Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Bill, 1986: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

Before moving the Adjournment of the debate — I had been speaking immediately after Deputy Woods — and at the beginning of my contribution I relied on my memory in referring to the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976 which Deputy Woods was holding up to high praise here as being an adequate mechanism for joint suppression of terrorism. He said it had enjoyed the support of all sides and was an obviously fair system. My recollection was correct; that legislation was bitterly opposed by his party in 1975. The Second Stage was passed by the narrow margin of 69 votes to 67. Deputy Lynch led the Opposition to it as Leader of Fianna Fáil. He wanted the Dáil to decline to give a Second Reading to a Bill which Deputy Woods is praising on the basis that it is good enough for the suppression of terrorism and makes the measure before the House redundant. Deputy Lynch's objection was on the grounds, as he put it, that the Bill did not contain a provision for an all-Ireland court, was unworkable and inconsistent with Ireland's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and, if you do not mind, was repugant to the Constitution in that it contravened Articles 3 and 38. That information can be found at column 1706, Volume 285 of the Official Report of 20 November 1975.

I do not want to make a great point of it because it could have been a slip of Deputy Woods's recollection, but that was an acrimonious debate. I was the Taoiseach's Parliamentary Secretary and Government Whip at the time. I participated in the debate, out of as well as in order. The debate descended to the point when words like "West Briton", "Redmondite" and so on were flung around. Ostensibly, it was being conducted by the then Opposition, the present Opposition, on the basis that they had no sympathy with violence — we were inclined to accept it — and they had this and that nit to pick on the Bill. In other words, they wanted on the one hand to be able to say they were against violence as much as we but on the other hand they wanted to keep their place in the continuous relay of the race, running themselves at a certain remove from the lads. They put all the obstacles they could in the way of the Government, but 11 years later that Bill has got the plaudits of Deputy Woods because there is another Bill on which he can take the same attitude.

We are all against terrorism and I unreservedly accept that Deputy Woods means that, but just the same the tradition to which he belongs requires him to pick every nit he can find and every hole he can find over and above that which the duty of an Opposition spokesman requires. If he and his party were half as eloquent in and out of season in condemning violence and trying to give a lead to people to dissociate themselves, even emotionally, from people who commit violence and who tout for violence as they are in picking holes in the Government's flesh and blood in their efforts to do something about it, that party in general would be more impressive.

Before the Adjournment I told the legal story of extradition in cases of political offences and I told the House that the Supreme Court in a number of cases in the eighties cut the Gordian knot of the so-called obstacle in international law for extradition for political offences. Effectively, the court said:

Whether international law contains a general principle which forbids a State to extradite people charged with politically motivated offences or not there are certain offences of so barbarous a character, so cruel and inhuman, that they are not entitled to the dignity of such a description. They are not entitled to the association which the word ‘political' would give them. So whatever international law would say about political offences in the context of extradition, this offence will not get the benefit of it because it is too low to be called a political offence in any defensible understanding of the word.

It is not the first time in living memory that the Supreme Court has been left to do things which the legislature had left undone. The court took that bull by the horns, just as in the seventies it had to do in Mrs. McGee's case in regard to contraception what this House had been too holy to do earlier and remains too holy to do in this decade.

I recognise the court's argument and sympathise with it — I have an instinctive feeling for it as others have — but as I said before the Adjournment, I cannot believe it is a satisfactory position in the long run, legally speaking, because sooner or later the court will be up against and faced squarely with the problem of constructing a statutory definition of the concept of a legal offence. Parliament will not be fair and will not make sense unless it inserts some motive or some intention behind the offence.

You cannot necessarily conclude anything with certainty about the motive for a particular act of violence even though the circumstantial evidence might be compelling. If a bomb is put in the boot of a car and there is an anonymous telephone call to a police station, and the district has to be cleared and if before it is cleared the bomb goes off and murders unfortunate policemen, the evidence is compelling or as good as compelling that there was some kind of twisted political motive behind the offence. But in the case of a particular defendant who denies the offence and whom the law does not require to say anything about it, how can we fix on that defendant any conclusion about this state of mind or the motivation behind the offence? In the first place, he has not been convicted of committing the offence by definition because his extradition is sought into another jurisdiction where he can be put on trial. That person has not even been put on trial and the sheer physical authorship of the offence has not been brought home to him. Until it is, and even then until he perhaps says something in defence of himself by reference to his motives, one cannot with certainty say that it is a politically motivated offence.

