Criminal Justice (No. 3) Bill, 1993: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

This is clearly a major Bill which forms a vital part of the comprehensive programme of criminal law reform which I have under way at present. There is widespread public support for the measures in the Bill and that it proposes some of the most powerful weapons against major criminals ever to come before this House.

Briefly the Bill has three main objects: first, it will enable the courts to order the seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of drug trafficking and other serious offences; second, it will create a specific offence of money laundering and require financial institutions to assist in the prevention and detection of money laundering; and thirdly, it will enable this country to co-operate with other states in the criminal field and to become a party to a number of international conventions which deal with drug trafficking, money laundering and mutual assistance in criminal matters.

All the available evidence strongly suggests that large scale crime is becoming more sophisticated in its scope with increasing international dimensions. It has also come to be recognised that where large amounts of criminal proceeds are involved it is not sufficient that the perpetrators of crime should be dealt with merely by way of imprisonment and fines and that other measures are called for. In particular, I am referring to measures such as confiscation of criminal assets which is required to target those who reap substantial rewards from crime at the expense of others and society as a whole. Nowhere is there a greater need for these additional measures than in the area of drug trafficking. We all know of the tremendous profits that can be made from drugs and that this deadly trade is being carried on by evil parasites who prey on others, especially young people, for the sole purpose of financial gain.

It is hard to imagine a greater threat to the quality of life both in this and many other countries that that posed by the activities of those whose business is the supply of drugs. The reality of what happens is all to simple. The drugs godfathers set about creating a market for their products among young — often very young — people. Very soon those whom they have successfully targeted are addicts. Addicts then tend to live for nothing but their next fix. The obsession with feeding their addiction is such that over time virtually all social values go. Typically, members of the addict's immediate family will be the first to be deceived and defrauded. Shortly after that the addict is likely to start committing crime in the community beginning with petty theft and in many cases moving on to much more serious crimes. At some point along the way the heroin drug abuser is likely to acquire the HIV virus and perhaps spread it further into the community. Many addicts will probably end up serving increasingly longer sentences in prison as part of, in many cases, their greatly shortened life-spans. The addicts themselves are just the immediate victims. There is also the agony suffered by their families and friends. Then there is the misery suffered by the community generally because of the level and serious nature of crimes committed by many of those who become addicted. Of course, none of this is of concern to drug traffickers when they reap substantial profits from their handiwork.

This Bill provides us with the opportunity to strike at the very heart of drug trafficking and other serious crime. By enabling criminals to be deprived of their ill gotten gains we will help remove, to a significant extent, the incentive which draws people into this type of crime and, in addition, ensure that money which might otherwise have been used for criminal purposes is no longer available for such purposes.

Broadly speaking, under the terms of the Bill where a person is convicted of a non drug trafficking offence on indictment the court will be able to make a confiscation order against the offender up to the amount of the benefit the court is satisfied was obtained as a result of the offence. However, where a drug trafficking conviction is involved the amount of the confiscation order will not be limited to the benefit the trafficker has derived from a particular offence but will extend to all the profits that person has made from drug trafficking.

Money laundering is another important feature of serious crime which is addressed in the Bill. Laundering is not new as criminals have always sought to cover up the illegal origins of what is frequenlty called "dirty" money. However, the growing trend towards the removal of restrictions on the movement of persons and capital between countries has made it much more difficult for law enforcement authorities to keep up with criminals who have become increasingly mobile and ingenious in their attempts to conceal and disguise their criminal proceeds.

I am aware there is a gap in our law due to the absence of a money laundering offence. The Bill fills this gap by making laundering a specific offence with very heavy penalties. In addition, the Bill contains provisions which are designed to prevent and detect money laundering in line with the EC Directive 91/308/EEC on prevention of the use of the financial systems for the purpose of money laundering. For example, obligations are being imposed on banks and other financial institutions to carry out identity checks on customers and to report suspicious transactions to the Garda Síochána.

The third significant feature of the Bill is that it will provide a legislative basis for this country to enter into arrangements with other countries whereby we will be able to obtain and provide assistance in criminal matters. This will significantly ease the task of foreign investigation and prosecution agencies in cases where crucial evidence or witnesses may be in this country. Equally, we will benefit by being able to make requests for similar assistance from countries party to the relevant international conventions.

Mutual assistance arrangements between states are the subject of a number of international conventions and a measure of the comprehensiveness of the approach which we are taking is that the Bill will enable this country to become party to the most important of those conventions, namely the Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (1959); the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988) and the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime (1990). It might be helpful if I were to outline briefly the nature of these conventions.

The 1959 mutual assistance convention applies to a wide range of measures such as the taking of evidence for foreign courts, the service of summonses and carrying out searches for evidence required in connection with foreign investigations or prosecutions. The United Nations Convention, which is generally referred to as the "Vienna Convention", requires states to co-operate in the fight against drug trafficking in particular in relation to the confiscation of the proceeds of trafficking. The general thrust of the 1990 Council of Europe convention on money laundering and related matters is similar to the Vienna Convention but its scope is much broader in that it is not limited to the proceeds of drug trafficking.

Turning now to specific provisions of the Bill, Deputies will appreciate that in view of its size and technical nature it would not be practicable for me to go through all of the Bill in detail at this stage. Obviously, this is something we will do on Committee Stage. I propose, therefore, to concentrate on the main provisions.

Part I of the Bill deals with the short title, commencement and interpretation providing extensive definitions in relation to terms used later in the Bill. Part II, which runs from sections 4 to 14, is concerned with the confiscation of criminal proceeds and is at the heart of the Bill.

Section 4 confers power on a court to make confiscation order, on the application of the Director of Public Prosecutions, against a person who has been convicted on indictment of a drug trafficking offence. For this purpose a drug trafficking offence is very widely defined and the definition is contained in section 3 in Part I of the Bill. Where a court determines that the offender has benefited from trafficking it will make a confiscation order for the amount of the benefit he or she has received from all drug trafficking and not merely from the specific offence in respect of which he or she has been convicted. The section also provides that in determining whether a person has benefited from drug trafficking or the amount of such benefit the court will apply the civil standard of proof. In this regard I would like to emphasise that there is no question of reducing the burden of proof that the prosecution must discharge to obtain a conviction in relation to a particular offence. That burden will remain on the prosecution, in the usual way, to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the offence with which he or she is charged. However, to insist that the same burden be discharged in relation to confiscation proceedings would place an intolerable task on the Director of Public Prosecutions. It would inevitably mean that many convicted traffickers would be able to retain a large portion of their illegal gains.

Section 5 makes provision for the assessment of a defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking in connection with the making of a confiscation order under section 4. The main feature of the section is that the court will be required to assume that all property in the hands of the defendant at the time of conviction and all income or other assets received by him or her in the previous six years were part of the proceeds of drug trafficking. It will be a matter for the defendant to show that particular assets or property were not, in fact, derived from trafficking and I believe it is appropriate that this type of burden should be placed on the defendant given the nature of drug trafficking and that the type of information involved will be within his or her knowledge. The court will also be in a position not to apply the assumptions if it is satisfied that there would be a serious risk of injustice if they were to be applied in a particular case. I should emphasise that where a court is satisfied that proceeds of drug trafficking arose prior to six years before the conviction these too can be confiscated: the difference would be that the same evidential assumptions would not apply.

The situation where the defendant's assets are less than the amount the court assesses to be his or her proceeds of drug trafficking is covered in section 6. If that proves to be the case the confiscation order will be made for the amount of the defendant's actual assets.

The making of confiscation orders, where a person is convicted on indictment of non drug trafficking offences, is provided for in section 7. The procedure will be similar to that in drug trafficking cases but the maximum amount of the confiscation order will be restricted to the value of the defendant's benefit from the specific offence involved and the type of assumptions which are provided for in section 5 will not apply.

Sections 8 and 9 are concerned with the provision of information by the Director of Prosecutions and the defendant in confiscation proceedings. Section 10 includes a provision, inter alia, that before making a confiscation order a court can take account of a civil action that may be instituted against the defendant in respect of his or her crime and any other order that involves payment to another person, for example, a compensation order made under the Criminal Justice Act, 1993.

The effect of section 11, which has to be read with section 12, is to allow confiscation orders to be made against persons who have died or absconded. These will apply where a person has been convicted of an offence on indictment but subsequently dies or absconds and also where a person against whom proceedings have been instituted absconds.

Part III of the Bill is concerned with the enforcement of confiscation orders. Perhaps the most important point to note in this regard is that under section 15 such orders will be enforceable by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the same way as a civil debt to the State for the amount involved. In this way the Director will be able to rely on the whole range of civil remedies available in respect of civil debts to realise and collect money due under a confiscation order. In addition, specific provision is made to enable the court to appoint a receiver in respect of the defendant's property. The section also makes provision for the enforcement of a confiscation order by the committal to prison of a defendant who does not comply with such an order. The period of imprisonment to be served will be related to the amount to be paid or which is outstanding under the order and will be determined in accordance with a table at the end of the section. Where a defendant serves a term of imprisonment under section 15 this will not affect the power of the Director of Public Prosecutions to take other action to enforce the confiscation order. In other words, imprisonment will not be in substitution for compliance with a confiscation order.

Part III also provides, in sections 19 and 20, for the making of restraint orders by the High Court. The purpose of these sections is to ensure that confiscation orders will not be frustrated by the transfer by criminals of their assets to other parties. The effect of a restraint order will be to prevent any person dealing with the property covered by the order without the permission of the High Court. The operation of sections 19 and 20 is not restricted to the situation where a confiscation order has actually been made and, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, they allow the Director of Public Prosecutions to obtain a restraint order against a person who has not yet been charged with a criminal offence in respect of which a confiscation order might be made. To avoid alerting criminals that their property may be restrained, provision has been made to enable a restraint order to be sought without notice to the defendant. It will be open to a defendant in restraint proceedings, or another person whose property has been affected, to seek the discharge or variation of a restraint order.

I now propose to move on to Part IV of the Bill which is concerned with money laundering. Section 27 creates a new offence of money laundering. It is very wide in scope and will apply whether a person has laundered their own criminal proceeds or proceeds from crimes committed by others. The maximum penalties for the offence will be imprisonment for up to 14 years and/or an unlimited fine. This reflects the seriousness of the offence. In addition, it should be noted that an offence will be committed where laundering is carried out in respect of criminal proceeds which are derived from crimes committed before section 27 comes into operation or from offences abroad.

Section 28 obliges banks and other financial bodies whose services are likely to be used to conceal criminal proceeds to adopt measures to prevent and assist in the detection of money laundering.

In particular, the section requires that customers be identified and that records relating to identifications and to transactions be retained in case they may be needed for money laundering investigations. These requirements are provided for in the EC Directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering.

Part V of the Bill is concerned with drug offences at sea. The purpose of this Part is to give effect to certain provisions of the UN Drugs Convention. Sections 29 and 30 extend the scope of our criminal law to deal with drug trafficking on Irish and other ships. Sections 31 and 32 make provision for prosecution and enforcement matters arising out of sections 29 and 30.

Part VI of the Bill makes provision for international co-operation with other countries in criminal matters. I have already referred to various international conventions that operate in this field. It is our intention to ratify those conventions as quickly as possible after the Bill has been enacted. The overall effect will be to enable this country to play a full part at international level in the fight against drug trafficking and other serious crime.

I do not consider it necessary at this stage to go into any great detail on Part VI of the Bill but, to illustrate the very broad nature of the provisions, I believe it would be appropriate to list the forms of assistance which are covered. They are: the enforcement of confiscation and forfeiture orders; the service of summonses and other judicial documents; the taking of evidence for criminal proceedings; the transfer of prisoners to give evidence or assist criminal investigations; and searches for material required for foreign investigations.

Part VII is, in effect, the miscellaneous part of the Bill. There are a number of its provisions to which I would like to refer briefly.

Section 44 supplements the earlier money laundering provisions by requiring the disclosure by banks and other financial bodies of suspicious transactions to the Garda Síochána. In addition, section 45 makes it an offence for a person to prejudice an investigation that may be under way following a disclosure made under section 44. Section 48 allows a court to make a forfeiture order in respect of property which was used or intended to be used in the commission of an offence.

Section 50 empowers a court, under specified conditions, to order a person to disclose to the Garda Síochána material which is required for the purpose of investigating serious crime or in connection with confiscation proceedings. Additional provision is made in section 51 for the issue of search warrants to allow the Garda to obtain access to information where the disclosure procedure under section 50 has proved unsuccessful or where it would not be practicable or appropriate.

Sections 52, 53 and 54 provide for the payment of compensation in connection with the operation of the confiscation and related provisions of the Bill.

I have set out an outline of the main provisions of the Bill and I am confident that the Bill will be found acceptable in principle by all sides of the House. I can assure Deputies that I will consider fully the points which they make today and during later stages of the debate.

Given the provisions which I have outlined I believe that the importance of this Bill in terms of tackling the activities of major criminals and drug traffickers in particular will be self-evident. I am determined — and I am sure I will have the support of every Member of this House — that this country should adopt the strongest possible measures to see that we do not allow a situation where criminals can live off their ill-gotten gains. Equally, we must not allow this country to become a soft target for international crime. I believe the Bill sends out a very clear message that we are prepared to take whatever measures are necessary to make sure that does not happen.

