce a Bill of this kind to give the Minister power to put some prisoners into military custody. There must be something wrong with our whole system if we cannot cater for these prisoners in our other prisons. I gather from what was said here that all the trouble has been caused by the Provisional IRA prisoners in Mountjoy.
We have had a very wide discussion and Deputies referred to sympathisers of the Provisional IRA or the Official IRA in one party or another. I think it was Deputy Cruise-O'Brien who said that this Bill would be an embarrassment to some members of the Fianna Fáil Party who were in sympathy with the Provisional IRA. He was followed by Deputy Briscoe who assured the House that nobody in Fianna Fáil was in sympathy with the Provisional IRA, that he certainly was not, but that there were people in Fine Gael and in the Labour Party who were. If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that in all the political parties there are Deputies who have been in sympathy with the Provisional IRA. Some Deputies were prepared to be a little more outspoken than others. I suppose no Deputy would agree fully with all that has been going on in the recent past. When the vote is taken tonight I will vote for the Bill although I have had and still have sympathy for the Provisional IRA. There are a number of other Deputies who will vote for the Bill who are still in sympathy with them.
It is a pity that there was not some other way to overcome this difficulty but I suppose this is one way to try to create an atmosphere of emergency. I do not know whether there is an emergency, but it would appear as if there is a colossal emergency. When there is an emergency we find that we are short of something. Over the past few months we found there was a shortage of gardaí and we had a special recruitment campaign to increase the numbers of that body. We had a shortage of Army personnel and we had a special recruitment campaign to increase the numbers in the Army. We seem to have a shortage of prison warders and we have to try to do something about that. Now we have a shortage of prison space. All this would suggest that over the years we have not had our priorities right. We should not have allowed ourselves to get into a position like this.
I gather that the 30 or 40 prisoners who will occupy the barracks in the Curragh will be political prisoners, or people who are in for that type of offence and, if they are on remand, I would ask the Minister to make that period as short as possible. If he can make the charge stick, they are no longer on remand and have become prisoners proper, but it seems to me that a number of people have been arrested and charged and are on remand for one reason or another on what would appear to be very flimsy charges because I do not think that up to now very many of them have been made to stick. We do know that if a crime is committed down the country, the Garda may have a suspect but they must be fairly satisfied that they can make the charge stick before they take it to court, and these would appear to be flimsy charges, with the result that these people are on remand for a long time and eventually, in most cases I have read, they all seem to be acquitted. It is a pity that they have to be three or four months on remand. If we could get the thing over and done with as quickly as possible, we might not have the kind of trouble we had in Mountjoy last week.
Like other Deputies, I would like to think that this piece of legislation will be in existence for as short a time as possible. We must be realistic and we must appreciate the fact that when we have people in prison and something like this happens, we just cannot open the gates and let them out. We have to have our prisons and our security, but a number of Deputies have asked the Minister to give some assurance about getting rid of the measure as quickly as possible. There has been some talk about the length of time it is expected to take to restore Mountjoy and to make it habitable. If the matter comes to the Office of Public Works and architects are sent up to the prison, it could easily be 12 months, but a lot of this could be short-circuited and a staff sent in there and Mountjoy could be back in habitable condition in a very short time.
I intend to support this Bill. Deputy O'Leary, in speaking, seemed to know quite a good deal about the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA. He told us the Provisionals wanted internment retained in the North and wanted internment introduced down here, that this was likely to be their life's blood. There is one way in which we can disappoint the Provisionals, that is, not to introduce internment, and I would be a happy man and very pleased if we did not because I doubt very much if I would support the Government if they attempted to introduce internment. It is a great pity that Mr. Whitelaw, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, would not do the same and end internment up there. It would take the carpet from under the feet of the Provisional IRA and they would have no grouse. If it is as simple as that, it does not make sense that Mr. Whitelaw should continue internment and that we should even contemplate introducing it down here.
Some Deputies are suspicious of this piece of legislation but I hope the Minister is being realistic about it— that he finds himself in a difficult position and there is no other way out. I hope that is so and we must accept what he says in relation to the condition of and damage done in Mountjoy, except that Deputies at a later stage may go along and find out for themselves. In the meantime, this piece of legislation is necessary. That we are introducing a sledgehammer to crack a nut I do not agree. There is one thing I would like to see as soon as possible, and in this way the Minister would be meeting the wishes of the vast majority of the Opposition, that is, the removal of this measure from the Statute Book.
