Amendment No. a1. Before Deputy O'Malley moves his amendment, may I say that amendments Nos. a1, 3, 7, 8 and 9 are related and if the House agrees we can debate them together.
Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Bill, 1986: Committee Stage.
On the list of amendments you are talking about the substitute amendment. Is that right?
The substitute amendment is in the name of Deputy O'Malley, which is amendment No. a1.
Amendment No. 8 is a different matter. It deals with Part III of the Extradition Act, 1965, whereas the other amendments deal primarily with Part II of the Extradition Act, 1965.
You are suggesting that amendments Nos. a1, 3, 7 and 9 be discussed together, if that is agreed?
Amendment No. 8 should be separate.
We are not taking amendment No. 8, is that right?
No, it has been agreed.
I move amendment No. a1:
In page 2, before section 1, to insert the following new section:
"1.—The following section is hereby substituted for section 22 of the Act of 1965—
‘22.—(1) Where extradition is requested for the purpose of proceeding against any person, to whom this section applies, for an offence, the requesting country shall produce signed statements of witnesses, which, if the person were being prosecuted for a similar or corresponding offence under the laws of the State in respect of an act committed in the State, would be required to be tendered at a preliminary examination before a Justice of the District Court, in order that an order returning the person for trial on indictment might be made.
(2) An order for committal under section 29 of this Act shall not be made unless the Justice is satisfied on the basis of the said statements and other documents that the person claimed would be returned for trial in the State if the offence had taken place in the State.
(3) This section applies to persons who are Irish citizens and to any other persons to whom the relevant extradition provisions provide that it shall apply.'."
Amendment No. 8 appears on the list of amendments as amendment No. 6 but due to the manoeuvrings that went on in the past day or two it became necessary for me to play the same game. As a result, amendment No. 6 becomes amendment No. a1. It is the kernel of the amendments to this Bill because it sets forward, by way of substitution for section 22 of the Extradition Act, 1965, the necessity for the introduction into law of the establishment of a prima facie case in respect of a request for the extradition of an Irish citizen from this State. In order that we understand this and in view of statements made by the Minister for Justice in the past week or two which might well be misleading to people who do not know the details of it, I want to draw the attention of the House to the terms of section 14 of the Extradition Act, 1965. It provides that extradition shall not be granted where a person claimed is a citizen of Ireland. It goes on to qualify that in a limited way by saying, unless the relevant extradition provisions otherwise provide. Basically, our law is that we do not extradite our own citizens. That is the basis from which we are starting.
The Minister argued on Second Stage and elsewhere outside the House that if we were to bring in in any way a requirement of a prima facie case to be shown in respect of somebody whose extradition is sought from here, we would be turning the whole law and practice of the entirety of Europe — he almost said the entirety of the whole civilised world — on its head. He said everyone is moving away from this requirement. I must emphasise the provisions of section 14 of the 1965 Act in order to show what our law is. In addition it is necessary to point out that a lot of other states in Europe have the same provision in their law as our section 14 of the 1965 Act. The reason is that it exactly reflects Article 6 of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition. Unlike us who have not availed in practical terms of our perfect right not to extradite our own citizens about half of the countries of Europe have exercised that right not to extradite their own citizens. Nobody says boo to them and the Minister for Justice seems to entirely ignore them.
The Progressive Democrats in their amendment are proposing what I think is a happy medium between those two extremes and I hope the House will agree with that. We are not refusing to extradite our own citizens although many of our partners in Europe refuse, but what we are saying is that we will extradite our own citizens subject to a condition. The condition I am asking the House to write into the Bill is one that a prima facie case should be shown against the person whose extradition is sought. We feel that is necessary because, as is well known, there are judicial processes and have been cases over recent years in Britain, for example — where a lot of people extradited from here go — which are very unsatisfactory, to say the least of it. There are serious doubts here and in Britain about the propriety of the convictions of a whole series of Irish defendants, the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, the Maguire family and their various associates. They were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment having been convicted of terrorist-related crimes and about whose convictions there are very substantial doubts at all levels of society in Britain. Hopefully, the Home Secretary in Britain will look into these cases yet again with a view to seeing if justice can be achieved.
It is in that context as far as Britain is concerned, and in the context of a whole series of unsatisfactory court cases in Northern Ireland, that we put forward our amendment. By anyone's standards those court cases in Northern Ireland were unsatisfactory. There were convictions of huge numbers of defendants — in one case as many as 36 at the one time — all on the evidence of one person, a self-confessed co-conspirator of theirs and who was described by the judge who subsequently relied on his evidence to convict those people as somebody in whose credibility nobody could have any confidence. However, convictions took place not just in that case but in a series of other similar cases.
It would be a matter for the district justice here to evaluate the value of the prima facie statements. Even if it were of no value in those supergrass type cases the fact that all those convictions took place in those circumstances is a sign of an attitude of mind among senior judicial figures in that jurisdiction which is quite frightening. It is not unreasonable to require that a prima facie case be shown to exist before citizens of this country are extradited for trial in that system which, by common consent, has proved itself to be so deeply unsatisfactory. One's concern in these matters is not just confined to extraditions to Britain and Northern Ireland. We had the recent instance of a citizen from here being tried in the Canary Islands in Spain in respect of an alleged offence. That man was not extradited but was kept in custody for two years and one month before being brought before a court. The charges against him, it should be said in fairness to the court, were thrown out on the first day of that trial. I do not think anybody could have a complaint about the court but I have every complaint and reservation about the system that keeps somebody in custody awaiting trial for 25 months without any possibility of access to bail. The system in several other continental European countries is not that different. The period of delay before one gets a trial in a country like Italy is very considerable by our standards. It is often 18 months and more. The delays in France are extremely long by our standards.
There is another major difference in extradition to those countries in that, whereas here a defendant has on the face of it a right to bail with the onus being on the State to deprive him of that right, the onus is the other way round on the Continent. The onus is on the defendant by and large to prove his right to bail and not on the State to prove that he should not get it. The result is that most defendants who are arrested and taken into custody are retained in custody for these very long periods before they come to trial. I emphasise those points in relation to some of the continental countries because the Minister in the course of his Second Stage speech seemed to give the impression that this was only a Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland or Republic of Ireland/Great Britain problem, which it is not. The Bill is setting up extraordinary law for the country which will last for many decades and under which cases will arise that we do not know anything about.
It is worth drawing attention to the fact that this world keeps getting smaller and smaller and that our horizons will have to go beyond Europe and the signatories of those two Conventions. The Minister referred to the prima facie requirement as being almost a dead duck and being disregarded by most countries but it is remarkable to recall that in this Chamber three weeks ago the House was asked to ratify an extradition treaty between this country and the US in which the provision we want inserted in the Bill was included. I might add that it was not included at the request of the Irish side but at the request of the American side. The American side said that if Ireland wants to extradite somebody from the United States, Ireland will have to bring in affidavits and sworn evidence on affidavit to show that there is a prima facie case; otherwise the American authorities will not extradite.
An even more recent treaty was the one which was finally agreed between the United States and the United Kingdom in July last after more than one year's delay from its original signature and considerable amendment by the US Senate. That contains a provision on the lines we are talking about, a requirement of a prima facie case being shown but unlike the Irish/US Treaty it is needed on both sides in the Anglo/US Treaty. Therefore, to suggest as the Minister tried to do that the prima facie requirement has disappeared from international law in extradition treaties is blatantly untrue. This House approved of one three weeks ago and another was concluded as recently as last July between two of the major nations in the world, the US and the UK. It was insisted on and will continue to be insisted on by most countries that have concern for human rights, particularly when one sees what has been happening in certain places in recent years.
Our concern is that no Irish citizen should be put in the position that he would be returned for trial abroad to a jurisdiction whose judicial processes have not entirely given rise to deep confidence among our people. No Irish citizen should be returned for trial to such a jurisdiction in circumstances in which he would not be returned for trial in our own jurisdiction if he had committed that alleged offence in Ireland. That is a perfectly reasonable proposition. It is allowed to the Government and to this House in enacting this legislation to act in that way, as we suggest, by virtue of Article 6 of the 1957 Convention which does not require us to extradite our own citizens at all, and by virtue of section 14 of our own 1965 Act which states that in our law, on the face of it, no Irish citizen shall be extradited unless special provisions are made to that effect.
I challenge the Minister to say why we should require a lower standard of safeguard for our citizens when sending them abroad to a jurisdiction whose processes we may be suspicious of or do not understand fully than for our own citizens going before our own courts with all the safeguards that implies. The reason why for a long time, centuries perhaps, a requirement for a prima facie case to be shown and for a hearing before a district justice in advance of a trial on indictment, is that the law here always has regarded the trial of any man on an indictable offence as a serious matter for him: he is subject to tremendous tension and worry, strain and expense, with his liberty being interfered with if he is held in custody prior to his trial. The law has always taken the view here that a man should not be put at that hazard unless there are reasonable grounds for doing so.
It is right that our law should be that way and I am sure the Minister has no intention of changing that law, but is it right that a man should have that safeguard here but not have that safeguard if a request is made to put him on trial, not from our own police or our own judicial authorities but from a foreign police and a foreign authority? It seems to me to be unanswerable that at the very least we should seek to have the same safeguards for our own citizens whom we choose to send abroad for trial as for our own citizens whom we choose to try here through our processes.
I have not heard one word from the Minister or any other defender of the provisions of the Bill, unamended, that would seek meaningfully to defend what the Minister now wants to do. It seems to fly in the face of the two most recent celebrated extradition treaties entered into, one by Ireland and the other by Britain and the US. The amendment is, therefore, nothing new, nothing unusual. It does not conflict with our own law because it is precisely in accordance with section 14 of the 1965 Act; nor does it conflict with any of our international obligations because it is entirely in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention of 1957.