I say with respect, as one must do when offering any critique of a judgment of a court, that I think in the long run that it will be an unsatisfactory situation for the State to have to reply on. Sooner or later the court will come up against the problem of how to observe objectively a set of facts, a bomb exploding or somebody found with his body riddled with bullets, and have to say that is a political offence. How can that be done unless one knows something of the state of mind which inspired it, and how can one know that until one has got to know the person whom one has succeeded in convicting of the offence?

Needless to say, that difficulty is not peculiar to us. It can operate anywhere. Therefore, the only way to deal with this sort of thing is to take a short cut, to characterise certain categories of offence which typically tend to be politically motivated, but not to characterise whole categories of offences as ones which are automatically excluded from the political offence category for extradition purposes. I do not think there is any other way to do it. There may be one case in ten or in 100 in which we could extradite somebody wrongly or in which we will fail to extradite somebody who should been extradited, but the problem about motivation is insoluble unless the person who has been arrested admits the offence and says: "Yes, but I was a member of the IRA, or the UDA". I do not think it can be done in any other way. A person who is arrested may say: "Yes, it was I who shot so and so, who put a bomb in this or that place, but I believe in liberating the six north-eastern counties by force, that has been a political tenet of mine all my life and was at the time I committed the offence and, therefore, I come under the defence of the political offence umbrella". That, of course, might enable one to come to a conclusion about the motive behind the offence. It puts the accused person in the position that he has admitted the offence. In other words, he has owned up in order to benefit from the political offence exemption. One has to forego one's chance of defending oneself against the substance of the charge by admitting it. Needless to say, not many people are in that category, but one of the persons in those eighties cases was in that category and owned up and gave a political motive as the explanation. In the long run there probably is no other satisfactory way to deal with this thing than not to bother about the motivation by selecting categories of offence in which one can assume with a fair degree of probability — we are all fallible — certain things about the motives behind the committing of the offence. These would be deeds of an intolerably violent type and we could simply exclude them from the benefit of the political offence description. That is what the Minister has sought to do, and even if there were no such thing as the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Hillsborough Accord, we could hold up our heads and fairly say that we were willing to cooperate and go along with other western European democracies in taking this line. Even if there never had been an Anglo-Irish Agreement, even if we had no special problem in the North, I think this is a defensible and reasonable way to go about the suppression of terrorism which is a notoriously and internationally practised evil. In general I support the measure.

There is of course another reason why I think that we ought to get away from the idea that in the case of an offence that was politically motivated the perpetrator should be entitled to some privilege, the privilege of non-extradition, which other offenders do not have. I simply cannot see that people who are charged with acts of inhuman savagery, cold blooded butchery, should enjoy a privilege which a common or garden embezzler, or a common or garden forger, or common or garden defrauder of his employer or someone he is doing business with, does not enjoy. I cannot see the justice of the system — and I believe the ordinary layman would see the point too — whereby if I embezzle in the North £1,000 from my employer, or if I forge some kind of an instrument in the North whereby I achieve some unfair or illegal advantage, or if I defraud somebody that I am in a business partnership with, I can be sent back over the Border but if I put a bomb in a supermarket or set fire to a disco, or if I go into a public house and rake it with machine gun fire, I am somehow entitled to a privilege which the embezzler or the forger does not have. I cannot see why my deed should be vested with the dignity of a political offence which privileges me in some way and may even lead to me not being prosecuted at all.

That is a fairly general reflection but I want to make a few more specific ones relating to the Constitution. One of them has been made in the Supreme Court in the most recent of these cases, when it said that it could not admit or allow the political offence privilege, whatever it is, to operate to the benefit of somebody who, by his own avowal, was dedicated to the overthrow of this Constitution by force and the objects of whose own organisation included the overthrow of this State by force. For a State to accord a privilege of this kind to somebody, the reason for whose claim of privilege is that he intends to subvert and destroy the whole State here, would be a piece of lunatic Quixotery. I will go further than the court has gone and say that to accord a privilege of this kind, over and above the sort of treatment which an ordinary or common or garden embezzler or someone accused of an indecent assault or something of that kind would have, to somebody who has murdered innocent people conflicts, and plainly conflicts, with several of the values which are explicitly established and guaranteed in our Constitution. One does not have to go any further than the preamble to the Constitution in which the Irish people are made to speak with their own voice:

We, the people of Éire,

This is what the people of Ireland say:

seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured,

How are we assuring the dignity and freedom of an individual if such an individual, on our own territory, according to Article 2 of this very same document, can with impunity, because of the operation of a rule like this, be blasted to pieces, his children and wife left sorrowing and the country demoralised and shamed by the photographs of heartbroken children in the paper every day? Is that assuring the dignity and freedom of the individual? How much will we give for a legal privilege which privileges someone accused of a deed like that far above the common or garden customer who embezzles or defrauds? The Irish people, out of their mouth, commit themselves to protecting the dignity and the freedom of the individual, and if they do not make sure that anything in the nature of a privilege is denied to people who commit the worst of crimes, they have made a joke of their own Constitution. Article 40 deals with personal rights. Article 40.3.1 declares that the State guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen. Article 40.2 provides that:

The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name and property rights of every citizen.

Every citizen means virtually everyone in this island, as I was saying before lunch. Where is the vindication there if somebody accused of murdering not just one but a whole rake of people in one foul incident is privileged in a way that somebody whose crimes have been non-violent is not privileged? Where is the vindication of life there which is the primary personal right? Where is the righting of the injustice there?

I say all that even though I began by saying something which may seem inconsistent with the amount of feeling I have worked myself into, namely that I, like everybody else, essentially would have cold feet about not dealing with an offender myself and handing him into the hands of somebody else to deal with. I would far prefer we had a system of an all-Ireland jurisdiction, or if the system we created in 1976 worked well. But since it is not working and since we are open to the destructive reproach, quite unjustly and maliciously, that we afford a bolthole and a refuge for murderers, we have no option but to go some distance — and we are going quite a long distance as Deputy Woods is right to point out — to try to disarm those suspicions. We have a respectable vehicle for doing so by reason of the fact that the European Convention, springing from the Council of Europe of which we were one of the originating members, has found it possible to get this convention on its feet supported by the majority of civilised western European countries. It is disagreeable and I would far sooner we did not have to do this. I would far sooner we had a system which saved us this bitter necessity. But I do not see that we have, and so we must do it.

I have two reservations to make about it. I do not mean to make difficulties for the Minister, but having said so much I do not want to sit down without adding a couple of words of reservation about this measure. While I understand the Minister's point that the requirement of a prima facie case is not normal in European extradition arrangements, nevertheless there is a certain substance in the point of view which Deputy Woods articulated, and I had it in mind to say something of the kind myself. I can see the objections from the police point of view in being asked to present in every particular case a complete dossier of their own proofs to a foreign jurisdiction. I can see the objections of that kind and there may be other objections that I have not thought of but I do think the Minister would do well to look at this Bill to see whether he could go some distance towards meeting Deputy Woods' point and mine, namely, that we have not had a uniformly good experience with Northern Ireland courts and police procedures. I will not be any more inflammatory that that. I think we are entitled, before we operate this Act, to have as concrete assurances as the Minister can get — whether built into the Act or given to him on the side, but in some form that he can regard as adequate — that when the extradition of someone is sought from here it will be on grounds which will substantiate the successful bringing of a charge. There were two cases here in the last few years — and Deputy Woods mentioned one in particular — in which people, on warrants issued in the North, were brought before the courts here, sent back by the Supreme Court by the operation of the principle which I have just tried to explain, and then, subsequently, and in one of these cases after a very long delay, were acquitted by the Diplock court in Belfast because of the indequacy of evidence. You cannot expect a police authority to be able to guarantee that a certain volume of evidence will suffice for a conviction. No police force in the world can do that, but evidence which is no better evidence than what a police force expect to be able to extract by way of confession from a extradited person once they have him in their grip is not evidence on which I would willingly consent to or consent to at all, to extradite someone from this jurisdiction.

A point that Deputy Woods did not make is that one of these cases was that of an arrest which was effected by the Garda here only after a bitter gun battle in which, thank God, there were no fatalities but there might easily have been. It is not good enough to expect our police to expose themselves to death, which they do bravely and unhesitatingly and have done for 64 years, in order to apprehend someone to send him over the Border to a jurisdiction in which there is not enough evidence on hand to make a case against him stand up even before a one judge court, let alone a jury court.