Deputy Dowling says we must go all the way or not at all but I do not fully accept that. When legislation is introduced, it is only good legislation if it is passed by the majority of the House and when Deputies have had an opportunity to get their teeth into it and make amendments to it. I do not think we should dig our feet in and I would hate to think the Minister would do so but would try to meet the Opposition. In that way he will have the full support of the House for this legislation which he thinks is so necessary.
Deputy Moore rose.
It has been agreed that the Minister be called on at 11.30 to reply to the debate.
I have two minutes and I am not going to give a dissertation on democracy. I merely want to say publicly that I support the Bill which I think is necessary and I support the plea made by Deputy Dowling that the Minister would consider appointing a Committee of the House to visit the prisons and in this way demonstrate that the Minister, the Government and all who support them do not support the Bill for any vindictive reason but simply because they believe that democracy is on trial and we might well be faced with having to pay a much higher price in future unless steps are now taken. At the same time, we sympathise with the people who are suffering all over the country and we say that if this Bill will save the life of one Irish man or woman, it is quite justified. All people who believe in the democratic system will support the Bill and to bring up technicalities and to suggest that this is penal legislation is entirely wrong. It is brought about by the tragedy in our country and the Government, rightly, I believe, have decided to tighten the regulations in order not to penalise people but to bring home to those who are flouting the laws of the country that there is no future in their activity, that the vast majority of the people are determined that the democratic way of life will survive. Therefore I support the Bill in the belief that democracy will triumph over the present opposition and that eventually people will see the wisdom of both the Government and the Minister.
May I point out that there are many many other Deputies who wanted to speak on this Bill but, because of the rush of the Government, we have been prevented from having our say and putting forward our opinions on this very important piece of legislation at this stage.
Approximately 20 Deputies, or possibly a few more, have spoken on the Bill and these constitute a very large and representative number.
And many more would like to.
I doubt if there can be any valid complaints that all points were not put and put quite adequately. I think that on the whole it is fair to say that this debate was a responsible debate and while there were a lot of perhaps unnecessarily suspicious remarks and bitter personal remarks made, I am acquiring a growing tolerance which allows me to accept everything that is said in the spirit of making allowances for the necessity for an Opposition to be seen to oppose even when they know very well that what they are opposing is perfectly fair and valid and more or less what they would do if they were to act responsibly in government.
What I want to say first is that, to varying degrees, a number of Deputies opposite have found fault with me or with the Government that a riot took place in Mountjoy Jail on Thursday night last. Deputy FitzGerald went so far as to say that I should resign because that riot took place.
That would be the normal practice in other democratic countries.
If that were so I doubt if there would be a Minister for Justice in any country in the world who had not been called on to resign during the past few months. In France alone there have been seven serious riots in seven prisons and in the United States the riots have reached such a proportion that there were not only several but quite a number of deaths.
Surely we are not comparing our society with that of the US.
What happened in Cork?
The Minister must be allowed his time to reply.
He should go to the country.
While I accept full responsibility for the action or failure to act on the part of my servants there is nothing that they did or failed to do for which I could be reproached.
They are servants of the State, not of the Minister.
I have sat here for most of the five hours of this debate and during that time I did not interrupt anybody except to take a very minor part in Deputy Joseph Lenehan's jocose contribution.
I would be glad if I could have some time in which to reply to about 20 speeches, most of which were good and constructive. I see nothing in what my servants did or failed to do on Thursday night whereby I can be reproached because I cannot see that they fell down on the job in any way. Indeed, on the contrary—and I was there myself that night, the only Member of this House who was——
There were three or four others there.
——they acted splendidly and in many respects acted well beyond the call of duty. I am blamed that a riot took place in Mountjoy. By our standards, at any rate, there was a very serious riot there. I could have prevented a riot taking place in Mountjoy and I could give an assurance to this House now that no riot would ever take place again in any prison in this country while I am Minister for Justice but I will not do that because the means that I would have to use to ensure that and the means which I could have used during the past two years to ensure that there would not have been a riot would be so Draconian and so inhuman that not only would it be grossly unfair and over-penalise grossly the prisoners but it would not allow the slightest effort to be made towards their rehabilitation.