I commend the Bill to the House.

A Cheann Comhairle, I seek permission to have written into the record of the House some tables on opium production which I have already submitted to the Editor of Debates and to which I shall be referring in the course of my contribution.

The Deputy's request can be acceded to in respect of relevant matter. However, it should not include maps.

The following are the tables submitted by Deputy Gay Mitchell:

Illicit Opium Estimates

Cultivation

Major Source Country

Net Cultivation (acres)

Net Cultivation (acres)

Burma

1990

370,747

150,100

1991

395,200

160,000

Thailand

1990

8,484

3,435

1991

7,410

3,000

Laos

1990

75,533

30,580

1991

73,174

29,625

Mexico

1990

13,462

5,450

1991

9,300

3,765

Guatemala

1990

2,087

845

1991

2,828

1,145

Colombia

1990

Unknown

Unknown

1991

2,865

1,160

Afghanistan

1990

30,566

12,375

1991

42,459

17,190

Pakistan

1990

20,266

8,205

1991

19,834

8,030

Lebanon

1990

7,904

3,200

1991

8,398

3,400

Iran

1990

Unknown

Unknown

1991

Unknown

Unknown

Production

Major Source Country

Production (tons)

Production (Metric tons)

Burma

1990

2,475

2,250

1991

2,585

2,350

Thailand

1990

44

40

1991

39

35

Laos

1990

303

275

1991

292

265

Mexico

1990

68

62

1991

45

41

Guatemala

1990

14

13

1991

19

17

Colombia

1990

Unknown

Unknown

1991

30

27

Afghanistan

1990

457

415*

1991

627

570**

Pakistan

1990

182

165

1991

198

180

Lebanon

1990

35

32

1991

37

34

Iran

1990

330

300

1991

330

300

Total:

1990 = 4,202 tons (3,819 metric tons)

1991 = 3,908 tons (3,552 metric tons)

Note: Opium generally converts to heroin hydrochloride at ratio of 10:1. Point estimates cited above reflect a mathematical mean point estimate and are not intended to imply a degree of accuracy or certitude which cannot be obtained due to the nature of illicit drug cultivation and production.

* DEA believes that multi-cropping and the use of fertilizers in Afghanistan renders the 1990 estimate of 457 tons (415 metric tons) to the lower end of a potentially higher production range in Afghanistan.

** DEA believes that higher yields may exist in Afghanistan and that production could potentially be above 990 tons (900 metric tons).

I will not be opposing the Second Reading of this Bill. However, I wish to point out that I received the Bill last Monday week. It had been supplied to the Press the previous Thursday evening, embargoed for 1 a.m. the following morning. That is a discourtesy to me and to Members of this House. If, as a Legislature, we are to seriously respond to its detailed contents we should have had this Bill well in advance of Second Stage. That is not acceptable and is contrary to what the Taoiseach promised in this House, which was that we would have at least a fortnight's notice. In the case of a Bill of this kind, containing a number of very detailed sections, we would need more than a fortnight's notice and should have received this Bill much earlier.

The provisions of this Bill will fail unless we have the courage and determination to pursue drug barons to their sources, that is those countries internationally which continue to export illegal drugs with impunity. Some countries are exporting more illegal drugs, in terms of gross national product, than they do for the whole of their legitimate products added together. For example, in 1991 almost 4,000 tonnes of opium were produced in ten named countries which I provided in the table I have submitted for the record. There are clear indications that Colombia, the largest producer of illicit opium is now entering the heroin business. Heroin sources are Turkey, the golden crescent in South West Asia, where Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran adjoin, and the golden triangle in South East Asia, Thailand, Laos and Burma.

With this knowledge of the content and sources of these drugs one would be forgiven for suspecting that the feeble response of the European Union is a sinister one. Who, or what, has a grip on the European Union that it has not yet established a drugs enforcement agency along the lines of the American DEA? Is it the Mafia or Dutch business interests? It is very clear where the drugs are going. I have documented for the record of this House where these drugs are produced, from where they emanate in large numbers and where the GNP of those countries is greater from illegal drugs than all their other products put together. Why is the European Union not taking a diplomatic offensive against those producing countries? It is far too late when these drugs are on the ground, endeavouring to deal with the problem at that level only. Of course, it must be dealt with at that level but also at a macro level. With the exception of John Cushnahan who has raised the need for a European coastguard to tackle this problem — why have our MEPs been so silent for the last four years?

There is a huge drugs problem in this country with drugs being sold openly on our streets, brought into the European Union, warehoused through Rotterdam, distributed throughout the European Union, coming in boat loads directly to Britain and changing routes, without there being any macro plan to tackle the problem.

I suggest to this House that there is at least good ground for suspecting sinister reasons for the European Union not taking this enormous problem seriously, or placing it at the top of their agenda. As one of my colleagues said to me recently, drugs distribution in Dublin has become one of the fastest growing indigenous industries. I will not steal his thunder; I will allow him to make that point himself.

Money laundering from these illegal sources is corrupting all sorts of people. The money laundered is then competing with the legitimate business community in a further distortion of society. We must tackle this problem on a multifaceted basis. An Irish DEA, perhaps even an Irish/British DEA, with a European DEA, is required to tackle the problem internationally, by giving incentives, or taking economic sanctions against those countries which continue to export these drugs. The Minister gives the impression that she is in favour of a DEA but she has never given a commitment to this House that she will set up a DEA. Is the Minister going to set it up or not?

The courts should be empowered to appoint auditors to find out the resources of criminals so that these can be confiscated. That is not provided for in the Bill. If there is to be confiscation the resources confiscated can be used to pay those auditors or inspectors, call them whatever you wish. There is nothing in this Bill to allow the courts to appoint people to go and find out where these criminals keep their assets. It is all very well saying to somebody who has been selling boat loads of heroin or whatever that we will take away your little bank account in such and such a building society. What about the millions of pounds these people have seeded away outside the country, perhaps in Northern Ireland? We need auditors so that an audit trail can be set up to find out precisely where these people keep their assets. It is pointless giving courts the power to confiscate assets unless they also have the power to find out the full extent of those assets. That is not provided for in the Bill and it is a substantial weakness in the Bill.

If we are serious about dealing with the alarming crime problem, much of which is related to our serious drugs problem, with drugs being sold openly on the streets, why is there no co-ordinated plan to fight back? I have in mind a Cabinet sub-committee chaired by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and including the Ministers for Health and Justice. There is no point in putting in a few more resources to deal with the problem in some areas — that is needed — but unless we are prepared to tackle the source of the 4,000 tonnes of drugs internationally, which is known and documented, we are not taking the problem seriously and we are not approaching the matter in a businesslike way.

An EC sponsored Christian Democrat meeting in Santiago de Chile, in March 1992 considered drug trafficking, including an overview of illegal drug production and distribution worldwide. Its findings, as set out by Phillippe Cosyn in a document published in May 1993, were frightening, given that the drugs barons are so well organised and the international response is so feeble. Much of the information used in this speech comes from that conference's conclusions, including the table I have submitted.

Vast criminal empires have emerged in recent years with the rise of an unprecedented drug epidemic. These criminal empires have amassed so much money and power that they have not only become states within states, but fullfledged multinationals of crime that spread their corrupting influences all over the world. Terrorist organisations and guerilla groups have also, for their own funding purposes or for a drugs for weapons deal, become involved in many parts of the world.

The head of the United States Senate sub-committee investigating drugs trafficking, Senator John Kerry, said five years ago: "Narcodollars are buying entire countries and altering geopolitics". He was speaking of the Colombian cartels which have come to dominate the cocaine trade. These cartels are involved with the production, transportation and sale of illicit drugs — the peasant growing the coca leaf, the chemist who refines it, the pilot who flies it to the consumer country. Then there are the financial managers, lawyers who handle legal complications, so-called "bagmen" who offer bribes and launder money, and gunmen to eliminate those who get in the way. Colombia ranks only third in the worldwide cultivation of coca leaves, the largest being Peru with an estimated yield of close to 700 tons of cocaine in 1991, and Bolivia, with 460 tons in the same year. However, Colombia is the largest producer of cocaine since most of the coca cultivated in Bolivia and Peru is converted to paste form and is flown to Colombia for further refinement into the powdery end product.

It is the business end that is not being tackled by the international community of which we are formal members. The single biggest economic and political bloc in the world is the European Union. We have a seat at the governing table of that Union, where the Minister for Justice sits down with other Ministers for Justice. What are they doing to tackle this problem? The answer is "practically nothing". Am I being unreasonable in putting forward suggestions, doubts or suspicions of sinister involvement within the European Union when we see the response? It will be too late when Colombia gets involved with cocaine or heroin. God help us, we cannot handle what we have. With their established network we are in for big trouble if that happens.

The power of the cartels has not been benevolent to Colombia. Hundreds of thousands of Colombian youths have become addicted to "bazuko", a cheap form of cocaine. Violence and corruption have devastated Colombian society, with those politicians, policemen and judges who refuse to be bribed being slaughtered in large numbers. The cartels have terrorised the state apparatus and use paramilitary organisations and paid assassins, known as sicarios, who will kill for less than 100 dollars.

There are alarming indications that the Colombian cartels are planning to expand their activities into heroin cultivation. Many countries in that region are used as transit points for illicit drugs destined for the US and Europe. Venezuela is emerging as an important transit country, while Uruguay, with its bank secrecy system, is thought to be a money laundering haven as well as a transit country. Once in Europe the drugs can be warehoused and distributed easily.

Let us talk about the various trails. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug. Cannabis grows in many parts of the world and its cultivation has risen steeply since the 1980s. Mexico supplies about 70 per cent of marijuana consumed in the US, which has its own so-called "Emerald Triangle" production area in northern California, and about half of the world supply.

South-East Asia is another cannabis growing area, with Thailand and Laos and, to a lesser extent, the Philippines and Cambodia major producing countries. In North Africa, Morocco is a producer of both marijuana and hashish, which is shipped to Italy, Spain and Gibraltar. These are established facts. Traditional sources of heroin are: Turkey, the "Golden Crescent", an area where Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan adjoin; in south west Asia, the "Golden Triangle", where Thailand, Laos and Burma intersect, and in south east Asia and Mexico.

Added to the producing countries is a web of numerous transshipment countries which are numerous. It can be seen from all of this that simply tackling the drugs problem on the ground after the drugs have arrived is insufficient. We need a multi-faceted approach, with all of this government and inter-government led.

The budget for the Department of Justice this year is over £500 million. This is not all spent on enforcement of drug laws, but a substantial amount is, since much of the mugging, robbery, burglary and petty theft which takes place is related to financing an expensive drugs habit. In addition, the Department of Health and other agencies incur substantial expenditure.

Drug abuse and trafficking brings buyers in contact with criminals since illicit drugs are sold underground. As well as theft, some drug users turn to prostitution as a source of drugs money and this, together with shared needles, increases the incidence of AIDS.

It also promotes a culture which believes that fast money can be made and this is more attractive than honest labour in the user's or pusher's mind. Ever younger persons are targeted by drug traffickers, both as buyers and accomplices. This has been especially true since the appearance of "crack" on the streets of the United States and Europe. This highly addictive drug, which causes a strong craving for more sells in the United States for as little as $3 a vial. Drug traffickers make use of juveniles because they are rarely imprisoned for long periods and are quickly available again. This is just another indication of the corruptiong influence of the drug business.

An often ignored side effect of the drugs problem is the damage it does to the environment in the consumer and producer countries. In producer countries, for instance, the tropical rain forest is under threat as vegetable and animal life if destroyed by chemicals used in processing drugs. The drug epidemic also imposes enormous burdens on the economy of a country. In the workplace, drug abuse leads to a diminished work ethos. Innocent individuals suffer from thefts and burglaries by drug addicts who need money to support their habit and it can draw legitimate business into the drugs culture with "underground money" being moving into the "above ground" economy giving drug barons influence and immensely corrupting powers. Add to this, the health and law enforcement costs and it can be seen that the legitimate economy can be greatly distorted by the drugs world.

There are those who argue that illegal drugs should be made legal because after all alcohol is legal. Proponents advance the following arguments in favour of legalisation of drugs: (1) the libertarian argument which questions why society should have the right to limit the freedom of adults; (2) personal freedom: a war against drugs may cause a threat to the individual freedoms by the implementation of repressive measures, such as stringent search and seizure powers, wire tapping and so on; (3) hypocrisy of drug laws; why allow some drugs such as alcohol and not others? (4) it does not work: despite tough laws it has been impossible to reduce drug trafficking and abuse; (5) prohibition means criminalisation; drug users, including youths, must turn to the criminal underground to buy what they want; (6) prohibition also causes a blackmarket which fosters crime at home and abroad; (7) decriminalising drugs would be good for public health, for example, it could slow down the spread of AIDS; (8) decriminalising drugs would eliminate the need for expensive law enforcement. These are not my arguments but the arguments put forward by people who favour the legalising of drugs.