I do not want to be inflammatory about it. I know the Minister has the problem of trying to reconcile his instincts, which I am sure are much the same as my own in this matter, with his praiseworthy efforts, which I support, to put some substance into the Anglo-Irish Agreement, but there will be an expression of dissatisfaction, of warning, of admonition from this Government if this Bill becomes law that we will not tolerate the operation of this system in such a way that the police here are exposed to physical risk in making an arrest in order to send someone over the Border who, when he gets there, cannot be convicted even in a single judge court. Needless to say, a similar thing applies if there could be any question of falling below acceptable standards of propriety in police behaviour in the North or in the judicial procedures there. I appreciate there have been visible improvements in these areas; they are too delicate for me to wish to tread with a firm step on, and I will say no more about them than that.

While what we are doing in this Bill is to delay the coming into force of the law until 1 June and subject it to the possibilities of resolutions in the Dáil and Seanad, the Minister might hint in whatever way the Government think diplomatically possible to the authorities on the far side of the Border that the Oireachtas which passed this Bill can just as easily suspend it again. While I have said what I have said about the need for a measure of this kind and how I support it, I would not support it if it turned out that people were being sent over the Border and were not treated there as well as they would be treated whether by police or by courts in our own jurisdiction. I do not want to go into more detail about that. I do not want to say anything wounding or offensive, and I have no reason or knowledge which would make me apprehend that it would be so. The House in passing this measure should emphasise that it reserves to itself the right to review how the thing works and that the same authority by which the Bill may now be made into law may just as easily unmake it in the future if the standards which we are entitled to demand and expect are not met.

Deputy Kelly has gone to the kernel of the various problems pertaining to this Bill. Even though the Bill is entitled the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Bill, it is impossible to discuss it in a context other than the State in which we live and the problems pertaining to Northern Ireland. I am sure I speak for all representatives in this House when I say that I have no ambivalence towards terrorism or the use of physical force to attain what most people on this side of the Border want, a Thirty-two County united Ireland.

However, we cannot discuss this Bill in a rational manner and look upon it as just an extradition Bill because impinging on it all the time is the overhanging problem of the past 17 years and the terrible atrocities that have been committed in the name of "Irish nationalism" and "republicanism". If that problem was not there and had not been there for the past 60 years and we were not tied by our history and upbringing of the past 800 years, I do not think that any Government would bring in a Bill such as the one we have today which is very restrictive and illiberal. Therefore, we must discuss the Bill in the context of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, as the Minister has pointed out, but in particular of the problems facing us regarding the atrocities that have been committed in the past 17 years.

In all that time regarding the Northern Ireland problem the UK Government have on innumerable occasions pressed that security on this side of the Border is not adequate and if only they had extradition then all security matters could be resolved. After the Sunningdale Agreement in 1974 the Government decided to bring in the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill because we were not prepared to bring in extradition as such. The matter has proceeded; we have the Anglo-Irish Agreement and now the Government bring in this Bill which could be classified as an extradition treaty with the UK and we are enacting it under the provisions of the convention which was ratified by the Council of Europe in 1977.

I will not say we are being dishonest but we may be tampering with the real facts. We are discussing all this in the context of the suppression of terrorism while really we are talking about the problem we have had in this State with extradition of fugitives whom the UK Government wish to bring back to their mainland or to Northern Ireland. We bring in this Bill in an abnormal situation. The problem is that we are going to put on our Statute Book a Bill which is to deal with all extradition offences with any of the countries named or with any other country the Minister for Foreign Affairs may designate in the future. As a principle we should not put Bills through this Oireachtas which do not stand up to the real test and the real questions.

Like Deputy Kelly, I have serious reservations about this Bill. The danger is that when you try to make a case pointing out the flaws of this Bill everyone in the State thinks of only one matter, namely, extradition. They think of all the atrocities that have been committed with which very few people in this part of the country agree. Less than 2 per cent of the population would agree with them at any one time, but when you try to point out the flaws in a Bill such as this you are in danger of being regarded, as a journalist used to say in the seventies, as a member of the Provisional IRA or you are accused of being ambivalent towards violence. That constrains a number of Deputies and public representatives from ever speaking about matters such as this. They feel that by doing so their attitude to physical force would be questionable. I am prepared to leave myself open because I am very concerned about this Bill. If the atrocities of the past 17 years were not to the forefront of our minds this Bill would not be before us. It is a most illiberal Bill and it inhibits civil liberties. I utterly condemn atrocities committed by the Provisional IRA, the INLA, the UVF or any other organisation. I recognise that we want to be seen to be good Europeans and to play our part in the suppression of international terrorism but it is important not to put flawed legislation on the Statute Book.