Whatever views may be expressed here tonight or in the country in the aftermath of the serious riot in Mountjoy Jail I have believed during the time that I have been Minister for Justice and, notwithstanding the riot of Thursday last I will continue to believe, that the reason that men are in jail in this or in any other civilised country is because we might seek to rehabilitate them. A very secondary consideration, even fourth perhaps in order of priorities, is that there should be an element of punishment in it and the only element of punishment that there should be in incarceration in a prison is a simple deprivation of liberty, liberty to go outside and to take part in normal affairs. While a man is inside and if he is to be rehabilitated he should have maximum freedom compatible with his rehabilitation and unless men in prison have a reasonable degree of freedom one cannot even hope to begin to rehabilitate them. On the contrary, if they are not given some reasonable degree of freedom and if some reasonable degree of trust is not imposed in them, not only will there be no possibility of rehabilitating them but they will be very much worse citizens on leaving prison.
The fact is that two things are not compatible; these are maximum security and reasonable rehabilitation. During the years we have endeavoured and, in particular, I have endeavoured during the past two years, to rehabilitate men to the best of our ability and of our resources, limited though they be. I have tried to do that in a way that is reasonably compatible with reasonable security in the prison and I can say that during the past two years in Mountjoy Prison as in all our other institutions, we have been reasonably successful in our primary efforts towards rehabilitation. I do not think it is an idle boast to say that in the past two years the facilities available in Mountjoy and in our other prisons have increased and improved very considerably.
They are gone now.
Does rehabilitation require an officer to march around carrying a master key?
On my first visit to the prison I endeavoured to do away with the old traditional industries that existed in prisons, probably since the last century. These were useless so far as rehabilitation was concerned and they lowered the dignity of the men who were supposed to be involved in them. We have introduced much more elaborate schemes of education and much more specialised psychology and psychiatry. Also, we have introduced trades into the prisons such as motor mechanics and modern printing which will give prisoners a genuine chance of getting a good and well-paid job on their discharge, unlike the sort of training which was traditional in our prisons.
I make no apology for having done that because I regard the rehabilitation of those men as my primary task and notwithstanding what happened last Thursday I will continue to regard it as such.
When one gets over the initial horror and shock of what I saw happen on Thursday night and Friday morning last, one's greatest regret in retrospect is not so much that men acted as they did, and that physical damage of such a nature was caused, but that all our efforts at rehabilitation and retraining and trying to give a new dignity to these men have been set at naught. That is the real tragedy of the aftermath of what happened and the worst thing that anybody in this House or outside it could do in the context of that situation is to suggest, as has been suggested widely here today by the Opposition, that security is the be-all and the end-all of our prisons. We have a very good security record in our prisons. The security that existed in them up to Thursday last was more than adequate for any normal type of prisoner or even groups of prisoners such as we have seen in our prisons in the last few decades but where there is a group of 40 determined men whose sole objective is to create havoc in a prison, no security except the most severe, will ensure with certainty that they will not create that havoc. Had I imposed, before last Thursday, the sort of security that would have ensured that that havoc and that destruction would not have happened, then it would not have been just those 40 men who caused it but also the 470 other men who did not cause it who would have suffered; their lives, their prospects and their whole chance of rehabilitation and retraining in prison would suffer and suffer drastically.
When I was last in Portlaoise, about six or eight weeks ago, I was speaking to the Governor and he told me about the very much more stringent security arrangements they had to enforce because he had 15 particularly dangerous criminals in his custody at a particular period. He said: "The depressing thing about this is not that we are put to this trouble but, because we have to do this, it makes life so unbearable for those who have been with us for so very long." They are men who have been four, six or eight years in prison, men who have built up a trust in and a friendship with the prison officers and they are trusted by the prison officers. No longer does that situation prevail. No longer can they trust. No longer is there any beneficial friendship because of the conditions that must now be imposed on all our prisons as a result of the activities of a certain group, conditions under which every one of our prisoners suffers and suffers grievously.
That was the choice with which I was faced. They are not going to make our prisons literally unbearable for everyone—remember, we have 1,075 prisoners at the moment—simply in order to ensure that there can be no danger of a riot or of destruction by a certain small group. I could not in conscience make that decision, a decision which would make life literally unbearable for over 1,000 men. Even in hindsight I could not do it. I would not do it again tomorrow because, as I said at the outset, above all else our dedication should be towards the rehabilitation of these men, towards training them and giving them the chance they did not, perhaps, get in the world outside.
It has been argued that I am at fault because I allowed a security system to exist whereby a master key could be taken from one prison officer and used to open all the prison cells. Deputy FitzGerald argued after this fashion tonight. He attributed his conclusion to an alleged statement made by me last week. In fact, I made no such statement. My recollection is that this was a theory which appeared in a speculative article in theIrish Independent of Saturday last. There is no foundation for it. No master key was taken from any prison officer. Three wings had been master locked at the time this riot started. One ordinary key was taken from an officer. It was used to open a limited number of cells in one wing and, these having been opened, the doors of a large number of cells in the other wings were broken or burst open.
