Extradition (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Second Stage.

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

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Extradition Acts, 1965 to 1987. The Bill clarifies and extends the range of offences not to be regarded as political offences for extradition purposes, centralises proceedings relating to extradition in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court, reserves decisions on the granting of bail in extradition cases to the High Court, and makes certain other changes, including technical changes, in extradition procedures.

I will put the Bill in context in regard to existing legislation on extradition. The Principal Act is the Extradition Act of 1965. Part II of that Act gives effect to the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition. It provides the basis for extradition between this country and most of the other Council of Europe member states. It also governs our extradition arrangements with certain other countries, such as the United States of America, with which we have extradition agreements. Part III of the Act relates to extradition between Ireland, on the one hand, and Northern Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands on the other.

In 1987 the 1965 Extradition Act was amended by two Acts. These were the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, and the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987. The first of the 1987 Acts is based on the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. The most important aspect of that Act is that it restricts the circumstances in which a person can avoid extradition on the grounds that the offence in question is a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence. I shall be referring mainly to this Act in the course of my statement and will describe it as the "1987 Terrorism Act".

The second Extradition Act in 1987, the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987, contains important safeguards in relation to extradition to Great Britain or Northern Ireland. It gives the Attorney General power to veto a request for extradition unless he-she is satisfied (a) that there is a clear intention to prosecute or, as the case might be, to continue the prosecution of, the person named or described in the extradition warrant for the offence specified in the warrant, and (b) that the intention to prosecute is founded on the existence of sufficient evidence. It is important to stress that this Act remains in place and the very valuable protection it affords, therefore, also remains fully in place.

As the Bill proposes changes in the offences which may not be regarded as political for extradition purposes, it would be helpful if I gave some details on the background to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. The convention was an international move to combat terrorism. Briefly, it provides that certain terrorist offences are not to be regarded as political offences for the purpose of enabling the alleged offender to avoid extradition. This step was necessary because many countries, like our own, provide that extradition cannot be granted for an offence which is a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence. Our 1965 Act makes provision for that exemption. The move to take certain offences out of the political exempt category stemmed from horrific terrorist offences during the 1960s and the 1970s. Given the prevalence of terrorist attacks and the practice of their perpetrators to flee the country in which they had carried out the acts, the Council of Europe decided to deal with the problem at European level. It decided to draw up a convention, the underlying principle of which was that perpetrators of acts of terrorism should not be immune from extradition by pleading that the act they had committed was a political offence. We ratified the convention when we enacted the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987.

It is necessary to amend the 1987 Terrorism Act. In November 1991 in the cases Magee, Mckee and Sloan v. Culligan 1992 ILRM 187 and 194, the Supreme Court decided that the Act should be construed strictly and that possession of an M60 machine gun and ammunition with intent to endanger life could be a political offence. The cases gave rise to demands for amendments to the law, particularly amendments to ensure that offences such as possession and use of firearms, automatic or non-automatic, be excluded from the political offence exception. The Government gave careful consideration to the Supreme Court decision and to the widely expressed views on that decision, and decided, as stated in this House on 26 November 1991, that legislation should be enacted to amend, clarify and extend the range of offences that could not be regarded as political for extradition purposes. This is the reason the Bill is before the House. I accept it has taken some time since the Government decided to change the law to bring the Bill before this House but Deputies will appreciate that we are dealing with a very sensitive and complicated area of law. It was necessary, therefore, to give careful and detailed consideration to any possible changes.

I will explain how the Bill changes the scope of the political offence exception. Section 3 (3) of the 1987 Terrorism Act sets out in a general way a list of offences which cannot be classed as political. The section follows the wording of Article 1 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. The offences include those relating to hijacking of aircraft, attacks on internationally protected persons, kidnapping and "an offence involving the use of an explosive or an automatic firearm, if such use endangers life". With regard to the latter offence, the courts have decided that "use" of automatic firearms does not encompass possession with intent to endanger life.

Section 4 of the 1987 Terrorism Act lists two general categories of offences which may be excluded by the court from the political offence exception, depending on the circumstances. The offences in question are identical to those set out in Article 2 of the Convention and are: (a) a serious offence involving an act of violence other than one covered by section 3, against the life, physical integrity or liberty of a person; and (b) a serious offence involving an act against property, other than one covered by section 3, if the act created a collective danger for persons.

The Bill now before the House amends in two ways the qualifications introduced by the 1987 Terrorism Act concerning the political offence exception. First, section 2 (a) proposes to move the offences in section 4 of the 1987 Terrorism Act to section 3 of that Act, thereby removing the discretion of the courts to decide on a case by case basis whether a political offence is involved. In future, under the Bill such offences cannot be classed as political, regardless of the circumstances. The effect of this amendment, combined with the existing provisions, will be that serious offences against the person or against property cannot be deemed to be political.

Second, section 2 (b) of the Bill provides for the insertion of a schedule listing specific offences under Irish law which cannot be regarded as political offences. Most, but not all, of the offences listed in the schedule would come within the scope of the more general wording of the revised section 3 and the scope of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. However, the schedule will ensure certainty of interpretation and, in particular, that offences involving possession of firearms or explosives with intent are excluded from the political offence exception. It is important to stress that we are not talking about mere possession of firearms but of possession where there is serious criminal intent and, in particular intent to endanger life.

The schedule lists 16 offences or categories of offences which cannot be political in the context of extradition. The first group of offences, those under the heading "Common law offences", and numbered 1 to 5, are murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault causing actual bodily harm. The offences listed 6 to 14, inclusive, are identified by sections of particular Acts. The first category, under the heading "Offences against the person", is made up of wounding with intent to cause grievious bodily harm, and causing grievious bodily harm. The next group of offences, under the heading "Explosives", covers causing explosions likely to endanger life or damage property, possession etc., of explosive substances, and making or possessing explosives in suspicious circumstances.

The group of offences under the heading "Firearms" is made up of possessing firearms or ammunition with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property, possession of firearms while taking a vehicle without authority, use of firearms to resist or aid escape, and carrying firearms with criminal intent. The "Robbery and Burglary" group of offences consists of robbery and aggravated burglary. Damaging property with intent to endanger life or being reckless as to endanger life is listed under "Criminal damage". The group of offences listed under "Offences in relation to aircraft and vehicles" is made up of unlawful seizure of aircraft, unlawful acts against the safety of aviation, and unlawful seizure of vehicles. The offences described at 15 deals with accomplices in any of the offences already listed, and category 16 deals with attempts and conspiracy in relation to any of the offences.

The Bill adds some new offences to the offences that, under existing legislation, may not be regarded as political. The most important offences added are possession and manufacture of explosives and possession of firearms with criminal intent. In the main, however, section 2 of the Bill and the First Schedule cover the offences that were in the 1987 Terrorism Act. The manner in which they are set out now in section 2 and in the schedule will lead to much greater clarity. Under the 1987 Terrorism Act some offences could be regarded as political in certain circumstances. Under the Bill these offences may not be regarded as political irrespective of the circumstances and, accordingly, offences such as possession of firearm with intent to endanger life and use of non-automatic firearm to resist arrest are clearly placed outside the political offence exception.

