Extradition (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

Before the debate was adjourned yesterday evening I had spoken about the extent to which right wing politicians in Britain and Northern Ireland had exploited the fact that there is a loophole in our extradition laws by claiming unfairly that this country is in some way soft on terrorism. I suggested they might usefully take a look at this State's effectiveness in dealing with the problem of terrorism. I expressed the view that, despite the excitement raised in the UK and here by the issue of extradition, it is surprising that there have been so few applications. It is also surprising that the promised annual report on extradition applications has not been published since 1991.

I referred also to the difficulty the public has, a public absolutely opposed to the use of violence for political purposes and who strongly abhors what has been happening on this island in the past 25 years, in understanding how this House could have, in 1986, debated and passed legislation which effectively classifies as a political offence the possession of an automatic weapon. The public also finds it difficult to understand why the Judiciary could have interpreted the laws in such a way as to allow what most decent people would regard as an act of violence or terrorism to be in some way cloaked in respectability by defining it as a political offence.

It seems that what we have inherited in our extradition laws is an approach to the concept of political offences which, while it was legitimate at the time it evolved, is no longer appropriate. I pointed out that the tradition of defining a political offence has a long and honourable history, one initiated by the British, which refers to protecting people who have found themselves over the years working under oppressive regimes of one kind or other — when people who opposed oppressive regimes in their own countries had to take refuge in another state where they were given political asylum.

Times have changed and we now live in an era of deadly international terrorism. The political exemption clause originated at a time when there was less movement of people between states and when travel was more difficult. It originated at a time when it was not possible for a person to plant a bomb and then be on a plane to another country before it exploded, a time when the death penalty was much more common, when court procedures were often primitive and when the rights of the accused received scant attention. It was also a time when there were great variations between the standards of justice available in different countries. Now there are a number of international agreements which, even if not always fully respected, set certain minimum standards for court procedures and the treatment of accused persons. All of these developments, together with the rise of international terrorism, means that a broad definition of a political offence is a luxury we cannot afford if we are serious about protecting our citizens and those of other countries from the murderous activities of paramilitary gangs.

For extradition to work successfully between two countries it must be based on mutual respect for each other's laws and judicial procedures. While the British have been quick to criticise what they regard as shortcomings in our procedures, there has been repeated evidence that their procedures leave much to be desired. In a number of cases warrants have been received with incorrect names or details, or the British authorities have been unable to satisfactorily identify the people sought. There has also been the problem of prejudicial comment in the British media — and in the Ryan case right up to the level of the British Prime Minister — which raise doubts about the ability of a person to receive a fair trial. In the Ellis case the charge on which he was extradited was dropped and a different charge substituted, a move which was in breach of all the normal procedures regarding extradition.

It seems that many of the difficulties which have arisen in regard to the operation of extradition arise not only from the loophole which exists in our legislation, and which we propose to close, but also from the hamfisted way in which the British authorities have operated the extradition procedures, such as they are. Despite these reservations, Democratic Left welcomes this Bill and will not oppose its Second Reading. The Bill will only close off the loophole identified in the 1987 Act and make a number of procedural changes. It does not deal with the broader issues involved in extradition and these need to be looked at again.

I have always believed that many of the problems about extradition could be avoided if we had a requirement that the authorities seeking extradition would have to establish a prima facie case in an Irish court against the person sought. This would not require a full hearing with witnesses giving evidence in court. It could be done in the same way as persons charged with indictable offences here are dealt with. A book of evidence is produced for a district judge, who has to satisfy himself that the accused person has a case to answer. Why can a similar procedure not be operated in extradition cases? Other countries apply this requirement. Ireland has an extradition treaty with the United States, signed in 1986. Under this treaty a person in this country can be extradited to the US merely on the basis of a valid warrant produced by the US authorities. However, if the Irish authorities wish to seek the extradition of a person from the US it has to effectively establish a prima facie case in an American court.

When the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act was going through the Dáil in 1986, Fianna Fáil supported the principle that there should be a requirement for a prima facie case. In December 1987, when the Extradition (Amendment) Act was going through the House, the Labour Party, including Deputies Spring, Stagg and Taylor, voted for an amendment tabled by my former colleague, the then Deputy Pat McCartan, which would have required the establishment of a prima facie case. The question has to be asked: why have Fianna Fáil and Labour in Government changed their position in regard to the requirement to establish a prima facie case in court?

A question also arises in regard to the quasi-judicial functions given to the Attorney General under the 1987 Extradition (Amendment) Act. Under the 1987 Act the Attorney General has to satisfy himself in the case of a warrant that there is a clear intention to prosecute or, as the case may be, to continue the prosecution of the person named or described in the warrant concerned for the offence specified and that such intention is founded on the existence of sufficient evidence. This is a quasi-judicial function and I do not consider it to be an appropriate one for the Attorney General. The Attorney General is the law officer of the Government and he is a political appointee. On occasions in the past the Attorney General has been a Member of this House, and there is nothing to prevent this happening again. Therefore, it is inappropriate that an officer who is essentially the legal adviser to the Government and who is a political appointee should have quasi-judicial functions.

The allocation of these functions to the Attorney General was widely criticised in 1987 by, among others, the Labour Party. This issue needs to be looked at again. Because so few extraditions have been sought, the Attorney General has not been called into action very often. However, that could change in the future and there is a clear potential for a conflict of interest between the political and legal roles of the Attorney General. If the Government is determined to resist demands for a prima facie case in an Irish court, there is a case for giving the functions now carried out by the Attorney General to some other figure. Why not create a totally new position — for example, that of judicial examiner or scrutineer of extradition cases? Why not ask the President of the High Court to nominate a High Court judge to carry out the functions now given to the Attorney General? As long as the Attorney General carries out these functions extradition will be more of a political process and less of a judicial one.

This Bill has been published and is being debated against the background of an unprecedented demand for peace and for the terrorist groups to lay down their arms. The initial optimism generated by the Downing Street Declaration has been dissipated somewhat by the continuing campaign of violence by Loyalist and Nationalist paramilitaries. I have never believed that extradition should be used as a bargaining counter in the current peace process. This Bill stands on its own merits and will be needed irrespective of the outcome of the current process. However, its timing may prove to be useful. I hope it will reassure those in Northern Ireland and Britain who may have been concerned that the Government decision to lift the ministerial order under section 31 represented some sort of weakening in the resolve of the people of this State to combat terrorism that this is not the case. I hope it will also deliver a very clear message to Mr. Adams and his colleagues that if they renounce violence there will be a place for them in the democratic process, but that if they continue with their murderous campaign all of the legal and political resources of this State will be used to ensure their defeat.

At the time when concern was expressed about the various cases which exposed the loopholes in the existing extradition procedure many people commented on what was required. One of the commentators at that time was an eminent Senior Counsel, whom I am sure the Ceann Comhairle will not allow me to name in the House because of her elevation to higher office in the meantime. In an article in The Irish Times on 21 April 1990 that Senior Counsel drew attention to the judgment in the Finucane case. I want to quote one or two of the points made in that article which raise issues of a constitutional nature to which the Minister may wish to respond in her reply. She stated:

Also a further issue has emerged from the decision of the Supreme Court in the Finucane case, which was a unanimous decision clarifying the basic principles underlying our extradition law.

She went on to quote a section from Mr. Justice Walsh's judgment in which he stated:

It is thus clear that the use of violence does not in itself take an act out of the political exemption . . .

. . . I am of the opinion that the court cannot draw the inference that it was the intention of the Oireachtas that the provisions relating to the political exemption in the Act of 1965 should not apply to persons charged with politically motivated offences of violence when the object of such offences was to secure the ultimate unity of the country.

Mrs. Robinson, Senior Counsel, commenting on that in the article of April 1990 stated:

This carries the necessary implication that the Supreme Court does not regard the Constitution as it stands as having outlawed or ruled out violence in the pursuit of unification of the country.

That is a serious conclusion to draw from that case. She went on to argue in the article that closing off the extradition loophole and the loophole to which references to political offences gave rise might require not simply legislation but an amendment to our Constitution. In the Article of our Constitution dealing with fundamental rights she expressly recommended that there should be an additional clause along the following lines:

The State shall, as far as practicable, protect the life and property of every person from interference or threat by violence, notwithstanding such violence arises from or is connected with a political motive or object.

That was a very clear recommendation to deal with the ambiguity that exists about what constitutes a political offence and whether violence, as it has been understood on this island for the past 25 years, can be, by any stretch of the imagination, construed as political; that in order to deal with that ambiguity legislation and, perhaps an amendment to the Constitution, is required.

In the context of the discussions taking place on the Downing Street Declaration, particularly as we are now closing off the legislative loophole in the extradition laws, it would be worthwhile to have another examination of this issue. It is unfortunate that because of the historical experience of the people of this country we have inherited an ambiguity as to whether violence is a legitimate means of pursuing a political objective. I take the view — I believe it is shared not only by Members but by the public — that violent means are not a legitimate method of pursuing a political objective. It is not acceptable that in our legal process, our legislation and possibly, as was referred to in that article, in the Constitution, there may be an implication which suggests some legitimacy in pursuing political objectives by violent means. However and wherever this is to be done, whether by legislation as we are doing or in the Constitution, we must ensure that any such ambiguity is clearly addressed.