If we do what is suggested in the amendment we will not be going a quarter as far as many of our European partners have gone because they are refusing to extradite their citizens at all. We are only refusing to extradite them unless the same safeguards are there as we would require in our jurisdiction to put someone on trial here. That should be accepted as perfectly reasonable, and I hope the Minister will accept it. I suggest he has been ill-advised in the attitude he has been taking. Perhaps he does not fully comprehend what is involved, and I hope it will get across to him now. I remind the Minister, whom I regard as a relatively open-minded man, that some views he formed in the recent past on matters like this turned out very rapidly to be erroneous, not the least of them being the subject of the views we heard exchanged here during a Private Notice Question before this debate began. Then the Minister had to stand and ask permission of the House to bring in yet another emergency Bill to remedy a defect which he announced in most unequivocal terms as not being a problem at all or a defect as recently as last Friday. Perhaps he does not have the resources available, and if he does they do not have a monopoly of wisdom in these matters. This point before the House should be fully and properly considered.
Are we discussing amendment No. 1?
We had to call it amendment No. a1 for procedural reasons. We jumped ahead of those who sought to jump ahead of us.
You are all chips off the old block.
They would not do that, I am sure.
The only losers by the whole performance in the past few days were the unfortunate staff in the Bills Office who had to keep typing out the same amendments time and time again.
They were not the same, but we can talk about that afterwards. There were genuine changes.
This is the principal amendment to the Bill because it deals with the principal defect in the Bill as most people see it. We are trying here to insert the principal safeguard which the majority of people feel it reasonable should be put in. From that point of view I want to refer to a report on page 1 of today's Irish Times quoting an anonymous spokesman for the Government, what might well be the last croak of a man who has the good fortune or feels it is incumbent on him in these times to depart for lusher pastures in the fields of Flanders. He is quoted as saying:
The two parties —
that is, Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats
— were accused of trying "to prevent effective extradition. They seem to be hell bent on making Ireland the last haven in Europe for every terrorist you can think of", he said.
I take the gravest exception to that remark.
A blatant lie.
It came out of the mouth of this gentleman who is departing for the fields of Flanders. I cannot say I am heartbroken that he is departing. That is as blatant and as disgraceful an attempt to totally mislead the public as to what this matter is about as I have ever seen.
I can tell the Minister for Justice that of all the 166 Members of this House, I am perhaps about the last one who would be hell bent on making Ireland the last haven in Europe for every terrorist one can think of. I held the office that the present Minister holds, not at a time of relative ease and safety as is the case with its present incumbent, but at a time of great danger, when half the people, rather than one or 1 or 2 per cent, supported concepts of violence they have long since copped on to, when it was difficult to dissuade people that certain terrorist activities were very much against the interests of our people. It took a lot of hard work and courage at that time, in a very lonely situation frequently — in which one had no support from newspapers or spokesmen of this kind — to stand up against something that a lot of people in this country thought one should not stand up against. Therefore to say that I am hell bent on making Ireland the last haven in Europe for every terrorist one can think of is a bit unreasonable and unreal to say the least.
This article goes on to say that Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats knew the implications of their amendment well. It says that the effect of such regulations in Britain caused Spain to give up its attempts to extradite people from there. Certainly we know the effect of our amendments. The effect of this and other similar amendments is to do precisely what I have said already — a very reasonable thing — to ensure that someone will not be sent for trial abroad in circumstances in which he would not be sent for trial here with all the safeguards that exist in a trial here. This departing spokesman's example of Spain giving up in despair because they could not extradite people back out of Britain was an unhappy choice, to say the least of it. The real problem in Europe over the last decade as far as extradition is concerned has been the effort of Britain and other countries to get some of the biggest criminals in the world back from Spain, where they ran free for years, gave interviews on television because they knew they were as safe as a house; where criminals from this country who had defrauded people of large sums of money were able to disport themselves in what the television describes as luxury villas and swimming pools all over the south of Spain. The example, therefore, was an unhappy one and shows how ill-founded is the whole of this ridiculous criticism. What a pity that a matter of importance such as this should be treated in this way by somebody, even if it is his swansong, before he deserts the ship that he knows is not likely to carry him too much further if he were to stay with it.
That is the principle that is involved here. The House will note from the terms of the amendment that it applies to all extradition. Even though section 22 of the 1965 Act applied to Part II countries only, that is not to Britain and Northern Ireland, the provisions of this amendment, this new section we propose here, would be to have it applied to all such countries including Britain and Northern Ireland. I see no reason whatever, since our independence, for Britain and Northern Ireland being looked on differently. I explained on Second Stage here that the 1870 and 1873 Acts which governed our law up to 1965 and which were re-enacted largely in Part III of the 1965 Act are no longer appropriate. They have not been since we gained independence because the provisions as between Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland arrived at in the 1870s were brought about at a time when there was one United Kingdom consisting of these two islands, when moving people around within the jurisdiction of the one country, as it was then, one legal entity — the United Kingdom — simply consisted of moving people from one sub-jurisdiction to another. It had no more meaning or significance than moving somebody who is arrested in Glasgow today down to London on the train to be charged with some offence he committed down there or vice versa. It is quite wrong to give the impression that the particular arrangements which had existed hitherto between Britain and here should exist for all time. We should now revert to realising that we are a sovereign State, that our relationship in these matters with all other sovereign States should be equal and similar.
It is necessary, as a result of this — and this will appear in a later amendment — to have also in our extradition relations with Britain and Northern Ireland the introduction of the rule of speciality which is part and parcel of our extradition law generally, and which is part and parcel of extradition law under the convention and internationally. It is ridiculous that we should have provisions in our law saying that if some country other than Britain or Northern Ireland seeks the extradition of someone from here they must undertake not to charge them with any other offence. It is ridiculous that it should not apply to Britain. Why should Britain not give the same undertaking that every other country in the world gives in this regard? Why should Britain not honour the rule of speciality? Why should the Minister be so keen to retain this concept of the old, internal, United Kingdom transfers of the 1870s in this law and not change it? Why should there be these special laws as between ourselves and Britain? Britain is to us just another sovereign country, a friendly one — we are friendly with all of them — but our relationship with Britan should be no different so far as extradition is concerned from our relationship with, say, Argentina, Australia, Japan, the United States, Germany or anywhere else. This Bill should not seek to retain concepts that were outdated even 100 years ago. This affords us a badly needed opportunity to change our extradition in this respect.
I would appeal to all Members of this House, not just the Minister, to give the fullest consideration to this amendment. It has been very carefully drafted. It is the view of numerous counsel who have read it that it reflects properly, adequately and fully, in legal language, the requirement I have enunciated here today. It is also the view of a great many people that that requirement is a reasonable one, one that the great majority of our people would wish to see incorporated in our law. If this Bill were to be passed without the amendment being incorporated, a lot of people would be extremely nervous. Indeed the view of probably a majority of people in this country is that if this provision — and this is the key amendment — is not included in this Bill by way of its acceptance by the House then the House and particularly those of us who voted for this Bill on Second Stage, would do well to consider whether it would be appropriate for us to vote for if on Fifth Stage. Whatever conclusion we come to in relation to that point will be entirely dependent on the response and attitude of the Minister for Justice and of the Government.
We were told that the Minister was putting down a particular type of amendment. We waited until this morning for it but we have not got it. We can only assume that either he has decided not to table the amendment or has been overruled. But, even had he put down that type of amendment, the general view of this House would be that it would not suffice in the circumstances that have now been outlined. At the very least it would have shown a willingness on the part of the Minister to have an open mind, to take account of people's concerns about these matters. However, that is all by the way because that amendment has not been forthcoming from the Minister and Committee Stage has now commenced. This amendment is well drafted, has been settled by a number of Counsel, can properly fit into our law, and in no sense does it weaken our extradition law or make it more difficult. It simply makes it the same to get somebody extradited from this country for trial abroad as it would be to get that person sent within this country for trial here.
What can be unreasonable about that or how can that create unreasonable difficulties? I do not accept the concept the Minister seemed to express, that extradition should be some kind of administrative slot machine which you put your money into at one side, pull the handle and your ticket of extradition comes out at the other side. There must be a judicial input in it and some judicial figure, even a district justice, must be satisfied that there is some case to answer before he sends a citizen of this country abroad. This provision applies only to citizens of this country. It is not proposed to apply it to people who are not citizens unless special provision is made for it, and subsection (3) of the amendment allows for that. The need to protect someone who is being extradited to his own country is clearly much less than the need to protect and safeguard a citizen here who is being extradited out of here.
The amendment we put down is in many respects, though drafted somewhat differently, similar to the one Deputy O'Malley has just spoken to. It is amendment number 3 on the list of amendments and it seeks to provide that:
2. — (1) No citizen of Ireland shall be extradited pursuant to the provisions of this Act, or the Act of 1965, unless the provisions of subsection (2) of this section have been satisfied.
The subsection (2) referred to there proposes that:
No order for the extradition of an Irish citizen shall be made unless the District Court is satisfied, on the evidence before it, that there is a sufficient case which would warrant the sending forward for trial of that person as if the offence alleged were an indictable offence and had been committed within the State.
We, too, are looking for a similar kind of safeguard for the Irish citizen in conjunction with the signing of this Convention on Terrorism. Under subsection (3) of our amendment we cover other matters such as the serving of the document on the person, the question of the document being received in evidence without further proof of it purports to be signed or certified by a judge, magistrate or other judicial authority of the requesting country and its authentication by the oath of some witness. Subsection (4) deals with the case of a person who has been convicted previously where the extradition of a convicted person is sought. Subsection (4) (b) reads:
Provided always that no person shall be extradited if that person has been tried and convicted in absentia.