Members of the House will note that the offences in section 2 of the Bill and in the First Schedule fall into the terrorist category. They are the kind of offences that are committed in Northern Ireland and in Britain and in other European locations by terrorists. They do not merit the description "political" in the sense that most people view the word "political" today. Since the case of McGlinchey v. Wren 1983 ILRM 169 the courts have recognised that offences of the kind which can and do involve the slaughter of innocent civilians should not enjoy exemption from extradition on the grounds that they are “political”.

Deputies will be aware that the Extradition Act, 1965 and the 1987 Terrorism Act provide that certain offences, including some stipulated in certain international conventions, may not be regarded as political for extradition purposes.

Examples in section 3 of the 1987 Terrorism Act are the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Civil Aviation. The Bill before the House makes provision in relation to another international convention — the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Section 3 of the Bill provides for an amendment to section 3 of the 1965 Act by providing for new definitions of "political offence" and "revenue offence" in the 1965 Act. The changes in the definitions of these terms will exclude an offence within the scope of article 3 of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances from the scope of the political offence and revenue offence exception categories. This change will enable us to comply with the requirements of article 3.10 of the Drugs Convention. It is intended to ratify that convention following the enactment of the Criminal Justice (No. 3) Bill, 1993 which provides for the confiscation of the proceeds of crime. What this means, briefly, is that we want to meet our international obligations to fight the drugs problem by insuring that offenders whose extradition is sought cannot hide behind the exemptions provided by either the political or revenue offence exemptions.

I have outlined the changes proposed in the Bill in relation to offences and their exclusion from the political and revenue offences categories. There are other changes proposed. These deal with the following matters: confining of extradition matters to nominated judges of the Dublin Metropolitan District Court; bail in extradition cases; execution of a warrant by a Garda Síochána not in possession of the warrant; alleged offender intending to enter the State; the place at which a person to be extradited is to be handed over and the remand period for a person arrested on a provisional warrant.

All of these proposed changes are prompted by experience in operating the Extradition Acts in recent years. They will contribute to a smoother and more effective working of our extradition procedures. What follows is a brief outline of each of the proposed changes.

Heretofore, extradition applications under Part III of the 1965 Act have been dealt with by judges of the District Court at various venues around the country. Under section 4 of the Bill, extradition matters generally will be confined to a list of judges of the Dublin Metropolitan District Court nominated specifically for that work. This will have a number of advantages. It will enable the nominated judges to specialise in extradition cases and develop a high level of expertise in extradition legislation and procedure. This is an important consideration given the importance of extradition, its sensitivity, and its complexity both from the point of view of legislation and case law. Also, this change will make it possible to concentrate cases in one court location in Dublin which should have many beneficial results. There is benefit from the point of view of security, both as regards the cost of security and the effectiveness of security measures. There is benefit also in terms of efficiency in that lawyers and judges with the necessary expertise will be concentrated at the same venue for extradition cases. It is to the benefit of persons whose extradition is sought and to the system of justice also that expertise is concentrated in this way.

The Government has also decided that bail in extradition cases should be confined to the High Court. The present position as regards criminal proceedings is that the District Court has jurisdiction to grant bail in most cases. However, there are some offences of a serious nature where the power to grant bail is reserved to the High Court. Like this latter group of offences the Government considers that the question of bail in extradition cases is such an important matter that it should be reserved to the High Court. The importance of bail in extradition cases stems from the fact that these cases are more than a purely domestic matter — they relate to our international agreements with other states. This change is made by providing in section 5 of the Bill for a new section 7A in the 1965 Extradition Act.

At present a person wanted for extradition may be arrested only by a member of the Garda Síochána who has a warrant in his or her possession. Circumstances arise, however, where an opportunity to arrest a person wanted for extradition arises and the garda in question does not have the warrant in his or her possession. It is proposed to get over this difficulty by providing that the garda may make the arrest even though he or she does not have possession of the warrant at the moment of arrest. However, the garda must produce the warrant within 24 hours and give a copy to the person arrested. Section 6 of the Bill makes the necessary changes by amendments to sections 26, 27 and 45 of the 1965 Act.

Section 10 of the Bill amends section 43 of the 1965 Act. Section 43 deals with the endorsement of warrants in respect of persons here whose extradition is being sought to Great Britain or Northern Ireland. The amendment adds the words "or may intend to enter the State" to the wording of section 43. The result will be that the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána may endorse a warrant in respect of a person where it appears to him or her that the person is coming to the State. Currently the position is that the warrant may be endorsed by the Commissioner only when the person sought is actually in the State. The proposed amendment would facilitate situations where a person is known to be on board a ship or a plane on its way to the State.

The Bill also proposes to remove the need for the courts to specify the location at which a person will be handed over to the authorities of the requesting jurisdiction under Part III of the 1965 Act. This requirement has given rise to major security operations in the past on both sides of the Border and has caused major disruption to cross-Border traffic along with large scale demonstrations. The necessary amendment to section 47 of the 1965 Act is provided for in section 12 of the Bill.

The final change in this group of procedural changes is that the period of remand for a person arrested on a provisional warrant under Part III of the 1965 Act is being extended from three to seven days. Provisional warrants are used in urgent cases and allow a suspect wanted in the United Kingdom to be detained pending the physical delivery of the original warrant from the United Kingdom to Ireland. Under the 1965 Act three days was considered sufficient as that gave adequate time for the necessary papers to be transmitted from the United Kingdom. The Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987 provides for examination of documentation and consideration of applications by the Attorney General prior to a warrant being endorsed by the Garda Commissioner. This requirement was not in existence when the three day period was specified under the 1965 Act. The result is that the three days provided for in different circumstances is inadequate in the new circumstances obtaining since the passage of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987. The Government feels that seven instead of three days is a more realistic period to allow. This is provided for by section 13 of the Bill.

I will refer briefly to other sections of the Bill. Section 1 deals, inter alia, with the application of the amendments proposed in the Bill. Subsection (2) follows the equivalent provisions in sections 3 of the 1965 Act and section 14 of the 1987 Terrorism Act — i.e. the Bill applies to offences whenever committed. However, the Bill will not affect cases already decided where extradition was sought but refused on the grounds that the offence in question was a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence. Subsection (3) provides that the changes made in the Bill by sections 2 and 3 will not apply to requests for surrender under Part II of the 1965 Act, or warrants for arrest under Part III of the Act or requests for the obtaining of evidence of criminal proceedings outside the State, issued before the commencement of the Bill.

Sections 7, 8, 9, 11 and 14 make some technical or minor changes and provide for the remedying of technical defects and the removal of doubt which may exist in relation to some provisions in existing extradition legislation. Section 15 provides for the repeal of enactments listed in the Second Schedule to the Bill and section 16 deals with the short title, collective citation, construction and commencement.