I intend to table a number of amendments to this Bill on Committee Stage one of which will require the Minister to produce the annual report on extradition within a specified time. Another amendment will seek to give Members an opportunity to express views expressed in the past on the requirement of a prima facie case being presented before a court and the question of whether the Attorney General is the appropriate person to whom applications for extradition should be submitted.

Some time ago I met with a number of people who were particularly concerned about remarks made recently by a senior British MP in a newspaper. That MP is reported to have said that well known terrorists were walking the streets of named towns in this State. I was astounded by the comment so much so that I raised the issue with the Minister for Justice and I thank her for her helpful response. It was my intention not to publicise that fact that these comments had been made because I felt it would add to the publicity but in view of what has happened today in this Chamber, those comments should go on the record. I do not wish to name the person but the Minister, in her reply, stated that while there may be people in both jurisdictions, North and South, and indeed in Britain, whom we might suspect of involvement in terrorist activities, the reality is that if we have insufficient evidence to prosecute these people we cannot proceed. Many of our British colleagues do not appreciate the way justice is meted out in this State and in Britain.

Some speakers criticised the delay in bringing forward this Bill. When the 1987 legislation was going through the House, a number of speakers referred to this loophole. The case was made at the time, and rightly so, that the Bill should be passed and put onto the Statute Book quickly and that the whole issue of its provisions had not been tested by the courts. In the Supreme Court recently this issue was fully tested. The Government could not have introduced legislation in advance of the Supreme Court deciding on the issue.

Another reason for the reluctance of the State over the years to go so far was the suspicions we have of the system of justice in Britain. Far be it from us to criticise another State on the way it dispenses justice — that is a matter for the citizens of the State — but every Deputy has spoken about the well publicised cases of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six which highlighted an obvious problem in relation to their conviction.

I was involved in the case of Patrick Murphy, formerly of Keady which did not get much of the limelight; it arose following the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four cases. Very few people spoke out on this man's behalf. I was contacted by his brother, a priest, who lived not far from me and who was extremely concerned about the way his brother's case was being handled. The man was incarcerated for more than three months awaiting trial. Representations were made on his behalf to the then Minister for Foreign Affairs. The matter eventually came up for hearing and the charges were dropped without any declaration that the man was innocent. The reason was that he had been at an AA meeting on the night of the crime. Due to the anonymity attached to AA, he was unable to get people to speak on his behalf. However, 22 people who were at the meeting eventually came forward and gave sworn statements to the effect that at the time the offence was committed this man had been in their company. That case highlighted the way British courts deal with Irish people.

I was one of those who spoke very strongly for the safeguards inserted in the 1987 Bill. I felt at the time, and still feel, that if we are to extradite anyone to the United Kingdom it is necessary to insert safeguards to protect our citizens for the very reason I gave earlier. Most people would accept that without being overcritical of the foreign jurisdiction. I consider the 1987 Act was a good one which, once it had gone on the Statute Book, worked very well. I take the point Deputy Gilmore made. Very few extradition cases of a political nature come before our courts. Any time they do, they engender a lot of publicity, leaving aside all the other cases dealt with daily without any such publicity, the latter being of a more non-political nature.

The role of the Attorney General was incorporated in the 1987 Act rather than inserting a prima facie requirement. It was felt at the time that rather than become involved from District Court level right up to Supreme Court level in every case, it would be preferable for somebody like the Attorney General to satisfy himself whether there was sufficient evidence to convict somebody once extradited; whether there was any intention on the part of the British authorities to pursue those particular offences.

I was amazed at some of the comments made on radio this morning in relation to the role of the Attorney General. Had those remarks been made in this House, I have no doubt that you, a Cheann Comhairle, would have been on your feet requesting that they be withdrawn. Anybody who is not there to defend himself, anyone who has an independent role in this regard, a quasi-judicial role——

The Deputy will know that the Chair has intervened on numerous occasions in that regard——

I fully accept that.

——and the record of the House will show that.

I made the point that the comments were made on the radio this morning. Even in the House this morning we had a Member querying the role of the Attorney General, which Members are entitled to do, but I object to the inference that the Attorney General will be his political master's voice in this regard. Under the legislation he has a quasi-judicial role. Whether it be the present incumbent of that office, or whoever else may be appointed to that post, it must be said that we have always reaped tremendous service from our Attorneys General. Therefore, I contend it is wrong for people to suggest that Attorneys General in some way would have political intentions in the manner in which they decide these issues. Stipulated in the legislation are the parameters within which he must decide whether he should back any given warrant.

There are a number of other provisions in this Bill on which I might compliment the Minister. The first is in relation to the court venue, transferring all cases to the Dublin Metropolitan District. I agree fully with that decision because over the years — not necessarily in recent times but in the early seventies when the Northern problems began and many people were coming across the Border — there were many highly publicised cases which invariably happened just south of the Border in places like Dundalk, causing all sorts of problems in the locality. It is preferable that court cases be dealt with in Dublin.

The other issue on which the Minister should be complimented is the hand-over point — this has been a great source of complaint in my constituency — where people under extradition warrants are handed over to the Northern authorities. I remember occasions when the entire town of Dundalk had to be closed down because of the security operation needed to hand over a person across the Border. The whole Dublin-Belfast road had to be closed, traffic diverted all over the place, and people going about their ordinary daily activities could not get to work or elsewhere because of the manner in which that operation had to be handled because of the security position.

The provisions of the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976 have not been properly implemented. There has been a complete reluctance on the part of the British authorities to use the provisions of that Act, yet any time its provisions have been implemented they have been incredibly effective. It is an Act that does not cause us any problems in this State. Obviously, because of the history between the two countries, we have encountered problems about extradition, we cannot get away from that fact, but that Act was put in place with the specific purpose of dealing with people in this State for offences committed outside this State. Its provisions worked in the vast majority of cases brought under that Act but for one reason or another there was a reluctance on the part of the United Kingdom authorities to implement them.

That Act constituted yet another arm of the legislative code we have put in place in the State for which we have not been given sufficient credit by our British counterparts. It is very rigid legislation to ensure that this State is not used as a haven for terrorists. I do not accept for one moment that this State is used as a haven for terrorists. It must be remembered that we spend a huge amount of our State resources to ensure that people do not roam our streets, despite what that British MP held.

I had a conversation yesterday with an inspector of the Garda Síochána. The reality is that the general public have confidence in our security forces. The same cannot be said for the Northern side of the Border or for the vast majority of areas in the North. Indeed, within five miles of the Border, there is virtually a "no go" area where one would never ever see an RUC or British army officer on patrol; that may be because it is too dangerous. The reality is that British Members of Parliament should not complain about what they would perceive to be a lack of commitment on the part of the Garda Síochána on the southern side of the Border. How can our Garda and security forces guard the Border if it is not guarded on the Northern side? These are all misconceptions, perhaps deliberate on the part of some people, whereas the reality is that we are a lot stricter in our legislative code in relation to terrorism and people suspected of terrorism.

This Bill fits into the jigsaw put in place over the years to suit the needs of our State, to ensure that our citizens are protected as much as possible. I compliment the Minister for ensuring that its provisions in regard to political offences will not be implemented until such time as the British authorities insert the rule of speciality.

When Dessie Ellis was taken across the Border, the British authorities made charges against him which were completely different from those for which he had been extradited, this ran completely counter to the whole concept of extradition. We have been criticised by the British for not ratifying the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism whereas the British authorities only recently ratified the convention on extradition of the early fifties; yet they were haranguing us because we had not put in place proper extradition facilities. The whole concept of that 1957 convention on extradition was to insert the prima facie requirement. Whenever somebody comes before the British courts for serious offences they must produce a prima facie case.

This Bill fits in the last pieces the jigsaw required. It is necessary legislation and I compliment the Minister on its introduction.

If Deputy Ahern reads the 1965 Act he will see that the procedure provided for between Ireland and the UK which was sponsored by the then Minister for Justice, Mr. Haughey, is not an extradition system but a system of mutual backing of warrants.

I know that.

That is not widely recognised in this country. I remind Deputy Ahern and others in his party it is not true that the 1957 convention on extradition was designed to put in place a prima facie requirement but the opposite.

To the extent that this Bill proposes amendments and additions to our extraditions law it is to be supported and welcomed but the time has come for us to review the whole notion of what constitutes a political offence. This is really the argument that bedevils debate on all these issues. What crime of violence constitutes a political crime in a parliamentary democracy? Perhaps the Minister will give her views? By what right can anyone in a parliamentary democracy commit a crime of violence and claim to be immune from the sanctions of the law because of a political objective? What crime of violence constitutes a political offence in a European Union where the Maastricht Treaty provides for co-operation on justice, when the union is based on democratic principles, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, includes 12 member states and will shortly, we hope, include Austria, the three Nordic states, the Baltic states and the newly emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe? What can constitute a political crime and avoid the sanctions of extradition in the framework of a European Unon? The continent of Europe is different from that of 1957 when the convention on extradition was adopted and from 1977 when the convention on the suppression of terrorism was accepted. Some of the changes were good, others were bad but they all retained the old romantic notion of protecting political activists against dictatorial emperors and tsar even if they shot or bombed them — a complete anachronism among the member states of the Council of Europe. The very notion of a political offence has utterly changed since it was first conceived and has changed enormously since the 1957 and 1977 conventions were put in place.

