Extradition (Amendment) Bill, 1987: Report Stage (Resumed) and Fifth Stage.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 2, line 15, after "directs", to insert "; all such warrants shall be forwarded to the Attorney General in the first instance".

I would like to read into the record how the section if amended would read:

44A.—A warrant for the arrest of a person accused of an offence under the law of a place in relation to which this Part applies shall not be endorsed for execution under this Part if the Attorney General so directs; all such warrants shall be forwarded to the Attorney General in the first instance.

I withdrew this amendment on Committee Stage after the Minister had indicated that he was disposed to accept it and to provide for the amendment on Report Stage. As it turns out it does not appear, on examination, that it has any appeal for the Minister and no words have been added that would approximate to the words in the amendment. I am rather surprised but not all that disappointed — or should I put it the other way; disappointed but not all that surprised — because I have a feeling, and I think it is the feeling of many Members who participated in this debate over the past few days, that the more vaguely the Attorney General is identified in this judicial role — which undoubtedly it is, because on his opinion will depend whether a person may or may not be extradited — the better from the Minister's point of view.

I fear that the grand coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil had some words on this matter since last night, or they may have had words earlier, and reckoned that vagueness is a necessary part of this performance under the name of a Bill which will become an Act. The Bill we are discussing will become an Act in whatever words are agreed between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. On this the last possible occasion to have a word in the ear of the House, and in particular the Government, may I say that the performance in regard to the whole matter of extradition, including the coming into force of the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, at midnight last Monday is nothing but a charade, that has been staged in this House for whose benefit I am not quite sure. If anybody is fooled into thinking that what is contained in the Bill is an alleviation of or is in substitution for the betrayal of allowing the 1987 Act to come into force, as far as Fianna Fáil are concerned they will have a rude awakening the first time they offer themselves to the country. It is extraordinary that the offer was made that if any part of this Bill was defeated, or the Bill itself was defeated, there would be an election. What purpose that was intended to serve, I do not know. It was made once and not pursued, nor was it confirmed by the Taoiseach when I politely asked him to confirm the commitment that he would go to the country if any part of the Bill was beaten.

Obviously, it was not necessary because the passage of the Bill was fully assured before we came to discuss it in this charade that we are going through. It would not be beaten because the grand alliance, the grand coalition, the covert coalition of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, has ensured that there can be no majority for anything other than what they have agreed. It could be laughable but it is so serious that one cannot laugh at it. We must remember that this time last year Fianna Fáil were very concerned about the measure the then Government were putting through, namely, the 1987 Act.

Deputy Blaney appreciates that on Report Stage he is expected to deal with the amendment that is before us. It would appear to me that the Deputy might inadvertently be moving back to a Second Stage type of speech.

Not to worry. I hope others will take note of that when we speak on amendments. However, that is between you and them.

The Deputy has had his say.

In regard to this amendment, since it is being held by the Government, the Minister and by other speakers, indeed, that all warrants will go to the Attorney General, if that is so, though not stated clearly in any part of this Bill or in the Act of 1965, why the reluctance to put it into the Bill? Is there any harm that can be done in making it clear that warrants must in the first instance go to the Attorney General and not be relying upon what might be precedents, practice, convention, or the expected thing to be done? If Fine Gael can extricate themselves from the grand coalition, perhaps they might muster enough support today to put this harmless amendment through, unless it is deliberately being kept out to maintain the vagueness that surrounds the whole performance of the Attorney General, lest naming him, identifying him, giving him an absolute role of law from this House would endanger still further the constitutionality of a Bill which undoubtedly is extremely shaky, to say the least, without being any expert on the matter.

Accept it if you will, but at the end of the day I shall be voting against it, or if there is not a vote I shall be recording my dissent from this Bill, part of a charade, which is handing over our people to the jurisdiction of the Six Counties and Great Britain where they cannot and will not get a fair trial. I defy anybody in this House to prove otherwise on the record of those institutions, particularly over the past 15 years.

I support the amendment in the names of Deputies Blaney and Gregory, as I did on Committee Stage. I do so in the belief that the Government have indicated all along that their interpretation of the Bill — and they look to Deputy Kelly of the Fine Gael side as the source of their inspiration in regard to that view — is that the Bill by implication requires an active involvement by the Attorney General. That being so, as the point has been made to them, what is wrong with allaying the reservations of those of us in this section of the House by simply writing it in and saying that what we say is there by strong implication is there explicitly by the acceptance of this amendment? We certainly understood from the comments of the Minister on Committee Stage that he was inclined to meet us on this matter and to look at it at this stage. Nothing that the Minister has put down by way of amendment on Report Stage indicates that he is inclined to co-operate at this point in time.