Before concluding I want to say a few words about "specialty". "Specialty" means the general rule in extradition law and treaties that a person may not be tried for any offence other than the specific offence for which he/she is extradited except with the consent of the extraditing State. This applies to the country to which he/she is extradited, and to any third country to which he/she might be extradited.

At present, the arrangements for specialty as between Ireland and the United Kingdom are non-statutory arrangements. The arrangements are intended to ensure that additional charges will not be brought after extradition and that a specialty principle will be observed. However, it has been agreed for some time past that specialty as between the two jurisdictions should be put on a proper legislative basis.

The necessary legislative provisions on our side will be made by Ministerial Order under section 3 of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987 which provides for the application by Ministerial Order of the specialty provisions of Part II of the Extradition Act, 1965 to the United Kingdom. Last year the British Government passed the necessary primary legislation to enable them to have a statute-based specialty arrangement with us. They will have to make an order also. Discussions are in progress to ensure that the two orders are consistent with one another when finalised. When the two orders have been finalised and signed they will be brought into operation on the same date as the provisions of the Bill before the House are brought into operation.

The rule of specialty is an important safeguard in extradition. Other safeguards exist in our law which are not being disturbed by the present proposals. Firstly, the Attorney General will continue to exercise his or her functions under the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987 whereby requests for extradition to the United Kingdom will be proceeded with only where there is a clear intention to prosecute and such intention is founded on the existence of sufficient evidence. Secondly, an important safeguard introduced by section 9 of the 1987 Terrorism Act will continue in force. Section 9 amended section 50 of the Extradition Act, 1965. It provides that the High Court may direct that a person arrested shall be released where the court is of the opinion that extradition is being sought for the purpose of punishing or prosecuting a person because of his or her race, religion, nationality or political opinion.

Let me summarise by saying that the major changes provided for in the Bill relate to offences being excluded from the political offence category. The Bill extends and amends the position in relation to these offences as originally legislated for, in particular in the 1987 Terrorism Act. Court decisions in 1991 established that there were loopholes in that Act. The main purpose of the Bill is to close those loopholes. The Bill also gives effect to requirements relating to extradition in the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. In addition, the Bill provides for some desirable changes in procedure in extradition cases. All the changes proposed in the Bill are deserving of the enthusiastic support of the House.

I commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome this Bill and support its objectives, but I must criticise the Minister for Justice and the Government for the long delay in bringing it forward. This Bill had been promised in succeeding Dáil sessions. Last July in a telephone conversation the Minister explained to me that she could not meet the promised deadline and would not be able to introduce the Bill in that session. Neither was it forthcoming in the next Dáil session, despite promises given on several occasions. For instance, on 6 October 1993 the Taoiseach said, in reference to this legislation "I expect that it will pass through both Houses of the Oireachtas this session". On 13 October 1993 the Taoiseach repeated this commitment in the following words: "I have already stated that it is on the list for this session and will be taken this session". On 16 November 1993 the Taoiseach was asked a third time about this and again said that the legislation would be published in that session. He repeated that commitment for a fourth time on 24 November last. It is plain from those answers that the legislation was ready.

All the provisions of this Bill do is bring extradition procedures here into line with those existing between normal, civilised European States following court interpretation of previous legislation. For example, it provides that a so-called political motive shall not prevent people from facing trial just because they choose to evade justice by moving to the Republic of Ireland. Without such legislation this State could become a place where political criminals of many and varied persuasions would seek to avoid paying for their crimes.

Government commitments to introduce this legislation go back at least three years. The Minister was correct when she mentioned the date of 26 November 1991. The Government should ask themselves how they would feel if someone close to them was a victim of an IRA or UFF attack and they knew the perpetrator was not going to face trial because of loopholes in the extradition law. The Government's slowness in introducing this overdue legislation contrasts poorly with its ease and readiness to give Sinn Féin spokesmen for the IRA access to the airwaves. The timing of the publication of this Bill gave a necessary law and order measure the taint of a bargaining carrot and stick process, given that its publication was unnecessarily delayed until a day when the section 31 Broadcasting Act restriction had been removed. That was an appalling and uncivilised way of dealing with long overdue anti-terrorist legislation.

Attempts to rush through all Stages of this Bill this week seem to be, at least in part, politically driven. Does the Government not want Deputy Bree and others to have their say on this Bill, Deputies who, unlike the Opposition, are not prepared to stand squarely behind the Minister and support a hard line against terrorists?

In the light of the Downing Street Joint Declaration it appears there has been a tendency to legitimise Sinn Féin and, by implication, the Provisional IRA. It is important that the peace process does not cloud our judgment as to what is right and wrong. Peace process or no peace process, terrorism is wrong and the State must not flinch from dealing with it. We in the Republic may be facing an increased threat from Loyalist terrorism. There would be unspeakable outrage in the South if we thought that Loyalist terrorists could not be extradited from the North because of legal loopholes.

A blight has descended over this land. It is the most damaging thing that has happened to this country since the potato blight and the resulting Famine. On this occasion death and destruction are not taking place as an accidental side effect of the blight but as the planned and direct consequences thereof. This blight is the antithesis of Christianity in a country which purports to be 98 per cent Christian, a peculiar mixture of Protestantism, Loyalism, Unionism, Catholicism, nationalism and republicanism, not fuelled by any noble tradition but by hatred and resentment, by intolerance, self-centredness and blind indifference. The Christian way is: I was hungry and you gave me to eat; thirsty and you gave me to drink; a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; sick and you looked after me; in prison and you visited me. That this message has been replaced by: you were a Protestant so I resented you, a Catholic so I distrusted you. I did not like your Nationalist or your Unionist views so I murdered you. In the privacy of your home I terrorised you. I maimed you and taught your children violent ways. This is the way of the terrorist who seeks to claim "political" motives for their horrific crimes.

So far as I am concerned nobody should be able to use "politics" for the justification of murder. The taking of life, whether called manslaughter or any other legal term, causing grevious bodily harm or in any way endangering the lives of people or in any way attempting any of these, or maiming or kidnapping or any act of terror cannot be excused by corrupt use of the word "politics".

The 1987 Act went a long way to ending this corruption but, according to the courts, it did not "depoliticise" a number of offences which would ordinarily be part of the terrorists stock in trade. It is true that offences, such as murder, the use of non-automatic firearms and possession of explosives, are not offences which were put outside the scope of the definition of a political offence by the 1965 or the 1987 Act. It was intended that they would be but the courts took a different view. However, under section 11 of the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, the courts were allowed discretion to enlarge the range of offences not entitled to so-called political exemption.

The McGlinchy v Wren case (1982) and Shannon v Fanning (1984) indicate that section 11 made sense. Shannon v Fanning had decided that the test as to what constituted a political offence fell to be determined in each case having regard to the act done and the facts and circumstances involved in each case. The test, Shannon decided, was whether the person charged with the offence at the relevant time was engaged either directly or indirectly in what reasonably civilised people would regard as political activity.