Those questions are not aimed at this Bill, which is useful in itself but at the international framework in which the Bill is set and which determines the difficulty in dealing with the whole idea of a political offence. What crime of violence can now be regarded as a political offence in Ireland or the UK when the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement has been in force for over eight years and when the two Governments in Dublin and London jointly issued the Downing Street Declaration a short time ago with the support of the vast majority of their people and the overwhelming support of their political systems? Can those Governments accept the idea that some violent offences can be regarded as political against the background of all the intentions and aims set out in that declaration? The whole idea of a political offence on which all the legislation we are talking about and these conventions have been based is an anachronism and needs to be fundamentally reviewed, if not abolished.

The central purpose of this Bill is to restrict still further the scope of the political offence exception. This Bill, like the one in 1987, proceeds by exclusion, by defining offences which shall not be regarded as political. I am sure the Minister will agree that conceptually this is an awkward and unsatisfactory procedure. The failure of Governments to agree on a clear definition of what constitutes a political offence is due more to ambivalence on the part of Governments than to anything else. On the other hand, I recognise, like the drafters of this Bill, that the range of criminal offences and the nature of international conventions dictate that we proceed in the manner set out in the Bill.

I wholeheartedly support the exclusion of a further range of offences involving explosives and firearms from the political offence exception provided for in the Bill. I took the same view in December 1986 when what is now the 1987 Act was before the House. I had the privilege to be the sponsoring Minister at that time. This is a long overdue move and one I would dearly have liked to sponsor in 1986 but it was not possible to do so for a number of specific reasons which Members would do well to remember, particularly those in Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.

The 1986 Bill did not go as far as this one. However, it was opposed at every Stage by Fianna Fáil. The Minister had the honour and privilege of being a Fianna Fáil Deputy at that time and went through the lobby with the others. One of the principal speakers on the Fianna Fáil side at that time was the Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Woods. During the debate he did his usual act of loudly thumping his republican craw. He found a number of conceivable, and a good number of inconceivable, reasons for opposing the Bill. The Minister for Tourism and Trade, Deputy McCreevy, in the days before he assumed the smiling reasonable face of Fianna Fáil republicanism, was also a vigorous opponent of the Bill.

The Progressive Democrats adopted a most extraordinary position. Last night, Deputy O'Donnell gave us a homily on what she regarded as the flaws in the 1987 Act, the difficulties of aligning domestic law with international conventions and the failure, as she saw it, of the Irish Government to live up to its obligations on extradition under the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement. She complained that the 1987 Act was never examined in detail. She was not a Member of the House at the time nor indeed was she a member of the Progressive Democrats. We had a detailed and lengthy Second Stage debate on that Bill and the Deputy would do well to read the debates and stir the memory of her colleagues in that party who were Members of the Dáil at that time. A colleague of hers, Deputy McDowell, had an external association with the Progressive Democrats but I do not think he was a member. However, he was loud in his denunciation of the flaws in the 1987 Act.

What really happened in December 1986? The Progressive Democrats and some members of Fianna Fáil wanted us to introduce a prima facie requirement to our extradition law, something which would have required us to denounce the 1957 convention.

It is true that Deputy O'Malley proposed something he regarded as being a half-way house between denunciation and the Bill as it was then proposed. His proposal at that stage had no merit and it is obvious he now believes that because the Progressive Democrats do not seem to propose that anymore. He went further and proposed to me that we should look on an Irish extradition Bill as an instrument to change the legal map of Europe. He proposed that we should use a Bill in the Dáil to get the French, Germans, Italians, Belgians, Spanish, Portuguese, and God knows who else, to abandon their inquisitorial legal systems and adopt instead the adversarial legal system which exists here and in the UK and which Deputy O'Malley, on other occasions, and, indeed, Deputy Michael McDowell, both love to criticise. That was some ambition. That was their position on the 1986 Bill and that was their position on what turned into the 1987 Act which they now say was flawed for different reasons.

The prima facie requirement appeals, apparently, to glib politicians, particularly on the other side of the House and even Deputy Ahern referred to it today. It goes totally against the principle that a charge should be tried in the jurisdiction in which it is made. I object strenuously to the fact that the United States makes requirement of this kind with the result that we have people in the United States charged with offences committed here who are kept in the United States by an endless succession of Noraid supporters who keep bringing cases back into the courts in the United States when they know perfectly well that those people should be made amenable to justice here and should answer the charges against them before our courts. We are not the only ones. We criticise legal systems in other countries. I do not know whether Members are aware that the Dutch will not extradite to this country people who are wanted here for terrorist offences because their law provides that they will not extradite people who will not have a trial before a jury. As most of those people would be tried in our Special Criminal Court the Dutch say they do not like our legal system, they consider it unfair, oppressive and undemocratic and will not extradite to this country people who are charged with terrorist offences. I find that objectionable also, because I do not think anybody has ever been able to sustain a case that our Special Criminal Court deserves that kind of criticism, whether it is implied or explicit.

When we debated the Bill in 1986 there were mutterings in the Labour Party. The current Minister for Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Taylor, confessed to being uneasy about the whole thing and yet he is a member of a Government that is now proposing a Bill that goes further than I was able to go in 1986. He sees flaws in the 1987 Act because it did not go far enough. That is another interesting reversal although when the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil turn themselves inside out I do not find their interior aspect any more agreeable than their exterior aspect. These people do not remember that in order to get that Bill passed in December 1986 the Government, and I in particular, had to decide that the only way we could safely rely on getting it through was to stick as closely to the terms of the relevant convention as we could. That was finally what happened.

It is worth pointing out to Deputy O'Donnell — who, unhappily is not present — that in order to avoid a major upset on that Bill we had to adopt that approach. Even then the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil — we are used to that kind of thing from Fianna Fáil — voted against the Bill on every crucial vote on Committee and Report Stages. Those crucial votes on that Bill, which they now criticise as being flawed, were carried only by the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle of the day. You will understand, Chairman, when I say I am more than a little amused and sometimes a little nauseated by the criticisms of the 1987 Act that I hear from these people.

In a very real sense, the Fianna Fáil Party and the Progressive Democrats were responsible for the fact that the Minister has had to come back into this House to make the sensible provisions that are included in this Bill and no amount of posturing or ghost-writing of speeches by Deputy McDowell can obscure that fact. While I do not like being contentious with the Minister, I must point out that no amount of smug or earnest self-congratulation by the Minister for Justice can cover up the fact that in 1986 Fianna Fáil played its usual dishonest game and cultivated a continuation of the cult of the sneaking regard, little bits of which we have seen emerge during the course of this debate. My words of congratulations to the Minister and to the Progressive Democrats for having seen the light on these issues will be a little less than warm and enthusiastic.

I agree with the changes proposed in section 2 and in the fist Schedule in relation to offences involving explosives and firearms as far as they go, but they do not go far enough. For example, the Minister has not explained why she felt it necessary to provide what she called: "mere possession of firearms" to be the political offence exception. I agree with the Minister's proposals that possession of firearms, where there is serious criminal intent and, in particular intent to endanger life, will no longer be regarded as a political offence. If my understanding is correct, what the Minister has called the "mere possession of firearms", where it is not possible to prove serious criminal intent, can be classified as a political offence even if this Bill is passed.

If I read the Bill correctly the situation is different with regard to explosives. It seems to me that this Bill proposes that the simple possession of explosive substances, even where intent to cause injury or harm cannot be proven, will no longer qualify as a political offence. I approve whole-heartedly of that but I would like to know why the Bill makes a difference between firearms and explosives in this regard. In view of all that has taken place in this island in the past 25 years, and in view of the efforts now being made to find a way through these appalling problems, it is surely time for us to be unambiguous in saying that if a person is charged in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales with possession of firearms and is found in our jurisdiction then that person should be extradited without being able to plead that the offence was a political one. There is no defensible reason for any qualification to that statement. What in God's name would anybody be doing in the possession of firearms — licensed firearms are always excluded? If we found somebody driving around Belfast with a couple of Kalashnikovs and several hundred rounds of ammunition in the back of a van, do we have to worry about his intent? That person may have been taking the arms from one place to another but it was clearly being done with a criminal intent; it was certainly not being done for the good of the health of anybody on this island.

I agree with the Minister that there are clearly good and sufficient security and convenience reasons for centralising the handling of extradition cases in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court. Will the Minister explain in more detail why she feels it necessary to propose a nominated panel of judges for doing this? I agree also with the proposal that the competent court should no longer have to specify the point at which a person to be extradited should be handed over to the requesting jurisdiction. Deputy Ahern has already referred to the problems in that regard.

There was a time when the person to be handed over seemed to have the choice as to the method of conveyance from the court to the point of handing over. I may be wrong, but I seem to remember that people were allowed to object to being brought by helicopter and were able to insist on being brought by road so that they could be waved to by their fans, admirers and terrorist manqué on the streets of Balbriggan, Drogheda and Dundalk when they were on their way. Is that still the case and, if so, can the Minister do something to change it?

I generally approve of the provisions of this Bill, which are long overdue. We could have had them in 1987 had it not been for the obduracy and ambivalence of Fianna Fáil at the time and the culpable naiveté of the Progressive Democrats.