The amendment we are proposing here is very reasonable in the circumstances. Indeed, it is quite extraordinary to find that this Government, who so often talk about civil liberties, seem unwilling to afford to Irish citizens whom they are willing to hand over to foreign jurisdictions even the most minimal protection. In this respect we should be very clear about what the prima facie rule involves. It would not do what the Taoiseach has suggested and what has been repeated today in the media which obviously comes from what the Taoiseach suggested at the weekend through his handlers, as Deputy O'Malley said. It would not make this country into a haven for international criminals, as the Taoiseach believes or says he believes. The Taoiseach should know that England has operated a prima facie rule since 1870, and surely he does not believe that England could be regarded as a haven for international criminals. A prima facie requirement for Irish citizens would not put us out of line with most of the European countries, again as the Taoiseach and the Minister would suggest. Most European countries will not extradite their citizens at all. It is this country and this Government who are out of step with Europe, not the concept of the Irish State and the Irish Government affording to Irish citizens a degree of protection which would still be less than most other governments offer their citizens.
If we want to understand this convention we must look at its character and in doing that we find that the following countries will not extradite if there is no prima facie case: the USA which, of course, is not party to this convention, the UK, Israel, Denmark and Norway. Regarding the prima facie provision let us consider Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden. It is wrong to apply simple comparisons between civil law states such as Germany, Italy, France and The Netherlands where an inquisitorial judicial process obtains and where there is a tradition of judicial investigation and close examination of all documents, in particular external legal documents and processes. In these countries the practice and terms of a statement setting out the details of the offence, which is merely what is required under the provisions of the convention on extradition, would be quite different from what obtains in common law jurisdictions such as Ireland. In effect they are much tighter. Then if we look at another group of countries we find that these countries will not extradite if the person is one of their own nationals. Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and The Netherlands will not extradite their own nationals in any event.
Some countries will not extradite to a country where a person will be tried by a special court. The reason for that is obvious, that there is an assumption that the circumstances in that country are not quite normal. Therefore, some countries have put in a reservation in signing this convention that they will not extradite to a country where the person will be tried by a special court. Those countries are Denmark, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden.
Finally, there is a group of countries which say that in any event they will consider whether the offence is political. They will take into consideration the terms of the convention but ultimately will make the decision themselves, and they will not extradite without that control on the extradition of persons. Those countries are Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden.
Therefore, when we look at the character of this convention we find that it is not quite what the Minister is trying to suggest to us, that all our European partners just rush all their citizens out any time an extradition is called for. The various countries are trying to deal with a very special problem, with a new form of international terrorism. They have come together to make arrangements to deal with that problem but in making those arrangements have entered special safeguards particularly for their own citizens. It is interesting to look at Britain, for example. The British at present have a prima facie requirement, as indeed do the Americans. Recently we signed an agreement with America which left out the prima facie requirement. The prima facie case applies coming here, but not going from here to America. The Minister has said that the British are considering plans for changes in legislation and that they had issued a White Paper and draft legislation. The British White Paper of March 1986 says on page 21, paragraph 52:
The Government considers that such a reform of UK extradition law will represent an effective contribution to the fight against international crime. Procedures will be simplified, but these will be balanced by the preservation of the most effective means of safeguarding the individual. This will include the power of the Secretary of State to withhold extradition in any case in which he considers it appropriate.
No matter what they are planning to do, they are certainly planning to provide safeguards for their citizens. This protection is already carried in the draft legislation. Therefore, it is wrong to suggest that we are the odd man out in this thing and that we do not have a means of dealing with the problems in the North of Ireland. We have special arrangements to deal with those problems in the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, 1976, of which the Minister's predecessors thought very highly. That Act was used up to 1982 and people were tried here for offences committed in the North. Since this Government came into office this legislation was left aside.
It is important that people are not given false ideas in relation to extradition and are not given the impression which was given by a Government spokesman in the media today that those who are against this Bill must be associated in some way with terrorists. I am sure the Minister will not follow that line. The Minister seemed to take a very sensible attitude towards this Bill earlier and indicated that he was prepared to look at amendments. When a headline appeared in the newspapers saying that our amendments would not be accepted the Minister pointed out, on a radio programme, that he would certainly consider any amendments to this Bill. The Taoiseach soon after said that there would not be amendments to this Bill. It is clear that the leaks to the press and the suggestions about terrorism are coming from the Taoiseach's side and not from the Minister's. The Minister has obviously been overidden; he has been told there must be no changes in this Bill except for the very minor change which was introduced today.
The Minister now has the opportunity to put his comments into the Official Report which will be here long after newspaper comments have been forgotten. It should go out loud and clear from this House that if there is any evidence against any individual, that person can be tried here under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act. The Minister knows that is the situation. The prima facie requirement will, in effect, give Irish citizens the same rights in relation to being extradited for trial abroad that they would have if they were tried at home. That is all we are asking, the Minister may say that we had not this requirement before but perhaps we should have considered this long ago and amended legislation to provide for this requirement. We are simply seeking that ordinary citizens be given the same treatment abroad as they would receive at home. Under our law an accused person can be remanded on bail for more than a week without the production of a prima facie case against him only with the special leave of our courts. The Government are not only defending but worsening a legal situation in which Irish citizens can be handed over to jurisdictions where they can legally be held in custody, not for weeks or months but for years without trial in circumstances which would not even merit their detention on bail here for more than a week. Surely the first duty of any self-respecting Government is to protect the interests of the citizens of the State? Are the Government not interested in the rights of Irish citizens or in the rule of law, but only in placating people who are obviously pushing them to deliver on this in a rushed way?
Can I ask the Deputy——
Not at this stage. You will have your opportunity later.
What about the 1965 Act?
We are co-operating with the Minister in considering a review of the legislation in this area. The more I look at this legislation the more I am convinced that this Bill should have gone to a special committee with experts available to them so that it could have been thoroughly debated. Extradition law is a very complicated and sensitive matter. The danger is that the Government will try to force these measures through, using the media to create scares of one kind or another, and then worry about the problems, or let somebody else worry about them afterwards. Surely this House is capable of considering new legislation in this area in a thorough and comprehensive way, just as they are doing in Britain at the moment. There is not a great hurry there to make the changes: there is not a mad rush before Christmas to do so. Indeed the Minister should have noted, and there are so many things to note if he had got down and——
We have noted since last March that this was coming, so stop your claptrap about rushing.
You only published it two weeks ago.
We can only take it up when the Minister has put the Bill before the House and the Bill only came before the House two weeks ago.
If you did not spend so much time talking about delays, you would have time to talk about the Bill.
I do not mind taking the Bill now, but what we are doing here is not giving adequate treatment to a measure which is such a fundamental issue for our citizens. I have no doubt that we are not giving it adequate treatment. We completed Second Stage last Friday evening and we were expected to begin Committee Stage today and to have it completed by tomorrow night. What opportunity is there for anyone to consider the Minister's Second Stage speech and its implications, never mind anyone else's Second Stage speech? The proper way to have dealt with this Bill was to have had adequate consideration of Second Stage followed by adequate consideration of the Committee Stage amendments.
We heard suggestions that the Minister was to put forward some form of amendment. Like Deputy O'Malley I was waiting to see what amendment would arise. In fact, a very minor amendment was put down which I do not think meets the requirement. That small amendment towards the end of the Bill relates to the commencement of the legislation. It was suggested again today in the media that the Minister intends to make arrangements for the British Director of Public Prosecutions to furnish a certificate on which the extradition of Irish citizens would be grounded. Earlier Deputy O'Malley felt insulted about the terrorism tag which any of us would feel insulted about but surely it is the Irish Judiciary who should be insulted by that proposition because I would regard it as an insult to the Irish courts and as being totally unacceptable.
When the Minister suggested that to amend the legislation on the lines proposed would leave this country a haven for terrorists he omitted to mention that both Britain and the United States insist on a prima facie case being established before they will agree to extradition. The Minister would hardly consider those countries as havens for terrorists. We will wait to see what suggestions the Minister will make but it is quite clear that he intends to make no statutory provision. Some other kind of administrative proposal is not acceptable. In the not too distant past we have seen the difficulties which can arise with these administrative arrangements. We can recall an occasion when very little attention was given to the signing of the warrants from Britain. Therefore, it is not administrative arrangements we are seeking. What we are seeking is an arrangements such as the one contained in our amendment or the one contained in Deputy O'Malley's amendment which would introduce the requirement for a prima facie case. We regard a prima facie case requirement as being one of the most fundamental amendments required. We will be pressing our amendment to a vote. I await what the Minister has to say with regard to his own proposals but since he has not put down any amendment it is hard to see what value they could have.
First, let me say fair dues to Deputy O'Malley for getting in ahead but the procedure seems to be rather unusual. I do not know whether there is any precedent for having a section before section 1 of the Bill which is the interpretive section.
Something to remember, Deputy.
I like precedents though I do not know whether in this case there is a precedent. Maybe it has happened before but I have not come across it. That amendment was to get a section ahead of Deputy Woods who had put his amendment before section 2.
Who had already moved up his amendment.
We had put down our amendment before section 3.
How quickly the disharmony grows.
We are discussing three amendments each of which is to be put in a different place in the Bill. I suppose it does not make any difference where they are put in the Bill provided that there is some provision. The amendment we propose to insert in page 3 before section 3 is very simple and brief and reads that:
Where a request is received for the extradition of a person under this Act, the requesting country shall be required to provide evidence as to the commission by the person claimed of the offence for which extradition is requested, and extradition shall not be granted unless sufficient evidence is produced to satisfy the request.
That amendment is taken almost word for word from the 1965 Act. Section 22 of that Act which deals with evidence of commission of offences by persons claimed states that where the relevant extradition provisions require the production by the requesting country of evidence as to the commission by the person claimed of the offences for which extradition is requested extradition shall not be granted unless sufficient evidence is produced to satisfy the requirement. Therefore, all that is required is sufficient evidence. The judge knows what evidence is required. That would cover the details of matters which are in Deputy O'Malleys amendment and also in the fairly lengthy amendment in the name of Deputy Woods such as that the requesting country shall produce signed statements of witnesses etc.