The position can be gleaned from the response of the Government to amendment No. 1 which was advanced here. The Government in collusion with Fine Gael want, as much as possible, to keep a degree of vagueness in the legislation, and more particularly want to not actively involve the Attorney General as far as is practicably possible. When the suggestion was put forward to delete the word "not" as suggested in amendment No. 1 so that the Attorney General had to make a certification in respect of each application, the Minister's response was to keep the Attorney General out as much as possible and not involve him where it was not necessary.

If one brings that line of thinking further, then I presume that it will give us the basis upon which the Government will now tell us that they are not prepared to support Deputy Blaney's amendment because not to support the amendment is to leave the Bill in the position where many of us draw the implication, or make the deduction, that there is nothing that positively lays an obligation on the commissioner of the Garda Síochána or any other person to consult with or to divert the warrants to the Office of the Attorney General. There is nothing in the Bill that makes it obligatory or incumbent upon the Attorney General to seek out such warrants and make his views on them known. The way the presumptions are structured in the Bill, when the person and the warrant appear in the District Court and there is no endorsement upon it, the presumptions work to presume that there is no necessity for consultation with, or action from, the Attorney General.

In the course of what, I suppose, was about the best that Deputy Cooney of the Fine Gael Party could do to try to mirror or mimic the erudite remarks of his colleague, Deputy Kelly, on Committee Stage, it appears that on listening to the comments being made by some Deputies in the House at that time he began to get worried on this point. We can recall the question across the floor from that Deputy asking the Government to tell us how and where. By the time the Minister had the opportunity to reply, the Deputy had remarkably found something in section 43 of the 1965 Act that might have helped him. Before we knew it, the Minister had taken on board the upside down view of Deputy Cooney as the answer to the issue later in the debate. If it is not collusion, there is a certain degree of tennis playing going on between the Deputies on the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael sides.

Deputy McCartan will appreciate that we are not here to discuss collusion. We are here discussing the amendment that is before the House. I ask the Deputy, especially mindful of the fact that other Deputies are present who might want to contribute to other amendments, to direct himself to what is before us.

The Government told us on Committee Stage that they would look at this proposal. They have argued all along that the section by strong implication requires the active, constant involvement of the Attorney General but, for some reason or other, they are not prepared to make a very simple declaration to that effect as proposed in this amendment. I must pursue some of the reasons for this, to try to understand the deviousness involved.

Deputy McCartan is entitled to make that assumption, but he is not entitled to absorb all the time of the House in pursuing it.

I have been on my feet for not more than four minutes.

The Deputy appreciates that we have many amendments here and I ask him to co-operate.

The amendment is important from the point of view of The Workers' Party. I want again to make the point that I made over a half an hour of The Workers' Party time previously. This point is perhaps the most important, most crucial measure outstanding in the short time of one hour that is left to us to decide ultimately on this legislation which will be part of our law for however long. This is probably the one most worrying point left outstanding in the minds, certainly, of The Workers' Party. I have no doubt the same applies with regard to Deputy Blaney and I am sure many other Deputies.

It is no harm to dwell on this because strong indications were given to us by the Government on Committee Stage that they would give it fair consideration. We have not yet heard from the Minister, so in putting down what otherwise is a very sensible amendment we have to anticipate and glean from what has gone before as to what type of response we are going to get. The spurious explanation given by Deputy Cooney in that there was something in section 43 of the 1965 Act which could help us was one of the reasons advanced but there is nothing in that section which would suggest that the Attorney General must or should be involved in the process of considering warrants as and from the passing of this Bill.

If the Government say everything is so definite, what is wrong in doing nothing more than clearing up any residue of doubt which may be in peoples' minds about it by inserting a simple line of explicit declaration, as included in this amendment?

I indicated yesterday that we would look again at the substance of the amendment to see if any useful purpose would be served by providing specifically that warrants be submitted to the Attorney General. I indicated in my contribution yesterday the reasons we believe the existing statutory framework of Part III adequately deals with the point raised in the amendment and having considered the matter again I remain convinced that section 2, when read with section 63 of the 1965 Act, will require the Garda Commissioner to refer all warrants covered by the Bill to the Attorney General before any such warrant is endorsed.