The arguments against it include: (1) the moral argument: one does not solve a problem by ignoring it. In other words, something that is wrong does not become "good" because one has chosen to change the label for the sake of convenience. What proponents argue is, in fact, a policy of capitulation; (2) man does not live an isolated life. Living in a society requires living according to a set of rules and restrictions for the good of all. Driving under the influence of alcohol is both dangerous to the individual as well as to the public, hence it is forbidden; (3) the historical argument: until the 19th century, most of the now illicit drugs were freely available. They were prohibited and/or restricted because there was a need to do so; (4) the legalisation of drugs would, without any doubt, lead to increased consumption, as even proponents of legalisation admit; (5) it is by no means certain that allowing the free sale of drugs would put an end to organised crime which survived the abolition of prohibition in the United States; (6) legalising drugs could have some beneficial effects on certain aspects of the health situation, such as the spread of AIDS, but increased drug use would put new stresses on the health care system; (7) legalising drugs could lead to reduced expenditure on law enforcement but could not eliminate it; increased drug use would have to be accompanied by increased testing of personnel involved in dangerous work, for example, people driving a car, and so on; (8) other social costs would remain; (9) legalising some drugs, such as marijuana and not others such as crack, would not solve the problem and could actually wither away the existing "fire break".

Unless the Minister is prepared to look at the problem in the way that I have been advocating in his House instead of continuing with this nonsense of a fire brigade service and PR exercise she is engaged in, the drugs problem will continue. I believe we need a Cabinet subcommittee, a European drugs enforcement agency as well as an Irish drugs enforcement agency and a coastguard service to tackle the drugs problem before the drugs are on the streets. This Bill has given a great deal of publicity to the problem but I can guarantee that unless the steps I have advocated are taken the flow of drugs will continue and the corrupting influence of the money launderers, drug pushers and other criminals will continue. There is no evidence whatsoever that either in the national or European context that a plan of action is in place. We are getting a public relations exercise and when the photo opportunities fade, the problem will still be there unless the Minister starts to approach the problem along the lines I have been advocating.

I agree that the drugs problem, as Deputy Mitchell has said, requires various measures but this Bill is confronting very efficiently one aspect of the scourge of drug trafficking. On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, I warmly welcome the publication of this Bill and I wish to express my party's support for this radical measure.

It is very radical legislation, in fact it could be said to be draconian. This draconian Bill is necessary. The Law Reform Commission carried out a review of the law in this area in 1987 and examined the possibility of confiscating the proceeds of crime. It recognised that constitutionally sound legislation that brought forward such a measure would be draconian. I do not think there is anybody in this House or a citizen in the country who would criticise this Bill for that fact because it needs to be draconian to be effective. For as long as there has been crime and criminal activity there has been concern to ensure that criminals do not flagrantly benefit from criminal activity. This legislation seeks to confront the injustice of the fact that crime pays and that "criminals are laughing all the way to the bank". For that reason I welcome this legislation. I congratulate the Minister and the parliamentary draftsman for their excellent work in comprehensively covering all the angles. With the introduction of this Bill, we wil be now in compliance with our international obligations.

Much intellectual investment has been made in the preparatory work in framing this Bill. The Law Reform Commission was asked to examine the matter because of the need to comply with international obligations in relation to drug trafficking and money laundering. As in all legislation that goes through the House, it has to be scrutinised in detail now and on Committee Stage to ensure that it is as effective as it is intended to be and that it is constitutionally sound.

Members have outlined the problems in Dublin, and I am sure Deputy Gregory's contribution will give deep insights because of his deep knowledge of the problems in the inner city, which he represents. There is good cause to be concerned about the increasing proliferation of hard drugs among young people. What has happened in Dublin over the past 20 years has been horrific and has actually caused the loss of generations of inner city children and young adults. Nobody will baulk at this draconian provision. It is very welcome legislation.

We have all had cause to examine the consequences of drug addiction in Dublin because of its direct link with muggings and crime, both petty and violent. This has prompted a desire among the general public for strong, effective legislation to tackle those "aristocrats of crime", commonly known as drug barons who benefit from the misery that heroin addiction causes, particularly in Dublin.

Recently I visited the women's prison in Mountjoy where of the 26 inmates 17 were IV users, heroin addicts. Anybody who has cause to deal with socially disadvantaged areas across the city and county, and in other major urban centres, has seen the terrible social and human cost of drug addiction of our young citizens. This legislation is one measure which seeks to confront the people who are not addicted but who make money from the proliferation of drugs. The fact that these people are not victims but are highly organised intelligent people who have foregone a life of compliant citizenship is what makes the crime more heinous. It is because crime pays they have become involved in international drug trafficking. As they are so callous and calculating and are not victims of drug abuse, people feel that they are the most infamous and detested of criminals.

The international perspective of the Bill has been covered in some detail by Deputy Mitchell. The problem with regard to tracing the proceeds of the crime has undoubtedly engaged the concern of the parliamentary draftsman. It is not clear to what extent the authorities can successfully trace the proceeds of crime so it was essential to build certain welcome presumptions into the law.

Section 7 deals with the making of confiscation orders for offences other than drug trafficking but the section could be more clearly drafted. It should list a schedule of the offences covered by this Bill. Section 7 (4) is obscure and the language should be precise. For example, it could be stated that where offences carry penalties over a certain number of years, the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, sets out such a distinction and a schedule.

Section 7 could be improved by allowing the court to order that the defendant should pay the costs of the prosecution where a wealthy defendant is found guilty and it is obvious that he has resources. Even if a confiscation order is not made it would be appropriate that where convicted the defendant should be made responsible for the high costs of the State in bringing the prosecution. I may table an amendment on that at a later stage.

Due to the increased sophistication of these aristocrats of crime, the need for international co-operation is paramount. This legislation enables us to take part in international conventions and comply with international regulations. The law must be in a constant state of evolution in order to adapt to the changing sophistication of the criminal genius involved in international money laundering and drug trafficking.

The Bill provides a welcome draconian power for the State to seize the proceeds of crime by allowing the Director of Public Prosecutions powers to secure the freezing of assets before a criminal trial takes place or an accused is charged. If one thinks of civil litigation this is related to Mareva Orders and Anton Pillar Orders which have become quite common particularly in England. The Law Reform Commission considered the law on forfeiture and seizure and considered the various search powers which were available under specific statutory provisions. The law provides for the seizure and appropriate disposal of stolen goods under the larceny Acts but, apart from the larceny Acts, there are other statutory provisions on the forfeiture on articles and goods. Under section 202 of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1976, custom officers are empowered to seize all goods liable to forfeiture under the Act and vehicles used in importing and dealing with them without any court order. We have comprehensive search and seizure provisions in other aspects of the law.

Section 30 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977, provides for the forfeiture of anything which is seen to relate to an offence under the Act, but case law has shown that difficulties arose as to whether moneys were intrinsically connected with the actual drugs supply operation. Clearly case law has shown that wider powers are required if the prosecution authorities are to ensure that the penalties imposed for certain offences, in particular drug trafficking offences, are genuinely effective in ensuring that the commission of the offence is not profitable.

The Law Reform Commission also looked at the various search powers which now exist under the various statutory provisions which usually require an application for a warrant to a District Court Judge or a Peace Commissioner. Under section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977, power is given to a member of the Garda Síochána to search any person or vehicle without warrant where possession of drugs is suspected. A similar provision exists, by virtue of section 8 of the Criminal Law Act, 1976, where a Garda suspects that an offence has been or is being committed.

There are previous provisions for discovery under our civil law and our tax legislation provides powers of inspection relating to the collection of income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax and so on. The effectiveness of any forfeiture provisions in any legislation is largely diminished by the likelihood that once the defendant gets wind of the fact that he is being watched or is under suspicion, the assets will quickly disappear. The key point is that until the legislation comes through there is no legislative provision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to immobilise property prior to and pending trials. Under this Bill we are ensuring that the defendant does not anticipate prosecution in advance of the trial and deprive the proceedings of their efficacy by removing assets from the jurisdiction.

The report of the Law Reform Commission indicated that it was no longer justifiable to leave the question of the freezing of the proceeds of crime to the uncertainties of the law on injunctions, Mareva, or otherwise. It stated that if such pre-trial restraint was to be constitutional it should be based on the statute such as this which lays out clearly the circumstances and the powers involved, what must be programmed by the prosecution and what redress there might be by way of safeguards for the person affected in the light of other constitutional rights, including the right to a fair trial, and that one is deemed innocent until proved guilty. Those issues must be teased out and balanced in the interest of the public and the Minister and the draftsperson tackled those constitutional difficulties in this legislation.

In the United Kingdom the Drug Traffic Offences Act, 1986, introduced measures to provide for the tracing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of drug trafficking. In Australia and many other places throughout the world similar legislation was introduced to tackle drug trafficking and money laundering. The United States has introduced an extensive and complex system of civil and criminal forfeiture statutes to deal with such crimes. Other provisions of the US code have recognised situations where property could be seized without any warrant, including seizure instant to arrest.

There are also extensive measures, both at State and Federal level, designed to curb money laundering by putting specific requirements on financial institutions to report certain large domestic currency transactions to the authorities. I welcome the fact that the question of money laundering is being tackled seriously in this legislation, which provides for 14 years' imprisonment and/or confiscation for such an offence. That provision will be warmly welcomed by most people because it relates to white collar crime which to date has not been adequately responded to in this jurisdiction. The obligations placed on financial institutions in section 28 of the Bill will be warmly welcomed and will change the culture of many banks and building societies here. In the past some banks tended to boast that mums the word in regard to certain transactions. Such a culture must be changed and I welcome the provisions in section 28 in that regard.

An aspect of the Law Reform Commission's review in this area which is not covered in the legislation relates to the compensation of victims of crime. In the context of the seizure of the assets of criminals this legislation provides an opportunity for the State to compensate such victims. I spoke recently in this House about that matter and my party advocated its concern in that regard. At present the only social response to the victims of crime, particularly in regard to him and suffering, is a voluntary body called the Irish Association for Victim Support. We called for the restoration of pain and suffering in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal, which was removed because of the costs involved, and no party appreciates public finance cost factors as much as ours.

As confiscation procedures will apply to serious offences, the assets of wealthy criminals who have destroyed people's lives by their criminal activities could be seized with a view to compensating the victims of those crimes. That matter could be addressed on Committee Stage. I acknowledge that the Minister is supportive of the Irish Association for Victim Support. That association is well credited and established and to some extent is supported by the State. Nevertheless, it needs, to expand, and in the absence of a formal State response to the pain and suffering of the victims of crime, the State should provide adequate funding for that organisation. The association provides a good service by counselling and accompanying victims to trials who appear as prosecution witnesses. If the State is not prepared to provide such a service it should support the voluntary organisation which has taken on the task of doing so.

This is excellent legislation and confronts the logic that crime pays. I congratulate the Minister on introducing it.

I wish to share my time with Deputy Gilmore.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I also welcome this long awaited Bill, which was promised on many occasions during the past ten years. It certainly has been called for by Opposition spokespersons for some time now.

I am not a legal expert or an expert on complicated legislation such as this. Therefore, I do not know how effective the Bill will be or how easy it will be for drug dealers to lodge their profits in bank accounts in the names of family members, friends, respectable associates or front people, making it extremely difficult to link the money with its original source, drug dealing. Neither do I know how effective the Bill will be in confiscating assets known to be accumulated from drug dealing before the accused is convicted. Provision is made for freezing assets, but ultimately I assume it will be necessary to convict the drug dealer before the assets can finally be confiscated. If that is not the case, I would like the matter clarified.

While this legislation is necessary, from a deterrent point of view it is not the answer to the hard drugs problem. I do not wish to take from the necessity for the Bill, but solely from a deterrent point of view the answer to the drugs problem is already contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1984, where sentences of up to 14 years, and in some cases life sentences, are provided for. Despite the huge drugs problem about which we are all aware, when did we last hear of a 14 year sentence being imposed on a drug dealer? A life sentence has never been imposed on a drug dealer here. I can recall when the last 14 year sentence was imposed on such a person, but it is some years ago. That is certainly not because we do not have a major hard drugs problem. I compliment the Minister on the way she described the problem, the misery and agony it causes for the addicts and their families, in particular, and the huge spiralling crime problem linked to drug dealing. Major drug dealers are operating here; but we do not appear to be catching or convicting them, much less being in a position to confiscate their assets, which is provided for in this legislation.

Why have such heavy sentences not been imposed on drug dealers here? Is it because of a lack of prosecutions or because of the failure of the Judiciary to convict them? The Minister stated that we all know the tremendous profits that can be made from drugs and the deadly trade being carried on by evil parasites who prey on others. We are all aware of that, but are the members of the Judiciary who deal with such criminals aware of it? It is regrettable that in some instances during recent years it appears the Judiciary did not appreciate the devastation caused by those dealing in hard drugs. When convicted drug dealers, who do not use drugs but profit from their supply, come before the courts they do not receive the full rigour of the heavy sentencing provided for by the Oireachtas.

In my own area on the north side of Dublin every heroin dealer is known to the Garda, but it is difficult to convict them. In recent weeks an individual — this case was highlighted in a Sunday newspaper — was convicted for supplying and possessing heroin up to a value of £100,000, but this was the exception. In that case the individual concerned did not use drugs, had never worked a day in his life; yet, he had a high lifestyle. In the photograph carried in the Sunday newspaper he is shown enjoying himself in Italy during the World Cup while his victims were dying from AIDS or from following the use of impure heroin in the area he lives in. He would know many of his victims.