It is clear that section 11 of the 1987 Act allowed the courts to continue to refuse to give exemption to certain categories of non-political activity. This was quite separate to the provisions of sections 3 and 4 of the same Act which limit the scope of the political exemption in given circumstances.

In Finucane v McMahon (1990) the Supreme Court decision suggests that the court was no longer prepared to adopt the test of Shannon v Fanning and because of this case, there is clearly a need to strengthen the legislation to ensure that the political offence label is removed from offences including acts of violence against any person and from all offences relating to the use or possession of firearms of any kind and explosives.

There are publichouse republicans who, over a few drinks, become misty-eyed, green-eyed and blinkered in their thinking. They think extradition legislation is well intentioned and good as long as it is used in connection with those who attack civilians. I wish to put the case for members of the RUC. Last week in Belfast members of the RUC defended the Catholic community against lunatic psychopaths who were waiting to prey on them, sledgehammer their doors and shoot them dead in front of their children. The IRA, in the name of their particular perverted version of republicanism, murdered one of the policeman concerned.

In a very good article in The Irish Times last Saturday it was stated that more than 7,000 RUC officers have been injured in the so-called troubles. There is a Disabled Police Officers' Association with 160 members. I will put on the record one or two cases where an RUC officer has been killed or maimed:

It was a routine call, a primary school in Co. Armagh had been broken into and vandalised. Harry was kneeling on the floor in the headmaster's study, picking up books. The other detective went to the desk to use the telephone. It was booby-trapped. They gathered him up in pieces.

"He was only 23", says Harry, "and he left a wife and an 11-month old baby. He wasn't just a collegue. He was like a son to me." Harry, then aged 39, lost an eye and was left deaf in one ear. Twenty years later, he still hears a constant humming noise, "like a dentist's drill".

He spent three months in hospital and had titanium plates inserted in his brain. The bomb left him with severe epilepsy. He had entered hospital as a hefty man of 13 stone. He returned home to his wife and four children as an eight-stone wreck....

Hugh did not look under his black sports car before he drove away for lunch from Armagh courthouse in 1980. He was 34 and the father of two young boys. He had been in the RUC for 11 years. "You get complacent," he says, "checking at times of heightened paramilitary activity, not bothering when there is a lull."

The bomb exploded as he put the car into reverse gear. "I looked down," he recalls, "and the front of the seat was blown away. My trousers had been blown from my legs; my bones were sticking out. Thankfully, I remained conscious....".

"I was Catholic and Irish" says Sean, "but I believed that we should have a mixed police force. It was 1970. Our politicians were telling us to join. I was no West Brit. I was just married and working as a clerk. The wages weren't great. The RUC was well paid. Most of the other lads in the GAA ended up in jail. I ended up in the RUC."

Sean's father, John, was initially horrified. As an Irish language activist, he had been arrested by the police. He worried about the neighbours' reaction but he respected his son's decision.

Sean claims, however, that there were great difficulties for him in the force. He was shot by the IRA and his baby son was bathed in his father's blood. The article continues in that vein.

These are the great acts of valour perpetrated by terrorists who say they do so in the name of a Thirty-two County Republic. If that is the price of a Thirty-two County Republic, I hope we never see one. I should not like to see it written in the history books that the Six Counties were acquired that way, nor can we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the mad Loyalists psychopaths. On both sides, the total lack of any form of Christian commitment has given way to almost satanic hatred, blind anger-driven hatred.

As legislators we must make it clear that anyone in this jurisdiction required to stand trial for offences of that kind will be extradited and will find no quarter here. I hope we will get from the Government benches the same kind of unequivocal support in principle for this legislation as the Minister is getting from the main Opposition party.

Following on the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty, the creation of open borders will be of benefit to the Community generally. However, it is clear that organised criminals will use these freedoms to further their own violent schemes.

Fine Gael believes that law enforcement throughout Europe should be considered not just the European Union but also by the Council of Europe. The European Convention on Human Rights is one of the most important conventions created by the Council of Europe but it must not be used to justify those who deny the most basic of human rights to others, i.e. the right to life.

It is my party's view that the best way to combat international terrorism is through a framework of law that provides effective enforcement right across European national boundaries, together with a system of rights to protect the innocent.

Nonetheless, the scales of justice must be held in equilibrium. We must question whether the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism put forward in 1977 and ratified ten years later by this country is adequate in today's Europe. The number of offences that can be committed without fear of extradition on the basis of a supposed political motive is still far too wide.

Surely it should be possible to reach agreement, especially within the European Community, where persons are charged with membership of an unlawful organisation. This convention should be re-examined and tightened.

The Minister is providing in this Act that the period of remand by the court following arrest under a provisional warrant for a person sought by the UK will be seven days. At present a remand for three days is allowed while awaiting delivery and endorsement of the original warrant from the UK. The Minister states that this period has proved too short in the light of the requirements imposed by the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987. Whereas the period of remand by the court under a provisional warrant for a person sought by countries other than the UK remains unchanged at 18 days the Minister proposes to restrict this provision to seven days in the case of the UK. I expect she has good reason for doing this.

Perhaps she would enlighten the House as to why this is. Most of the acts of terror, or so called "political" acts, refer to acts carried out in the UK. Why then are arrangements with the UK to continue to be 11 days short of the arrangements with other countries?

The Minister might also explain why requests for extradition to the United Kingdom will continue to be examined by the Attorney General to ensure that there is a clear intention to prosecute and that such intention is founded on the existence of sufficient evidence. Will the Minister tell the House why it is considered necessary to have a separate arrangement for the UK?

As a constitutional politician who would not in any way give succour to any uncivilised act, I wish to suggest that the British Government needs to look at the laws in Britain as they apply to pre-trial media coverage.

The sensational coverage of some of the trials in the UK in advance of the verdict, would not be allowed in this country. It is clear that they can have a prejudicial effect on a trial. If you add to this the high security surrounding a trial, such as sniffer dogs etc., there is the danger that the trial of a foreign national can be prejudiced. The British Lord Chancellor, Home Secretary and Attorney General would be wise to collectively address this matter with a view to ensuring that trials are fair and seen to be fair. It undermines the whole collective action of the British and Irish Governments against terrorism if terrorists and their fellow travellers can use these trials for their own propaganda ends.

When some of these trials have been shown to be miscarriages of justice it is all the more easy for the terrorists to be equipped with this particular element of propaganda ammunition.

Under section 6 of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987, provision is made for the Government "as soon as may be after the first day of January in each year beginning with the year 1989" to make a report to each House of the Oireachtas on the operation in the preceding year of Part III of the Principal Act. Will the Minister tell the House if this legislative requirement has been met in full and why no such statement has been made so far this year?

I understand certain Members are unhappy with section 2 of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987, which amends section 44 of the Principal Act, 1965, in relation to the role of Attorney General.