Indeed, during the course of my contribution on Second Stage I said that the section requires that all warrants should be submitted by the Garda Commissioner to the Attorney General for his consideration.

Section 43 of the 1965 Act.

The proposed sections 44A and 44B, which section 2 inserts into the 1965 Act, have been carefully drafted to ensure that the Attorney General will be required to form an opinion one way or the other in the case of all warrants to which the Bill relates. Section 44A says that such a warrant shall not be endorsed if the Attorney General so directs and section 44B says that "a direction of the Attorney General ... shall be given unless the Attorney General... is of opinion". This clearly places the Attorney General under a duty to form an opinion in relation to each warrant under the Bill. It is only if he is of opinion that there is a clear intention to prosecute that he is entitled to decide not to give a direction.

To enable the Attorney General to fulfil this duty it will be necessary for the Garda Commissioner to refer every warrant covered by the Bill to the Attorney General. The Garda Commissioner of course will be obliged to do this in view of his clear statutory requirements on the matter. The duty of the commissioner under section 43 of the 1965 Act to endorse a warrant is subject to the provisions of Part III of that Act and the new sections 44A and 44B will be included in Part III.

I am not a lawyer but after reading this Bill I have to say that I read into it that there was an obligation on the Attorney General to see every warrant. Deputy McCartan may recall my saying that to him outside the House on the day the Bill was published.

I recall that I told you that you were wrong.

But I think I was right because the obligation imposed on the Attorney General in section 44 will oblige him to see each warrant. That was the point I was making. Therefore, from the outset I had no difficulty in accepting that there was an obligation on the Attorney General to see each warrant. The charge has been made that we are in collusion with the Government. It was an extraordinary statement to make——

The Deputy should not feel obliged to offer a great defence.

It is unfortunate, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that these charges are constantly made.

It is extraordinary that a charge of collusion is made just because we table good amendments which are accepted by the Government because they are good amendments. Let me deal with the point made by Deputy Blaney. He may find it difficult to understand the position of Fine Gael and that is quite understandable because——

We understand it all too well.

——we have nothing in common when it comes to extradition. He does not want extradition and we do.

And you do not want an election.

If we must have it he wants to make it as difficult as possible. The difference between us is that we do not want to make it as difficult as possible and the only thing we have in common is that we both agree that if there must be extradition, there must also be safeguards. Therefore, he should not become upset at the fact that he cannot understand our position. The same applies to The Workers' Party. As far back as 1986 they said they wanted to make extradition as difficult as possible. Therefore it is easy to see how they cannot understand Fine Gael's position. They should not be upset. We stick to our original statement. We want extradition but we also want safeguards.

What safeguards are you proposing?

The ones we put in place 12 months ago.

We want those safeguards put in such a way that they will not make extradition extremely difficult.

The Bill will collapse next year.

Rather than spending their time asking the Government questions there are those who seem to be obsessed with the stand Fine Gael are taking on this legislation. Why should they waste their time worrying about us, they should worry about the Minister and the Government and ask the questions of them.

You are doing the worrying for them. You are terrified that they might be overwhelmed by it.

I can assure the Deputy that I am not worried one little bit.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle——

I say to Deputy Taylor that we could afford to listen and enjoy this delightful party political banter all day if we had all day but I ask him not to continue in this party political analysis which seems to have been made appropriate to this amendment.

I am sure you know me better than that, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that is not my form.

Perish the thought.

I feel uncomfortable when I listen to talk about making extradition more difficult or more easy and of putting obstacles in the way of extradition. With respect that is the wrong approach to take on this issue. Extradition is appropriate in certain circumstances where we know that the correct person is being extradited, where we know he will get a fair trial and where we know that reasonable basic safeguards would be provided. That ought to be the thrust of the House in securing the best possible measure towards that end.

So far as this amendment is concerned I disagree with the views expressed by my colleague, Deputy McCartan, as regards the requirement or obligation to have all warrants referred to the Attorney General. Having studied the Bill with great care I initially took the view, although others may disagree with me and they obviously do, even before I heard it confirmed in the Minister's speech on Second Stage, that there was an obligation to have all warrants referred to the Attorney General. Perhaps, it is an arguable point but having said that, and having regard to the fact that that point has been conceded and agreed to, not once but many times, both by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, as there appears to be some doubt in peoples' minds and because it is not clear either in the 1965 Act or in the new Bill — although it is fairly well clear in my view that that is a requirement — for the life of me I cannot understand the objection at this stage, when we are still at the formative process of this Bill, to making the matter clear beyond any reasonable doubt.