I suggest that all that is required is what is in the 1965 Act which states that extradition shall not be granted unless sufficient evidence is produced to satisfy the request. That is the tradition which exists. It does not lay out or specify any specific procedure —prima facie evidence or anything else. It simply says that the requesting country shall be required to provide evidence of the commission of the act by the person claimed and that when sufficient evidence is provided only then will extradition be granted. That is a very reasonable request to make of any country which is seeking to have someone extradited, particularly when it is a citizen of ours who is being claimed by that other jurisdiction.
The Minister in his Second Stage speech said that this requirement had never been sought before, that there was no reason why it should be required now and that it is not normal procedure but the change in political offences has never occurred before. We always refused to extradite those charged with political offences. Therefore, in this Bill we are dealing with a completely new situation as the Bill says that offences under certain headings shall not be regarded as political. In that case, therefore, we are entitled to seek evidence of the crime for which they are requested. Deputy O'Malley made the point that this was specifically included at the request of the United States in the treaty we made with them a few weeks ago. The USA is probably the country which pays most attention to and has most regard for the rights of its own citizens, particularly those abroad. They have the fullest protection of the law and of the Government of the United States at all times, whether at home or abroad. We should have the same concern for our citizens. Certainly we have never had it for any of our citizens once they have taken the boat. Once they move beyond the three-mile limit they no longer seem to be under the protection of our Government. The Government should be thinking in terms of protecting the rights of citizens.
The different legal systems in the jurisdictions to which people may be extradited were discussed on Second Stage. In Northern Ireland there is the system of supergrasses and the Diplock courts. The system in Britain seems all right but when dealing with Irish citizens there the system is under the greatest suspicion at present. Irish citizens here have a great mistrust in regard to justice being obtained under the current British system in certain cases. On the Continent there is a variety of systems and methods of detention. An Irish citizen in Spain was held for two years before being brought before a court and released. Although it had nothing to do with extradition, a recent case in Italy involved an Italian citizen who was held for nine years and then released because no charge was brought against him. When such systems of justice exist, we must be very careful about releasing anybody from this country, especially one of our own citizens.
The Minister seemed to be conceding that something was needed. He opposed the idea of a prima facie case but seemed to indicate at the weekend that something was required. We have not seen any amendment as yet and we must assume that he is sticking fast to his original position on the instructions of the Taoiseach and is not allowing for any amendment. This matter is the crunch of the whole Bill. It is right that it be dealt with first because if this is not amended the whole Bill has much more serious implications for all our citizens.
We believe that our amendment No. 9 is in accordance with existing law under the 1965 Act. It involves a simple procedure. A justice must have what he would deem to be sufficient evidence before him to satisfy the request for extradition.
On Second Stage I dealt at some length with this question of a prima facie case, both in my opening statement at the beginning of the debate and in my reply at the conclusion. I do not know what difficulties Deputy Woods had in absorbing my opening speech, but it was very clear that he had not taken account of much of it when he made his speech on Second Stage.
In looking at the amendments before us it is right that the House should concentrate on the issues that are immediately relevant but it would be unreal to discuss them without indicating their proper context. That is the line which has been followed by other speakers on the amendments so far. The wider picture is that we have in effect three series of amendments put forward to this Bill, one of them being promoted by the main Opposition party. The amendments in that series form part of a very clear pattern. If accepted it is clear that they would involve a deliberate move away from European norms, making extradition much more difficult in practical terms. Perhaps even more importantly, they would, if accepted, amount to a public and unambiguous declaration to the people of Northern Ireland and Britain that we were abandoning the Anglo-Irish Agreement and all that it means for us. That and nothing less is what is involved in the series of amendments put forward by Deputy Woods.
I have come into this House with proposals to strengthen our extradition arrangements in accordance with trends to which all of our European neighbours subscribe. It would be an outrageous and perverse result if instead the Bill were to be used to throw overboard the legal advances we have been making in the battle against terrorism. I do not intend to do that and I do not intend to start on a process which begins from the proposition that we are all in favour of extradition but....
In this State we are in position which is literally unique in Europe. No other State in Europe in looking at its extradition laws has had to deal with the situation where virtually everybody in another jurisdiction is a citizen of that State. The French will not extradite Frenchmen to any other country, for example, to Germany or Spain, but they are not in a situation where virtually every Spaniard or German is also French. In our dealings with Northern Ireland we are in exactly that situation. Virtually every person in that jurisdiction is a citizen of this country. It might be asked, what that has to do with a prima facie requirement. It is very relevant because if we impose such a requirement in relation to Irish citizens we are imposing it on nearly everybody in the Northern Ireland context and in doing so we are abandoning an approach which is now established throughout Europe, with a couple of exceptions.
All that is well established and well known. We could not seriously expect anybody to accept our good faith and our commitment to the restoration of peace and stability in Northern Ireland if we were now to go against international trends and impose a requirement which we never had with Northern Ireland or Britain, which we abandoned over 20 years ago with the rest of Europe, which is contrary to European norms and which is such a major practical obstacle to extradition that it has led in the past to the denunciation of at least one extradition treaty, mentioned earlier by Deputy O'Malley, because of the difficulties it was creating. The situation is such that the British have abandoned the prima facie requirement in relation to the rest of Europe. Yet these amendments appear to be based on the proposition that it is reasonable to reintroduce into our law a requirement that has caused these problems.
To make matters even worse, a proposal to require a prima facie case in so far as it is grounded on allegations that a need for it has been shown in practice is simply misconceived. We have heard references to various cases and I do not intend to go into those cases but I repeat what I said in my Second Stage speech, that with one possible exception a prima facie requirement would not have made the slightest difference. By that I mean that the evidence available at the time would, in the opinion of people qualified to judge, have certainly been deemed to be sufficient to show a prima facie case.
Of course, the practical difficulties of getting witnesses to appear before the court might have had their effect, but that is not what is at issue in the point I am now making. The point is that as an alleged safeguard a prima facie requirement would have been irrelevant, as I said, with one possible exception. We have already made arrangements to guard against the problem that might have existed in that particular case.
The amendment tabled by Deputies Mac Giolla and De Rossa proposes that a country requesting extradition would be required to provide evidence as to the commission by the person claimed of the offence. The effect of the amendments proposed by Deputy Woods would be to require that a prima facie case be made out in our courts before an Irish citizen could be extradited under Parts II or III of the Extradition Act, 1965. Deputies O'Malley's and Harney's amendment would also provide for the requirement to apply in the cases of persons other than Irish citizens if that is provided for in the relevant extradition agreement. Apparently those Deputies seek documentary evidence only. I have two main comments to make on that. The first one — and in my view, having heard all the arguments, the conclusive one — is that any new requirement of this kind represents a move in what in my view is the wrong direction. We will be out of step with all our neighbours.
The second comment is that I doubt that it would work. The second pillar of that amendment is in the proposed subsection (2). That subsection says that an order for committal shall not be made unless the justice is satisfied, on the basis of the statements and other documents, that the person claimed would be returned for trial in the State if the offence had taken place in the State. The reason I say I doubt it would work is this: an important element in a preliminary case before a justice is that a defendant has the right to seek to have witnesses present and questioned. If he does not exercise that right, that fact in itself is relevant to the justice's decision. It is one thing to accept as being adequate evidence that is uncontested where the opportunity is provided to have it contested but it seems to be quite a different matter to accept it where that opportunity has not been afforded. I find it difficult to see how a justice could ever meet the test as set down in the proposed subsection (2). For those reasons I oppose this amendment.
The simplified procedure which Part III of the 1965 Act provides for is intended, as I said on Second Stage, to reflect the close ties which exist between this country, Northern Ireland and Britain. I really would ask that the Deputies on the Fianna Fáil benches accept that we have had an Act in operation since 1965, that on no occasion since 1965, to my knowledge, have they ever proposed to amend it; that on no occasion in the past four years, to my knowledge, have they sought to amend it and on no occasion in the past year, even indeed since the moment when I signed the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism earlier this year, did they propose to amend it, or even suggest in public that there was a need for any amendment.
As I have said, the simplified procedure in Part III of that Act provides for and reflects the close ties that exist between this country, Northern Ireland and Britain. That situation obtaining between this State and Northern Ireland is unique in Europe, in terms of the numbers of persons in one jurisdiction who are citizens of the other. That applies particularly in the context of Northern Ireland but, given the nature and scope of our citizenship laws, its application in the wider British context must not be under-estimated.
There are other practical difficulties, apart from the ones that I have just mentioned. Any evidence tendered would have to conform to the rules as to the admissibility of evidence under our law. A brief example might illustrate the difficulties that might arise in that regard. The general rule under our law is to exclude hearsay evidence. That apparently simple rule would present difficulties in a civil law jurisdiction seeking the extradition of a person, because the practice in some of the civil law countries is not to take statements direct from witnesses but for a police officer to testify in writing as to what a witness has said to him. The “procès-verbal” presented to the investigating magistrate in France, for example, may consist of a written statement produced by a police officer acting as an agent of the magistrate and relating what the witness or witnesses have said to him.
I am not prepared to accept the amendments before us now because the Government are not prepared to introduce obstacles in the way of legitimate extradition requests from other countries. Nevertheless, the Government accept that the amendments are intended to redress some genuine concerns about extradition. One concern throughout the debate that has taken place on our accession to the terrorism convention is that the Bill might facilitate a development of extradition merely for questioning in the context of extradition to Northern Ireland and Britain. That, in fact, is not a risk. We have gone into that matter very fully and, as I previously indicated, arrangements have been agreed with the British Government under which all warrants to be sent to this jurisdiction will in future not be sent here for execution unless the case has been examined at a high legal level to verify that there is, in the opinion of the prosecuting authority concerned, sufficient evidence of a kind admissible in court on which to base a charge.