This legislation effectively does away with political offences. Political motivation will no longer be a defence against an extradition warrant. I am not talking just about extradition warrants to and from the UK and Northern Ireland but about extradition warrants from any other signatories. We should forget about Northern Ireland and the UK and look at what this Bill is really setting out to do. As far as I can see the Bill does not mention the UK or Northern Ireland. This Bill is to recognise the convention agreed by the Council of Ministers in January 1977 which we ratified in the past couple of months. The Bill has a range of sections which effectively wipe out the concept of a political offence. We should look at the concept of political offence and ask ourselves why there has been a long established precedent in most democracies that one cannot extradite for political offences. The 1957 European Convention on Terrorism specifically excluded political offences or an offence connected with a political offence in relation to extradition. Why, 30 years later should we change that concept? The 1977 convention was passed in response to a spate of hijackings and international terrorism which had become an abnormal feature of life in the seventies and that is why the concept of a political offence is under threat. Under Article 13 of the January 1977 convention there is a reservation clause which can be enacted by any State who ratified the convention. It is strange that we decided not to invoke Article 13.

I understand the Minister's problems because he is dealing not only with European suppression of terrorism but with the issue of the faulty extradition procedures we have and the problems we have had over a long number of years in relation to extraditing suspects to or from Britain. This Bill gives effect to the provisions of the 1977 convention without any reservations. I know the Minister and his Department have difficulties in trying to introduce legislation which will effectively make extradition easier between here and the UK but they are doing so under the aegis of the European Convention which gives an escape clause to any State.

Deputy Kelly questioned why we should call criminal offences anything other than criminal offences. I can appreciate the Deputy's reasoning and the potency of his argument as to why an embezzler or other criminal should not be put into a different category than a person who might have committed a heinous crime with perhaps the loss of dozens of lives. Why should one person escape the law and the other cannot? I acknowledge that there is logic in the Deputy's case but we in this island for the most part are prisoners of our historical background. I admire people who can look at things more objectively than I can but although I consider myself as being pretty rational about Irish history, I am sure I have been influenced by an historical perspective on things, a perspective which has been ingrained in me since I was a small child and nurtured by the unusual education system that operated here in the fifties and sixties. However there are good reasons why political offences were always excluded for extradition purposes in most democracies. Whether or not we like it if this legislation were on the Statute Book from 1916 to 1921 the forebears of Deputy Kelly, Deputy Andrews and others who have a greater historical political background than myself would have been extradited to Britain from wherever they might have been in Europe. I know that it is not appropriate in the late 1980s to resurrect these old chestnuts but there is a certain ambivalence on all sides of this House about that era in our history. We might as well recognise that ambivalence and acknowledge that we are all prisoners of that past and of the past 800 years. The Minister and I are nearly the same age and he went to the same type of school as I did. We were all indoctrinated about deeds of Irish patriots. We all learned songs which would be banned now. They were taught as poems.

There has been a great change in the past 17 years. We all shouted "Up the Republic" in the seventies until we turned on our television sets and saw people being scraped into bags as a result of deeds done in our name. We had to think about these matters a little more objectively and rationally. Some years ago people in pubs would sing republican songs and, after five or six pints, the customers would want to rush across the Border and shoot everyone on sight. They were referred to as Guinness republicans. Of course there is an ambivalence in our attitude towards the events of the last 800 years. Some of the people fighting for what they term freedom see themselves as the legitimate inheritors of that tradition and it is very hard to shake off that mentality.