I represent an area where hard drugs are still openly on sale on street corners, in public view; where young teenagers are given heroin to smoke — I think it is called "chasing the dragon"— where increasing numbers of young teenagers start smoking heroin and undoubtedly move onto injecting it, thereby contracting AIDS; where children come home to their parents with bloodied syringes which they find on stairways and parks; where the local drug treatment centre has a waiting list of almost 200 addicts and where people face the horrific threat of AIDS on a daily basis. Recently in my constituency the owner of a small business, whom I have known for many years, was confronted by a crazed individual waving a blood-filled syringe. He was cut with the syringe and it was found later when the blood was tested that it was HIV positive. That is the nightmare facing many people in the inner city of Dublin and will face others in many other parts of Dublin and other cities throughout the country.

This is the direct result of the activities of a relatively small number of individuals who do not use drugs themselves but who bring in heroin because they know there are huge profits to be made rapidly from the supply of heroin. Our first priority should be to concentrate Garda resources on bringing these people to justice and handing down extremely heavy sentences. If drug dealers are convicted and a lenient sentence is handed down the message to others will be that it is worth the risk. However, when a drug dealer is convicted and a heavy sentence is handed down, this has an impact on others who deal in heroin in areas such as the north inner city of Dublin.

I will conclude shortly as I wish to share my time evenly with Deputy Gilmore. By and large, heroin dealers in my area draw social welfare payments; do not work; buy houses; are believed to buy shops, businesses and pubs; have new cars, regularly go on expensive holidays just like the individual who was convicted a week or two ago, have banker's cards and appear to be able to accumulate large profits with relative ease. It is inevitable that others will follow their example when they see them getting away with it and with a high lifestyle as a result. While I welcome this Bill, it is absolutely essential that we concentrate our efforts and resources on bringing these known individuals to justice and putting them behind bars for a lengthy period. If we fail to do this, confiscating their assets will be of secondary importance. That is not the priority, it must be to put those people behind bars.

It is no coincidence that there is heroin addiction in poor areas such as my own. High unemployment, poor housing conditions and children dropping out of second level education feed the heroin problem. The areas where there are many dreadful social problems and where people, out of a sense of hopelessness, take drugs such as heroin have been represented for many years by some of the most powerful politicians in this State but they have neglected to deal with these problems and as a result we now have a major heroin problem.

I thank Deputy Gregory for sharing his time with me. This Bill has been presented at a time when we are experiencing a drugs crisis. Recently, there was a phenomenal haul of cannabis off the coast of Kinsale with an estimated value of around £12 million. This shows the profits that are to be made from drugs. The figures published in the Garda Commissioner's report highlight the extent of the increase in drug related crime. The number of drug related offences increased from 3,088 in 1991 to almost 3,500 in 1992 while the number of drugs seizures increased from 3,500 in 1991 to over 4,200 in 1992. On top of this, the drug problem in Dublin is now worse than it was in the mid-eighties when it was at crisis levels. As Deputy Gregory mentioned, young people are being introduced to drugs. I have come across cases where nine year old and ten year old children were introduced to drugs — an insidious form of hooking young people to feed the profits of drug barons.

There is a shameful gap in our law with the result that those who have benefited from drug dealing, even when convictions were secured in the courts, have been able to retain their ill-gotten gains. It must be particularly galling for members of the Garda Síochána to see those whom they know are making their living from this trade sitting in their big houses, enjoying a lavish lifestyle and laughing all the way to the bank. Profits from the trade have often been used to develop legitimate businesses to provide a cover for drug dealing. The Law Reform Commission confirmed what everyone suspected when it said: "We have no doubt that a large percentage of the proceeds of crime in Ireland is already being sufficiently laundered".

There is no doubt that there are people who have made huge amounts of money in this way and there have been battles in Dublin and Cork to gain control. There is also evidence that drug traders are located here and using this country as a staging post for the drug trade in other countries. For example, the huge cannabis haul off Kinsale was hardly intended to supply what is, after all, a limited, although growing, market for cannabis in Ireland. It was clearly intended for a much wider, international distribution. That is where the international dimension of some of the provisions in this Bill are very important.

There has been similar legislation to this in operation in Britain since 1986 and it has resulted in the forfeiture of substantial money and assets belonging to drug dealers. Between 1986 and 1990 £27 million in cash and assets was seized with £12.5 million alone brought in 1990. It is probably fair to say at least proportionate sums could be found in this country. What I would like to know is what will happen to the money seized from these drug barons? We have the experience in this country that money raised in this way disappears into the great big maw of the Exchequer and is never seen again.

I would like to put a proposition to the Minister which I would like her to address on Committee Stage. My proposal is that the moneys seized from these drug barons should be established as a fund which would be used to address the serious drug problem which we have. Deputy Gregory spoke about the 200 waiting for drug treatment. I could tell the same story. The area I represent, Dún Laoghaire, has had a serious drug problem since the 1980s and we have no drug treatment centre. Young people who are on drugs, perhaps introduced to drugs at a very early age, go into the city and mix in an environment where, far from being treated for drugs, they are encountering them in a much more severe way. The money raised from the seizure of assets should be established as a fund to combat the drugs problem and to provide treatment. There would be some justice in the money made from drugs finding its way back to perhaps treating the problem itself.

It is somewhat ironic that we are debating this legislation at the very time the Government has extended the tax amnesty for tax cheats. The Minister and the Law Reform Commission have drawn attention to the fact that many of these drug barons have used the money they have wrongfully raised from drug dealing to set themselves up in legitimate businesses. It is not unreasonable to suspect that at least some of the drug barons who illicitly raised money through drug dealing and then channelled it into legitimate business, or laundered it in some way, will be among those claiming this amnesty for the non-payment of taxes. What worries me about that is the provision for confidentiality in relation to the tax amnesty whereby people who declare for the tax amnesty will have no further probe made into their financial affairs. My worry is that a drug dealer, who has made big money in drug dealing and has set up some kind of legitimate business, claims the tax amnesty arising from that legitimate business will have a line drawn under his activities and there can be no further probe made into this affair.

While we are passing legislation providing that when the drug dealer is convicted there will be a seizure of his assets, because of the guarantees of confidentiality in terms of the tax amnesty it may not be possible to get the evidence necessary to convict a drug baron. I would like the Minister to address that point because I do not think it is stretching credibility too far to believe that the type of person who has no compunction about dealing in drugs and inflicting the kind of misery that drug dealing has inflicted on individuals and on communities, would be the same kind of person who would have no compunction about withholding the payment of tax to the Revenue Commissioners. I am worried that the confidentiality associated with the tax amnesty may prevent the assembling of the kind of evidence that would be needed to get a conviction or, having got a conviction, being able to trace the extent of the assets the individual may have.

This Bill is a vital response to disturbing trends, both nationally and globally. It is the latest in a battery of legislation from a Minister who is clearly determined to tackle the challenges crime poses for our society, and they are many. We have already seen the Minister demonstrate her commitment in other areas of legislation which we have been discussing in the last couple of months.

Let there be no doubt about the threat drugs pose for this country. Apart from the obvious threats posed by addiction there are negative knock on effects that can prove detrimental to society as a whole. We have only to look at the drug-ravaged cities of other countries to see the terrible fate that could befall us. We cannot stand idly by and allow this to happen. This Government has no intention of doing that and this legislation is a clear manifestation of the Government's determination to protect this country from the international drugs trade. I commend the Minister for bringing it forward.

The Cork coastline, with its abundant natural resources, should be a magnet for prosperity and, in many instances it is, particularly in the area of tourism. However, there is very real concern that this stretch of coastline could become a major drug route for Europe. As a Deputy for a Cork constituency I am obviously greatly concerned at this possibility. I should like to pay a tribute to the Garda Síochána and the customs officers on their tremendous success in netting drug hauls over the last couple of months, worth millions of pounds. I know I speak for all Members of the House in paying tribute to those very dedicated people for their work and their vigilance. The results are there for everybody to see. Their success is an indication of their utter dedication to their task. The legislation will provide them with a valuable back-up in their vital work.

This Bill could not have been better timed because there are ominous signs that Ireland is a prime target for international drug barons. I have already referred to the drug seizures on the Cork coast. However, this week saw the appearance of a new dimension to the drug problem when a substantial amount of drugs was intercepted at Dublin Airport. Among this haul was quantities of crack cocaine. This is the first time that this most deadly of drugs has been seized here.

Let us tell this House about crack cocaine. It is cheap to produce. It is instantly addictive and utterly deadly. The growth of even a small crackaddicted population in this country would make the heroin problems of the 1980s look mild by comparison. I do not exaggerate when I say that this drug's destructive capacity is unimaginable. We have only to look at the American experience to see what could happen.

Crack is cocaine-based, comes in the form of tiny rocks and is usually sold in phials. It can be smoked or melted down and injected. All this may sound as if it comes from another world but we must be forearmed. Entire communities in American cities have been wiped out as a result of this drug. There is evidence to support that in parts of New York and Miami. The drug has swept through communities like wild fire. Addiction has fuelled a violent crime wave, neighbourhoods have become uninhabitable no-go areas because the drug barons' profits are so astronomical that the drug trade has no shortage of criminals ready to take up the vile business of drug dealing.

I do not mean to be apocalyptic or to frighten people for the sake of frightening them, but it is important to know why we must be ever vigilant in the face of the drug trade. Too much is at stake to ever drop our guard. Drug barons are not strangers, or from other planets. In many instances they live in local communities, push drugs or have young people and others acting on their behalf as drug pushers. Many of them have families with young children or teenagers. The fact that they are not concerned about the damage drugs cause in their communities highlights the level to which they have sunk.

The financial rewards that many be gained from dealing in drugs are so great that the barons have become greedy and are prepared to go to any lengths for those gains. Profit is the root motivation of the drug trade. By confiscating the assets of such criminals the Minister is striking the drug barons where it will hurt them the most. While a jail sentence is a major deterrent in itself and must continue to be imposed, because some people need to be taken out of circulation for as long as possible, the confiscation of assets will prevent drug barons from resuming or subsequently benefiting from their crimes. Confiscation is an invaluable weapon in the war against drugs and I look forward to its swift and ruthless application.

In the past drug barons here used the profits of their crimes to keep themselves and their families in the lap of luxury. They led a comfortable life far removed from the abject misery of their victims. It was a nauseous display of opulence gained through brutality and the lowest form of criminal activity. The Minister for Justice has insured this will not happen again. For that she is to be commended.

The Bill tackles the problem of money laundering. That is the process by which the international drug trade processes its ill-gotten gains. It is only right that financial institutions are compelled to prevent and assist in the detection of money laundering. They have a serious responsibility in this area and must play their part to the full. If they do not do so, measures must be put in place to ensure they comply with the law as others must. The House should be aware that money laundering is an extraordinary complicated matter. It is international financial corruption of the highest order. Money laundering and drug trafficking are inextricably linked. In two counties in Florida, Dade and Broward, banking and drug trafficking co-exist. It is estimated that at least one-third of all money in circulation is drug money. That is a frightening statistic and brings home to everybody the gains to be made from involvement in the drugs trade.

Sometimes a narrow view is held of the drug dealer as a criminal who sells his or her wares from the street corner That view could not be further from the truth. Drug dealing is a sophisticated international business. It would be more accurate to compare it to a successful multinational business adept in complex financial wheeling and dealing. The real drug dealer is not a shabby, dishevelled figure. He or she wears expensive clothes and carries a mobile phone. We need tough sophisticated measures to deal with such people. This Bill is an important step in that direction.

The drugs business casts its net across national boundaries. It does not respect borders. National legal measures alone are not sufficient; effective international action is required also. However, this Bill gives practical expression to the reality that drug trafficking is an international business. A measure of the comprehensive nature of this Bill is that, when enacted, it will give effect to the EC directive on money laundering. As outlined by the Minister earlier, Ireland will be able also to ratify three international conventions in the area of drug trafficking. If we are to tackle the drug trafficking it is essential that we act in concert with other nations. The battle must take place at all levels across boundaries, whether on the streets or in plush offices. When it comes to tackling the drug barons we must take the gloves off. There can be no place for the faint-hearted.

Under the legislation, the Minister has shown her determination, and that of our country, to tackle the enemy at home and abroad. We owe it to future generations not to be found wanting and never to relax our vigilance in tackling drug trafficking. The Bill is but one step forward in the fight against crime. Much more needs to be done and the Minister will ensure that more will be done.

Unfortunately, there are still elements of the system which appear to favour the criminal. I will refer to one example which pertains to Cork. At present offenders awaiting trial have the option to be tried in Dublin as opposed to Cork. There is no reason for that to be the case. In many cases the accused, witnesses, gardaí and members of the legal profession must be ferried to Dublin at the taxpayer's expense. That is unacceptable. The law in one district must be as fair as that in another. The case should be heard in the district where the offence is committed. The offender should stand trial in that district and be answerable to the community whom he or she has offended. I ask the Minister to consider this matter, if not in this legislation, then when introducing legislation in future. There has been widespread concern about this matter in Cork. Allowing people to avail of that unnecessary provision slows up the judicial process and only serves to make a mockery of the law. Members of the Judiciary have referred already to this unsatisfactory position. It is but one example of the anomalies that must be rooted out of the system to make it more effective.