Those arrangements in themselves represent an important safeguard. They reflect the understanding that is shared by the two Governments that an extradition request implies a clear expectation that court proceedings will normally follow. I say normally, because there may very well be exceptional occasions when they would not be proceeded with, as indeed is the case in our own jurisdiction internally, as I said during the course of Second Stage debate.
The British authorities have now agreed an addition to this arrangement. In all cases where a warrant is sent to this jurisdiction for backing that the British Attorney General will send to our Attorney General through diplomatic channel a confirmatory note to the effect that he, that is the British Attorney General, has satisfied himself that the relevant prosecuting authorities have complied with the arrangements I have just described. That note will serve as an additional reassurance that those arrangements have been complied with in each case. Those arrangements, further strengthened in the way I have just indicated, provide, in my view, the safeguards that ought to be accepted by any reasonable observer as being entirely adequate.
The important thing to ensure, of course, is that things do not go wrong and that warrants will not be sent for execution where there is not sufficient evidence of a kind admissible in court on which to ground a charge. I am satisfied that the arrangements to which I have just referred should be fully adequate safeguards against that happening and that we would not be justified, in the circumstances, in introducing any new statutory restriction in what is and has always been a simplified procedure for extradition by way of the backing of warrants. It would be particularly invidious to do so when we would not be doing the same thing in relation to other member states in the Council of Europe on whom we could not impose such a requirement because of the convention on extradition.
I have said I am satisfied that these arrangements will be fully adequate, but I am not putting them forward on the basis only of my personal opinion of the matter. The new arrangements will come into operation in the very near future, in some areas almost immediately and elsewhere very shortly after that. The Government propose that before the Bill comes into operation sufficient time should be allowed so that those arrangements can be seen to be working in practice. For that reason when we come to section 12 — the commencement provision — I will be proposing an amendment to the effect that the commencement date referred to in that section should be 1 December 1987, instead of 1 June.
I am uneasy at the manner in which the Bill comes before the House. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to speak on Second Stage and, consequently, I ask leave of the House to remark on the provision of a prima facie case before extradition would apply.
The House must examine the new Bill and the proposals contained in it. I listened very carefully to the Minister but I am still unhappy about the situation. The amendment proposes that statements will be presented to a district justice to enable him to determine whether a prima facie case has been made. I appreciate the difficulties there would be in suggesting that witnesses would have to be called to give evidence before the district justice, especially in relation to those who would have to come from another country. However, it is hard to see why any difficulty ought to arise when it comes to the presentation of statements because such statements would already be in existence — or should be — before any procedure is initiated to set the whole extradition procedure in train. Before embarking on that course, presumably more would be involved than a senior police officer in London, Paris or anywhere else forming the idea that it would be useful to have a person extradited. The belief would have to be based on signed statements taken from witnesses. A file would be in existence and, as a result of studying it, someone would decide that extradition was required. There would not be any question of fresh statements or seeking witnesses to interview.
Why should there be a difficulty in transferring the decision on a prima facie issue to an Irish legal officer instead of leaving this judicial decision to a non-judicial officer in another country? Whether a prima facie case exists — I am sure the Minister or anybody else would not advocate extradition unless a prima facie case existed against the person — is a matter for an Irish judicial officer, a district justice or a non-judicial officer in London or some other city. The decision could rest with a senior legal officer who is performing an administrative function, not a judicial function. I do not see any difficulty in this regard although, apparently, it is not even proposed that it should be made by an English judicial officer but by an English administrative officer. It is a bit like the recent Supreme Court dilemma in regard to the Petty Sessions Act. However this goes even further. The fact that statements have to be submitted to see if a prima facie case exists is no great protection to a person suspected of a crime. One could easily devise a system that would go a great deal further than that in seeking to provide protection for someone who may be subjected to extradition. All that it requires is a set of signed statements and a judicial officer can decide very quickly whether a prima facie case exists. He does not have to be satisfied that the person tried on the basis of these statements will be found guilty. It does not go that far, he merely has to determine if these facts were established in accordance with the statements and that the evidence was uncontroverted. If it is controverted, he must decide that the evidence given, based on those statements, is the version that would be accepted and that the person might be convicted. It is little enough and it is a bit difficult to understand why that minimal protection should not be accepted.
The Minister made the point — I submit he is wrong — that a suspected person in this situation would be worse off than someone who goes for preliminary examination under the present system before a district justice because that person would have it open to him to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, to give evidence or to call evidence for the Defence before the district justice at the preliminary hearing. It is true that such an accused person would have the right to do all those things but it is not a determining factor as far as the district justice is concerned, even assuming such evidence is called and that 20 controverting witnesses are called by the Defence. If there is even one for the prosecution setting up a prima facie case, the district justice will send that person forward for trial, as is the standard practice. While the district justice is considering the matter at the preliminary investigation stage in the District Court, his task is not to determine whether the one Prosecution witness or the 20 Defence witnesses are telling the truth or whether one carries more weight than the other. This is a matter for the trial court to determine.
The Minister assured the House that a person would not be sent out of the country merely for questioning. I wonder about that as one could envisage a situation where the investigating police officers might not be sure of their ground. Serious crimes might have been committed and they could very well want to indulge in what is often referred to in legal circles, when one is seeking to provide evidence which is not already there, as "fishing". All sorts of devices are used in its name, you throw out nets and haul them in to see what you have caught. Sometimes you catch something but very often you do not. I could visualise situations arising in this context where the procedure might be used for fishing purposes. I am sorry to have to say that but may be the Minister can satisfy the House that that is an impossibility. If all that is required to bring about an extradition is an administrative say so from a legal officer in the United Kingdom or anywhere else to the effect that a certain person was wanted and was to be extradited, and that nothing further than that was required, that could be used for a fishing procedure. After all, we are talking about administrative officers. What happens if a senior police officer in London or somewhere else tells an administrative officer on the legal side of law enforcement that they want to talk to a certain person and that the only way they can speak to him is by using this procedure, although they do not have a prima facie case? It would be nice to believe that every administrative officer would look at things in a judicial manner but that would be expecting too much of all administrative officers at all levels. Although the majority of them would have those high minded standards and could be relied upon, I am sure that many of them, acting as administrators and not in a judicial capacity, might not have such high minded standards.
The Minister referred to the hearsay rules. I have been educated and brought up in the common law system and believe the hearsay rule is a very good and sensible rule. I am not very happy at the idea that the hearsay evidence which a police officer would give in Paris, Rome or anywhere else, would be a sufficient basis on which to have an Irish citizen extradited from Ireland to another country. The basis of the hearsay rule is simple enough. If a person knows something he gives evidence, signs a statement and says that is what he saw or heard. If that is the best evidence that can be obtained, there is no reason it should not be put forward. Why should it be sufficient for a police officer to say that a person said such and such to him? I do not like that system. I think the hearsay rule is a very sensible one and I do not feel any sense of comfort at the thought that because some police officer gives hearsay evidence that in itself is sufficient to take someone out of their environment. I would like to believe that a great deal more than that would be required.
There are many more people who wish to speak on this issue. I have been thinking about it and feel a great deal of unease about it and the comments made by the Minister have not eased my mind.
I am not as concerned about habeas corpus as Deputy Taylor. I am looking at this as a practical measure, not as a theory and I do not believe we are talking about extradition per se. I believe we are talking about what would happen if somebody from Northern Ireland caused damage or death in the North but was now in our jurisdiction and that we could not allow that person to go back to Northern Ireland without losing votes.
Deputy Woods was talking about citizens of the State. What precisely is a "citizen of the State"? Niceties of law are important, but I do not believe we are really talking about extradition. The concern being put forward is about built-in guarantees but they would not be factors if we were talking about extradition to the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Germany, Holland, Italy, France or any other EC country. It only becomes a factor when we are talking about extradition to Great Britain and especially when we are talking about extradition to Northern Ireland. When we look more closely at it, we are not really talking about that either. We are really talking about votes in the Republic. If we were really talking about extraditing people to the North the picture I see would not really bother me. Instead of talking about citizens of this State, let us talk about what would happen if, for instance, people from Northern Ireland living in the north-east of Donegal were wanted for very serious crimes in Northern Ireland. As Deputy Blaney and I know because this happens in our constituency, if there is a question of extraditing them to the North there is a hue and cry, emotions run high, not because they are being extradited back to Northern Ireland but because they are Catholic, loosely called Catholics, nationalists or republicans which is really a modern title for bigoted Catholics. The meaning of "nationalism" and "republicanism" has long since disappeared and it is now correctly called bigotry. On the other side we have loyalism and unionism, unionism being the less bigoted protestantism and loyalism covering the bigoted Protestant. Thank God there are a sufficient number of Catholics and Protestants who want to share the common title "Irishman" without subtitles.
Let us look closely at what we are talking about here. I find it difficult to come to terms with the thinking of the person who says that someone wanted for a serious crime in Northern Ireland, such as murder, should walk free in our jurisdiction, and that there should be all kinds of protection built into the law to prevent that person being taken into Northern Ireland in the fear that if we let these people be taken, we are being less than nationalistic, we are second class citizens.
I want to pose a question to the House: if the murderers of the Miami Showband, whom we now know to be Protestant paramilitaries, had absconded to the Republic and were arrested in this jurisdiction, would we be looking for these built-in guarantees to prevent them from being extradited to the North? Would there be this emotion from the Fianna Fáil backbenchers about extraditing Protestant paramilitaries back to Northern Ireland? Deputy Woods spoke about "citizens of the State", but is he excluding those people from being citizens of the State or is he saying that the Catholic republicans — nationalists — are citizens and that the Protestant unionists — loyalists — are not? If some of the soldiers who caused the atrocities in Derry on Bloody Sunday had deserted from the British Army and were found in hiding in County Donegal, would we look for built-in guarantees to prevent the extradition of those people back to the jurisdiction in the North? We are really talking about built-in guarantees to prevent the extradition of Catholic republicans — nationalists — back to Northern Ireland. It is not that we want to protect a Catholic more than a Protestant in Northern Ireland but there are not a lot of votes in a political party defending the extradition of a Protestant back to Northern Ireland from the Republic. There are votes against the extradition of a Catholic republican — nationalist — back to Northern Ireland.