I also welcome this long overdue Bill. It is better late than never. Extradition has been a difficult and sensitive issue not only for Ministers for Justice but for this House and for many politicians. As Deputy Dukes said, there has been far too much ambivalance and ambiguity on the question of extradition and there has been far too much double think among people who have campaigned for decades against any form of extradition here. People who have campaigned against extradition want to have their loaf and eat it, but extradition must be confronted in an honest, open and just way. I approve of what the Minister has done in this Bill and I commend her for bringing this matter before the House. No matter how controversial it is and no matter how much it can be misrepresented inside and outside the House, extradition must be tackled now.

The Bill makes it no longer possible to regard the possession of explosives or firearms, where there is evidence of criminal intent, as a political offence. Neither is it possible to regard the use of non-authorised firearms as a political offence in order to evade extradition. I approve of these measures. The Bill further provides a number of amendments to the 1965 Extradition Act.

There is a good deal of hypocrisy about extradition in our society. Extradition must be part and parcel of the law of every civilised democratic country. People who have campaigned inside and outside this House against any form of extradition here have adopted a blinkered, selective attitude to the question. If one considers statements, posters, letters and campaign methods it shows that they are invariably concerned with paramilitary people who are members of the IRA or who support the IRA and people who are charged with possessing explosives or guns in Northern Ireland and Britain. These people are not concerned with ordinary criminals, people charged with petty crimes in Britain who are extradited to Britain every month. They are not concerned about how such people are treated when they are extradited and tried in British courts.

I have put down questions to successive Ministers for Justice seeking extradition statistics with regard to ordinary criminals. Nobody has cared very much about these people and people have not asked questions about whether they were being extradited legally or illegally or whether justice dispensed in Britain is fair. They could not care less about how such criminals are treated. Paramilitaries are considered to have a higher status than the ordinary criminal. That is nonsense. It is hypocrisy to regard one criminal as being somewhat better than another. It is hypocrisy to regard someone who has planted a bomb in London or in some other British city as being somewhat better than a person who steals in Britain and then flees to Ireland and is extradited to face justice in Britain. That is the attitude of many people here and it underpins the attitude of people who oppose extradition. I reject that notion.

It is unfortunate that last night and this morning we heard remarks in the House about backwoods Tories in Britain. It is true that some members of the Tory party in the House of Commons are insensitive, are ignorant about Ireland and are guilty of anti-Irish remarks. I lived in Britain and studied the media there and I can say that that is true about some of them, but only a minority. Such people should not be debated here to confuse the issue or to give the impression that that represents the general run of politicians in Britain or the British people. It is true that the tabloids in Britain are guilty of sexist, anti-Irish and racist remarks, and I do not approve of that.

It is also true that sometimes in Britain they compare the best people in their society with the worst people in our society. They do not compare like with like. That is a common fallacy, and it is wrong of Britain not to exercise a sense of fair play where Ireland is concerned. Some British people still have a hang up about their empire and consider other people as being lesser beings and British people as being somewhat superior to other nations. That is often reflected in the tabloids and in some of the utterances in the House of Commons, although not so much in the House of Lords. We should not elevate that attitude to a central platform in this debate, because that attitude is a minority attitude in Britain and is not typical of the majority of British parliamentarians and the British people. For the purpose of obscuring debate and introducing emotion into the issue these matters are brought forward as being the main platform of British politics, which they are not. We should not get bogged down in a debate like that because it would be foolish of us to imitate some of the British and engage in anti-British remarks which would achieve nothing.

Deputy Dukes was right to take the debate into the European context. We are 12 democratic countries and the sooner we have democratic laws in common, the better. There is no reason why extradition should not apply across the 12 member states. There are different ways of looking at justice and the law in some of the countries concerned — Deputy Dukes gave an example of what happens in Holland — but that is no reason why we should not work towards having common laws for the 12 member states, especially in relation to extradition. I support that concept.

I will take the matter outside of the Irish-British relationship and outside of the European context by referring to the Lockerbie bombing. It stayed in our minds as being a terrible atrocity that somebody could plant a bomb in a plane and blow all the passengers sky high and kill not only the passengers in the plane but also the unfortunate people who lived below in small houses. That incident seared my mind because many people who had lived in the houses were never found again — no part of their remains was ever found. Do the people who oppose the Bill believe that those who planted that bomb should be allowed to get away scot-free because extradition laws do not apply between the countries concerned? That is a travesty of justice. How can anybody say that those who plant a bomb on a plane can do so with impunity? Are those who plant bombs in British cities such as London, Birmingham and Nottingham helping the cause of freedom and liberty? Anybody who plants a bomb in a city cannot be defended because no cause can justify taking innocent lives. It is an act of terrorism to set off a bomb in the middle of London and we should say that clearly regardless of whether it causes offence. We should not flunk the issue.

Deputy Dukes cited the attitude prevailing in America among some Irish-Americans and he mentioned Noraid in particular. I agree with him. They have a narrow selective attitude which is not grounded in the realities of Irish history. Indeed their understanding of Irish history is flawed. I had occasion, as Mayor of Limerick, to visit America during the debate on the proposed deportation of Joseph O'Doherty. It was a celebrated case and a big campaign was undertaken in America, Britain and Ireland to stop his deportation. Some of the people concerned were interviewed on radio which I heard when in New York. Indeed when I was addressing the Limerick Association I was interrupted by one of their supporters who rushed forward just as I finished speaking and took the microphone to raise this issue with the Irish Consul, Mr. Delaney, which momentarily disrupted the proceedings of the dinner. However, I was aware that no attempt was being made to deal with the central issue of what Mr. O'Doherty had done. A great many people involved in anti-extradition campaigns seem to evade the issue of the offences with which the person is being charged.

I support the concept of a common European network of law embracing extradition as that is the only way we can deal with it on a broad basis. In any agreement there has to be give and take as it is not always possible to do everything on one's own terms. There is no reason we cannot move towards a common agreement and I hope this Bill is a step towards a common network of European law that embraces extradition. Unless there is a common approach, piecemeal action will be taken by individual countries, which is not good enough. It is important that people who commit terrorist crimes are brought to justice and, therefore, it is also important to have international co-operation to bring them to book. That is the only way to deal with them.

I am sure the Bill will be criticised by powerful vested interests but we should not be deflected by that criticism. I welcome this long overdue Bill and I hope it will not be held up by petty thinkering. I also hope we will have greater co-operation with the British legal authorities. In the past some cases presented by the British authorities were rejected because of faulty paperwork and delays. I hope these matters will be ironed out. The perception in Britain, as mentioned previously, is that in this country too many people will not co-operate with them in the fight against terrorist crime. I hope the message will go out from this House today that my party is not ambivalent on this issue. Let us go forward on the basis that we can have a common law across Europe on extradition.

A person charged with offences of violence against the person or offences relating to firearms or explosives should not be entitled to hide behind the political offences exemption in the extradition Acts. I have been preaching that gospel for many a long year and I am very glad that the Fianna Fáil-Labour Government now accepts it. God knows, no nation in Europe has a greater interest in dealing effectively with terrorists as no nation in Europe has suffered more over the past 25 years in terms of loss of life, damage to property and to the economy in both parts of this island. I advocated watertight legislation and pointed out the loopholes in our extradition legislation for the past four to five years. There was clearly a degree of ambivalence by Fianna Fáil on this issue and I am very glad that the Bill brings it to an end. As the Bill largely meets the requirements in relation to extradition, I welcome it and I compliment the Minister for bringing it before the House, even at this late stage.

We should put this Bill in perspective. From time to time the Fianna Fáil Party adopts the views advocated effectively by the Fine Gael Party as if they were its own policies. In this case, the Fine Gael policy on this issue has been adopted — belatedly — by Fianna Fáil. The Minister referred to the delay but rather coyly said:

... 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 think the Minister was a little coy in referring to this but even more coy in referring only to the Magee, McKee and Sloan v. Culligan 1992 case. She seems to have forgotten the Finucane decision in 1990 as it did not merit a reference in her speech. Neither did she note the fact that following the Finucane decision in 1990, an extradition Bill to close the then glaringly apparent loopholes in our extradition laws was circulated by me. The Extradition (Amendment) Bill, 1990, was specifically designed to amend the extradition Acts and deal with loopholes. I do not want to harp unduly on the subject but, even as late as 1991, I was pressing the then Minister for Justice on this issue and in reply to a question I tabled on the need to amend the Extradition (European Covention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987 he said:

I remain of the view that such a course should not be followed unless and until the need for amendment is established and would certainly be premature until the existing legislation in this area — the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987 — has been further tested before the courts.

With all due respect, Fianna Fáil was hiding behind legalisms at the time. Be that as it may, four years later, arising from the decision in the Finucane case, the Bill has been introduced.

What was that decision? It is important to outline what the position was at that time. On the question of whether a person charged with an offence should be extradited, the test was whether that person at the relevant time "was engaged either directly or indirectly in what reasonable, civilised people would regard as political activity". That was the position since the Shannon and Fanning case in 1984 and the McGlinchey and Wren case in 1982. What impact did the decision in the Finucane case in 1990 have? It clearly showed that the courts were no longer prepared to adopt the test propounded in the Shannon and Fanning case. As the House will recall, Mr. Justice Walsh said at the time that the section 50 exemption could be applied to politically motivated offences of violence. That was the clear judgment given by Mr. Justice Walsh and it pointed to the need to close the loopholes in the legislation. I do not intend to dwell any further on this point except to put the record straight. From now on we will have to make sure that legislation is watertight.