Perhaps the Minister will say why is it necessary to treat Britain differently from other countries. Those concerned with this provision suggest that a "probable cause" proposal would be more satisfactory. However appealing this seems, it would undoubtedly cause lengthy delays in the extradition process and, furthermore, could cause a trial within a trial to be the order of the day.

It has been said that the current Bill was published on the basis it has emerged that there were "flaws" in the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987. This is not an accurate representation of the situation as the Minister made clear in her contribution. The Government of the day was very keenly aware of the potential for gaps in the legislation. One of the reasons these gaps were not filled was that, at the time, the Progressive Democrats were arguing for the inclusion in our extradition laws of a prima facie requirement. Such a requirement does not fit in with the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. If the Government of the day had introduced such a requirement, it would have automatically been outside the scope of the Convention.

At least that is one reasoned and fair interpretation of the situation. The introduction of a prima facie requirement would have been wisely seen as a new obstacle to extradition rather than as a facilitation, which was required at the time.

A leading light in the Progressive Democrats of the day made it known he felt the Bill was an opportunity "to change the legal map of Europe". He thought we could use the Bill as a means of obliging the French, the Italians, the Spanish and Portuguese — not to speak of any others — to abandon the Napoleonic code provisions for dealing with accused persons and to adopt common law provisions. This of course was never a realistic approach.

The Progressive Democrats, therefore, took a very contrary view of the Bill on the basis of that rather naive approach. The Government then concluded that the safest option was to adhere strictly to the terms of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and on that basis the Bill went through the Dáil.

The Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, closely followed the text of the 1977 Convention. I am advised this was done on the express advice of the Attorney General of the day.

On the key votes on Committee Stage, the Government won by the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle. I do not intend to make this important and necessary item of legislation a matter of controversy which would cause dissension or doubt as to where Fine Gael stands on the extradition of people accused of serious crimes. In a real sense, the so-called "flaws" in the legislation being addressed by the current Bill could have been addressed in 1986 if those who resisted the Bill had taken a more rational and realistic approach to the matter. I regret having to bring these matters up to put the record straight.

I am concerned that the High Court might feel constitutionally bound to grant bail following precedent in relation to the 1966 ruling. I sought advice on this matter and I understand, whereas we all have concerns about bail as the situation applies since the 1966 Supreme Court interpretation, that in the case of extradition it is even more likely that a person will be granted bail by the courts because he or she is unlikely to flee to Britain or to Northern Ireland because that is where in most cases they want to extradite them. There is a serious question mark about the bail legislation as it operates. It is true that you are innocent until proven guilty.

In all circumstances relating to extradition bail generally and bail for suspected terrorists, the 1966 Supreme Court ruling should not continue to stand. These are exceptional circumstances, and what is fair and just in all circumstances should be the rule applied by the courts. It is time this matter was addressed by the Government.

I hope that precisely where I stand in relation to the trial of suspected terrorists is clear. These provisions should apply to terrorists in the Republic, Northern Ireland, Britain or anywhere else. In this regard I again call for the setting up of a select Dáil committee to be aided by a special investigator who would ferret out all the facts to inquire into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the 1972 Dublin bombings. Such a committee could use parliamentary privilege properly to put information which is clearly available to journalists on the record of the Dáil so that all the facts of those two atrocities could be made public. Even now, we should seek to identify the culprits and should they be found to be in another jurisdiction, we should seek their extradition so they can face trial here for the heinous acts of terror. We must be concerned with justice, not politics. If we refuse to accept that politics can justify one act, we must be sure to show that politics cannot justify any ugly act of terror.

In relation to specialty the Minister said that when the two orders have been finalised and signed they will be brought into operation on the same date as the provisions in the Bill before the House. Will the Minister assure the House that there will not be any delay in bringing this legislation into operation, because until it is, cases will continue to be heard under the old legislation as interpreted by the courts, and that could give rise to people not being extradited for offences for which they would be extraditable under the new legislation. When are we likely to see the provisions in this Bill in operation once it is passed by the Oireachtas?

I agree with the principle of the Bill but I will be tabling a number of technical amendments. As a matter of principle I do not agree with taking all Stages in one week. It is dangerous particularly when we are dealing with criminal legislation. The Opposition's request to take Report Stage next week will give us an opportunity to reflect on what has been said on Second and Committee Stages.

For a number of months now I have been indicating that narcotic drugs are freely available on the streets of Dublin. I note that psychotic substances are now to be added to narcotic drugs. I am even more concerned that psychotic substances are available. Anything that can be done to extradite the people who are responsible for these shipments should be pursued with vigour.

I agree with the previous speaker that there has been a certain degree of lethargy on the part of this Government and previous Governments in bringing forward measures to close the evident loopholes in our present extradition legislation. Indeed, the question of the extradition of politically motivated offenders from Ireland to the UK has proved to be by far the most contentious issue to have troubled the relationship between our two countries over the last 20 years or so. This issue has produced several false dawns.

I hope an end to this lengthy legal saga is in sight in this Bill but much will depend on the availability of time for full scrutiny on Committee Stage. I am glad the Department and the Minister have facilitated the Opposition who pointed out that amendments on Committee Stage indicated that we were not just going through the motions but that we really wanted to get this legislation right. It is because we wholeheartedly support this legislation that we are anxious to scrutinise every section.

The Progressive Democrats formally welcome the publication of the Bill and consideration of it. Over the years there has been foot dragging on the matter and the obvious flaws in the 1987 Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act were confirmed in a sequence of judgements in the Supreme Court.

Before going through the details of the provisions in the Bill it is important to establish principles underpinning extradition which the Progressive Democrats believe are justified and appropriate. The Government is anxious to get the Bill through the House as quickly as possible, and it has been presented as a relatively simple and straightforward amending Bill. However it is politically disingenuous to disregard the complex historical and emotional baggage which the term "extradition" carries with it. The matter concerns fundamental issues of sovereignty, constitutional rights, justice and political relations between ourselves and Britain in particular. The specific and technical problems which this legislation seeks to solve were obvious and foretold. Apart from the political landscape surrounding extradition and its interaction with republican violence, the difficulties in 1987 stemmed from trying to make compatible two parallel types of law — our own domestic law with its idiosyncrasies and the demands of European conventions. The gelling of these two legal systems was bound to present problems. Neither of the extradition 1987 Acts was adequate and the 1987 amendment Act was guillotined and rushed through the House.

This Bill amending the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act is a measure of how far we have come from ambivalence on paramilitary violence. That is an important point to be noted by the public as well as the legislators. For Fianna Fáil and some individual legislators in this House that journey has proved tortuous, and it would be folly to deny that. We have come a long way from the situation which prevailed here during the seventies when the political offence exception was tolerated to allow a procession of people facing the gravest terrorist charges, including murder in Northern Ireland to simply plead in our courts that the offence was political, and thereby secure their release. This political ambivalence about paramilitary violence seriously undermined relations between the Republic and the unionist community in Northern Ireland, not to mention the UK who were outraged that our courts and political system could tolerate the release of people who had freely admitted to various offences but claimed that their motivation could block their extradition to face trial.