What troubles me, and this is one of the real problems in this island, is the view of the unionists. They talk about the security of Ireland or, as they put it, of Ulster. They will not talk about the politics of Ireland and we wonder why, until we look at our own position. We in the Republic and particularly the Fianna Fáil Party, talk about the politics but not the security of Ireland. The sooner we realise that the better. There are two extremes on this island with regard to constitutional politics: one group talks about the security but not the politics and the other talks about the politics but not the security and you cannot have one without the other.
The Fianna Fáil Party should realise that if they extend a sincere invitation to one million Protestant people in the north of Ireland to join with us in some kind of unity arrangement, they will be obliged to secure their lives and their properties today and not on the day we join with them. I would excuse Deputy Woods, as I would excuse anyone else, in not understanding this as he comes from Dublin and not from the Northern areas. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that what used to be Irish nationalism is being led by people who live in Dublin or south of it. No two Deputies will disagree as much on the issue of extradition as Deputy Blaney and myself. I am sure if Deputy Blaney was talking frankly on leadership being given from Dublin and south of it he and I would have absolute agreement. The Government are not worried about bringing two traditions together but about how to get back into government again and how to consolidate the votes in the south.
Extradition is an inherent part of security. Let us say someone walks into a bank in Strabane, sticks a gun at the bank manager's head and says, "give me £50,000 or I will blow your brains out". That person will murder the bank manager and will then go the half mile from Strabane to Lifford — they used to be in the one parish up to a few years ago. People in this House suggest there should be built-in securities so that person should not be sent back across the Border to stand trial. The murderer might be a Catholic but the bank manager might also be a Catholic. It might be a Catholic killing a Catholic. That is a problem for people who oppose extradition. Catholics north of the Border think it is wrong in the extreme for people to break the law north of the Border and find sanctuary in the Republic. I am not arguing against the fundamental thinking that if somebody is living in a jurisdiction and has to be extradited to another jurisdiction the laws of the country where he is living should be such that they would give him reasonable protection but nobody seems to pay much attention to the families of those whose lives have been taken.
It is the innocent we want to protect and not the guilty.
I know the balance when it comes to that. I would be as much against the extradition of an innocent person as anyone else in this House. We are not talking in this debate about extradition. That is the word we are all using when we talk about a person being arrested in one jurisdiction and being tried in another jurisdiction but we are considering the unpleasantness of arresting a Catholic from Northern Ireland in the Republic and sending him back to Northern Ireland to be tried. If it was a Protestant——
I think the Deputy made that point already.
I am entitled to make it again because Deputy Mac Giolla interrupted me. If a Protestant was arrested in the Republic I do not think the emotion would be the same. As I said, and Deputy Mac Giolla will have to agree, if a soldier who had deserted from the British army was being tried for something so brutal as the happenings in Derry on Bloody Sunday and if the Government did not arrest him there would be protests in the streets to have him sent back to Northern Ireland.
I did not have a chance to speak on Second Stage of this Bill last week but I listened to the arguments put forward by Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats that there should be built-in guarantees and protections. As one who lives in a Border area where these things are happening, I know people living in Donegal who have not crossed the Border to Tyrone or Derry for the last 15 or 16 years. Nobody stops them. Rumours circulate that they are wanted for serious crime in Northern Ireland. They cannot be arrested unless the police in Northern Ireland issue an extradition warrant against them. That extradition warrant would be examined in detail and if it was valid it would be acted upon. I cannot defend a society that would blindly tolerate allowing somebody who is wanted for very serious crime in one part of Ireland to live scot-free in another part.
Let me get down to kitchen sink politics. It has happened that a person who committed a crime in the town of Strabane walked free a half mile across the Border in the town of Lifford. That has happened since the troubles broke out in the north not once but on a number of occasions. The crime was not a simple crime of burglary but one of murder. In my reckoning it makes little difference whether the person who was shot was a Catholic or a Protestant. The taking of life is murder. I would not protect or support any Government that would not see to it that justice was done in such a case. There are people living in the Republic who are wanted for serious crimes in Northern Ireland. It is not to give Ian Paisley ammunition to say that Paddy Harte said such and such in the Dáil because there are people walking around Northern Ireland who are wanted for serious crimes in Northern Ireland and they have not been arrested.
The point I want to make is that I cannot stomach the type of jargon coming from the spokesmen of Fianna Fáil about how they are the protectors of the innocent, how they and they alone have the God-given right to be the party to be allowed bring about Irish unity. They will not face up to the responsibilities that go with that. I can no longer live with that. It is all very well to use well-drilled English in the national Parliament in an effort to embarrass the Government or get the Government to weaken the extradition proposals but it amounts to nothing more than a big political game. At the end of the day it is all about votes in the Republic and not about preventing the taking of more lives in the North. Fianna Fáil, and the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, can no longer continue to talk about security without realising that in order to get good security they must be prepared to talk about politics of today and tomorrow.
The Deputy should keep to the amendment before the House.
The Deputy has not mentioned the amendment yet.
If that means change, then those parties have to face that. If they want to talk about the politics of today and tomorrow they have to face up to the security aspect and part of the security aspect is extradition.
Following my Donegal colleague I should like to say by and large I disagree with him not so much in what he is thinking as he expresses himself but rather as a result of the wrong premise on which he bases his entire contribution. He is right in saying that we are not talking about extradition worldwide although it is the guise under which the Bills is before us. We are not talking about extradition in the broad context of the European Community which is the heading under which we find the Bill but we are playing politics. I am not talking about Fianna Fáil or the Progressive Democrats but about the Government. The Minister gave confirmation of this when he expressed the fear in so many words that if we were to go through with the context of the amendments before us we would be wrecking the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I wish we would go through with the amendments not just for their own sake but so that they would wreck the Anglo-Irish so-called Agreement. The Government's pretensions and argument in the House are in favour of the Bill which takes away safeguards regarded as sacrosanct here and in many countries throughout the world.
Deputy O'Malley was correct in the arguments he advanced in favour of his amendment. He expressed himself in ordinary everyday language that was easy for a lay person to understand. He told us his amendment was seeking no more and no less than the requirement that a prima facie case be made before our district courts to justify the returning of a person to a higher court for trial. That is the nub of the matter and no matter how glib, suave, low-keyed or reasonable the Minister may sound — all attributes that apply to the Minister occupying the front bench on the Government side and a few more — the fact remains that the Government through their Minister are attempting to put a face on something that is contrary to our sense of justice and the application and administration of justice here.
I had the experience of being before a district court on five occasions before my case was heard and due to a lack of evidence put before that court I was not returned for trial. On the same occasion, back in 1970 or 1971 on the occasion of the so-called Arms Trial, four other so-called co-conspirators were returned for trial. In their collective wisdom the legal luminaries did not offer any argument against the case put before that court. My legal advisers put forward an argument and I was not returned for trial because the district court held that there was no evidence to sustain the case against me. It cost the others thousands of pounds to get a not-guilty verdict in the higher court. I could not afford that type of money and that is why I was glad there was a requirement that the State should establish a prima facie case in the district court. If I was treated in the manner proposed under the Bill grave injustice would be done and hardship inflicted on people even if they were exonerated later on. In my view a public outcry would result against this alleged justice. However, the procedure seems to be good enough if we are being requested by some foreign administration to hand over one of our citizens or one of our residents. It is extradition on request.
Deputy Taylor in more detail outlined the ludicrous situations that will arise if this Bill goes through. A police officer, giving an opinion based on a statement by a third party or an alleged witness or a supergrass, could come along and satisfy the office empowered to give the documentation for a certificate, that a person was wanted for serious crimes. In such circumstances we would deliver that person. Why not save ourselves a great lot of money, take the window dressing off and tell all and sundry: "When we get this Bill through all you will have to do is to send your police here with a bit of paper and do not waste the time of our Garda, do not be taking up time that we have not got through a charade in our courts——
The Deputy has not even looked at the procedures required at present.
With all the Minister's suave approach, I am getting under his skin. That is what is wrong. If we are going to throw everything out the window let us do it at the least possible cost. Let us have them in and report to the Minister's office and say there: "I am here to pick up Johnny Smith, we want him, there is a document duly signed". Let them bear the cost of taking him away instead of us wasting our money as well as denying the rights of our citizens.
Deputy Harte spoke about parallels. They were total nonparallels. He spoke about the soldiers who shot people in Derry on Bloody Sunday. He asked what would have happened if they had taken refuge in Donegal — would we be concerned about protecting them from extradition to the Six Counties? If they had come to Donegal or any of the other 26 counties after that shooting there would not be anything to extradite — they would have gone back in boxes. Deputy Harte's blind spot runs through a few other Fine Gael people, though there are a few of them who are very unhappy about this Bill. Parties being what they are, and with the prospect of an election those people do not stand up. Put your toe over the line in the party system and either your toe is taken off or you do not have any shoe for the toe thereafter. You may have no future in politics.
Would the Deputy confine himself to the amendment?
You are a patient man. You have listened to much. It is difficult to forget some of the crazy things advanced here by some Deputies, including myself sometimes. When young Leonard was shot in Pettigo, our territory, by the RUC in the early days of these troubles, what was done about that death? Was there ever a final inquest or any evidence or representations sent to such an inquest from a Government representing our interests in the Six Counties? Was an effort ever made to identify and to extradite the RUC officer who shot that man in the back from his side of the Six Counties? That young man was within yards of his home, the perpetrator being on the Six Counties side of the invisible line.