In classifying a political offence we must have regard to the decision given by Chief Justice O'Higgins. Our definition of a political offence tends to be subjective. The Supreme Court said that a political offence is something that is not regarded as normal political activity. However, what is normal today may not be acceptable in 30 years' time. What we looked upon as normal political activity 60 years ago is not relevant today. If the decision of Chief Justice O'Higgins was to be applied all the time, no act in the name of Irish nationalism over the past 800 years could be regarded as a political offence and would warrant a person being extradited. It is outrageous intellectual snobbery for any State in modern Europe to tell those in countries which are not democratically run that they have no right to express their views in whatever way they choose. For example, South Africa is not a signatory to the European Convention but, if it had been, we would be telling the African National Congress that they would not be recognised. You could apply the same analogy to Kenya and Jomo Kenyatta who was a freedom fighter. If, 30 years ago, Kenyatta had come to Ireland and the UK wanted to extradite him we would have had to send him back under the terms of this Bill. We cannot decide what is right for everybody else. Political offences have always been looked upon differently because they were not always classified as offences. Under the Act dealing with extradition in 1965 they were classified differently and most European countries also regarded such offences as different from others.

I am not prepared to superimpose my views on people in other countries as everyone must make up his or her own mind. As Deputy Kelly pointed out, it depends on a person's intent whether his actions are regarded as a political offence. I have the utmost admiration for Deputy Kelly's speeches and the eloquence and sincerity with which he delivers them. I can see the logic of his argument in regard to political offences and he makes the case that the only acceptable resistance to any regime is passive. That is a very potent argument but I do not subscribe to it. People sincerely believe that argument but if there had never been any other resistance, we would still be living under imperialism and half the countries in the world would be living in slavery. It is all right to advocate passive resistance from the snug atmosphere of a Twenty-six County State which is free in the sense that we can say as we please, march on the streets and protest against taxes or anything else. We enjoy the freedom and independence of the courts and we have a free parliament with elections held as often as we like. That applies to our European neighbours also but it is not the case for many other countries. Those who say that passive resistance is the only way to achieve freedom have been proved wrong by history.

The 1965 Extradition Act specifically excluded political offences. The next most relevant decision was that given by Mr. Justice Finlay in 1974 when an extradition case came before him. The defence was that the person should not be extradited because it was a political offence. Chief Justice Finaly summed up in a far better way than I have been trying to do in the past 20 minutes when, while dismissing an extradition request for a woman charged with the murder of three British soldiers, he said that there could be no doubt that murder, even such a dastardly murder as that described in that case, if carried out by an organisation which by such methods sought to overthrow the government of a country by force, was a political offence.

As Deputy Kelly rightly pointed out, what had to be taken into account was the intent of the person who committed the offence. Since one of the objectives of the organisation to which the person in that extradition case belongs was to overthrow the government of a state by force then the intent clearly was political. Deputy Kelly was also right to point out that the intent will always have to be looked at.

The decision of Chief Justice O'Higgins in 1972 stood all previous decisions regarding extradition more or less on their heads. He said that judicial standards had been rendered obsolete by modern terrorist violence and the test he put forward on what constituted a political offence was the question of what reasonable civilised people would regard as normal political activity. That is a very subjective argument. It may be a reflection of what we in this nice litle cosy State of ours regard as legitimate normal political activity but it is because we are conditioned by the society we now live in that we are able to form that perspective.

With respect to the Supreme Court decision it stands logic on its head. As Deputy Kelly has pointed out, the court system has moved with the times and has overturned decisions which they would not have overturned 15 to 20 years ago. The Deputy instanced rightly the McGee case on contraception. The decision in that case was a result of the fact that the mores of 30 to 40 years ago had changed. I do not think it would be a good basis for extradition proceedings in the future if the decision in 1982, which related to the McGlinchey case, was to be taken as a precedent for the future in respect of all extradition cases.

Under this Bill any offence could be classified as political because it brings in the use of firearms etc. When the crossbow was invented it was regarded as the most dangerous weapon of that time. It would be laughed at today in terms of any conventional type war weapon. It would not measure up to any standard. To commit an offence with a crossbow at that time would have been described as a barbaric act: not so now.

We have to look at the reasons for this legislation. There is a quid pro quo arrangement with the United Kingdom arising from the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The Minister did not put it in as blunt as terms as that but I compliment him for putting this aspect into his speech. It is obvious to everyone that the reason this legislation is being put through in what I submit are the dying days of the Government is to honour a commitment which was given with regard to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. We are proceeding with undue haste to put this Bill on our statute books. What I would prefer is that the Bill would be referred to an all-party committee of the House who after some months of deliberation could be expected to come up with what they considered to be the best possible Bill.