Surely if a key opens a number of doors it is a master key?
It is, but it is limited to five or six cells.
Enough to release enough people to burst open the rest. The Minister admits it is true.
I most certainly do not admit it is true.
The Minister just has.
I most certainly do not admit it is true. It is impossible for any prison officer who has to lock up 510 prisoners, as was the case in Mountjoy last Thursday, to carry 510 separate keys. Indeed, I venture to suggest it would be a highly dangerous thing for that officer to do. One key opens and closes a limited number of cells and there is just no question of a situation such as that portrayed so graphically by Deputy FitzGerald and attributed to me, though I did not say it, as being true.
Deputy Dowling mentioned the question of allowing a visit by Deputies to Mountjoy. I am very glad he did because that is something I would welcome.
And the Curragh.
I welcomed the suggestion on previous occasions when it was made on the other side of this House.
The Minister would not allow Deputy Clinton in.
I got applications from two Deputies, Deputy Fitzpatrick of Meath. I immediately Bruton of Meath. I immediately replied that they were more than welcome to visit. Unfortunately, so far as I am aware, neither of them did visit Mountjoy. I make this offer again now. I issue this invitation and I would be glad if not alone Deputy Dowling but Deputies of all parties would at a convenient date visit Mountjoy.
And the Curragh.
I would suggest that Deputies would, as far as possible, come together because it would be more convenient for the prison staff to show a number of Deputies over the prison at the same time but, subject to that, they will be very welcome as soon as things have been straightened out.
Does that include the Curragh?
The Curragh is and will remain a matter entirely for the Minister for Defence. I have no reason whatever to think that the Minister for Defence will refuse anybona fide Deputy and I will use my good offices in requesting him to admit such Deputies. I do not see what members of the Labour Party have to sneer about. With the exception of Deputy Tunney no other Deputy in this House ever saw fit to visit our prisons and Deputy Tunney gave long service indeed as a member of the visiting committee. Recently, because of parliamentary duties, he has had to give up this work. It is regrettable that no other Deputy saw fit to visit our prisons.
Deputy Clinton and I tried on one occasion and we were refused by Deputy Lenihan; he was Minister for Justice at the time.
I have just been reminded that Deputy O'Connell visited Mountjoy.
I applied for permission to visit.
How many years ago was that?
Long before the Minister became Minister I applied.
Deputy Cruise-O'Brien in his contribution tonight appeared to support the Bill fairly strenuously, with some slightly irrelevant reservations.
I did not support the Minister.
I would not expect the Deputy to; if the Deputy supported me I would be in strange company. The Deputy referred, by implication more or less, to Deputies of this party who have, as he described it, sympathy with the Provisional IRA.
Not by implication, by direct reference.
He described the alleged connection of some members of this party with the Provisional IRA as an unholy alliance.
I deliberately did not interrupt Deputy Cruise-O'Brien, even though he said things which I knew were untrue.
Where are Deputy Blaney and Deputy Haughey tonight?
I want to make it clear that there is no alliance, holy or unholy, and no sympathy on the part of any man who sits in these benches with either the Provisional IRA or the Official IRA.
The Minister should not be codding himself.
When I say this I am very conscious of the fact that, in saying this, it is more than anyone can say for the Labour Party.
There is double talk and double thinking.
It was revealing to see Deputy Corish—and I felt sympathy for him—open for the Labour Party and declare at the end of his speech that as far as the Labour Party were concerned it was a free vote and all their Members would speak and vote according to their consciences.
Deputy Dr. O'Brien suggested that in some way in the administration of the law in relation to prisons there might be some unfairness to the Official IRA, as against the Provisional IRA. I wondered why. Then it struck me—and I think I can fairly say this because of the innuendoes against Members of this party—that this Bill was introduced by the Minister for Justice. It is clearly a Justice measure but we did not see or hear tonight from the spokesman of the Labour Party on Justice.
Because the Minister would not give him a copy of the Bill.
Perhaps the reason is that the last time he spoke in this House on my Estimate he spent a great deal of time criticising me and the Garda Síochána for affording protection to certain lorries plying on the export trade between Freshford, County Kilkenny and the Six Counties. He spent between 30 and 45 minutes telling me that it was unnecessary that the Garda should protect those lorries, that nobody associated with him or with the struggle there would do anything wrong.
The Minister is being very arrogant tonight.