I would invite Deputy Harte to make parallels with such incidents. Instead of talking about the soldiers in Derry he would be making a sensible contribution to the debate. Our citizens and residents are entitled at least to the prima facie requirement. That protection is required more by the citizen for whom extradition is requested than for the person to be tried in the Irish courts. If we were seriously concerned about extradition between ourselves and the other signatories of the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism — this Bill was promised under the Anglo-Irish Agreement as part of what we were giving — we would be saying that, whatever might be the merits of anything the Government might concoct and put before the House, with the record of the administration of justice in respect of Irish people in Britain, we would extradite to other countries in Europe or throughout the world but not to the UK or the Six Counties because of their known record which brings discredit to the world wide reputation for British justice. There is British justice and there is British justice for the Irish, two distinct things. The Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguires are the ones that are sticking out like sore thumbs, but there are many other injustices which are causing suffering and hardship to those incarcerated in British prisons but who have not got a strong enough lobby behind them to emphasise the injustices that have been done.
They are handed over by the Irish — the British do not do it to their own. Under this Bill we will gladly hand over our people on the flimsiest request to face courts in Britain that have been shown to be flawed when an accused is Irish, particularly if there is any suggestion that dealing with an offence is connected in any way with politics or terrorism. If you sent your dog to be tried in a Six County court you would be up before the cruelty to animals people down here for letting your dog be put through the charade of what happens at trials up there. Knowing the manner of their performance, knowing the manner in which justice is not administered, knowing that their police force are partisan, knowing the UDR and all the paraphernalia that go with them, their shoot-to-kill policy and the wiping out of Stalker and his inquiry — we are getting some of it now because they cannot keep it down; Stalker was not taken out because of his bad health or his bad conduct, as he has proved, but because he was too near the bone — we are still prepared to send our citizens to the tender mercies of that justice administration.
We must be the daftest people in the world and the laughing stock of the world. We have had proven in the European Court the crimes committed in the name of justice by the degrading, inhuman treatment meted out to prisoners by the British administration. That is recorded in the Court. We went to a great deal of trouble and expense to prove our case in that Court, yet, having got that verdict, having the evidence continue, we must be the laughing stock of Europe if we trust that other administration to such a degree that we are prepared to hand people over merely on the request of the authorities up there. That is what we are proposing to do. That is why the UK and the Six Counties above all other places must be taboo in so far as extradition is concerned. To those who talk about the streets of our cities and towns, the Border towns in particular, being over-populated with criminals who are wanted for atrocious offences in the Six Counties, I say what about that gift that the Government gave them in the past, the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act? Why do they not avail of it? Why have they not had a rush of cases down here to be heard under that Act? Let me tell you. Because they do not have the evidence to sustain the cases that they would like to put on record of these offences alleged to have been committed by named people who have had to get out and are living on this side of the Border. That is why they have not come before this. That is why they have not come under the extradition laws as they stand because even under those laws they would have to show a fair bit of cause. They would have to show something, but under this law, if enacted, they will have to show nothing.
The Deputy is making absolute nonsense of what he is saying.
I am not.
This Bill does not change the law covering extradition.
No, it would take the Supreme Court on Saint Patrick's night with three members sitting one of whom might have been better elsewhere.
The Deputy has not even looked at what is there.
You know the exception that was. The verdict in that case was given under the 1965 Act. If this Bill does not change the law why the blazes is it brought in here for discussion in the week before Christmas? Why waste the time of the House in this way?
I have read it and if my reading is not the same as the Minister's it is because his glasses are coloured, not mine.
Maybe if the Deputy had glasses he would find out what it is about.
Unfortunately for the Minister, as a young man in politics, if this gets through it will be the Dukes Act. Up our way we have another way of spelling "Dukes" it is "jookes".
What did Deputy Blaney say or do in 1965 when the Act was passed? Was there a peep out of him then?
Under the Act of 1965 the people in this Government have rumbled around, grouched about, talked to Maggie and her friends and such like people, have tried to grovel their way into her good graces, have given the British by the Anglo-Irish Agreement a right to be in this country which they do not have——
No, the Deputy was talking about the 1965 Act. Do not change the subject.
The Minister asked what about the 1965 Act. I am merely replying——
Was there a peep out of you then?
I was replying——
The Deputy was replying to something else. He was ignoring——
As I said, as the skin grows thicker on you you will not be so easily provoked. The weakness of the Minister's position has broken the facade that he presented to the House for the duration of this Bill and its discussion last week and this week——
I am sorry to have done that to the Minister because he sounded reasonable even if his reasoning was absolutely flawed.
The Deputy did not give a thráinín about what was before the House as long as he got to make that speech. That is the holy all of it.
I cannot hear the Minister. I wish he would use that microphone. His voice is low and my hearing is not what it used to be. Communications are not of the best and we cannot ask the Chair to decipher what we are saying between us. I did not hear the Minister properly.
I said that you did not give a thráinín about what is before the House as long as you get to make that speech. That is all.
I have been making that sort of speech all my life and I will continue to make it and I do not give a damn whether it is in the House or outside. I do not waffle about. I do not say one thing today and another tomorrow. I do not present a Bill like this or any such document and say the reverse of what is in it.
There are two views about this. What did the Deputy say in 1965? Was there a peep out of him then?
Where was the Minister in 1965?
What function was the Deputy fulfilling in 1965?
What function is the Minister fulfilling?
What function was the Deputy fulfilling in 1965?
For all the empty benches there at the moment, what function are the Government fulfilling collectively? Sweet damn all except hanging on to Government when you should be long gone.
Deputy Blaney on the amendment.
The Government are trying to make this their last will and testament in favour of the British Premier, Mrs. Thatcher, and she has the sign on them. They can do nothing except what Mrs. Thatcher wants and they admit and agree that she has a right to occupy part of our country. However, to get back after those interruptions, diversions, call them what you will, let me say that it was advanced here by the Minister that we have a unique situation here. This was in his soft, pussyfooting way of being effective here in his argument. You would hardly know he was having an argument, but he was, as I detected. He said that the situation was unique in that many of the citizens from the adjoining Six Counties are citizens of this country. In fact, every person in the Six Counties is and has the right to be a citizen of this country.
That is what I said.
Great. Then in making this a unique situation the Minister implied, to my rather innocent way of looking at the argument he was making, that this was an additional reason we should not give our citizens the same right of a requirement for the prosecution or whoever it may be to produce a prima facie case in regard to extradition as would apply if they were being returned for trial to a higher court within our own jurisdiction in respect of a crime allegedly committed in this jurisdiction. I do not know if that was the intent of his argument but that is what it appeared to be. If so, it makes nonsense of the whole thought that all the people on all of this island are Irish citizens.
If that is the belief of the Government, why do they not propose a change in the Constitution that would remove those people, whom they feel are quite entitled to be suppressed and occupied by a foreign power in the Six Counties, from the citizenship of this country? That would be the logical thing to do, being such a logical Government, having signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, having undertaken to sign the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, on foot of which this extradition exercise comes in here. It comes in here under the cover that it applies to the whole Community but it shows only their anxiety to satisfy the wild men and the wild claims in the Six Counties that are embarrassing Mrs. Thatcher by telling her loud and clear throughout Europe and the media that the streets of these little towns on the Border are crawling with murderers who have done bad deeds in the Six Counties. I cannot for the life of me understand how any young Minister having survived in this Government in more than one portfolio would allow himself be put in the position that he has got to try to justify what is before this House this evening.
I pose one question to the Minister which is this: does this mean if we are to dish them out on request — probably it will be a slot machine operation later, computerised, micro-chipped, when they will be able to insert the card in London and get a prisoner back the following day without ever having moved a foot at all — that political asylum has gone by the board? Is that out? Then if we have somebody coming into this country, from wherever, or from any European country, allegedly wanted for an offence, do we just say: "Sorry, boys, out you go; we have nowhere for you". Does it and will it apply to other countries in the future? The Minister shakes his head as if to say "no". I am delighted that is so but I am far more concerned for the residents of this country in our jurisdiction and the citizens of the entire Thirty-two Counties, that they will be treated in a manner less favourable, affording them less opportunity to defend themselves if it is extradition they have got to face. Is it right that they should be treated that way? Is it not logical, if they are going to a foreign jurisdiction to face charges, that they should be even more cared for to ensure that there is a genuine case presented as prima facie evidence on why they should be so extradited? Surely their protection by us, before leaving our jurisdiction, is even more important than the facilities we give our citizens in our courts in relation to crimes allegedly committed in this jurisdiction for which they may be returned for trial? It is far more important. Yet, we are prepared to throw that out the window and retain the other. The day has not yet come that we throw the whole lot out the window but the day may come yet when there will not be any prima facie evidence required at a district court, when one will be slammed into trial with whatever attendant costs, hardship and risks may be involved, without being given a chance of having one's case raked over before going to a higher court.
In furtherance of his soft-footed arguments the Minister mentioned that had the prima facie position obtained only one case——
Possibly one only.
Possibly one only. Does that mean that there is possibly none or possibly more than one?
It means there is possibly none but I cannot be 100 per cent sure of that.
The Minister says possibly none. How on earth can any Minister project that here in his arguments to the House? How can that be done? If there is possibly none, how does one use it for or against the argument of prima facie evidence being a good or bad thing?
There would be possibly no case where it would have made the slightest difference, probably none and, as far as I can see, not more than one in terms of possibility.
There is no hope or possibility it could be 0.5 or 0.6 of one?
No, I do not go in for half measures.
My sort of logic would dictate that, with those sorts of assessment — like probably none, possibly less than one, certainly not more than one — then on the law of averages it must be that it is part of one. How the blazes one could have part of one in such circumstances I do not know. I will leave that to the Minister to answer later. It would merely add up to the validity of the other softly put arguments the Minister attempts to make here which, knowing the Minister for a considerable time and knowing his powers of deduction, I do not believe he is really convinced about himself.