The Minister has said that certain offences may not now be regarded as political irrespective of the circumstances and, accordingly, that "offences such as possession of firearms with intent to endanger life and use of non-automatic firearms to resist arrest are clearly placed outside the political offence exception". In case the Minister rounds on me and says that I provided for this in the Schedule which I included in my own Bill in 1990, I should point out that there are some differences. I note that the First Schedule of the Minister's Bill follows the Schedule I included in my Bill in 1990 to a considerable degree. There are, however, some exclusions.

I do not want to make any accusations on this issue but I would like the Minister to confirm — this is the basic test which I propounded at the outset — that no person charged with offences of violence against a person or with offences relating to firearms and explosives will be entitled to hide behind the political offence exemption. There may be reasons the Minister decided not to follow fully the Schedule I included in my Bill in 1990. On the question of firearms, I note she has included offences covered by section 15 of the 1925 Act. In relation to the 1964 Act, the Schedule follows my prototype except on one point. I provided that the political offence exemption would not be applied to the offences covered by section 26, possession of firearms while taking a vehicle without authority, and section 27, the use of firearms to resist arrest or aid escape. These have been included in the Schedule to this Bill, but it appears that the offence of possession of firearms or ammunition in suspicious circumstances covered by section 27 A has been omitted.

Does the Minister accept the general test I propounded in relation to extradition that the political offence exemption should not be applied to any offences of violence against a person or offences relating to firearms and explosives? Second, will she explain the reason some of the offences I outlined in my Bill in 1990 have been omitted? I accept that the terms of this Bill are broader and that it is a plus that it deals with narcotics, which were not covered by my Bill. I ask the Minister to clarify that matter and deal with the question raised by my colleague, Deputy Dukes, relating to the possession of firearms. Will it be necessary to prove intent, or will mere possession be sufficient? This is a very important point and the Minister would set our minds at ease if she clarifies that matter.

I am reasonably happy with the Bill as it marks a considerable improvement, but we have to adopt a broader vision in examining the question of extradition. Much attention has been focused on the position in Northern Ireland and the problems associated with the violence there. It is right that we should focus initially on that problem and on how best we can cope with it; but, given recent developments in Europe, we have to move one stage further.

Fine Gael is committed to building a Europe without frontiers as quickly as possible. Changes have been made following the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and there have been tentative developments in relation to the Schengen. I hope we will reach the stage where we will have a Europe without frontiers, but this will raise serious issues in relation to the pursuit of the battle against crime and terrorism. This battle must form part of the single European economic and social entity. We cannot allow the relaxation of frontier controls to work to the benefit of those involved in international crime and terrorism. In that context I am glad the Minister is making provision for the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. While this marks an improvement, we have to establish what it is we are seeking in relation to extradition in a Europe without frontiers.

There must be open borders for those concerned with law enforcement; otherwise the creation of the Single Market will work to the benefit of those involved in crime, who will use it in their antisocial activities. Therefore we should be talking at this stage about common European standards of law enforcement through the promulgation and ratification of conventions in the Council of Europe and through development of the justice and security elements in the post-Maastricht Treaty area. I appreciate however that we are moving into a terra incognita, a difficult era.

However, this is now essentially forced upon us because of our full acceptance of the Single Market and the Maastricht Treaty. The best way to combat international terrorism and crime is through a framework of laws that provides effective enforcement across European national boundaries combined with a system of European rights to protect the innocent.

That gives rise to the sensitive issue of hot pursuit, and I would like to know where the Minister stands on that. I appreciate that in European terms it should not pose a problem. We are moving into an era where, when law enforcement officers are actively in pursuit of criminals or terrorists, those officers should be able to continue across boundaries to complete the capture of those criminals or terrorists. However, we must relate that to the situation that applies at home. If such a system came into effect Europe-wide, how would the Minister feel about it in the context of the Border within our own country? That is when the shoe might begin to pinch. I would like to hear the Minister's views on that.

What are the Deputy's own views?

That is a fair question. We must consider whether we are prepared to cross the bridge and apply a Europe-wide system in our Border area. In the context of the co-operation which has applied since the Anglo-Irish Agreement and with which the Minister is involved at the moment, this subject must be actively addressed. I appreciate that there is a down side and that there are emotional aspects to it, but it should be looked at carefully and the practicalities and modalities worked out. I am not asking the Minister to rush into establishing such a system. However, in the context of a Europe-wide system this issue cannot be ignored.

There are some other points I should deal with. I am glad the Minister has not followed the Progressive Democrats proposal that nothing should be done without a comprehensive consolidating Act. There has been a long delay in getting this Bill before the House and that proposal would not have allowed it to see the light of day for another ten years. Because of the continuing commission of brutal crimes, we cannot afford the luxury of waiting for such legislation.

I am glad also that the Minister did not adopt the Progressive Democrats' proposal that extradition proceedings should commence only in the High Court. I was opposed to it as because 95 per cent of all extradition matters are disposed of satisfactorily in the District Court.

The other major proposal in the Progressive Democrats document related to "probable cause". Although it was superficially appealing, I was not in favour of it because it would have resulted in lengthy delays in the extradition process. As Deputy Dukes said, the reaction of the Progressive Democrats to the 1987 Bill was very unhelpful indeed.

I sincerely welcome the Bill and compliment the Minister on bringing it before the House. I have expressed my reservations about the delay, but that is water under the bridge and Fine Gael will co-operate fully to ensure that this Bill passes into legislation with the minimum of delay.

From some of the contributions to this debate yesterday and this morning one would imagine that successive Irish Government had set out deliberately to hinder the extradition process or to protect men and women of violence. That is not correct. This State has never been a haven for terrorists under any Government since Independence. The truth is that extradition is an extremely complicated area of law. There is a considerable body of case law, and now legislation, dealing with the most fundamental rights a human being has, namely, the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial. Extradition from one's own country is a serious business and must never be taken lightly. All reasonable people utterly condemn violence, but that in no way takes from the sovereign duty of a sovereign Government to its sovereign people. A Government must ensure that its people are not unnecessarily put at risk or unjustifiably placed in a position where their liberty might be taken from them. In short, it is the duty of a Government to protect its citizens unless it is clear that a citizen has transgressed the bounds of normal behaviour and committed a crime.

The 1965 Extradition Act was subsequently found to have certain loopholes, but as violence in the North got worse the Supreme Court progressively narrowed down the political offence exemption, culminating in the McGlinchey judgment, which found that an individual guilty of a gross terrorist act could be extradited. In 1987 the Government ratified the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and enacted a law, namely the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism Act, 1987. It is important to note that at that time Ireland was one of only eight countries to ratify the convention without reservation. That was not the act of a country or a Government which had a vested interest in, or a coy nod and wink attitude to, assisting terrorism.

Subsequent to that, protective legislation was enacted in order to ensure that an individual extradited for an offence would be tried for the offence for which he or she was extradited. It had to be established also that there was an intention to prosecute and that there was sufficient evidence to enable the Attorney General to decide it was justifiable for the Commissioner to back the warrant. Was there anything wrong with the enactment of such legislation?

It would appear from statements in this House that there is a considerable objection to the inclusion of those safeguards in Irish extradition law. I ask what country in the civilised world extradites its citizens willy nilly without providing any protective measures to ensure they have a case to answer. Any sovereign Government guilty of doing that would be guilty of a grave dereliction of duty towards its people.

In this respect it should be noted that some European countries will not extradite their citizens for any reason and some countries have far more restrictive extradition measures than we have. For example, in America it can take 12 to 14 years before an individual is extradited out of the American legal system to another country. That has been the experience in respect of one famous Irish case in the past two decades. We should not draw any incorrect conclusions that our extradition law is in some way assisting terrorism. Our extradition law is carefully balanced between the rights of a citizen to his or her liberty and the duty of the Government to ensure that an individual who has a case to answer in a foreign jurisdiction answers it.

It might be a fair observation that extradition should not be the first option. The Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976 which provides that people who commit offences or are wanted for offences in Northern Ireland can be tried in this jurisdiction is a preferable first option. It provides that an individual is tried within his or her jurisdiction. In cases where that is not possible and it has been established that there is sufficient evidence for an individual to have a case to answer I accept extradition is the next option.

Listening to this debate one would imagine one could have foreseen all the Supreme Court judgments at the time of the passing of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism Act, 1987. The greatest prophet born could not have foreseen the Supreme Court's decision in relation to the offences specified in the Convention. In this respect there were some eminent people who believed that possession and intend were covered by the 1987 Act. The Supreme Court in the Sloane, Magee and McKee case decided this was not the position and that decision has resulted in the debate today.

If defects were discovered by the Supreme Court in relation to extradition law it should be put on the record that the failure of many extradition cases here was not the fault of the Irish authorities but of the British authorities. There have been serious defects in respect of warrants which have been sent to this country from Great Britain. That is a truism and cases can be quoted to support it.