On a point of order, the Minister has only seven minutes left; might I suggest that he deal with the Bill?
He is dodging it.
Some days after this had been debated here a man named Woods in Newry was shot through the legs and his supermarket blown up beyond repair; and before he was shot he was told that this was done because some of his lorries were used to go to Freshford, County Kilkenny, and that it was the policy of the IRA to support workers who were in dispute with their employers. I do not see that any further comment is needed.
The Minister has by implication accused workers and trade unions of being implicated in this act.
I accuse no such person. The Official IRA issued a statement accepting responsibility for this act.
On a point of order, the Minister has accused workers by implication of being implicated in this incident. It is a despicable——
Sheer bloody arrogance.
The Minister should be allowed to reply.
Deputy Corish, together with a number of other Deputies, inquired why people should be on remand so long. I think this inquiry is fair enough.
Would the Minister withdraw that accusation? By implication he has accused people I represent, workers and trade unionists, of Freshford, of being implicated——
I accuse the Official IRA of this act because they admitted responsibility for it.
But the Minister is connecting innocent workers in Freshford with this and putting a slur on trade unionists, a number of whom were locked out of work in Freshford.
The Minister is disgracing himself. It is no wonder that people riot when they have to listen to that kind of thing.
The Minister has only four minutes left.
We had some cases of persons being held for some months in the file of prisoners on remand. I want——
On a point of order, in the various speeches made tonight the Minister was asked as to whether he would agree to a time limit.
I am endeavouring to come to it.
It is about time you came to do something about the IRA.
Before coming to that I want to deal with the question of remands, because most of the prisoners in Mountjoy who were involved in this matter were, in fact, on remand. The first point in regard to it is that a very high proportion of them were in custody on remand of their own volition. They were there because they chose not to take bail which was offered to them, not because the bail was unobtainable but because, as a matter of principle, they decided they did not want to do it. The length of time for which they had been on remand is by no means excessive because in each court they come before, because of the fact that they are in custody even though it is of their own volition, they get priority in having their cases heard.
As regards the matter of a time limit in this Bill, I was surprised that this should be raised today because of the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) of section 2, which seem to have been ignored by Deputies opposite. One finds deep suspicion of motives read into almost any Bill one introduces nowadays without any reason for such motives existing. If I thought that it would be thought that I intended to keep this Bill or Act in force indefinitely I would have made it perfectly clear that there must be some time limit on it. I did not think that necessary. I thought subsection (1) of section 2 made that clear. I am prepared to approach this matter perfectly reasonably on the basis mentioned in my opening speech. Between now and tomorrow morning I am prepared to think up some amendment that would impose a time limit on it. The length of it I do not know: I would have to consult my advisers on that point.
There will be a Fine Gael amendment at which the Minister might look.
In view of the opinions expressed fairly widely in the House and in most cases quite genuinely I feel I should accede to those views and include some time limit. I did mention that the repair of Mountjoy would take at least 12 months and there is no doubt that, in fact, it will. One of the methods by which Mountjoy will have to be repaired goes beyond just patching up damage that was done. The roofs in Mountjoy at the moment are very un-satisfactory. Unfortunately, because of their unusual design they are very accessible to prisoners climbing up inside. We will have to ensure that that problem will not continue. For that reason it will be necessary to put a new flat roof on each of the wings, one by one. The roofs will have to be stripped down. The additional cost, while it will be considerable, will not be as considerable as it might otherwise have been. Because the wings will have to be re-roofed one by one, the work is going to take a fairly considerable period to complete. Certain rebuilding will have to be done inside the building, from a security point of view. Because Mountjoy will not be fully secure to the extent I would wish it to be for an appreciable period over 12 months, the time limit which it will be decided between now and tomorrow morning, to insert into this Bill, in deference to the wishes of Deputies, will have to take these points into account.
Many other points were made to which I would like to refer. Unfortunately, in a debate like this I am as restricted as the Deputies opposite who are not able to speak. I cannot deal with all the points, but perhaps I could deal with specific points at least on Committee Stage.
Could I ask the Minister a question now? Would the Minister not consider supervision from his Department over what is termed in the Bill "military custody"?
No. This military detention barracks which we are using at the Curragh is in the middle of a large military complex. It creates enormous problems if there is any question of divided responsibility. The Minister for Defence will be responsible for the custody of these prisoners and he, in turn, will be responsible to this House in the same way as I am responsible to the House for the custody of prisoners in a civil prison. Since it is ensured in this Bill that the regulations governing their custody in military custody will not be less favourable that what would obtain for them in civil custody and since the Minister for Defence is answerable to this House, I do not think anybody need have any fears in that regard.