If what was required was a new Bill, to start off a whole legislative process, I might say it was not worth the ticket or the effort but because we are at the formative stage and have the chance to make the matter clear beyond yea or nay through the addition of a few miserable words into the Bill on what we all agree is or ought to be the position, I ask the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice what are we arguing about, have we not agreed that that is to be the position? If it is 95 per cent clear anyway that that is the position, and I say that it is, so what? For the sake of the extra 5 per cent and in the interests of sheer clarity, just to confirm doubly for no extra effort, why not simply let us do it and agree to it beyond yea or nay?

I will tell Deputy Taylor why very simply. An essential principle in the drafting of legislation is that you do not put in anything unnecessary. If a piece of legislation is right it is right and you only get into trouble by adding things that are unnecessary.

You get into trouble.

The legislation gets into trouble and any draftsman, anybody in the Attorney General's office or anywhere else, will tell you that you draft a Bill as tightly as you can and anything that is not necessary you do not add in because it only causes problems. I have more experience of making laws than anybody else in the House at this stage.

(Interruptions.)

Deputy Taylor is quite right. The temptation is to do the things ex abundanti cautela, but any decent parliamentary draftsman, anybody who knows legislation will tell you that you do not do that. You frame your Bill as tightly as you can and you do not add anything that is unnecessary or duplicate or do anything of that kind.

(Interruptions.)

The Bill envisages that every application for extradition will find its way to the Attorney General. Equally, and in this I disagree with Deputy Barrett, Deputy McCartan is right. There is no statutory obligation for every warrant to find its way to the Attorney General's office. I welcome that. Consistently throughout this debate I have taken the position that I want nothing included that would represent an unreasonable impediment to extradition. It is not appropriate that a person whose extradition is sought should be in a position to assert that there had been a failure to comply with a statutory requirement to provide a warrant. I agree with Deputy McCartan that there is obligation to send this to the Attorney General but, unlike Deputy McCartan, I take comfort from that.

I must say as one of the few lay people left in this Chamber other than perhaps the Press Gallery, I become more confused the longer I stay. Deputy McCartan, who is a lawyer of one kind, a solicitor, Deputy Birmingham who is a barrister and Deputy McDowell who is a barrister all tell us it is not obvious that these warrants would have to go before the Attorney General. If there is so much doubt among the legal profession, those who will be representing people whose extradition is sought and defending their cases and so on, then surely it is reasonable, as Deputy Taylor said, that we should make it clear and write this amendment into the legislation.

The Taoiseach said the reason it is not necessary to write it in is that you do not write in what is not necessary. It seems to me you do not write the obvious into legislation. All kinds of jargon and legal words that mean very little to the ordinary lay person and sometimes have very little effect on ordinary people's lives, including people who come before the courts, are all written in in long, glorified paragraphs.

If somebody is being extradited and the Attorney General under the provisions of this Bill has not stopped that person's extradition it may well be that he has not seen the warrant, it has not come before him. I understand there is no provision in this legislation to summon the Attorney General or have the Attorney General brought to court to explain whether he has seen the warant or has examined the evidence and established whether there is a sufficient case. The ordinary citizen who may well be the subject of extradition proceedings under these provisions might never know whether his warrant and case were examined at all by the Attorney General. This legislation has been sold to the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party as a great safeguard. When they hear this debate and realise that the Attorney General may not see all the warrants and may not have to see all the warrants they may wonder whether this is a safeguard.

This legislation will go out of law 12 months from now unless we pass resolutions of the House. It is unlikely that we will do so because the storm will be over and some other problem will occupy our simple minds. Fine Gael had agreed to this procedure and the Government seem quite happy to accept that in 12 months time this legislation will go out and there will be no need for safeguards or whatever. It is extraordinary when we are trying today to bring in the final Stages of this Bill that we would not write into it a provision that would require the Attorney General to see all the warrants, given the doubt that has arisen among the legal people in this House. Three of them say they believe the Attorney Genral does not have to see all the warrants. Surely that is unusual. Three people from three different parties, all of who are practitioners of the law, each of who believes the Attorney General does not have to see the warrants, surely are sufficient for the Taoiseach and the Government to recognise what would appear to be a very obvious defect in this Bill.

Will the Taoiseach not agree that it will not in any way hinder the Bill if the intention is that the Attorney General should see all the warrants? Will it not help the case, expedite our proceedings and make people a little happier if the Atorney General will have to examine all the warrants and establish there is sufficient case? Deputy Taylor makes his suggestion believing that the Attorney General will see all the warrants but he accepts that, given the doubt, it is much better to write the provision into the Bill so that this doubt exists no longer.