The Bill is welcome and timely given the real threat the international drugs trade poses for Ireland. Obviously, the Minister is keenly aware of this threat and her concern is clearly reflected in this legislation. All Members are concerned about our society's future. Through the media, from listening to the radio, watching television and reading newspapers, everyone is aware of the trauma and the heartbreak suffered by the families of young people who have become involved in drugs, who in many cases have become the victims of the drug barons by distributing drugs. We cannot allow this to continue. We owe it to society, our young people and parents to ensure that every effort is made by this House to, for example, introduce legislation to increase the powers of the Garda to deal with this serious threat to society. We need only look abroad to Colombia and other countries to see the length to which people are prepared to go to reap the gains from being involved in drugs. I am glad the Minister has taken this matter on board in a determined way and I am sure the House will support her and the Government in their efforts to deal with the problem. When this legislation is passed people will know that they will not be alowed continue, as they have done for far too long, living off the backs of the less well off in our community.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to this debate considering that to date only city based Deputies have spoken on this matter. The provisions of the Bill are so wide ranging that there is nothing to prevent me as a rural Deputy from welcoming it and congratulating the Minister on bringing into the House innovative, radical and wide ranging legislation. This is a unique Bill in that it provides for international co-operation measures in the fight against crime and allows Ireland to ratify three important conventions.

In the week that Pablo Escobar, the drug king of Medellín, Colombia, was killed, it is appropriate that as a nation we do everything possible to ensure that this country does not become a base or a delivery route for drugs and other sophisticated criminal activity as crime becomes internationalised. As a nation we are playing our part, as a member of an international community, to assist responsible Governments throughout the free world to strengthen the arsenal of legislative instruments. Enforcement procedures and penalties are being made available to combat what is an ever-increasing global threat.

As a small country we depend on international co-operation from other Governments and agencies in preventing the selling of drugs here and the use of this country as a distribution area to feed lucrative European markets. Criminals involved in drug trafficking and other sophisticated criminal activities have massive resources available to them and easily evade detection. Invariably they handle their operations with hands-off technique, rendering difficult, and in most cases impossible, their detection and subsequent conviction. While recognising the efforts of our enforcement agencies and their increasing success rate, particularly in view of recent seizures, I am not naïve in suggesting that we have been successful to a lesser degree than is ultimately desired. Many criminals live offshore of this jurisdiction. When this Bill is passed, the necessary regulations put in place and international conventions ratified, it will be possible to curtail the activities of these criminals. Hopefully, their activities will be reduced to as low a level as possible — I agree that no level of activity of this nature is acceptable.

The lead story in this week's issue of Newsweek, an international magazine, relates to international criminal activity and its threat to the world. Many people may believe that in the main we live in an ordered, secure environment, free from the stresses and influences of undesirable social activity which is evident in other countries; but the signs of such activity are increasingly evident here. City-based Deputies have outlined their experiences and I fully support their efforts and those of the Minister to combat crime. Some people may believe that criminals of the kind we are talking about merely have a toehold in this country and that the problem is much greater in other European countries. As the problem increases for our European neighbours, it is only a matter of time before it increases here.

Newsweek identified a number of social, political and technological trends which have accelerated the internationalisation of crime. These include the development of computers and communications technology. Electronic fund transfer systems provide for the movement of billions of pounds around the globe in seconds. Boats and ships may have up to date data interceptors to blot out radar and avoid monitoring. We have seen the collapse of Communism and its replacement in the main by very weak Governments. There also has been a decline in the significance of national borders.

The article states that as much as $10 billion of drug money is thought to be laundered through Canada and $32 billion through Britain, our nearest neighbour. That gives some idea of the amount of money involved in the drug trade, the profits to be made and the use of our financial institutions by criminals. Considering that such a large amount of money is laundered through British financial institutions, we have to accept that we have a problem here. About $180 million in US postal money orders cleared Panamanian bank accounts last year. It is important to note that the US and many other countries, including Panama, have laws requiring banks to identify transactions of more than $10,000 if they look suspicious. If these figures are accurate the picture that is painted is frightening — huge amounts of money are available for illegitimate investment.

It seems unnecessary to state that banks and other designated bodies should take reasonable measures to establish the identity of any person to whom it intends to provide a service, but under the Bill there will be a statutory obligation on banks and other financial institutions to report any suspicious activity to the Garda. On a first reading of the Bill the provisions in relation to money laundering appear to be rather weak, but in view of the ratification of the three international Conventions I am satisfied that this legislation will ensure that international criminals will think twice about using our financial institutions to launder their ill-gotten gains.

Over a period of time proceeds of crime will be obtained by the State by confiscation and forfeiture orders relating to drug and other criminal offences. I fully support Deputy Gilmore's comments in this regard. Time will tell whether those confiscated assets of criminal activity will amount to a substantial sum of money. Assets so confiscated will have to be disposed of by the State and I assume the proceeds will go to the coffers of the Department of Finance. The confiscated proceeds, particularly of drug trafficking, should be directed to drug education and rehabilitation, as is the case in the United States.

I cannot understand Deputy Gilmore's difficulty in relation to the tax amnesty running parallel with this legislation. I do not believe that the tax amnesty will assist people in concealing the way in which they obtained large amounts of money because this Bill provides that banks are obliged to maintain records for a period of six years.

I referred earlier to Pablo Escobar. While he was the godfather of the Colombian Mafia and reputed to be the largest operator in the world drug trade, we now learn that the crude methods used by him to retain his dominant position are being used by his two brothers, Gilberto and Miguel Orguela from Cali, Colombia. These two men have been described as buttoned-up entrepreneurs with better organisational skills than had their brother, a smaller appetite for murder and ties to other mafias overseas. That cartel in Cali recently tried to lease a satellite so that its conversations could not be listened into. The sophistication of modern day criminals involved in drug trafficking and white collar crime is a challenge which must be faced up to. The resources at the disposal of the State to deal with this crime must be the most modern and up to date available.

I welcome this radical, wide ranging and comprehensive legislation. It is important that it is put on our Statute Book as quickly as possible so that our law enforcement agencies and courts can implement its provisions. The detailed provisions of the Bill break new ground in terms of the concepts involved. I hope that the Bill is found to be sound and constitutional in any challenge to it by criminals who are subject to the rigours of the law. Having regard to the type of crime with which the Bill deals, in due course the best legal brains will be employed to mount heavy challenges to the provisions of the Bill. I have no doubt that the Minister and her officials have put a tremendous amount of thought and work into the preparation of the Bill. I congratulate the Minister on the very large legislative programme she has brought before the House during the past 12 months and I wish her the best of luck in her endeavours in this regard.

There are many other matters which concern us as public representatives, one of which relates to the weakness in our criminal law which allows insurance intermediaries and brokers, who have the opportunity to advertise their services, to attract large amounts of money from innocent investors. We have seen two recent cases where well known individuals with whom funds were invested were prosecuted; but the investors were left with no redress, despite the fact that clear evidence was available to show that there was fraud, mismanagement, deceit and deception. It is amazing that people who invest substantial sums of money with insurance intermediaries or brokers and are misled in this way can be left with no redress when the company goes into liquidation.

This weakness in the law needs to be addressed. I am sure the Minister is aware of the recent case in the High Court where the investors were left with no redress. I know that in the banking system there is protection for a minimum sum on deposit. I am concerned that people purporting to be professional advisers and investors who mislead investors can escape without any criminal sanction whatsoever. I am sure this matter has been brought to the attention of the Minister and that both she and her officials are working on it. I should like to see the introduction of some legislation which would put an end to this type of criminal activity and ensure that professional people who mislead investors are subject to the full rigours of the law.

I wholeheartedly welcome this Bill. I might have had reservations about other Bills brought before the House by the Minister but I have few, if any, reservations about this Bill, which is designed to update the law in regard to drug trafficking and the seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of drug trafficking, to extend the legislation in regard to money laundering and to implement the international instruments in this area — the 1990 Council of Europe Convention on money laundering and on the search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime, the 1988 Vienna Drugs Convention and the 1959 Council of Europe Convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters. We should be a bit more expeditious in translating into Irish law the provisions of EU conventions. Perhaps this is a lesson we can learn for the future.

The Bill also implements the Government's specific commitment in the Programme for Government to deal with ill-gotten gains. I am glad the Minister has dealt with this matter during the Government's first year in office. The Bill also implements the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission's report on the confiscation of the proceeds of crime.

It is very important that we update legislation of this nature. When drug offenders come before the court a conviction may be secured and they may spend some time in prison. However, they are let back out on the streets again without any rehabilitation or follow up to ensure that they cannot benefit from their ill-gotten gains. Therefore, it is extremely important that we adopt a more serious approach to this issue. It should be remembered that crimes involving drugs are very serious — it is an international industry. The drugs baron, Pablo Escobar, who died recently, was regarded as one of the wealthiest men in the world. It is important therefore that this problem is dealt with in an international context.

We also have local problems in regard to drugs. For the past three weeks there have been reports of cannabis being trawled up from the depths of the Irish Sea. Apparently drug traffickers were setting up a drugs resource centre from which they could take drugs at their leisure to sell on this island or distribute to other countries. This is how some drug traffickers operate. They have a very well organised, strong network and they store some of their drugs in Ireland before they distribute them here and in other countries. It should be remembered that drugs are not produced in Ireland in any significant quantity. This means that drugs must be brought into the country and that the proceeds from their sale go out of the country. This problem has to be addressed in an international context. In some cases the proceeds from drug trafficking may be lodged in our financial institutions and may be used to purchase property both here and elsewhere. Therefore, it is important that we deal with the laundering aspect of the proceeds from drug trafficking.

The provisions of the Bill should be accompanied by administrative regulations which mirror the concept of co-operation advanced in the legislation. I do not believe that we are dealing in a comprehensive manner with the problems of drug abuse, drug trafficking and drug dealing. Our State agencies operate as independent little empires. The Garda, the local authorities, health boards and the Department of Education all operate on different levels. There is no comprehensive plan to deal with a problem that has been the scourge of communities in this city and elsewhere over the past decade.

I wish to give an example of where I see the problem originating and how we could deal with it in a more comprehensive fashion. Dublin Corporation allocates houses or flats to people on its housing lists and, by and large, does not monitor these allocations. It does not determine whether the people to whom it is allocating housing have a criminal record in relation to drugs and they may house such people in the midst of a community. Even one person like that is like the bad apple in the barrel, it can very quickly rot the others. The person housed in a flat complex or an estate will bring their friends with them, they will attract other drug addicts to the area and engage in activities that will endanger the future of young people who may become addicted to drugs. When a flat complex or housing estate gets the name of having a drug pusher as a resident other tenants will not want to be housed there. The corporation will then allocate another tenant to that estate or complex who may well be involved in similar activities, and who may be a troublesome individual in terms of anti-social or criminal activities. Consequently, areas can very quickly become known as drug problem areas, where drugs are readily available and distributed and, as a result of which, whole communities can be devastated. That is what has given rise to the Concerned Parents Against Drugs. Complaints have been made about that organisation, nevertheless we must recognise the sociological background to its formation.

The local authority's approach to the problem is far from adequate but the approach of the Garda is equally unitary and independent. The Garda will wait for a particular locality to develop a reputation as having a drugs problem because it is easier for them to get convictions if they can monitor a situation on an ongoing basis. That means they will tolerate an undesirable situation developing, it is only when a community has lost all its means to fight back, when it is vulnerable and subject or large scale drug abuse, that the Garda take action because that is the easiest way to get convictions. Until the Garda are prepared to intervene at an early stage, when they know drugs are being peddled, many communities will be lost to the drug trade. Young people will become addicted, young lives will be lost, harder drugs — such as heroin — will be peddled and, of course, there is always the danger of infectious diseases such as HIV and so on. They are the two main areas where I see the proliferation of drugs and which relate to the policy being adopted by the local authorities and the Garda. The Eastern Health Board has also been very slow to come to grips with the problem on the streets in terms of prevention and treatment. It has dealt with it in the context of the hospitals by providing facilities but it has not gone out into the communities where the problem exists to ensure that its services are available locally. That is now being done but only since the new Minister for Health took office. That was another inadequacy in the system while the problem was developing over the past decade or more.

We must reach a situation where the services of the State are available and where youngsters are aware, through education, of the dangers of drugs. It is extremely important for the Department of Education to have an input in disadvantaged areas. There must be provision for estates to be managed by residents; there must be a role for estate managements so that the local tenants have a say in the running and administration of their estate. That is another way to ensure that the elements intent on selfishly making financial gains and destroying young lives are kept out of estates.

We must not look simply at the provisions of this Bill in a legal capacity, all of which I wholeheartedly welcome, we must extend out administrative provisions to ensure we deal adequately with the situation on the ground. That must be our second line of attack. The question of assessing the benefits to a convicted drug dealer and then confiscating the assets through a court order is the ideal way to ensure that these individuals do not simply serve a prison sentence, short or long. At present, with the problem of overcrowded prisons, sentences are very often short, these criminals can then come out of prison and enjoy their ill-gotten gains, which have been deposited in an account here or abroad or invested in property. It is extremely important that we are in a position to deal with the property, the income, the assets and any expenditure that may have come from these illegal activities.