That argument did not suit the British establishment who did not want to know the true position. It wants the Irish Government to export its citizens irrespective of the fact that those people may not have a prima facie case to answer. That would be unacceptable in any civilised society and, if it came to pass, would mean that the Government of this State would be in dereliction of its duty to its citizens. That would not be acceptable to the Irish people. There is a propagation in this House of a new type of laissezfaire which does not relate to goods but to persons. That is something I could not support. I have always condemned violence and I recognise the urgent need for an individual to face a charge in a prima facie case.

The British Government's view on extradition and the case in respect of which it has introduced extradition legislation between Northern Ireland and this country has not been dealt with as expeditiously as it might have been. I will leave the general public to decide what the motives for this may be. I will refer to one example. The rule of specialty, which means that an individual who is extradited must be tried for the offence for which he or she is extradited, has existed as a gentleman's agreement between the Irish and British Governments for many years, but it has only recently been put on the British Statute Book. Because of the rule of reciprocity the Irish Government could if it so wished have told the British Government at any time that it will cease to extradite its citizens from this country because the rule of specialty was not on a statutory footing. The Irish Government never took that step. It has been more than fair and has bent over backwards more than once in order to facilitate extradition in respect of serious offences. There have been occasions when simple mistakes, which would not be made by a solicitor's apprentice, have been made. I question why that has happened.

It is important to put on the record that the British media has been less than helpful. Across the front pages of their newspapers they have printed provocative statements and reported accusations, stated as facts, in relation to known individuals. In the case of Fr. Paddy Ryan it has ensured that he will never be extradited. If an individual is tainted by reports in a newspaper, irrespective of whether the individual has links with paramilitary organisations, as having committed a crime and is guilty of an offence, that individual cannot obtain a fair trial before a jury in any jurisdiction, whether in Great Britain or elsewhere.

These sorts of problems have led to a great deal of ignorant comment about Irish extradition law. If there were defects in our extradition law which were discovered by the Supreme Court they were more than matched by those found in the British judicial system. There are good reasons for existing safeguards in our extradition law. They were not dreamt up overnight for the sheer fun of it. In certain cases in Great Britain Irish men and women have been convicted of offences of which they were not guilty. Irish men and women have been convicted in British courts by British juries when the evidence against them was derisory. They have been incarcerated in British jails, some for many years, and it was clear to the general public and to certain sections of the media that they were innocent. No Government in those circumstances, recognising that it is extraditing its citizens to what may be a very hostile jurisdiction, can rid itself of all the protections to which its citizens have not only a constitutional but a fundamental human right.

We should examine other aspects of Anglo-Irish relations in this context. The application of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Great Britain to Irish citizens is disgraceful. Chief among the concerns in this regard are the singling out of Irish people under the Act; the provision of detention for up to seven days; lack of early notification of relatives; access to legal advice for those detained; the discriminatory use of exclusion orders; insensitive methods of questioning travellers at ports and airports and the low rate of charging persons arrested and detained under the legislation, as evidenced by the quarterly Home Office statistics. There is concern about the way these powers are being exercised.

In November 1988, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the seven day maximum period of detention permitted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act was excessive and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The British Government entered a derogation to the convention in regard to Northern Ireland-related terrorism only and accepted the court's decision on international terrorism.

As we get our house in order today, it is only fair that we ask the British Government to get its house in order in terms of its treatment of Irish citizens. We have gone all the way down the road on extradition; we have gone as far as any civilised government could possibly go. We have tried to balance the rights of our citizens; we have tried to protect them while at the same time recognising that they must be tried for offences where it is clear they have a case to answer. No reasonable person objects to that, but it is clear that in relation to certain matters affecting Irish citizens in Great Britain there is a need for the British Government to, as it were, look into its own heart and root out the discrimination.

Just as it was not possible to foresee that the Supreme Court would agree that possession and intent were not covered by the European Convention, neither is it possible to foresee that some of the provisions of this Bill will not be struck down by the Supreme Court. For example, it is proposed to change the provision on provisional warrants used in urgent cases to allow for the detention of a suspect wanted in the UK pending the physical delivery of the original warrant from the UK to Ireland. Under the 1965 Act a period of three days is specified as the time in which the necessary papers should be transmitted from the United Kingdom — I am talking about provisional warrants. Under this Bill it is proposed to extend the three days to seven days. In November 1988 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the seven day maximum period of detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act was excessive and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Is this provision constitutional or in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights? Other arguments could be made on the constitutionality of the provisions of the Bill but, unfortunately, time does not allow me to do so.

The Bill has closed loopholes in Irish extradition law. In so far as it assists in the fight against terrorism, I sincerely welcome it. I hope there will be a greatly changed attitude by the British establishment to its treatment of Irish people under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and a greatly improved performance by its judiciary in relation to decisions handed down in connection with offences allegedly committed by Irish people. The British Government should remember that being Irish does not mean you are guilty.

Needless to say, Fine Gael supports this measure. Trust and co-operation is a two-way process. I often get the impression from the reaction of the British establishment that it is purely one way, that the Irish should stand on their heads to satisfy their needs and requirements, but that is not the case. I will not deal with the historical background to this matter; suffice to say that the problems that have arisen in regard to terrorism on this island and in Britain stem from mismanagement by the British Government and their puppets in Stormont over a 50 year period, from 1992 to 1972. They seem not only reluctant to admit that but pretend it is not the case. There has to be a reason people behave like animals and kill and maim people; it is a reaction to a rotten, corrupt system.

We have a duty to ensure that anybody suspected of such offences stands trial in a court of law. We have to take it on trust that the court will give them a fair trial, but that is difficult because there have been so many miscarriages of justice, some of which we know about and I imagine there are many about which we do not know. Many so-called terrorists in Northern Ireland were convicted on less than convincing evidence. However, we must ensure that the extradition laws are properly implemented.

The British media, not just the tabloid press, the gutter press, but quite often newspapers which classify themselves as quality newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph, The Times and so on, have had a field day blaming the Irish for not extraditing well known terrorists. A number of these people were not extradited in the past due to technicalities. The extradition orders have had some technical fault, for example, words have not been spelt properly or the proper Act has not been quoted. It seems extraordinary that judges are not capable of changing such warrants in court. It is inconceivable that a person charged with allegedly committing a serious crime such as murder can get off on a very minor technicality. I hope this legislation will close those avenues which have allowed people who obviously should stand trial to walk free.

I am not always satisfied that the Judiciary is 100 per cent above board in some of these matters. I am suspicious — I think some people are more than suspicious — that IRA activists or suspects have been let off because a small minority in the Judiciary have a certain sympathy with them. When these people walk free it is virtually impossible to have them rearrested because they go underground.

Having said that, I want to examine the performance of the judiciary in Britain and Northern Ireland. It is hard to believe that the results of trials such as those involving the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and Maguire family could have been achieved without a significant bias on the part of the British judiciary. When I speak about the British establishment I include the judiciary and politicians, particularly an element of the Tory Party. Most people are above board and genuine but there is a bias and vindictiveness against Irish people by an element of the British establishment which includes politicians, the police, immigration officers and the judiciary. One of the reasons for miscarriages of justice is a bias by the judiciary.

There is a resistance in this country to extradition because there is a definite feeling — and evidence — that people will not get a fair trial. That is a very strong and very definite statement, but some people have not got a fair trial. Therefore, it behoves the Minister for Justice and the Government to make it clear to the British authorities that they expect the system under which people are extradited or tried to be totally above board.

I referred to immigration officers and a previous speaker referred to harassment, one of the ongoing problems. As I said, if our two countries are to work in harmony there must be co-operation and trust. The activities of immigration officers at certain sea and airports on the British mainland are reprehensible. When I raised this matter at Question Time last year, I was told by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs that he would look into them and report back to me. However, I have not heard anything from him to date. There is a calculated system of harassing innocent Irish people by immigration officers at various ports of entry to Britain. It seems to be a case of "bash a Paddy"; it does not matter whether he or she is guilty of anything but they want to show who is boss. Obviously that is what happened in the Birmingham Six case — when the authorities could not get the perpetrators of the crime they picked out six innocent people and said "we will get six of them anyway, we will make some of them pay for it".

Obviously that train of thought runs through the British establishment, the police, prison wardens, judges, certain politicians and certainly immigration officers. The attitude is "have a go at them, make them pay". It is similar to the colonial attitude adopted over the previous 700 years. This attitude, which still exists, is objectionable, unwarranted and unacceptable. I should like to see the Minister for Justice and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs taking a very tough line with the British and following up substantiated claims of unnecessary harassment where there was no collusion or involvement with terrorist groups — it was clear that the people were innocent and that they were harassed merely because they were Irish. The relevant Ministers and the Government should adopt a very tough line to such matters publicly; they should let it be seen that the Government stands up for innocent people who are being very badly treated on a systematic basis.

We are all aware of certain flash-points where Irish people are harassed. I know some of them — I do a certain amount of travelling — but not all. At one time Birmingham Airport was a disgrace — I do not know if it still is — where people were bound to be harassed merely because they were Irish. The position at Heathrow Airport, through which I travel every few weeks, is not quite as bad. Will the Minister and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs check the position at these airport and report to the Dáil on the number of complaints to the officials in the embassy in London? It should be remembered that many people do not complain about harassment — they take it for granted that they will be harassed passing through sea and airports. I should like a list to be drawn up of the particularly bad areas in this respect. This type of activity only promotes terrorism and makes sympathisers of some law abiding and decent people.