We are having this debate on extradition in the Dáil this week not because of the need for safeguards to be introduced at this time. If safeguards are needed surely they were needed 22 years ago in 1965 when the Extradition Act was brought in to cover so-called ordinary criminals. Non-legal persons can have great difficulty in comprehending what is going on here this week. I believe everybody should be equal in the eyes of the law, but apparently we have one set of legal rules and regulations for so-called ordinary criminals who have been extradited from this country in the past 22 years without too much fuss or too many debates in this House about them while they were fitted up with evidence from the police force and elsewhere. Police forces have been known to fit up people with evidence when they had difficulty in proving cases. I have not read too many books or newspaper articles about those people who are extradited. Is there one set of laws for people who are accused of being terrorists — and are terrorists who plant bombs and perhaps shoot people — and another set of rules for ordinary people who are criminals? Surely they are Irish citizens too. Surely we should be worried about such people. As a social democrat I would find it very repugnant to have one set of rules for so-called terrorists——

Deputy Kemmy, you will bear with me. While the submission you are making is quite interesting I have to remind you that it is not appropriate to the amendment we are discussing. At this stage, whether one describes himself as ordinary or legal, it is required that contributions be relevant to the amendment before the House.

I have listened to irrelevant talk for the past three days here. It did not stop anybody from ranging far and wide about this.

I have endeavoured at all times to direct the attention of the House to what Standing Orders require.

The House has debated the Bill for the past three days and four minutes seems to be a very modest request.

While I appreciate the point you have made I have to direct your attention to what is——

I am speaking on amendment No. 2 but I would like to make some points——

If the Deputy directs himself to what is in amendment No. 2, the Chair will not have to remind him.

There seems to be one set of rules for the other speakers in this House and a set for me as well. I listened to rubbish for the past three days about everything under the sun. It had no relevance to the debate and it was allowed to continue. I am addressing my remarks very much to the point of this debate and my time is being spent on this silly argument, so far as I am concerned.

As I said my role as a public representative of socialists would be diminished if there was a miscarriage of justice in this country or anywhere else. Unfortunately, there are miscarriages of justice in Britain and Ireland every day of the week but we do not get too worked up here about them. As everybody knows justice in Ireland is far from being impeccable. If it is a case that safeguards are needed in this respect for suspected political terrorists, surely they became necessary when the Supreme Court effectively changed the rules of the game by redefining the meaning of the word "political" or at least when Dominic McGlinchey was extradited with the speed of light some time back.

I have to ask you to direct yourself to the amendment that is before the House, otherwise I will have to call the next speaker.

I am allowed four minutes to speak and surely that is not too much.

The Deputy is not allowed any time unless he directs himself to the amendment that is before the House. You have a copy of the amendment before you and I ask you to look at it and see if what you have said to date refers to it in any way.

I am coming to that now. Surely I am allowed to give some background information on the Bill. I do not know what you are getting so upset about if my time is only four minutes. I want to pick up where I left off. Such a need should have been obvious to the Dáil last year when it approved of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. What has happened since those events to make the present rush for safeguards so necessary? Has there been a wave of extraditions widely regarded as dubious, spurious or unwarranted? No. What has happened is that Fianna Fáil have tied themselves in a knot with a so-called rebellion, carefully fostered by their leaders, which went wrong for reasons outside their control. Fianna Fáil are now working their way out of this difficulty and in essence that is what this debate is all about. Not for the first time Fine Gael have allowed Fianna Fáil to set the terms of the debate and by allowing the Second Stage of the Bill to go through on Tuesday they have gone along with the charade and humbug being played out in the Dáil this week.

I am especially opposed to the section of the Bill which we are now talking about which makes each individual extradition a political issue because of the powers given to the Attorney General. I would have preferred to let the European Convention operate for a while before reviewing it and then to have considered whether or not safeguards were needed and, if so, what kind of safeguards. I would have preferred that approach. This Bill is principally concerned with internal Fianna Fáil politics and nothing else.

I have strong reservations about the role proposed for the Attorney General as it is wrong in principle. To consider its practical consequences in politics I have only to imagine Fianna Fáil in Opposition when it suits their representatives to wrap a green flag around themselves when the Attorney General of another party endorses the extradition of some Republican terrorist. By allowing the Second Stage through, however, the main Opposition party would appear to have had their bluff called effectively by the Taoiseach. The plethora of safeguards proposed in the Dáil this week — apart from the fact that they lend credibility to a bogus piece of Fianna Fáil politicking — represent in this context a pointless game of political musical chairs.