My only concern in relation to this section is that by allowing the courts the right to make assumptions in relation to property, income and expenditure we might leave ourselves open in some way to a constitutional challenge because of the defined rights to property in the Constitution. Section 9 is of assistance in that regard because it makes it obligatory for the defendant in any action of this nature to provide information relating to any confiscation hearing. I hope that a caveat will assist in this matter, nevertheless I would like to hear the Minister's reply as to whether constitutional concerns must be addressed. This is equally important in relation to money laundering. It is one thing to invest in property or have assets in some other form in this country, it is another to be able to invest those assets in a financial institution abroad without let or hindrance. It is a disgrace that anybody can open an account in a financial institution without having to identify themselves. That seems to be a basic requirement to carry out a transaction in any other area. There are Swiss accounts and offshore island accounts in respect of which all that is required is a number. There is no form of identity required which the Revenue Commissioners could follow up; that is not an obligation when opening such accounts. It should be pointed out that that will be an obligation under the terms of the European Conventions we are now ratifying, particularly the 1990 Council of European Convention on money laundering and on the search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime. Indeed, I wish that Convention had been ratified by us before the present Government had considered a tax amnesty. It is my belief that it is equally criminal to evade taxes that should be rightfully paid just as it is to otherwise launder the proceeds of crime of this nature, whether by way of drug trafficking or other non-white collar crime.

Once we put in place specific provisions which are also put in place by our European counterparts — designated states with which we will be co-operating mutually — for the first time it will be possible to properly chase hot money. This is money that either originated in this country or through business conducted here, when goods may have been sold abroad, but, by failing to disclare tax liability and so on, the relevant money may not have come through the system. This will be the first time we actually have had a handle on hot money so that never again will there be reason to declare anything like a tax amnesty, with a 15 per cent incentive, to retrieve money we could not otherwise retrieve. To my mind that is a crime against the people of this country because it deprives them of necessary assets for the provision of health, educational and other services.

The Deputy has some two minutes remaining.

I have covered the major issues I had intended to cover. One of our main concerns with this Bill is that its provisions should be extended to ships at sea. That is important since we are an island community and drugs must come in here by sea or air. Certainly, we have already identified large quantities coming in by sea.

The other issue is that of the international conventions we are ratifying. However, there is a problem in that they refer only to European countries. By and large the origin of most drugs imported here is non-European. Therefore it is quite possible for assets and income to be laundered through countries with which we will have no contact and which will not be covered by these conventions of mutual assistance. That is a problem we will have to face. Whenever there are useful international instruments drawn up and ratified we should ensure they are incorporated into our domestic legislative provisions at an early stage so that we can take full advantage of them particularly in the case of serious crimes.

I should like to share my time with Deputy Crawford.

Acting Chairman

Is that agreed? Agreed.

In commenting on Deputy Costello's remarks in relation to hot money, I am not sure whether the legislation about which we have spoken and passed in this House over the past three months will be of any great advantage as a deterrent to the perpetrators of crime. I think there might be a danger that it might prove to be an incentive to people to secrete funds in various locations worldwide in the knowledge that they can siphon them back into the State at some later stage by way of a tax amnesty. Indeed, I would consider that the tax amnesty is an encouragement to people to do so. I am not suggesting that the people who have availed of the tax amnesty have secreted hot money, but it must have reached some degree of temperature at some stage in order to force people who had access to such funds to relocate them in bank accounts outside this State. I would be worried therefore that the provisions of that tax amnesty might run counter to and be damaging to the Bill before us.

In regard to organised crime and how to tackle it, I congratulate the Minister on having introduced this Bill, but at the same time I question its capability to tackle the problem. When you look at what has been occurring in recent years you discover that there have been two types of crime committed. First, there is the petty criminal who begins in the knowledge that he or she, more especially he, can get away with it. They will have come to that conclusion on the basis that there would not appear to be sufficient resources to tackle the problem head on and deal with it. Probably it is recognised worldwide that this country is a softer target than most for such people. However, I should acknowledge and point out the success on the part of the Customs and Excise, the Garda and the Naval Service in dealing with these problems. But the very fact that these people keep returning time out of number, with drugs having been discovered off Cobh, on the sea bed, with drug hauls at airports, seaports and so on, is an indication of the enormous interest very powerful people outside have in this island. These people have access to what I might describe as unlimited financial resources.

While acknowledging the successes of our security forces in dealing with this matter generally, some huge problem must obtain since such people keep returning time and again. One such problem is occasioned by the huge profit margin. Therefore, the sequestration of such funds constitutes a positive deterrent step which will certainly make them sit up and take notice. But when we get down to its logistics, how do we determine that such funds are hot, have been laundered and so on? How will we trace them if we give a tax amnesty to some people in another four or five years' time? On the one hand we appear to be saying to these people: "You should not do this; it is a very serious crime. If you commit it we will seize your funds". But, on the other hand, we also appear to say to them: "If you commit such crimes and we do not know how you committed them, we will not seize your funds. But, if you repatriate those funds, we will let you off with a 15 per cent tax rate". That is not exactly a penalty for such people. Therefore, I am worried about the deterrent element.

Let us examine the many ways and means that illegally obtained funds are being used. There is no doubt that, in some cases, they are being used to purchase commercial property, to build up a virtual empire. I do not want to be specific, but I am quite sure that the Minister sitting opposite and Members must have heard of rumours throughout this city and country in relation to empires allegedly built on ill-gotten gains. I am not talking here about somebody who has fiddled the tax system but rather of somebody about whom it was alleged that they obtained their large resources by totally illegal means, in some cases through force, and that those funds were used subsequently to fund criminal organisations.

The one thing I would worry about at present is that such organisations are becoming even better at their job in that they can now afford to pay the kind of consultants necessary for the continuance of their business. What I should like to know from the Minister is this, will the Department of Justice and the forces of law and order have the wherewithal to chase these people and to pursue them, because such people will use whatever resources are at their disposal to evade pursuit by the forces of law and order? I perceive a difficulty there. While the Bill may be well meaning, in practice its logistics may prove that we will find in a couple of years' time that the resources are insufficient to deal with the problem.

Let us take a step further and ask ourselves the next question. Let us suppose we are successful in seizing the funds of these merchants and we pursue them through the courts — and suppose they do not get on well, which would be unusual — and they are given a jail sentence, are we really serious about dealing with them then? During the past number of years have we shown that we are capable of dealing with them? Is it not true that there are not sufficient custodial places here at any time to deal with the problem of crime whether petty or serious? The people in the business of crime on the streets day and night are aware of that and make a laugh of us.

Another issue which I have raised repeatedly in this House, and which has been raised by other speakers, is the question of bail. It has been mentioned in the UK whenever discussions on this issue take place. There is absolutely no sense in introducing legislation which ultimately becomes an Act of the Oireachtas and expect the Garda to enforce it if the people against whom the laws are being enforced circumvent the system simply because there are not sufficient custodial places for them. What are we at? Is it not time we copped on to ourselves? Are we not merely going through the motions?

It requires the commitment of financial resources in that area to ensure that the people who are involved in this type of crime recognise from the start that there is a good chance they will be caught, that they will serve a hefty sentence, that there is no chance they will be released on bail and have the opportunity to go back and pursue the same activities as before, whether in drug related crime or any other type of crime. The more organised criminals are the greater chance they have of continuing along the lines I have have described.

If these people held a conference I am sure a topic for discussion would be the futility of the Houses of the Oireachtas proceeding with legislation which attempted to deal with them when they recognise full well that they are almost above and beyond the reaches of the law. We have a serious problem which we must deal with. I believe in the constitutional and human rights of individuals and that nobody's rights should be eroded. We must accept that citizens have their rights.

Is the Deputy supporting the Bill?

I would not go too far down that road. I will have to turn my telescope in the Deputy's direction. Once we get to the stage where on the one hand we believe something should be done but on the other hand believe no perceptive action should be taken which would impinge on the rights of the individuals who happen to be the perpetrators of lawlessness and crime generally we will never do anything against them. We will be handcuffed and we will not be able to move.

Support the Bill then, Deputy, please.

I am talking about the feasibility of enforcing the Bill. I will support legislation that I believe is capable of dealing with a particular problem. At the outset I pointed out that I am not 100 per cent certain that this legislation is capable of so doing. I referred earlier to the bail laws. Is anybody in this House satisfied with our bail laws? Can anybody honestly say to themselves that it is all right for a multiplicity of crimes to be committed by an individual and each time the individual goes back to court he is released on bail? Long ago people should have asked if the Garda are expected to pursue such an individual. We can blame the judges and the Garda. Where is the sense in going before judges if, under the law, we say: "Given this particular situation and having regard to the Constitution, your case history and so forth, it is proper that you shall be released to carry on until such time as you are proved guilty"? Surely there has to be a better way. I question whether this legislation on its own will be sufficient to deal with the problem of organised crime.

The question of custodial places will have to be dealt with. I have heard various spokespersons in this House say this costs money. That is correct. The problem cannot be solved without spending money. Either we want to spend resources to deal with the problem or we do not, but we should not go through the nonsense of pretending to deal with it if we are not prepared to commit the necessary resources. I will not go down the road of dealing with the various types of custodial places which are necessary. Am I running short on time?

Acting Chairman

The Deputy has ten minutes.

In fairness to my colleague who has suffered long enough, I will ask him to take over.

Give him a chance.

The legislation before us is necessary. I hope it will be implemented. I hope also that sufficient back-up legislation and financial resources will be put in place to ensure that this part of the legislative agenda is not left in isolation. I hope we will not say in four or five years time that it would have been good legislation if sufficient custodial places had been available or if other actions had been taken in relation to bail laws and so on, which would also have been of major importance in dealing with this problem.

I thank Deputy Durkan for sharing his time with me. I welcome this Bill but everything depends on how the Bill will be put into operation. My colleague referred to the issue of custodial places. It is ridiculous that real criminals can be put in jail for only a few days while somebody who has not paid a fine or owes money is committed to prison for the specified number of days. A new method must be found to allow prison places to be available for real criminals. If we do not take the drug barons seriously, and those bringing in drugs which will damage our children and future generations, we will be in grave trouble.

There is also the question of the massive sums of money which accrue from this project and what is done with it. I was glad to hear Deputy Costello say he was worried that this legislation did not come into operation prior to the tax amnesty. The tax amnesty provided a way round the system for drug barons as they did not have to declare where the money came from. They were able to avail of the 15 per cent tax rate. I hope they will not be assured by this Government that if they watch where they put their money for the next five years they will get another amnesty. There is the whole question of drugs being used to pressure humans and encouraging addiction among the youth, but there is also the issue of angel dust and other drugs which are abused by some members of the farming community. This is equally as serious and in need of censure. I accept the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry is making every effort in this regard.

It all comes back to the necessity to enforce the legislation and to have the will to do so. Unless we provide the wherewithal to pursue crime, it is pointless introducing legislation. The Garda Síochána is prepared to work as hard as it can but the Force is being frustrated in its efforts. Recently, a car parked in front of my door was taken and written off. While the gardaí do as much as they can, their efforts are frustrated by the fact that even when they apprehend the criminal, he will only spend a very short time in prison. The turn around in prison is so fast that there is no pressure on criminals to stop committing crime.

The Minister has outlined the need to make provision for the seizure and confiscation of property but I wonder if it is possible to find out who owned such property. Criminals seem to be able to find ways and means around ownership and thus are able to get off scot free. Unless we can guarantee that people will stay in prison for the duration of their sentence there is no real purpose in catching these criminals.

The Minister commented on co-operation with international bodies. It is possible that but for that we would not have been so successful in locating the recent drugs hauls off our coast. We need to show that we are committed to putting these people in jail and that they will be kept there until the problem has been cleared up. We must let it be known that criminal activity, whether big or small, is taken seriously. An old man who went to see his brother in hospital found, on his return, that travellers had called to his house and he had been robbed of £300, the only money he had. We do not have the wherewithal to deal with this problem either. There is a breakdown of law and order. Recently my colleague, Deputy Enda Kenny, referred to similar happenings in County Mayo. We need to provide the resources, the personnel and prison spaces to combat this problem. It is not sufficient for the Minister to come into this House and utter bland statements — I do not question her commitment, but she must get the finance to provide more prison spaces. The Minister should find another method to deal with those who are in prison for failing to pay fines or for unpaid debts. They could easily be dealt with by deducting money from their income or social welfare payments.

We want to ensure that this Bill works. My colleagues have dealt with many of the provisions of the Bill. We hope improvements will be made during the course of its passage through the Houses and that the finance will be provided to ensure that when it is enacted its provisions will be implemented. There is no use in passing legislation unless its provisions are implemented.

I welcome the Bill and I am glad it is receiving so much support in the House. Anyone who has had the opportunity to study its provisions will know that it is complex and would have required a great deal of time and effort by the Minister and her Department to prepare it.

It is accepted that the issues it attempts to deal with are complex and have been discussed here and internationally for a number of years. I congratulate the Minister for Justice and her staff on bringing forward this Bill. It will make a major contribution in our fight against drug trafficking and related crimes. In the fight against drug abuse, a range of issues concerning drug trafficking need to be tackled. This Bill should not be taken in isolation. The issue of drug abuse needs to be tackled on two fronts: first, we need to try to reduce or eliminate the supply of drugs; second, in tandem with that effort, we need to try to reduce and eliminate the demand for drugs. In this way we would be much more effective in our fight against drug abuse.