The Minister has said that to adopt these amendments — in particular that dealing with prima facie evidence and the other amendment which requires that we, as a country, should be satisfied the person concerned will receive a fair trial within a reasonable period, and that the general standards prevailing in the administration of justice in the place to which the person is to be removed are satisfactory and acceptable — would have the effect of negativing, or setting aside the Anglo-Irish Agreement and move us away from European norms. I do not understand the Minister when he says this. He appears to be endeavouring to introduce just another red herring; we had one at the weekend, another this morning. This would appear to be a third introduced to deflect the media and the people generally from the provisions of this Bill, to prevent them from looking at the reasonable safeguards being presented by this side of the House.
Article 8 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement says:
The Conference shall deal with issues of concern to both countries relating to the enforcement of the criminal law.
As the Minister well knows, that has always been the case. Further on the same agreement says:
The Conference shall also be concerned with policy aspects of extradition and extra-territorial jurisdiction as between North and South.
Is the Minister telling us that under the terms of this agreement somebody is saying to him: you cannot have a prima facie case here? Is somebody saying to the Minister: we cannot bear to suggest that we, as a nation, should be satisfied with the standards of law enforcement and treatment of persons in custody in any country to which we extradite our citizens?
The Minister's Bill meets the requirement laid down in the Anglo-Irish Agreement. That is what leads me to believe that it is either a red herring the Minister has introduced here or that he is being dictated to, that the normal standards of international law are being set aside by somebody and are being ignored, or that the Minister is being told he must ignore them. If so, that is not good enough. The Minister said also that as far as we are concerned, we have a problem in relation to our citizens, we have a problem with the North of Ireland. The Minister knows very well that is why we have the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act. That is why we adhere to the principle of aut dedere aut judicare— that we will try or hand up. This is a principle of international law upheld by many more countries than the few about which we are speaking here, and has been so upheld for a very long time. We subscribe to that principle. The Minister's own predecessors in the Fine Gael Party, indeed Deputy Liam Cosgrave as Taoiseach, subscribed fully to that principle. In 1979 the Nine partners in Europe went on to develop further extradition arrangements between those member countries on the basis of aut dedere aut judicare.
We have no apology to make for our extradition arrangements. I was amazed that the Minister was not jumping up in his seat when he heard Deputy Harte talking about murderers walking around freely in the Republic and about people wanted in the North who are free in the Republic. The Minister should have been quicker to protest at that than at Deputy Blaney's various contributions. That is insulting to the Garda Síochána——
You were not exactly hopping up yourself.
——who are very diligent and very quick to deal with people against whom there is evidence.
On a point of order.
If Deputy Harte——
Deputy Woods should quote me correctly. I said that there were people wanted here for serious crimes, including murder, but the gardaí cannot arrest somebody for a crime committed outside of their jurisdiction.
They can under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act.
They will do so if an initiative is taken in the jurisdiction in which the crime has been committed.
I do not know if Deputy Harte really realises what is happening in this Act. The purpose of this Act is to change the existing position. The Garda Commissioner and the chief of the police authority in the North of Ireland have said repeatedly that if there is evidence against any individual in the Republic, then there is a mechanism whereby they can be dealt with, the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, 1976, which has not been used since 1982. It is important that it go out loud and clear from this House that this Act can be used.
In the context of the European Convention on Terrorism, we are looking at something extra. This arises because the members of the Council of Europe wanted some means of dealing with the new forms of international terrorism. It was to take a step further ahead, to designate certain offences which would not in future be regarded as political offences. Certain offences will not be regarded as political offences in future, including unlawful seizure of an aircraft, an offence involving an attack against the life, physical integrity or liberty of an internationally protected person, the offence of kidnapping, hostage taking and an offence involving the use of an explosive or an automatic firearm, or an attempt to commit such offences or the offence of being an accomplice to a person who commits those offences. A new category is also being introduced. It is in the context of these new developments that we have proposed that a prima facie case should apply.
That is the first time you admitted that. It is very interesting.
The Minister said that from time to time the question of extradition arises merely for questioning and he sees that as no problem. I do not know if the Minister has been keeping in touch with the various events in recent times, but it certainly is a problem which should concern the Minister. Can the Minister tell us how many people have been extradited from Ireland in the last five or ten years to other countries of the Council of Europe, for instance, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy?
That is what I thought. Those countries are probably not too worried about circumstances here, because they know they will get the kind of co-operation from us that they need. However, in Great Britain the number of persons extradited from here in 1982 was 45; in 1983, 26; in 1984, 26; in 1985, five; and in 1986 up to 31 October, three. If we look at extradition to the North we find that in 1982 there were 18; in 1983, 11; in 1984, one; in 1985, five; and in 1986 to 31 October, none. When one considers what Deputy Harte had to say, I am surprised that he is not asking the Minister what has been happening in 1984, 1985 and 1986, when there were so few extraditions — and he likes to talk about Fianna Fáil. We will go back to the last year when Fianna Fáil were in office. In 1982 there were 18 extraditions to the North and 45 to Britain. There is a certain attempt here to create an impression——
Is Deputy Woods claiming that Fianna Fáil Governments initiated these things? That is absolute rubbish.
Will the Minister say that again?
Is the Deputy claiming that the Government of that day initiated these things? Because if he is, he does not know what he is talking about, or else there was something funny going on.
I am not making any such claim. I am saying that during those periods the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act was used and extradition was occurring. Deputy Harte is suggesting that there are people here who are wanted in the North and he seems to suggest now that there may not be evidence against such people, which is another question. If there is evidence——
You are insinuating, you are not drawing any conclusion.
Will the Minister relax? I know he is having a rough time but I would be glad if he would let me finish.
I am enjoying myself.
The Minister said that there was no question of extradition for questioning and that he does not see that as a problem. I will quote from The Irish Times of 17 September 1982 where it says:
Extradition the best method, says Prior.
Mr. Prior confirmed one point about which many observers had been unsure. When the United Kingdom police force applies for the extradition of a suspect from the Republic, this does not mean that the police force necessarily has enough evidence to bring a charge against the suspect.
The force need have only reasonable suspicion about the person in question, and apply for extradition to question the suspect rather than to charge him.
The Minister would need to look to those safeguards on this extension of the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act. It seems that the position of an Irish national would be worse than that of an English, German or French national, that an Irish national could be extradited virtually on demand whereas an English, French, German or other national could not.
The Minister said he is having an examination at a high level in the requesting state. He did not explain that system or else I did not fully catch what he said. The Minister spoke from prepared scripts on each occasion and it would have been very helpful if he had supplied them to this side of the House. A number of Deputies have been anxious to see them. We do not have the advantage of looking at what exactly the Minister said. As Report Stage is to be truncated there will be no time to examine his Committee State words closely and come back to them on Report Stage.
It was reported in the newspapers that the British DPP would examine at a high level a request for extradition and would satisfy himself that there was a case to be met. The Minister mentioned in that context that here a person at a high level would be involved. I would like him to elaborate further on that arrangement because that is all he is offering at this time. It will be important to be clear on what exactly he is offering. We would be left with the situation where it would be easier to extradite Irish citizens. That is clear and it is also clear——
Easier than what?
How many German citizens have been extradited to this country?
It is not a question of quantities.
It is not a question of people at all?
There is no point in looking for the extradition of a German citizen to this country if we have nothing to charge him with.
Would the same apply in the case of Britain and Northern Ireland?
That is not what has been happening. The Minister has rejected the prima facie rule, saying we could not have such a rule but there is no legal obstacle to the adoption of a prima facie rule in respect of all cases of extradition for a Government who are determined to introduce it. We are only talking about a prima facie rule in relation to our own citizens. We ask that no citizen of Ireland shall be extradited pursuant to the provisions of this legislation unless the District Court is satisfied on the evidence before it. There is no legal obstacle to the adoption of a prima facie rule. The European Convention on Extradition was entered into nearly 30 years ago when conditions and circumstances were entirely different from those pertaining today just as the conditions and circumstances were different at the time the 1965 Act was passed and when no provision was made for a prima facie rule. It was very clear in that Act that a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence was excluded.
The difference is that it was all right when Fianna Fáil were in Government.
Article 31 of the 1957 convention specifically provides for a country withdrawing from its obligations or, to use the technical term in international law, it provides for denunciation of the convention.
Is that what you are proposing?
The Minister said it cannot be done. Can you not listen? Deputy O'Malley suggested several reasons why it can be done and I am adding to those by saying that if the Minister is determined there is a mechanism within the convention which provides for a denunciation and a re-entry. If that is the line the Minister had to take, could we accede to the convention?
In any event the convention does not prevent the introduction of a prima facie rule in respect of extradition to any country which is not a signatory of the 1957 convention. The United Kingdom and the United States are not signatories of that convention. There are various means by which the problems the Minister spoke about can be overcome if he has the will to overcome them. We are faced with the question of a review of extradition and its extension in the sense that we are placing a limit on the political offence clause in the original Act. This involves certain offences not being regarded as political in the future. The categories are fairly wide. Some are clear cut, others are open ended. We will discuss those in greater detail when we come to the relevant sections of the Bill.
It is important that people understand clearly what is or what is not a political offence in the context of extradition and how such offences are to be dealt with in future. As I said earlier, so far as the British are concerned they are going to reserve to their Secretary of State the final decision as to what is a political offence. They have acceded to the Convention on Terrorism. They have legislation prepared which is for debate. What will happen to that legislation remains to be seen but under it they are providing substantial safeguards for their own citizens and the ultimate safeguard whereby the Secretary of State will have the final say in any case where that may be necessary. What is extraordinary about the Government's approach is that they do not seem to be prepared to accept any safeguards for Irish citizens notwithstanding the fact that they are fully aware of the numerous safeguards which are operated under the convention and under the original convention in support of the citizens of the other member states.
The Minister needs to re-assess the position and have another look at these amendments which have been put down by ourselves, the Progressive Democrats and the Workers' Party. He should recognise that the intention behind these amendments is to provide a minimal safeguard for Irish citizens in the development of wider legislation relating to extradition.