I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy.

I am just about to finish.

Would you please indicate your thoughts as to whether or not warrants should, as required by the amendment, be directed to the Attorney General in the first instance.

You have added about a minute to my time by your interventions.

I would put no limit at all on you if your comments were relevant.

I will not take part in the game. I oppose the Bill as a whole. It is a lost opportunity and a flawed piece of legislation. I have not taken part in the votes on these amendments and I have opposed the various stages. Some of them have been relevant and well-intentioned but I believe the Bill is a waste of time and public money and means nothing to the public outside the House.

The fact that this amendment has to be put to a vote indicates clearly the views of the Minister and presumably the Government and by and large, despite Deputy Birmingham, the views of Fine Gael as well. When this amendment and the other amendments that are left are disposed of we will have reached the conclusion of the Bill. It will be well on its way to becoming an Act, subject to signature by the President and the silence of the Supreme Court.

It is interesting to note that by prognosis some weeks ago this business was designed for a purpose. This Bill is a two-legged offering. Extradition in all its various forms is one leg. I am so confused that I do not really know what the Bill is all about and I do not think the people who put it before us really believe they know what it is about. I challenge the assertion that the drafting of the Bill was carefully done. Perhaps it was very carefully done but I have heard it said that it was been very badly done. Perhaps that was deliberate. On top of that I wonder if the Attorney General advised in favour of the Bill in the form that it was drafted. I suggest that it has not really got the hallmark of an Attorney General of note, such as the present Attorney General is.

He is a man well known to you.

The second leg of the offering is the countrywide searches. I predicted some weeks ago that these offerings are for the purpose of the visit by the Taoiseach to meet Mrs. Thatcher in the next few hours.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 27; Níl, 78.

  • Bell, Michael.
  • Blaney, Neil Terence.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Colley, Anne.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Gibbons, Martin Patrick.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • Kennedy, Geraldine.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • McCoy, John S.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • O'Malley, Desmond J.
  • O'Malley, Pat.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Abbott, Henry.
  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Matthew.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John.
  • Burke, Ray.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Gallagher, Denis.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Hilliard, Colm Michael.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lynch, Michael.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Mooney, Mary.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary T.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermott.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Noonan, Michael J.
  • (Limerick West).
  • O'Dea, William Gerard.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Peddy.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Swift, Brian.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G. V.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Blaney and Gregory; Níl, Deputies V. Brady and Browne.
Amendment declared lost.

A Cheann Comhairle, with your permission I should like to move amendments Nos. 3, 6 and 8.

Amendments Nos. 3, 6 and 8 are related and it is suggested we take them together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 2, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"(2) A direction of the Attorney General under this section may be revoked by the Attorney General at any time if he becomes of the opinion referred to in section 44B.".

These amendments arise from an amendment in the name of Deputy Seán Barrett made yesterday on Committee Stage. That amendment was intended to enable the Attorney General to revoke a direction made under the proposed section 44A. In accepting the amendment yesterday the Taoiseach indicated that he saw considerable merit in the proposal and had no difficulty with it in principle. The amendment was accepted subject to further consideration of the text.

Amendment No. 3 is being substituted for the amendment made yesterday. The principle is exactly the same in that it allows the Attorney General to revoke a direction that may have been given under section 44A. It may happen that the Attorney General would give a direction under that section but that subsequently circumstances would change. More information might become available, for example, and the Attorney General would then be in a position to form the opinion required by section 44B, that is, that there is a clear intention to prosecute and that that intention is founded on sufficient evidence.

Deputy Barrett's amendment has been redrafted to follow the existing text of section 2 more closely. We also believe that the provision is most appropriate to section 44A rather than being included by way of a new subsection to section 2. Amendments Nos. 6 and 8 arise from amendment No. 3. In making provision for the Attorney General to revoke a direction previously given, it is also desirable that the provisions of the proposal for the proposed new section 44C and the proposed new subsection (3) of section 55 which deal with proof in court proceedings of matters related to the giving of directions are also applied to the revocation or direction. That is the purpose and effect of these amendments.