While it is true that the situation which pertained in Ireland throughout the seventies was not exceptional by international standards, the reality and the unique ferocity of our terrorist problem should have spurred us to tackle the matter with greater urgency and commitment. As part of a family of liberal democracies in Europe and as members of the Council of Europe, we need to have workable and just extradition provisions and we must also safeguard human rights while we are going about that difficult task.

A measure of the extent of change in the ambivalent attitudes of the Irish Government and people generally on Republican violence is that today we are closing loopholes and reaffirming the criminalisation of such acts. That is to be welcomed. It is timely and very much in keeping with the spirit of the Downing Street Declaration, which aims to take the gun out of Irish politics. For this reason, I warmly congratulate the Minister for doing what her two immediate predecessors managed to avoid without much political comment.

It is worth recalling also that under the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, the then Irish Government accepted the obligation to ensure there would be a workable extradition system between Ireland and the United Kingdom. The failure, as shown by a series of high profile cases to operate in practice such a workable system of extradition between Ireland and Great Britain, has been a breach of that understanding, and a clear breach of our duty to fellow Irishmen and women who live in Northern Ireland.

As I said already, it would be politically disingenuous to avoid recognising the political landscape which formed the background to the resistance to change and the legislative lethargy. There is no point denying that successive Governments have engaged in a certain amount of horse trading on matters relating to extradition with the Government seeking a quid pro quo for RUC interrogation methods, Diplock courts and various miscarriages of justice. No doubt the political landscape contributed to the lethargy and ambivalence in carrying through commitments on extradition.

During much of the seventies there was a strict application by our courts of the "political offence" exception when extradition cases arose. Attempts by the British Government to have IRA suspects extradited from the State were thwarted by a series of High Court determinations. To counter this problem, the Law Enforcement Commission was established under the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973. That commission reported in the following year and recommended extra-territorial jurisdiction for violent crimes. The Irish members of that commission had argued that Article 29.3 of our Constitution and international law provisions prohibited the extradition of persons for political offences or the enactment of laws denying political offence status to politically motivated crimes. Ultimately, this led to the passage in 1976 of the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act which provides for the trial of people in this jurisdiction for political offences committed elsewhere. While the Progressive Democrats never accepted the premise that effective and workable extradition is in any sense unconstitutional, that view prevailed with successive Irish Governments until the early eighties and it was on this ground that Ireland failed to sign the 1977 European convention on the suppression of terrorism until 1986 — nine years later.

The Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act had only limited application and the British authorities in particular were reluctant to utilise it and continued to submit extradition warrants. It was left to the Judiciary to pick their way through the unhelpful and undefined political offence exemption which created an impasse where fugitive offenders were allowed to plead guilty to the most heinous crimes in our courts and yet walk free. At the same time it must be remembered that the British authorities were intent on criminalising terrorist violence in Northern Ireland.

The first case to signal a new approach by the Irish courts was McGlinchey v. Wren in 1982 where extradition was sought in respect of the alleged murder of an elderly postmistress. In an unprecedented judgment which marked a breakthrough in the old ambivalence and reflecting a change in public opinion and a hardening of views on terrorism, the Supreme Court ordered the extradition of McGlinchey, thereby signalling a major new departure on the part of the court which was to set the pattern for a series of further judgments and was grounded on a test of what might be regarded by fair minded and reasonable people as legitimate political action. In his judgment the then Chief Justice, Mr. O'Higgins stated that:

... the judicial authorities on the scope of the (political) offence had been rendered obsolete in many respects by the fact that modern terrorist violence, whether undertaken by military or paramilitary organisations ... is often the antithesis of what could reasonably be regarded as political, either in itself or in its connections.

This line of reasoning was further elaborated upon in the Shannon v. Fanning case in July 1984. The applicant had been charged with the murder of two former Members of the House of Commons from Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court rejected the defence that these were political offences saying that the offences in question were so brutal, cowardly and callous that it would be a distortion of language if they were to be accorded the status of political offence. Judges were using their discretion on the brutality in the case. Further judgments during this period led to further restrictions by the Judiciary on the extent to which political offence could be successfully used. At the same time as the courts were restricting the definition of political offence, the Governments in Ireland and the United Kingdom continued to horse trade, to pussy-foot around the problem and just watch each other.

Commenting on a sequence of judicial decisions, Kevin Boyle and Tom Hadden in their commentary on the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement wrote as follows:

... in these cases, the Irish judiciary has radically altered the approach to the political offence exception. In the past, the claim that the offence for which the extradition was sought was part of a Republican paramilitary campaign, was sufficient to bring the crime within the scope of the exception... the way was thus cleared for the extradition of Republican suspects, even before the ratification by Ireland in 1987 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, as promised in the Communiqué of the Hillsborough Summit Meeting on November 15th, 1985.

In summary, the principles which the Progressive Democrats believe must underpin our extradition law is that politically motivated offenders who commit violent crimes in the territories of member states of the Council of Europe, including the United Kingdom, must be liable to face extradition as part of the ordinary process of the Irish domestic law.

The Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, which is the subject of some key amendments in the Bill before us, was introduced towards the end of 1986 as a measure to give effect to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism in Irish domestic law. That convention had been adopted in strasbourg in January 1977 but Ireland did not sign it until February 1986.

A key objective of that convention was:

... to assist in the suppression of terrorism by complementing and, where necessary, modifying existing extradition and mutual assistance arrangements concluded between member states of the Council of Europe.

At the heart of the convention was the proposal to fill the vacuum relating to the political offences exception by "eliminating or restricting the possibility for the requested state of invoking the political nature of an offence in order to oppose an extradition request. This aim is achieved by providing that for extradition purposes, certain specified offences shall never be regarded as "political", Article 1, and otherwise specified offences may not be, Article 2, notwithstanding their political content or motivation.

Unfortunately the 1986 Bill, subsequently known as the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, was badly drafted, inadequately debated and then guillotined and the precise working of its key elements was never examined in detail. That is why the Progressive Democrats wish for a full and open debate on this Bill together with a decent Committee Stage debate. It is because we recognise the importance of getting it right that we have insisted on more time.

A clear warning about the dangers now being addressed in the Bill before this House was sounded by the then leader of the Progressive Democrats, Deputy O'Malley, in his Second Stage contribution — Volume 370, column 2695 of the Official Report of 12 December 1986. In that speech Deputy O'Malley clearly warned the Minister that sections 3 and 4 were defective. He pointed out that section 3, which purported to give effect to Article 1 of the Convention, had narrowly defined the non-political offences set out in Article 1 of the Convention and that section 4 failed to give real effect to Article 2 of the Convention. However, in its anxiety to have the matter passed, the then Government failed to act on the clear warnings about the loopholes mentioned by Deputy O'Malley.

Deputy O'Malley hit the wrong target on that occasion.

A former Minister has spoken.