At Heathrow Airport a person's personal belongings were thrown out on a table in a totally unsympathetic manner in the full view of other passengers. The security officers would not take the person aside to a cubicle and carry out the search in private. The whole purpose of the exercise was, and is, to publicly humilate Irish people. Of course, the reasons for this are historical — we probably made the English look very bad in the eyes of the world. Their image of having the best justice system in the world has been destroyed — it is probably a bit of a mockery nowadays — because of the court cases to which I referred.

Within the British establishment there is a detestation of the Irish because of our rebellious nature, the fact that we refused to knuckle under over a period of 700 years and, more recently, because of the troubles in the North which are caused by only a small element who are not representative of us as a nation but which the British look upon as such.

I would like the Minister to address the problem of the harassment and intimidatory policies of certain elements within the British establishment. I referred to the Judiciary, police officers and emigration officers and I singled out problems which arose in the past in Birmingham — perhaps they still exist there — and at Heathrow airport. I had an experience also at Glasgow airport and I am sure there are other points of entry to Britain where this type of harassment takes place. The Minister should indicate where these incidents are taking place and focus on the officers who are engaging in this type of treatment, thereby putting a stop to it.

I am a member of the Council of Europe, specifically a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. That might seem peculiar in that I am not a member of the legal profession but it does not prevent me from becoming involved in the debate, as recently as yesterday and the day before. I referred to the terrible treatment of Irish prisoners and people in detention by prison guards and police officers, as was highlighted in the Birmingham Six case. Those people were savagely beaten both by the police and prison guards and not one of the police officers or prison guards concerned has been convicted of those crimes. The reason for this is that in the case of the Birmingham Six the officers involved were tried by members of the British Judiciary.

At a meeting of the Committee on Human Rights I stated that where there are well founded grounds for suspecting the maltreatment in custody of people from an ethnic group, be it in detention or in prison, the investigation into that alleged mistreatment should be carried out by members of a judiciary from a third country within the Council of Europe, whose number now is approximately 32, involving many of the central and eastern European countries. It is inconceivable that we allow these people to be tried by the British Judiciary which has been discredited by its performance in a whole series of cases involving Irish people who were innocent.

The Minister for Justice is photographed regularly at meetings of the Anglo-Irish Conference. Does the Minister raise such matters at meetings of the conference? Can she tell the public why police officers and prison wardens, who were involved in savage attacks on Irish people, got away scot free? They have not been convicted because they have been tried by their own judiciary which will always back up its own law and order system, be it in regard to prison officers or policemen. That is not right and it further undermines the whole system of fair play. These issues must be dealt with in an open manner and I am not satisfied that our Government is sufficiently dedicated to ensuring that Irish people are getting a fair deal in Britain.

We must extradite the criminals and the terrorists, assuming they will be given a fair trial, but we must protect the innocent. We have not been sufficiently strong in that regard; we are too submissive to the British when it comes to protecting the innocent. A regular report should be presented to this House on intimidatory activities at airports, seaports, in prisons and on court cases involving officers who have violently assaulted Irish people in Britain and who have not been convicted. The British Judiciary might say this is due to insufficient or unsubstantiated evidence but we know there is this maltreatment and we do not hear a murmur from the Government. The Minister for Justice should request the European Court to require the judiciary of a third country to investigate the mistreatment of an ethnic group in another country. That is the only hope we will have of obtaining a fair result.

Have these people who were wrongly imprisoned been given a pardon by the British authorities? Has Annie Maguire and her family, who were so shamefully and wrongfully treated and imprisoned, and the Birmingham Six, received an official pardon from the British Government? If we are to make this Act work and have fair play, people who have been wrongfully convicted should be given a pardon or an apology. If that is not done it is the duty of this Government to ensure that it is done.

While I support this measure — I presume most Members of the House will support it — I must express my reservations as stated. All is not well in regard to this issue and we are too subservient when it comes to dealing with the British establishment. We must take a stronger approach and the buck stops with the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The last time I contributed to an extradition debate in this House was in 1987 and the atmosphere was rather different from what it is now. We should be thankful at least that the atmosphere has changed, although listening to the last two speeches, I am not sure whether the change of mood which I thought existed generally has percolated into all parts of this House. There are a few traditionalists remaining who have regaled us with their views this morning.

In the debate on the two Bills that preceded this, one at the end of 1986 and the other at the end of 1987, I drew attention to what I considered to be a number of defects in them, particularly in the 1986 Bill which became the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act of 1987, passed in January 1987. I was also critical of the main thrust of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987. I am glad that almost every criticism I made of the first of those two Acts has been incorporated in this Bill. I have been reading my Second Stage contribution in this House on 12 December 1986 on the 1986 Bill, as reported at column 2695 of the Official Report of that day. Many of the points I made about the Bill have been included in this one and many of the forecasts I made about the unworkability of that Bill, if enacted, have proved to be true.

The Progressive Democrats, in May 1990 published a substantial document entitled, "Extradition, Effective and Just"— a position paper of the Progressive Democrats — which pointed out that the courts were very likely to find defects in the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987. It suggested that changes in the law were necessary. What I predicted in my speech of 1986 and was predicted in the position paper of May 1990 proved to be accurate. The following year the High Court, first, followed on appeal to the Supreme Court, held, as I forecast in 1986, that there were huge defects in the 1987 Act, that certain people could not be extradited even to answer serious charges involving firearms simply because they were not automatic weapons and it could not be shown they had used the firearms on the date of the alleged offence. I said in 1987 that that seemed to be a nonsense. I am glad it has now been recognised and that many years later it is being rectified. In the meantime, how many people who should have been extradited from this jurisdiction were not, due to a glaring and obvious defect in the law identified as far back as 1986? I do not know how many but the number would not be insignificant. That is regrettable.

On 12 December, 1986 as reported in columns 2695-2696 of the Official Report of the day, I said:

It should be remembered that the offences in Article 1 of the 1977 Convention and those referred in section 3 of the Bill are quite limited in their scope and apply only to a proportion of what we would popularly call terrorist type offences. The ordinary murder of a citizen or a policeman with, for example, a revolver or pistol is not included in section 3 of this Bill, and it is open to the defendant, because it is an offence under section 4 or Article 2, to argue that the political defence is still open. I query if it should be left open to the extent that it is, or if a limitation is to be put on it — and it is defensible that perhaps some limitations should be put on it. I query whether that limitation should be as vague and subjective as what is set out in section 4.

It would be necessary, for example, for the State, to prove in order to set aside the political defence that the commission of the offence created a collective danger to the life, physical integrity or liberty of persons. A determined attempt, for example, to shoot one person and nobody else, would not come under that and would allow the political defence still to be pleaded.

I added, as reported at column 2697 of the Official Report:

It is a bit ridiculous to seek to distinguish between a murder carried out with an automatic weapon and one carried out with a non-automatic weapon. Is one any more dead because one is shot with a machine gun than if one is shot with a revolver, a pistol or a rifle which is not automatic? This distinction is pointless and section 4 should be amended.

I went on to criticise the vagueness, subjectivity and unworkability of section 4 of the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987. What is contained in the Second Schedule to this Bill but the repeal of section 4 of that Act, as it should be. The section should not have been included in the first place, for the reasons I stated in 1986 and which have been proven to be true. These reasons were mentioned by the Minister in her remarks in the House yesterday.

What disturbs me is that this was clear so long ago. Even if the Minister was not prepared to accept my word, or the word of others, there was a court decision on this issue in 1991. At that time the Government made it clear that it would be prepared to close off any loopholes. That statement was made after the High Court decision in the Magee case. The then Minister for Justice said that if the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court the law would be changed. Why did the Government hesitate for three years? Have we still got an ambivalent view about such offences and those who perpetrate them? Having listened to the last two speakers, the answer to my not so rhetorical question is "yes"; there are many people in this part of the country who perhaps still do have an ambivalent view in regard to these matters. That is disturbing.

It appears that the debate on this Bill will not take up its full time and that is a matter of regret and contrasts greatly with what happened before. The time that is not used on Second Stage could be used on Committee Stage to tease out the large number of amendments to this Bill. The great mistake, as Deputy O'Donnell pointed out last evening, was that in 1987 those Bills were guillotined. It was not possible to have as full a discussion on them as there should have been.

I agree with the Bill because either my party or I advocated almost all its provisions. We did so at different times between five and eight years ago. We will support the Bill. However, it contains at least four defects. It continues the procedure in the second Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987, whereby the Attorney General is involved in some kind of secret, quasi-judicial procedure in making judgments on whether people should be extradited. The Bill does not repeal section 2 of that Act which is the crucial provision. The Bill's second defect is that it leaves in place section 50 of the Extradition Act, 1965, which has to be unconstitutional because it purports to give the Minister for Justice power to overrule a decision either of the High Court or of the Supreme Court. I do not think the Minister for Justice can exercise that power because, in purporting to overrule the decision of a court after a full hearing, the exercise of such a power by a member of the Executive is judicial and is not allowed under the Constitution. Indeed, that point was raised yesterday in the case of Brennan v. The Minister for Justice. In that case the Minister's power to remit, by way of petition, a whole range of penalties imposed by a district judge or by any court, has been challenged and a conditional order has been granted to the district judge. I await with great interest the outcome of that case. It seems to indicate that there is grave constitutional doubt about this system and according to the evidence given in the affidavit yesterday it is done on an extraordinary wide scale. Thousands of such cases were referred to. I do not believe it is desirable or acceptable that this system of constantly overruling the courts should be allowed continue. The petition system exists in order to rectify injustices that could not otherwise be rectified. It was stated in court yesterday that many of these cases were not even appealed — they were automatically sent to the Minister following the decision of the district judge. The order of the court was changed there. What kind of judicial system have we if that is the norm? That is tied in with section 50 of the 1965 Act, which should now be removed.