The Minister does make the point about conditions being "less favourable". It is not clear in the Bill that this is so. The Bill does not ensure that conditions will be the same. Will the Minister look at that point?
The House has ordered that the question be put at 12 midnight.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Allen, Lorcan.
- Andrews, David.
- Barrett, Sylvester.
- Brennan, Joseph.
- Brennan, Paudge.
- Briscoe, Ben.
- Brosnan, Seán.
- Browne, Patrick.
- Browne, Seán.
- Burke, Patrick J.
- Burke, Richard.
- Byrne, Hugh.
- Carter, Frank.
- Childers, Erskine.
- Clinton, Mark A.
- Collins, Gerard.
- Conlan, John F.
- Connolly, Gerard C.
- Cooney, Patrick M.
- Corish, Brendan.
- Coughlan, Stephen.
- Cowen, Bernard.
- Creed, Donal.
- Cronin, Jerry.
- Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
- Cunningham, Liam.
- Davern, Noel.
- Delap, Patrick.
- Desmond, Barry.
- de Valera, Vivion.
- Dockrell, Henry P.
- Dockrell, Maurice E.
- Donegan, Patrick S.
- Dowling, Joe.
- Fahey, Jackie.
- Faulkner, Pádraig.
- Finn, Martin.
- FitzGerald, Garret.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
- Flanagan, Seán.
- French, Seán.
- Gallagher, James.
- Geoghegan, John.
- Gibbons, Hugh.
- Gibbons, James.
- Gogan, Richard P.
- Governey, Desmond.
- Healy, Augustine A.
- Cluskey, Frank.
- O'Connell, John F.
- O'Donovan, John.
- Barry, Peter.
- Belton, Luke.
- Boylan, Terence.
- Brady, Philip A.
- Herbert, Michael.
- Hillery, Patrick J.
- Hussey, Thomas.
- Jones, Denis F.
- Kavanagh, Liam.
- Kenneally, William.
- Kenny, Henry.
- Kitt, Michael F.
- Lalor, Patrick J.
- Lemass, Noel T.
- Lenehan, Joseph.
- Lenihan, Brian.
- L'Estrange, Gerald.
- Loughnane, William A.
- Lynch, Celia.
- Lynch, John.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- McLaughlin, Joseph.
- McMahon, Lawrence.
- MacSharry, Ray.
- Meaney, Thomas.
- Moore, Seán.
- Murphy, Michael P.
- Nolan, Thomas.
- Noonan, Michael.
- O'Connor, Timothy.
- O'Donnell, Tom.
- O'Hara, Thomas.
- O'Higgins, Thomas F.
- O'Kennedy, Michael.
- O'Leary, John.
- O'Leary, Michael.
- O'Malley, Des.
- O'Sullivan, John L.
- Pattison, Séamus.
- Power, Patrick.
- Ryan, Richie.
- Smith, Michael.
- Taylor, Francis.
- Timmins, Godgrey.
- Timmons, Eugene.
- Tully, James.
- Tunney, Jim.
- Wyse, Pearse.
- Sherwin, Seán.
- Thornley, David.
- Treacy, Seán.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Andrews and Meaney; Níl, Deputies Cluskey and Thornley.
Before the House adjourns may I inquire in what circumstances amendments may be submitted tomorrow morning?
What is the time limit?
I understand it has been arranged to accept amendments up to 1 o'clock this morning.
It had better be 9.30 in the morning.
Who decided that? The normal way to decide business in the House is through the Whips. Has there been a discussion?
You were informed that the amendment would be accepted up to that hour——
Informed by whom?
——and that the staff would remain on for the amendments.
Was there a Whips' discussion on it?
Inquiries have been made and we have been informed that amendments will be accepted as I have stated.
This just cannot be done. There is a procedure which must be adopted. I presume it was the Minister who decided this.
I did no such thing.
Could you say, Sir, if the normal procedure can be adopted and amendments be accepted up to some time tomorrow morning?
Half past nine tomorrow morning.
What is wrong with 10.30?
As the Bill is being taken at 10 o'clock it is under-standable that the amendments must be in before 10.
If Deputies arrive at, say, 9.31 with amendments, is that all right? In other words, they will not be locked out for the sake of a minute or two?
Amendments will be accepted until 9.30 a.m.
The Dáil adjourned at 12.25 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 24th May, 1972.