The criticism that can be made of section 3 of that legislation is that it failed to include within its ambit "possession" as opposed to the "use" of firearms, the latter being limited for purposes of the section to automatic firearms. In addition, it is debatable whether offences involving the use of explosives or automatic firearms came within the ambit of section 3 where such use endangered a single person as opposed to persons generally.

However, the most serious criticism has been levelled at section 4 of the Act. Section 4, essentially failed to give adequate effect to Article 2 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism which gave Ireland the option of providing by legislation that certain serious offences such as murder and manslaughter could not be regarded as political in nature. Instead section 4 borrowed from the language of Article 13 of the Convention which was concerned with the right of contracting states to enter reservations in relation to Article 1 of the Convention and created a section which gave the courts discretion to decide that an offence which fell within the scope of the criteria laid down, initially in Article 13 and then incorporated in section 4, should not be regarded as a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence.

It is hard to see how any principle of constitutional or international law could distinguish between an offence of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and being an accomplice in the use of such a firearm. Nevertheless section 3 of the 1987 Act made that distinction with the result that section 3 and 4 of the 1987 Act made our extradition law unclear, irrational, subjective and vague. Those deficiencies quickly manifested themselves when the legislation came under judicial scrutiny in the real world of hard cases. As Deputy O'Malley pointed out in the Dáil on 12 December 1986 the combined effect of these sections was to create uncertainty, to ensure that virtually every case would be brought to the Supreme Court and to involve the Judiciary in subjective decisions in controversial and emotive cases. Instead of bringing certainty which could have been achieved by setting out a clear Schedule of non-political offences the 1987 Act brought uncertainty and that is the reason we must clear up the mess.

This parliamentary slippage was unfortunate. It was for this and other reasons that the Progressive Democrats took the initiative in May 1990 by publishing a comprehensive document detailing the amendments which are now essential to our extradition law.

This Bill has good and bad points. I will deal with the bad points first. The Bill does not deal with the extradition of Irish nationals to other European states which is prohibited by SI No. 15 of 1989. It is unfortunate that successive Governments have acted deceitfully in the extradition of Irish nationals to European countries other than the United Kingdom. The Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs have consistently fudged the issue. This meant, for instance, that the German Federal Republic spent considerable time and effort putting together an extradition case on terrorist charges in relation to Donna Maguire. The Government, dishonesty, did not inform the Germans that a request from its jurisdiction for the extradition of an Irish national was futile. Instead the Germans were actively led to believe that their request for extradition was likely to be considered if the documentation etc, was in order. Privately, however, Ireland has conceded, in the context of the Northern Ireland talks, that there is no extradition to continental Europe for Irish nationals. Our complaint is not so much that there is no extradition but that the Government actively misled the Germans into believeing that there was.

There is an arrangement for the extradition of Irish nationals to Australia and America. However, SI No. 15 of 1989 which deals with continental Europe makes no such allowance in the case of civil law European jurisdictions. Thus, Irish nationality is a bar to extradition to Germany for the murder of a British soldier there but an Irish national will be extradited to America or Australia for any murder there. This is a missing link in our relationship with mainland European countries.

We also have a problem with the role of the Attorney General. It is still the view of my party that the role given to him in the 1987 Amendment Act in respect of extradition to the United Kingdom is flawed. Its chief defects are that it is secret, that no hearing is afforded on the relevant issues to the person affected, that there is no accountability to this House or the courts and that there is a perception that the process, notwithstanding its quasi-judicial nature, is still in the political sphere.

The 1987 Act requires the Attorney General to veto all United Kingdom extradition requests unless he is of the opinion that there is a clear intention to prosecute, based on the existence of sufficient evidence. It requires the Attorney General to examine the evidence available in Britain and to arrive at a view as to whether it is sufficient. This process is secret and private and the public can never know whether charges that the Attorney General is being unreasonable are justified.

The Progressive Democrats have always argued that the same process should be conducted in public by the High Court where it would be clearly understood and perceived to be a judicial act. As a safeguard, the provision is flawed. An individual on whom an extradition warrant is served can only infer that the Attorney General did examine his case but that individual is not allowed to know the grounds on which the Attorney General acted. While the High Court recently decided in Wheeler v. Culligan, 1989 Irish Reports 233, that the Attorney General's role is not a judicial one, it is far from clear that his function is not subject to judicial review. If the basis of the Attorney General's decision is brought out in court by way of discovery of subpoena the process of extradition may become very complex and virtually unworkable. Such a case has yet to come before the courts.

It should be noted that two charges in the case of Father Patrick Ryan were not ultimately decided on the basis of that Act. It was decided, in respect of those charges, on a wider constitutional basis, that is, the extent to which a fair trial had been prejudiced by political and media comment.

The Progressive Democrats believe that the safeguard applied by the 1987 Act should be transformed in three ways: (i) it should be the responsibility of the High Court, (ii) it should be on the basis of showing probable cause in cases of requests for the extradition of Irish citizens — there is a precedent in the Irish-US Treaty — and (iii) it should be extended to all countries, not merely the United Kingdom.

This could be done in the Bill, it could transfer the hearing of all stages of contested extradition proceedings to the High Court. In view of the accession of the United Kingdom to the 1957 and 1977 Conventions consideration should be given to putting all extradition arrangements on a single statutory basis, that is, an extradition agreement regulated by what is now Part II of the 1965 Act.

At present the procedures are too cumbersome and drawn out. Proceedings commence in the District Court which is confined to matters such as the proper identification of the suspect and ensuring that the offences named in the warrant correspond to offences known to our law. There is then an appeal to the High Court which has sole jurisdiction to determine issues such as political offences and breach of constitutional rights. It would be much more sensible if the High Court had exclusive original jurisdiction in all extradition cases. The delays at present are unacceptable bearing in mind that there will be a further appeal to the Supreme Court in virtually every case.

If the District Court jurisdiction was removed this would remove one tier from the present three tier appellate system — the District Court to the High Court to the Supreme Court — speed up the extradition process and ensure that all such extradition matters commenced in the court best equipped to deal with cases of such importance. If extradition proceedings were to commence in the High Court in the first instance their status would be elevated.

Does this legislation have any implications relating to the abolition of the death penalty? I understand that the death penalty while abolished here is still in place in the United Kingdom for treason. Could there ever be a case where we would be asked to extradite a person to stand trial for an offence which carries a death sentence in the United Kingdom?

It is also a matter of concern that the Minister maintains a role in section 50 of the 1965 Act to overrule the courts. I was surprised to learn that the Minister, the Executive arm of the State, has this extraordinary power to overrule a decision of the Supreme Court. We will have to ask the Attorney General, Mr. Whelehan, if this is constitutional. Is the Minister happy that such a power should be vested in the Executive?

The Bill fails to address the original issue of the presentation of an affidavit by the requesting State to show probable cause. There is a precedent in our extradition treaty with the United States. It might be appropriate to delete section 2 of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987, and replace it with an affidavit showing probable cause. This would fall short of the controversial request of the Progressive Democrats and the Labour Party in the past for prima facie evidence.