We are pleased the Government accepted our amendment on Committee Stage and we have no trouble in accepting the amendments submitted on Report Stage. It is wise that this course was taken because it will save a lot of trouble in the future if the Attorney General is in the position where he will not be endorsing a warrant because of a lack of information which subsequently might come to hand. Without this amendment the original warrant would be rendered useless and we would have to go through the whole process again. For that reason, we have no problem supporting this amendment.

I find the thrust of the amendment and what it implies to be unsatisfactory and somewhat dangerous. A warrant arrives in this country to extradite a person to the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland and certain information, documents and evidence are provided. They are examined by the Attorney General so that he can form an opinion within the provisions of section 44A, B, C and D. That is the position the Bill adopts. It is not the greatest, but we are faced with it. As I said, the Attorney General examines the material and has before him a request to extradite the person concerned. Having conducted his examination, he may come to the conclusion that there is no case for him to extradite this person. Therefore, he gives a direction that the warrant is not to be backed. That is clear and understandable. In my opinion that should be the end of the matter as far as that warrant is concerned.

If a claiming country seeks to extradite a person and sends a warrant, documents and evidence, either what they are sending is adequate or it is not. If the Attorney General, the officer on whom the Government rely to give a fair, reasonable and adequate decision and to be a safeguard, decides that the material is not adequate, he must refuse to extradite that person. What the Minister is saying in this amendment is that the matter can be put in abeyance indefinitely. I see no time limit set here. The warrant could be held for a year or a few years. Is there any time limit? I do not see one.

In the meantime, for all anybody would know — I do not say it would happen but people might suspect that it would — there could be communications between the Irish and British Attorneys General. The Irish Attorney General might say if more information were sent he would see things through for him. There could be all kinds of behind the scenes, surreptitious exchanges of material going on. It could be quite an appreciable period from the time the warrant arrives until eventually the Attorney General changes his mind and accepts that additional material had been gleaned to put the matter in order. Justice should not be carried out in that way. The courts or judges do not operate in that way; cases are prepared, you go into court and the case is decided. If a person is found not guilty the prosecution do not try to get more evidence which would bring the person back into court. If he is acquitted, that is it.

It may be that additional material may be acquired — that is understandable and I do not object to it — but that is a matter for a new warrant. If they are going on a new set of circumstances and if new material comes to hand from the prosecuting authorities in the UK let them send a fresh warrant based on new material. Let them do it in an efficient, proper manner, something at which they have not excelled up to now from what one reads. If they want to extradite people they will have to do these things very carefully and in a proper manner. To have it continued on an indefinite basis is not reasonable, just or equitable.

It is unjust, oppressive and invidious.

If Members wish to intervene in the debate they must rise in their place and be recognised by the Chair.

Section 3 is a perfectly reasonable provision but I should like to remind Deputy Cowen that the Minister is introducing a completely new element here which I am sure will not find favour with Deputy Cowen. It will now be openended so that the warrant will stay with the commissioner or the Irish Attorney General awaiting the gleaning of further material. If what they send from the UK is not adequate they should send the warrant back to the Attorney General over there telling him that it does not warrant extraditing the person. They should also tell him that if he wishes to resubmit later, he should prepare a fresh warrant for examination.

In matters relating to criminal or quasi-criminal cases two principles should apply. There should be certainty of proceedings and finality to proceedings. They are two of the time honoured fundamentals which we seek in all matters relating to the liberty of a person. It is quite clear from amendment No. 12 tabled in the name of the Minister, accepting the principle of non-interference with the Attorney General and non-proper communication to the Office of the Attorney General in relation to these matters, that the Government concede a situation where a person will be aware that his or her liberty is under discussion at that level. There will not always be an element of surprise, that the first the person will know about these procedures is when the officer comes with a warrant to bring him or her before the courts.

Remembering that we are legislating for the innocent person who may be caught up in all these proceedings should be the guiding position from which we work. We should not lose sight of what we are talking about here simply because atrocities are committed and because we want to make sure that the terrorist responsible lands in the court of another jurisdiction at all costs. We all want these people to stand trial and to be punished accordingly but the way we approach the whole question of criminal law is that it is better to let the innocent go than to catch them unnecessarily in the net of our investigations. That is the whole point that has been underscored time and time again by our Supreme Court in interpreting the constitutional requirements of our laws, to ensure that an innocent person is not unnecessarily caught up in it. It is not a satisfactory arrangement that our law is left in a situation where a citizen or otherwise of this country is sitting in their home wondering when the Attorney General will make a decision, when the matter will draw to a conclusion so that the person can get on with the ordinary course of life knowing that, for the time being, the matter has been determined. For that reason, the law requires in these matters certainty and finality but this amendment denies both and this legislation should be opposed.