Perhaps the Minister might tell me if there is an agreement between the United Kingdom Government and our Government that if we enact this legislation they will end the Diplock courts? The Taoiseach implied in his speech in London last week that this may be so. I presume that is the reason there is a delay with regard to the commencement date. The Bill will not come into effect until 30 June next year. I would also like the Minister to say if we may take it that if the United Kingdom does not suspend or replace the Diplock courts we will not make an order on 30 June 1987 to effect this Bill? I would also like the Minister to state whether the British Government have promised, if we enact this legislation to deliver on their side of the bargain? The House is entitled to that information.

The Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976 generated much heated debate in this Parliament. I was not a Member of this House at that time but I read a lot about that Act. Its introduction arose out of the Sunningdale Agreement. Why was an extradition treaty not agreed with the British Government at that time and the idea of a political offence scrapped? I submit that the Taoiseach at that time, Mr. Cosgrave, would not agree under any circumstances to extradition for political offences. The present Minister was not a member of the Cabinet at that time but it would have been as easy then to depoliticise an offence as it is now. It was not done at that time because the then Government, who were not a Fianna Fáil Government, would not agree to extradition for political offences. I submit that they would not agree to this for some of the good reasons I have outlined here and probably for a lot more besides. The Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976, was a major step forward in relation to these types of crime. As Deputy Kelly pointed out, it was extradition by the back door. That is how it was preceived. The then Government were not prepared to go the whole hog and have extradition per se for political offences.

That Act has only been used on a limited number of occasions. The Government of that time were under severe pressure to bring in an extradition procedure with the UK. For ten years the British Government have said that if there was extradition for political offences there would be greater security. There are ample provisions under the 1976 Act under which suspects can be tried but it has never been used. When this Bill is passed the 1976 Act may as well be scrapped. It will just lie dormant. There is no need for this legislation as there are ample provisions which could be used in the 1976 Act.

Deputy Woods made a strong case for prima facie evidence to be established here but the Minister contends that because of the 1957 European Convention it is not possible to introduce that now. He said we could not now propose a prima facie requirement even if we wanted to unless we were prepared to withdraw from the 1957 convention and abandon the arrangements for extradition between us and the countries of continental Europe. I submit the Minister is incorrect.

Article 3 of the 1977 convention states that the provisions of all extradition treaties and arrangements applicable between contracting States, including the European Convention on Extradition, are modified as between contracting States to the extent that they are incompatible with that convention. Under that article that convention overrides the 1957 Convention and that is not consistent with what the Minister said. I cannot reconcile what the Minister says with the provisions of Article 3. Under Article 13, which is a general reservation clause, any State has power to make any kind of changes it so wishes and to bring in the prima facie requirement Deputy Woods spoke about. The arguments put forward by the Minister do not stand up.

The 1982 Supreme Court decision by Justice O'Higgins was very subjective. The case he was dealing with was that involving Dominick McGlinchey. At the end of the day he was extradited on the basis that he could be tried for the murder of Miss MacMullen. Although the British Government were very anxious to have him charged with other offences it was specifically agreed that he could only be tried for that offence. After a year he was acquitted of those charges and sent back to this jurisdiction to face the more serious charges relating to the time of his capture. Under this Bill Dominick McGlinchey could have been charged on any number of offences when extradited. When the decision was made to extradite him he could only be tried on the basis of the warrant which was executed here and which related to a specific offence. When this Bill is enacted it will contain no such provision. A person could be tried for any number of offences. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent that and it is a serious omission. It strengthens the case for prima facie evidence to be established in our courts before a person is extradited.

The UK do not extradite people unless a prima facie case is established. I understand they now propose to change that legislation. They expect us to enact a Bill which has no safeguards at all even though they have had safeguards for many years.

Not in relation to us.

There was a different procedure in relation to us but with every other country with which they have extradition arrangements that was the case. The UK Government expect us to have some kind of draconian measure in relation to extradition — I realise it is related to the problems in the North — which they do not have themselves. We will end up with a most draconian measure. It is not good enough to have that kind of legislation. We will be dealing with 21 or more European countries who are members of the Council of Europe. It is not good enough to enact legislation which is seriously flawed.

When the extradition of a person is sought the system of justice in the requesting country and the chances the person has of getting a fair trial there should be looked at. Obviously, in the recent past the record of the administration of justice to Irish people charged in the United Kingdom has not been good.

Debate adjourned.