Instead of revising section 3 of the 1987 Act this Bill proposes to repeat the vague and loose language of the Convention. What offence could be covered by section 3 (2) (a) (iv) to (vi) which is not covered by the Schedule to be included by subsection (3A)? The proposed changes to section 3 of the 1987 Act leave in place section 3 (3) (a) (iv) and (v) and the related definition in subsection (4) (c) of the same section. What offence could fall within section 3 (3) (a) (v) that would not be covered by the Schedule incorporated by section 3 (3A)? It would be more sensible to delete section 3 (3) (a) (v) and the accompanying definition.

The Bill has plenty of good points. We welcome the concentration in the Dublin District Court as an improvement but we would prefer the proceedings to commence in the High Court. Given the delays brought about by a bifurcated procedure, we would also elevate the importance of extradition if it were placed in the High Court.

We welcome the fact that in future only the High Court can grant bail. That too was raised by the Progressive Democrats in Government. In the past bail has been abused. The Magee case was a particular tragedy because the person bailed absconded and then committed murder.

The amendment of section 47 of the 1965 Act as to the point of departure from the State, which no longer has to be specified, is a good and common-sense amendment.

The wider human rights dimension to extradition could still be said to be fraught with uncertainties. The reasoning employed in both Finucane and Clarke is all very well, but a refusal to extradite suspects on the ground to apprehended ill-treatment at the hands of a requesting State could imply that the Irish courts could find themselves investigating conduct which has taken place or may take place outside the jurisdiction. Would that represent an attempt by the Irish courts to police the Constitution in an extra-territorial dimension?

The manner in which the personal liberty and personal rights provisions of the Constitution have been interpreted has often resulted in decisions which greatly favour the criminal suspect and exasperated the authorities. It should be no surprise that great controversy arises where extradition cases are concerned. It would be disingenuous to claim that the Anglo-Irish extradition process is not steeped in sensitive politics in both jurisdictions. However, the slow abandonment of ambivalence about terrorist violence, culminating in the Downing Street Declaration, the widespread clamour for peace and the passing of this legislation must represent a fresh sense of confidence about the administration of justice in both jurisdictions.

Extradition is one of those issues which has bedevilled Anglo-Irish relations over the past decade. A succession of problems with the law, a series of sometimes contradictory court judgments by our own courts and frequent complications with warrants presented by the British authorities have contributed to this unhappy experience. The result of the unfortunate saga has been that this country has quite unfairly been depicted as a haven for terrorists, Unionists suspicions of the bona fides of this State have been fuelled and right wing Tories in Great Britain have been provided with ammunition to engage in their favourite pastime of Paddy bashing.

The extradition of persons wanted in connection with serious offences is an important weapon in the battle against terrorism, but it is by no means a panacea for all our problems or a quick fix solution to the problem of international terrorism. Right wing politicians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have, from time to time, tried to blame problems of extradition from the Republic for their failure to defeat terrorism. However, the evidence suggests that this is a very minor problem and those politicians might well benefit from taking a harder look at their own security and political policies. Indeed they might usefully take a closer look at the effectiveness of this State in dealing with terrorism, an approach which has not had to rely on systematically convicting the wrong people over a period of time.

Despite tightening the law on extradition and the enactment of two amending Bills, it is astonishing that the number of applications for extradition to Great Britain and Northern Ireland has remained relatively small. It is also astonishing, given the amount of controversy and political heat that surrounded the whole issue of extradition in the past, that we have not heard about the need for a degree of accountability in the operation of the extradition process. Section 6 of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987, requires the Government to make a report to each House of the Oireachtas as to the operation of extradition to Great Britain and Northern Ireland "as soon as may be after the first day of January each year". The last report published is for 1991 and that was laid before the Oireachtas in January 1993. No reports have yet been published for 1992 or 1993, an extraordinary omission, given the sensitivity of this issue. When the Minister responds she should explain why these reports have not been published — hardly an onerous task, given the small number of applications for extradition. According to the report for 1991 just one application was made for extradition to Great Britain and one to Northern Ireland. I do not anticipate any great flood of applications for extradition when this Bill is passed.

It is a matter of concern if even one person wanted for serious offences in Northern Ireland or Great Britain can avoid being brought to justice because of the shortcomings in our law. It is particularly unacceptable that persons who have been involved in activities which may have resulted, directly or indirectly, in murder, injury or destruction should be able to evade extradition by sheltering behind the spurious claim of having committed a political offence.

To the extent that this Bill seeks to close the loophole in the Extradition (European Convention of Terrorism) Act, 1987, it is a welcome development. However, given the difficulties we have experienced in the past, it would be a brave — or indeed a foolish — person, who would forecast that this will be the end of our problems. In some respects it is remarkable that the flaw in the legislation was not anticipated when the Bill was drafted in late 1986. To most rational people it seems the height of nonsense that under the law the use of an automatic weapon could never be regarded in our courts as a political offence, yet the possession of a lethal weapon like an M60 machine gun could be regarded as a political offence and provide immunity from extradition.

It is also most unfortunate that it has taken so long to introduce the legislation to close the loophole which was identified in court cases as far back as 1990. The long delay and the repeated failure to meet promised deadlines for the publication of the legislation has allowed the finger of suspicion to be pointed at this State. The whole process is complicated by the fact that while the Oireachtas enacts the legislation responsibility for interpreting it rests with the courts.

During the past decade there have been considerable shifts in the way the courts have interpreted extradition legislation, particularly in regard to the meaning of the term "political offence", reflecting the changing composition and views of the members of the Supreme Court. Under the original 1965 Act, extradition for a political offence was ruled out but there was no definition in the Act of what this meant. The courts had traditionally taken a very broad interpretation of the meaning of "political offence" and, in general, persons sought for terrorist offences or offences arising from the activities of paramilitary groups were not extradited. In other words, if a fugitive pleaded political motivation he was normally safe from extradition. Then in the McGlinchey case in 1984, the Supreme Court took a dramatically different view when the Chief Justice held that a political offence could only be what reasonable civilised people would regard as political activity. However, in a series of subsequent decisions the Supreme Court, made up of different personnel, handed down a number of judgments which seem to be moving back towards the original broad definition of a political offence.

Against this background it was incumbent on the Oireachtas to act to give the courts far more specific terms of reference. There will, no doubt, always be some people who are trapped in the Nationalist time warp and they will oppose extradition to Northern Ireland or Great Britain no matter what offence the person is accused of, but these are a very small minority. I am convinced the vast majority of people in this State will support extradition procedures which will protect the rights of those sought but also ensure that those wanted for serious offences have to answer to a court of law. In particular, they do not want terrorists to be able to draw some artificial cloak of political respectability over their murderous activities. The political exemption clause which was applied in this country is not unique. It was used in many countries and was first introduced by the British. It was part of a legitimate political tradition which believed that when opponents of unsavoury undemocratic regimes sought refuge in a country their plea for asylum should be respected and they should not, in normal circumstances, be handed over.

Debate adjourned.