Deputy McCartan said we must be concerned to legislate to protect the innocent and that is undoubtedly correct. We must be concerned, too, to legislate for those Irish citizens whose lives, liberty and bodily integrity is put at risk. In respect of those Irish citizens — in many cases who have been the victims of a campaign of genocide — we have a constitutional obligation to do everything practical to vindicate their lives and liberty. One of the ways in which we do that is by seeing there is in place an effective system of extradition which will operate against those who seek to murder, maim or kidnap them.

What is involved here is a simple amendment which is designed to ensure that the process of extradition runs smoothly. Deputy McCartan spoke about the fact that in criminal law there should be certainty and finality. Of course, when it comes to a final adjudication that is so but what we are concerned about here is not even a preliminary investigation but a procedure that will take place even before the question of criminal investigation arises and before the judicial screening that takes place in our court arises. In those circumstances, it would be quite ridiculous to suggest that if information comes to hand while the matter is being considered by the Attorney General everyone should have to go back to the beginning. That would make absolutely no sense. What is involved here is the introduction of an element additional to what has worked perfectly satisfactorily since 1965. If it is the case that an Attorney General, having first formed the view that there was not sufficient evidence, is then provided with additional evidence which leads him to believe that extradition should proceed, the extradition should proceed as expeditiously as possible and there should be no obligation to start the entire process again.

This amendment comes ill from the Minister at a stage after he had refused to countenance an amendment which I had already tabled dealing with the evidence which would be available to the Attorney General at the time of his coming to the opinion to direct the endorsement of a warrant, that was that such evidence is in existence at the date the Attorney General forms such an opinion. I was fobbed off by the Minister on the basis that no other evidence would be considered except what he had on hands. The amendment was rejected on that spurious ground and now the reverse is coming in, to the effect that once the warrant is there and if there is insufficient evidence on which to form an opinion then if any evidence becomes available at any time thereafter the same warrant can be operated again and again. This is a time bomb in so far as any suspect is concerned and can only be regarded as an effort to further harass, hassle and intimidate citizens of our country who have gone through the process of being sent for under our extradition laws by our lords and masters across the Channel. Even though they had not produced enough evidence at that time, the Attorney General can change his mind thereafter and activate the very thing he had directed should not be activated on a previous occasion. It is scandalous and it is a telling example of the kowtowing, craven, creeping manner in which we are laying ourselves at the feet of Maggie Thatcher and company at this time.

The evidence Deputy Blaney is talking about is evidence prior to the endorsement of the warrant. The point I made on Second Stage and on Committee Stage is that that warrant has no validity in this jurisdiction until it is endorsed by the Garda Commissioner. All pre-endorsements of warrants should be accommodated if the Attorney General is to exercise his statutory functions properly as intended by the legislation before us.

As it is now 5 o'clock I am required to put the following question in accordance with a resolution of the Dáil of 27 November last: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Justice and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill and Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 78; Níl, 26.

  • Abbott, Henry.
  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Burke, Ray.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary T.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermott.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Gallagher, Denis.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Hilliard, Colm Michael.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Matthew.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lynch, Michael.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Mooney, Mary.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J.
  • (Limerick West).
  • O'Dea, William Gerard.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Paddy.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Swift, Brian.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.

Níl

  • Bell, Michael.
  • Blaney, Neil Terence.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Colley, Anne.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Gibbons, Martin Patrick.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kennedy, Geraldine.
  • McCoy, John S.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • O'Malley, Desmond J.
  • O'Malley, Pat.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Wyse, Pearse.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Browne: Níl, Deputies Bell and Howlin.
Question declared carried.

On a point of order, may I ask under which Standing Order an amendment, or amendments, that were challenged, on which a vote was sought, and for which the bells were rung, turns itself or themselves into a final vote on the entire rather than putting the Bill, as now amended? I feel there were people who voted for the whole even though they were carrying the amendments, who might not have done had they had the opportunity of voting against the double jeopardy clause.

The matter was put clearly from the Chair in accordance with a resolution of this House.

What about Standing Orders?

There can be no ambiguity about the matter.

It is totally and absolutely unprocedural, Sir.

Would it be in order for us to express our profound gratitude to Deputy McDowell on his finding it possible to fit in ——

Please, Deputy Roche, allow us to get on with the proper business of this House.

He missed all of the divisions and all of the debate.