On the first issue, the reduction in the supply of drugs, the Bill sets out in a very serious way to tackle it. The seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of drug trafficking is very important and this has been called for by many people for some time. Obviously, money laundering is closely associated with drug trafficking in addition to other crimes. Illegal drug trafficking has been promoted through the laundering of money both nationally and internationally. The legislation sets out the mechanism whereby this county will be able to co-operate internationally on drug trafficking, which is very important.

It will be necessary for the Minister to examine the whole question of the seizure of assets carefully and closely because while it might appear to be reasonably simple and straight forward, any critical examination of the appropriate sections will certainly give rise to concern that the Bill might run into constitutional difficulties at some stage. The reason I make this point is that one is talking about seizure of assets and ill-gotten gains from drug trafficking, that might involve a property or the family home. Drug distribution can often take place from the family home, which becomes clearly identified by the local community as a location used for that purpose.

There may also be victims of drug trafficking in the home. For example, the husband or male partner may be involved in drug trafficking despite the efforts of a wife or partner, indeed children are also involved. If we take this legislation to its extreme, would it mean the family home would be confiscated as part of the seizure of assets? If it had been bought through what might appear to have been moneys gained from drug trafficking or to have been considerably improved using such money, what would become of it? Would we have more victims apart from those involved in using drugs? That issue will have to be expertly considered to ensure that a major part of this legislation does not fall at the first fence.

In New York the Drugs Enforcement Agency have utilised the seizure of assets effectively, my information is that in one year alone £200 million worth of assets were seized. Those involved at the coal face in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse in that State say clearly that the confiscation of assets is one of the best weapons they have in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse.

What is the position with regard to rented property, particularly if the person who owns the property knows it has been used for drug trafficking for some time? If a person allows property to be misused in this way will he suffer any penalty? In dance halls in the UK and more lately in Dublin there have been what are termed "rave" and "crack" parties and convictions have been obtained against persons using drugs in those places. What is the position with regard to that property? Does the owner have any responsibility for allowing such practices to take place on the property, particularly in cases where a series of convictions associated with identifiable activities have been obtained over a number of months or years? The owner of such property must be called to account and suffer some penalty in so far as the seizure of assets is concerned.

At one stage warehouses were used for such parties. Certainly this happened in the UK and there have been a number of attempts to organise such parties, clearly identified with the use of drugs, in warehouse facilities in Dublin. What will happen to the owner of such a facility if convictions are obtained? Will such a property owner, who might not be directly involved in drug trafficking but who would know the intention for which the premises was to be used, suffer any penalty under the seizure of assets laws?

I will be interested in hearing the Minister on these issues on Committee and Report Stages, when I hope to be able to tease them out a little further.

Members representing coastal counties referred to the protection of our coastline which makes us an easy target for drug barons who have turned their attention to this country over the years. It is generally accepted that Ireland has become something of a soft touch with regard to getting drugs into Europe. People working in combating drug trafficking will readily confirm that. These issues need to be teased out further to see how effective the legislation will be.

The Minister will need close co-operation from other Government Departments in this work, particularly the Departments of Finance and Foreign Affairs. Those involved in the fight against drug trafficking here recognise they have a serious problem with regard to the importation of drugs because of our long coastline. They are being brought through our ferry ports and airports by what are referred to as "stuffers" and "swallowers" people who bring considerable amounts of drugs into the country concealed within their bodies. In some cases drugs imported in this way have come into contact with the body internally and killed the carrier. I raise that point because there is a weakness in the legislation with regard to detaining people at the point of entry to this country. Customs and Excise officers are unable to detain persons reasonably suspected of importing drugs in the orifices of their bodies long enough for those drugs to be expelled. This poses a serious difficulty for the customs and excise people. It also relates to the detention conditions of such people who suggest they have a right to privacy and, therefore, when the drugs are expelled from the body they disappear. That is a weakness in preventing the importation of drugs. The Minister for Justice will require the support of the Department of Finance and, to some extent, the Department of Foreign Affairs in this area.

We will need to strengthen Garda numbers involved in detecting drug trafficking and bringing those involved to justice. Drug trafficking is becoming increasingly complex. It is so financially rewarding that those involved are in a position to pay substantial amounts of money to avoid detection. The Garda need special training to detect drugs which, in the old days, were easily detectable by anyone with a knowledge of drugs. Nowadays drugs can be concealed in other products and at one stage they were concealed in pieces of paper. It is difficult for gardaí to detect the multiplicity of ways in which drugs can be imported so they require special training. The Minister must deal with that.

A reduction in the demand for illegal drugs is the second of a two-pronged approach to fighting drug abuse and drug trafficking and this is where other Government Departments will need to support the Minister in her endeavours in this legislation. I refer particularly to the Departments of Health, Education, Finance, the Environment and Foreign Affairs. Those Departments can make a major contribution to reduce the demand as opposed to the supply of drugs. If that co-operation is not forthcoming the good intent of this legislation will be weakened.

In that context, the Government's strategy in 1991 to prevent drug misuse was very welcome because it attempted to co-ordinate the efforts of those Departments in this area. Therefore, a mechanism exists for the co-ordination to which I referred. That strategy was well researched and involved the co-operation of senior export officials from those Departments. They put in place a Government strategy to prevent drug misuse and their recommendations included the introduction of legislation such as this. They also recommended the introduction of other legislation which, I am sure, the Minister will deal with as soon as possible.

The strategy deals mainly with the questions of education, health and the environment. The question of education is almost self-explanatory in that the Department of Education has a role to play in educating all young people to the dangers inherent in dabbling in soft drugs which almost inevitably leads to involvement in hard drugs. That Department should ensure that young people are alerted to the dangers involved in the misuse of drugs. The role to be played by families is also important.

The Department of Health has a role to play through health education. It must ensure it makes easily understood literature available. I suggest that every home should receive an appropriate drugs misuse package to alert parents to the dangers of drug abuse to enable them to detect the signs when their children start to dabble in drugs, and inform them of how they should tackle the problem and of the local health services which are available. Such a package should concentrate mainly on educating parents in detecting signs which are indicative of young people becoming involved in drug abuse. The Department of Health has a major role to play also in helping those addicted to drugs.

There is a distinct difference between a drug trafficker and an addict. The drug addict is like an alcoholic and needs help. He or she needs to be accepted in the community and have access to local resources. That would involve co-operation between practitioners, community social welfare workers and voluntary agencies in setting up community drug teams.

We must endeavour to reduce the supply of drugs through the mechanisms I outlined and this legislation will be beneficial in that regard. Demand can be reduced through co-operation between the Departments to which I referred. In such a two-pronged fashion we can begin to make an attack on the misuse of drugs here which is having unfortunate and desperate consequences for many individuals, families and communities.

I propose to share my time with Deputies Mulvihill and Broughan.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

If ever there was a need to introduce legislation to take on the drug barons and their partners in crime, it is now. Despite the the fact that much of the country does not have to face the scourge of drug pushing and addiction, in reality, it is a growing problem. While cities such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick have increasing problems associated with drug trafficking and addiction, there is a fear in smaller cities, towns and the provinces that the scourge will eventually spread and inflict the all too common results we have witnessed in Dublin and other major urban areas abroad.

Despite the best efforts of the Garda Síochána and local communities the drug barons succeeded in building up a large network whereby they can distribute their evil merchandise. They have done so in the knowledge that even if they are apprehended and convicted the authorities will find it almost impossible to confiscate the proceedings of their criminal activities. Therefore, the cash and profits accrued as a result of such crimes can be maintained and used by the drug barons to further develop their evil trade. That has been the position to date and I welcome the proposals to allow the authorities seize and confiscate the proceeds of drug trafficking and other serious offences. Everybody knows that drug traffickers, pushers and dealers generate substantial amounts of money and, while they invest a proportion of such money in the drug trade, some of it is invested in other criminal activities and a large amount of it is invested in what might be described as legitimate business.

It is now widely recognised that the traditional methods of dealing with criminal offences that generate substantial amounts of money, including drug trafficking, are not sufficient. At present, our courts have only limited powers to order the seizure and confiscation of criminal proceeds and the proposal in this legislation to extend that power to all cases where a person is convicted of an offence on indictment is very welcome. Too many families and communities have suffered at the hands of drug traffickers and pushers and if evidence is required we have only to look at the city of Dublin to learn at first hand of the destruction and havoc caused by the drug barons. Young people in their prime are being destroyed as a result of drug addiction. Families are being ruined. Increasingly, addicts are turning to crime to obtain funds to pay for their supplies and some areas of our capital city have been reduced to "no go" areas as a result of the criminal activities of drug pushers.

While this legislation may not provide all the answers, I have no doubt it will be warmly welcomed by the law enforcing agencies. When this Bill is placed on the Statute Book it will provide the Garda and the courts with real powers to take on the drug traffickers and others involved in serious crime. It will help to ensure that persons who derive advantage or benefit from offences committed in this State can be held liable in future. I welcome, in particular, the inclusion of the provision whereby the law will provide for the liability of individual company directors for offences committed by the company.

For far too long the godfathers of the drug trade have used so-called legitimate trading companies to launder the proceeds of their drug trafficking. For far too long also the godfathers have been able to invest a portion of their profits in legitimate businesses. The legislation before us today when enacted will greatly hamper the activities of drug traffickers. An Opposition Deputy expressed concern at the large quantities of drugs seized at various coves, ports and airports in recent years. We are all concerned in that regard, but we should be pleased also because it is an indication of the professional capacity of the Garda Síochána, the Customs and Excise and the Naval Service to successfully block the illegal importation of drugs.

If we can take on the godfathers, apprehend and convict them and, more importantly, if as a result of this legislation we can seize and confiscate the proceeds of their evil activities, we will have gone a long way towards reducing their influence in our society. If ever there was a need for such legislation, it is now and I congratulate the Minister on her initiative.

I thank Deputy Bree for sharing his time with me. I welcome the Bill. In recent years there has been a frightening upsurge in the number of drug traffickers and drug suppliers operating within and through this country. The evidence is the high number of attempted drug importations in recent times and the drug finds off Courtmacsherry and Loop Head and, more recently, in the seas off the coast of Cork.

I wish to preface my remarks by paying tribute to the Naval Service, the Garda Síochána and the customs authorities for the role they have played in the battle against drugs. This is a difficult and dangerous task but their dedication and commitment is absolute.

With the removal of internal customs barriers within the European Union it is now more important than ever to update our laws pertaining to drug traffickers. Because our coastline is accessible there is a continuous risk that this country will be used as a base for drug importations into mainland Europe. It is well known that international drug importers are increasingly using Ireland as a base and, in some cases, are resident here. We must do all in our power to continue the fight against these people. They are evil parasites who prey upon young people and have brought nothing but misery to so many families. It would not be an exaggeration to state that they are living in luxury off young people who in many cases have been consigned to a life of misery. This legislation is therefore most welcome.

As every one is aware, vast sums of money are made from drug trafficking, as can be seen from the estimated value of a recent drug find. It was immoral that persons convicted of serious drug offences in the past could serve their sentences comforted by the fact that vast sums of money were held in bank accounts. Sections 2 and 3 which deal with money laundering are essential. Those who committ drug offences are well known for their attempts to conceal their ill-gotten gains through various purchases and investments. In many cases a number of middle men are involved in this operation. In this respect section 27 which deals with those who launder money in the knowledge that these are the proceeds of crime is particularly important. To my mind those who assist drug traffickers in this way are just as guilty.

As the coastline in my constituency of Cork East is accessible there is a risk of drug importations. There is no need for competition between the Garda and custom officials to gain a headline in the newspapers. I ask the Minister of State to convey this message to the Minister as this is causing problems for both sides in the fight against drugs. There is a need for co-operation and better back-up facilities. In one case in Cork drug traffickers got away because the authorities did not have surveillance equipment.

I wish to pay tribute to the Naval Service for their dedication in combating this terrible trade. While members of the Naval Service are the policemen on the seas they do not have the authority to board vessels unless they are accompanied by a member of the Garda Síochána or a customs official. The Minister should consider this aspect of the matter.

The Naval Service plays a major role in tracking and intercepting vessels involved in the importation of drugs. Perhaps the best example of this is the role played by the Naval Service in the seizure of the Brime off Loop Head when there was £20 million worth of cannabis on board. In particular I pay tribute to Commander Mark Mellet and his crew for the role they played in that seizure. They did a fantastic job and, by their actions, saved the lives of many people both in Ireland and on mainland Europe. I welcome the Bill.

I thank Deputies Bree and Mulvihill for sharing their time with me. I warmly welcome this Bill which deals with the confiscation of the ill-gotten gains in the most vile way from drug trafficking and other criminal activities. For the first time in the history of the State it will be an offence to launder money. Provision is also made at last in this formidable legislation for the ratification of a range of measures relating to international co-operation. It is clear that drug trafficking is a huge international business in death and destruction. An international response is therefore necessary.

As a number of Deputies said, there is a need to provide the necessary accountancy and technical assistance that the Garda will need. If we fail to do this they will face an impossible task in pursuing criminals. In addition, a great burden will be placed on the Judiciary to make certain that the provisions of this Bill are implemented and that challenges are not made on spurious grounds under sections 2, 3 and 4.

This morning the Minister indicated the reasons for this legislation. The graphs contained in the report of the Garda Commissioner show clearly that the number of indictable crimes and seizures, as well as the number of arrests for drug offences, have been rising steadily since 1987. Last year there were more than 4,000 seizures. However, this may only be the tip of the iceberg since many crimes go undetected.

The Minister and some of my colleagues referred to the destructive effects of drugs. For example, on the north side of the city entire generations have been deeply and profoundly affected. Like other Deputies, I have met families every member of which has HIV or full blown AIDS as a result of injecting heroin and other drugs. As the Minister said this morning, it is impossible to promote social values when this vile culture is allowed to take root and spread.

Some Deputies mentioned that there may be constitutional difficulties in relation to property rights but how can one set this against the number of deaths and the destruction caused as a direct result of the increase in this criminal activity? It seems to occur in waves and cycles. It is noticeable that there is a new cycle of drug addition, particularly in the most deprived districts where there is high unemployment and other social problems. Our constituents can tell us that children as young as eight to ten years of age are being offered different drugs. The British Parliament is alarmed at this increase in criminal activity which seems to have spread to Dublin in recent years.

There is still dissatisfaction with the way the various law enforcement agencies have dealt with drug problems in certain areas. It is astonishing that some parts of Dublin city are notorious as areas where drugs are available. An intensified security presence has been established to deal with the problem but, perhaps after a couple of months, when that is removed, the problem will re-emerge in its worst form. Even in other countries small districts in Dublin city are known as places where drugs are freely available and the social fabric in them is under severe attack. I do not understand how this can arise. The Minister, the Garda Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners, have a special responsibility for halting this development whereby it is possible to get drugs in certain areas between particular hours of the day, say, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the evening. It seems impossible to bring the people responsible to heel.

Part of the problem which this Bill seeks to address, is the nature of the drug trade. Pushers lower down the line will take responsibility for distributing most of the drugs while the godfathers stay in the background, building up large fortunes, and are not on the scene in the districts concerned. The Bill is specifically directed against those who have been notorious for the way they can live with total immunity and no hand being lifted against them. I welcome particularly the sections from section 4 onwards which will enable the Director of Public Prosecutions to apply for confiscation orders. I particularly welcome the fact that the civil standard of proof will apply and that it should therefore be possible to introduce stern measures against the chief godfathers. I welcome also the provision in section 5 that all wealth gained for a period of up to six years before the time of conviction shall be brought within its remit and, in some cases, wealth illegally gained before that time.

I am a little worried about section 8 (6) which states that we might allow certain immunities to people who are candid about their ill-gotten gains, I do not think there should be immunity on any count in relation to any criminal gains. I welcome also the enforcements provision under which from the time this Bill is passed the godfathers of the drug industry can be hounded under the receivership process, to the end of their lives if necessary, to make certain that they do not gain from their activities.

Some Deputies mentioned restraint orders and transfer of assets. This is topical in the context of the new ethics Bill and the possibility of assets being transferred between public servants and Members of this House. In this connection a Deputy raised the question of family homes. I hope, in the operation of restraint orders, we will not see a notorious criminal living in a £200,000 house on the south side of the city while his minions are wreaking havoc in parts of my constituency and destroying and blighting the lives of the young people.

I welcome in section 4 the introduction of the specific offence of handling illegal moneys, and the attempt to at last bring the financial institutions within the remit of legislation so that we can ascertain how moneys have been gained. Provided the Garda, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the other agencies involved are given the necessary resources this Bill will, I hope, be very successful.

Finally, I welcome the fact that we will be working closely with other countries under international legislation. We have seen countries — the best known one is Colombia, but there are others, countries in North Africa, South Asia, etc. — taken over by this cancer and used to destroy the social fabric of other nations. It is only by international action that we can bring the full rigours of the law to bear on the criminals concerned. I welcome the Bill.

This Bill is very welcome. It will provide an opportunity for a select committee of the Dáil to deal in considerable detail with the implications of what the Minister outlined this morning. The Bill deals with three major areas. It will enable the courts to order the seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of drug trafficking, deal with the offence of money-laundering and enable the Government and courts to co-operate with courts in other jurisdictions in relation to crime and use the international conventions to deal with drug trafficking, money-laundering and associated matters.

A number of contributions were about the general effects of the Bill. It is important to understand that the drug problem is brought about because there are users of drugs. However, if drugs were not for sale and were not being bought, they would not be used. I recall working in New York in 1974. The building next door to me was used as a methadone centre where methadone was distributed freely on the city bill to heroin addicts to wean them off heroin. That was my first encounter with the consequences for young people in the prime of their lives of getting involved directly or indirectly in the abuse of drugs. I witnessed every day a queue of young people, burnt out, decrepit, depressed, craving the daily fix. In many cases addicts simply acquired methadone, sold it for more heroin and became even more dependent on the drug.

The provisions of this Bill should target those who bring drugs to the street and, in a different way, those who buy them and also treat those who fall prey to the lure of drugs.

There must be the will to tackle drug traffickers. The Government must make the resources available and let it be known that there will be no backing off from enforcing the law rigorously in respect of confiscation of assets and dealing with drug barons and traffickers. There should be no mercy shown to these people.

The budget available to the Drug Enforcement Association in the United States in 1992 was $811.7 million. That gives us some idea of the huge challenge facing the American Government. An FBI report states that a breakdown of its budget from 1981 to 1993 showed $2,216.8 million in interdictions, $1,398.5 million in investigations, $682.3 million in prosecutions — the list is endless. The budget allocated to the Drug Enforcement Association during the years 1981 and 1993 was £11,953.1 million yet the drug epidemic on the streets of New York and other primary cities in the States is still of phenomenal proportions.

There is now a growing movement in the United States to legalise drugs in many areas and take them out of the hands of the warlords, the drug barons and the drug traffickers. That is a school of thought that has a growing appeal in the United States. A great deal of money has been invested by the American Government in tackling this problem and heavy penalties exist for those convicted of drug offences. In other words, notice of penalties has been given as it were to those involved in drug trafficking and drug abuse.

Penalties for drug trafficking introduced on 18 November, 1988 became effective in November 1991 and the taking of anabolic steroids was also made an offence. For example, a person found in possession of one kilogram or more of heroine or a mixture of some such drug, is subject to a penalty of not less than ten years and not more than life for a first offence and not less than 20 years and not more than life for a second offence. Possession of 10 grams or more of LSD or some such drug mixture or 400 grams or more of Fentanyl or some such drug mixture is subject to a fine of not more than $4 million for an individual or £10 million for more than one individual.

Those are heavy penalties and very large fines. Yet all the intelligence services and the facilities made available to the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Association in the United States have failed to beat the drug barons. Some Deputies stated that many of the drug outfits have budgets that exceed those of many countries and have legitimised their operation by using laundered money for establishing legitimate fronts to their operations.

On a recent visit to Northern Ireland members of my party discussed political and law and order matters. Sources there revealed that it is understood that a number of public houses in this city are operating as a front for the Provisional IRA. If that information is correct it a very serious matter. The people who frequent those public houses may not be aware of this position and if they were so aware, they might not frequent the premises.

That is a matter that requires close scrutiny and investigation by the Garda and the Department of Justice. If a number of what are deemed to be legitimate outlets in our capital city are in fact fronts for the Provisional IRA, that lends an urgency to the introduction of this legislation to deal with that position and the laundering of money. If those public houses are fronts for moneys gained from illegal drug trafficking, arms or whatever there should be a clamp down on them. The Minister referred to co-operation with other States in criminal matters and I hope she and the Department of Justice will avail of the latest technology in tackling crime.

The FBI report of 16 March, 1993 states:

The FBI has produced a tested prototype of a computer system that will revolutionize the drug intelligence analysis capabilities of the FBI. The DIS is state-of-the-art technology that "windows" several different computer data bases at the same instant. The system is user-friendly and combines advanced technologies to assist the FBI in virtually all phases of case, program, and administrative management of the Drug Program and related intelligence. The DIS is designed with strong emphasis on the dismantling of drug organizations through tracing, tracking, seizing, and forfeiting drug-derived assets. As fully envisoned, the DIS will provide the FBI and other agencies in the drug law enforcement community with the first fully automated, programmatic, investigative drug intelligence data base in the United States. DIS technology will be available to support a future national Drug Intelligence Center.

As stated by many Deputies, our coastline is open to infiltration by small ships and trawlers. The forces of law and order have been commended for their seizures off the Cork coast and for the amounts recovered from the seabed through trawling. The majority of Deputies and, I am sure, 98 per cent of our population, are probably unaware of the extent of money laundering that takes place here or how serious its implications are for our society, particularly for those who have become victims of what that money was used for.

A major investigation in the United States, known as "Polar Cap", involving the FBI, the US Customs Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Association, dealt with largescale money laundering operations associated with the South American cocaine trafficking organisations. I will give an example of those operations. The report indicates that drug proceeds were collected in Los Angeles, Houston and New York city for laundering through the jewellery business. During a six month period 26 electronic surveillances were conducted and those coupled with source information revealed that two Los Angeles jewellery firms has been receiving armoured car shipments of boxes of US currency on a regular basis from New York and Houston as well as from Los Angeles drug organisations. That example highlights the practical operation of the drug laundering business.

The effect of the operation was that those shipments were to appear as shipments of jewellery when, in fact, they were cash. The Los Angeles money laundering businesses deposited close to $1 billion cash in accounts in Los Angeles area banks. Those drug moneys were then transferred to other bank accounts in Los Angeles and New York for further transferral to accounts in Panama and Uruguay for dealing in drug areas. On 22 February 1989 the inter-agency investigation came to an end with the arrest of 33 subjects, the execution of 39 search warrants and the seizure of $50 million in assets. That is an example of a large money laundering operation.

Given that this country did not have legislation in place to deal with money laundering under the appropriate EC Directive, it is timely that this legislation should be introduced. It can be complex and difficult for the Department of Justice, the Revenue Commissioners and the forces of law and order to deal with the confiscation of assets and prove that assets should be confiscated. One must make an example of those who are caught and are found to be in direct confrontation with this legislation before the impact of their offence spreads to others who may be enticed to break the law.

The Minister for Justice and the Government should be fully aware that there is great support in the community for legislation such as this. There is a crying need for resources to be made available to the Government so that the legislation can be implemented and the crime problem dealt with. Under this legislation no mercy or leniency will be shown to people who take part in money laundering, drug trafficking or drug smuggling by air, personal courier or boat. We have all witnessed the effects of drug abuse on young people. As pointed out, many of them involved in drug abuse on the streets of Dublin have become HIV positive sufferers and a number have died from the AIDS virus. I am sure those people would advise others not to go down the same road.

In tackling the prorblem of drug trafficking and money laundering we should ensure that our forces of law and order co-operate fully with other countries. All the necessary resources including personnel, finance and transport, should be made available to deal with it. The Revenue Commissioners should be given power to examine bank accounts where it is suspected there has been money laundering. It should be clearly understood by those who take part in these criminal activities that the full rigours of the law will be implemented.

I hope that when this Bill goes to the special committee, Deputies from all sides will fully tease out the problems and put forward proposals to make the Bill more effective. There should be a perception that this country is not a haven for those involved in drug trafficking and a place of horror for the victims of this vile abuse and curse on humanity.

I thank the Deputies who addressed the House during the debate and note the general welcome for the legislation.

Members, through their role in their constituencies, are in many ways uniquely placed to assess the effect of the activities of criminals on our communities and to identify changes in the law which need to be made in an attempt to tackle these problems. The Bill is one of a number of major reforms underway. Earlier this year we passed the Criminal Justice Act which dealt with unduly lenient sentences, compensation for victims of crime and the placing of an obligation on the courts to take into account effects of specific crimes on victims. The Criminal Law (Suicide) Act and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act remove certain offences from criminal law. Recently we concluded in this House a very lengthy discussion on the Public Order Bill, Second Stage of which was concluded in the Seanad last evening. The Criminal Procedure Bill dealing with miscarriage of justice is at present before the Seanad.

The measure before the House is one of a number which the Minister for Justice has directed to be given priority. Despite the broad scope of the measures and the complex issues which may arise it has been possible to bring before the House this legislation which has received a general welcome. Practical problems have been raised by many Deputies which can be dealt with on Committee Stage.

Deputies will be aware that further developments are planned in areas such as the defence of insanity, offences against the person, fraud and updating and indexation of fines. I should also mention specifically that the Law Reform Commission report on sentencing is due to be published shortly and will give us an opportunity to deal with some of the issues referred to which are not specifically dealt with in the Bill. Confiscation is not part of the sentence as it arises after a person is sentenced. Therefore, it is not included in the legislation.

Questions were raised during the debate about the resources made available to the various components of the criminal justice system. That matter is being dealt with by the Minister who will shortly be in a position in the context of the 1994 Estimates to make a significant and comprehensive statement in that regard. No doubt there will be opportunities to fully discuss what is involved.

Questions put and agreed to.