We cannot extradite our citizens to European countries other than Britain. That is indefensible and cannot continue. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Irish terrorists murdered people in Belgium, Holland, Germany and France. Irish citizens were found in possession of a huge quantity of arms within the French jurisdiction. That event was terrorist related. Were they to break bail, it is indefensible that we would be unable to extradite them. We have a very satisfactory extradition system with the United States and Australia under which the court must be satisfied that there is a stateable case against the defendant. That system is preferable to whatever is envisaged, but not used, under the 1965 Act.

The First Schedule to the Bill is a reasonably complete and objective list of offences which will not be regarded as political offences, but it does not include the offence of membership of an illegal organisation. It should do so. The raison d'être of certain illegal organisations is to murder other people and membership of such an organisation should not be an offence to which a political defence can be successfully raised. It is the only omission I can identify, but it is of considerable importance in the present context.

We will table a number of amendments and I would like to see a full Committee Stage. In many respects the Bill is acceptable to most Members and will not be challenged. But it is important that the detail be thrashed out on Committee Stage, as failure to do this in the past contributed to the mistakes that were made and to the fact that this Bill is before us.

One of the biggest weaknesses is the procedure in the 1987 Amendment Act relating to the Attorney General making decisions in private. My recollection is that, on foot of an amendment proposed either by me or a member of my party, there was a section inserted into the Bill which required an Attorney General to make a report to the House in respect of any decisions he made under the Act. I cannot recall seeing any such report in the intervening years. That is not to say it did not happen. Unless a reasonably full report is made, it will not be satisfactory. That is only one of the many aspects of that Act which are unsatisfactory.

Deputy O'Donoghue was critical of the fact that an attempt was made to extradite Patrick Ryan. He rejoiced that it did not happen. Given what some sections of the British media did, it is arguable that the decision was correct. However, I am not saying it was the correct decision. There are some considerations about how the Attorney General handled that episode. I do not wish to make any comment of my own in regard to it but I will read the comment of one who is better qualified than I. Mr. Gerard Hogan of Trinity College, in an article on page 136 of the Irish Criminal Law Journal, 1992, stated:

... it is by no means clear that the Attorney General acted intra vires in reaching this conclusion. The 1987 Amendment Act specifies two grounds — sufficiency of evidence and an intention to prosecute — on which the Attorney General must satisfy himself with regard to Part III extradition warrants. As the Attorney General was so satisfied with regard to these two statutory grounds, it is accordingly not easy to see how he could refuse to endorse the warrants by reference to non-statutory criteria. The Attorney General could also be said to have exceeded his jurisdiction by in effect usurping the jurisdiction of the courts. It may well be that the Irish courts would have arrived at precisely the same conclusion with regard to the prejudicial publicity, but they would have only done so following a full hearing, having heard the oral evidence and listened to legal argument from both sides. In taking the decision the way he did, the Attorney General left himself open to the charge that he privately discharged judicial functions in an ex parte manner.

If a non-judicial personage — even the holder of high office such as the Attorney General — could refuse to perform a statutory function on the ground that this would infringe the constitutional rights of another, where would this stop? Would it mean, for example, that the Garda Commissioner could refuse to execute an extradition warrant on the ground that he was likewise of opinion that to do so would be to infringe the suspect's constitutional rights?

As the Deputy's time is exhausted I ask him to conclude.

I am sorry to hear that, Sir. The system here is not very good as I wish to say a great deal about this extensive and very important, matter. I would very much like to contribute further but I am precluded from doing so under the strange rules here. There is nobody else here to offer except the Minister to reply.

Since I spoke here in 1987 I have had good reason to believe in the truth of what I said then about the unsatisfactory situation in which the Attorney General should act in a quasi judicial function in private. That happened towards the end of 1992 when I had reason to complain to the Attorney General about a particular matter and he announced he would hold an inquiry into it. He did so but only interviewed what I might broadly call the defendant in the inquiry and other members of the State team; he did not hear the complaints or any of the complainants' witnesses and he came to a conclusion and announced a decision. That did not seem to me to be an appropriate exercise of quasi judicial function. I have no confidence, therefore, in somebody who exercised his functions in that way, in that matter, under the 1987 Act.

Acting Chairman

I have to draw the Deputy's attention to the Ceann Comhairle's ruling this morning——

I urge on the Minister the desirability of repealing the second Act of 1987 and, in particular, the desirability of repealing section 2. What I said then and what I say now in relation to it is equally valid.

Ba mhaith liom ar dtús mo bhuíochas a ghlachadh leis na hurlabhraithe ar dhlí agus cheart ó na páirtithe sa fhreasúra, agus freisin leis na Teachtaí ar fad a ghlac páirt sa díospóirecht. Beidh deis againn nuair a thiocfaidh muid chuig staid an choiste déileáil leis na leasuithe atá á moladh ag roinnt de na Teachtaí. I thank Deputies who contributed on the Bill yesterday and today. It is obvious from their statements that they have given careful consideration not only to the Bill but to the topic of extradition generally. I was very pleased to hear the spokespersons from all the different parties welcoming the Bill. It is clear there is general agreement with the main principles in the Bill, i.e., the provisions that extend and clarify the political offences exception.

I am sure Deputies will agree that extradition is a complex topic. There are three statutes devoted solely to it and a considerable volume of case law. It is a crucially important topic dealing as it does with the freedom of the individual. It is fitting, therefore, that we give very careful and thorough consideration to the Bill and I was happy to agree to a longer period for our debate.

A number of Deputies criticised the length of time it has taken to bring the Bill before the House. The position is that following the Supreme Court decision in November 1991 in the Magee, McKee and Sloan v. Culligan case, the Government decided that amending legislation should be prepared. This was made known to the Dáil in response to a parliamentary question on 26 November 1991. Work on the preparation of that legislation started almost immediately. The preparation of any legislation requires time to allow full consideration of all the issues involved and the situation in this case was more complex than normal. The full implications of the Supreme Court decision had to be assessed and various possible solutions considered before any work on drafting a Bill could commence. Since work started on this Bill the Government has changed twice and there has been one election. Three separate Ministers for Justice have been involved in the preparation of this Bill. Despite all these changes which took place over a relatively short period it seemed the Bill would be ready for publication last summer but this did not prove possible.

In preparing a Bill problems can surface even at a relatively late stage in the drafting process and changes can be made on reconsideration of a particular problem. This Bill was no exception. Great care was taken at all stages of drafting the Bill and that, of necessity, required time. We are not here to debate that, we are here to debate the Bill as published.

Deputy Mitchell referred to the need to ensure that Ireland should not become a place to which people would come to evade justice. He referred also to the policy of open borders within the European Union and the dangers this could bring as regards criminals taking refuge in countries other than those in which they had committed crime. I am sure the Deputy will agree that this Bill is a clear indication of the Government's resolve that this should not happen. As I said it clarifies and extends the range of terrorist type offences that may not be deemed political. It also paves the way for our ratification of the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

The Bill provides that offences listed in the convention cannot be deemed political offences or revenue offences for the purpose of the perpetrators of such offences evading justice. Accordingly, the Bill is an important weapon against terrorists and those who commit crimes involving drugs. It will ensure that they will not be able to avoid extradition from here by claiming that their crimes are either political or revenue offences.

Deputy Mitchell inquired about the date of coming into operation of the Act and mentioned the reference in my opening statement to the effect that the Act and orders of specialty between Ireland and the United Kingdom would be brought into operation on the same date. I assure the Deputy it is not my intention that this will result in any delay in bringing the Act into operation. The position about the orders on specialty is that as I said in my opening statement, orders have to be made here and in the United Kingdom. We gave a copy of our draft order to the UK authorities last November, a few weeks ago the British gave us a copy of their draft order. Each side is examining the other's order at present to ensure they are compatible. I intend to ensure that the work of officials here goes ahead as quickly as possible and I am sure there is a similar appreciation on the British side of the need to ensure that the work required on their side is completed as soon as possible.

A number of Deputies made the point that the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, did not provide for certainty as regards which offences were political. This goes back to the history of the political offence concept. The European Convention on Extradition does not define "political offence" and neither does the Extradition Act, 1965, which was based on the convention. All either document says is that the taking or the attempted taking of the life of a Head of State or a member of his or her family shall not be deemed a political offence. This approach was continued in the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and in the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987. Again, "political offence" was not defined but both documents list offences which are not to be deemed political. There was also a group of offences which might be political, depending on the circumstances. An additional point to remember is that our Act adhered closely to the wording of the convention.

Any uncertainty stemming from the convention and our 1965 and 1987 Acts is being eliminated by the Bill. We are retaining the wording of the convention but we are dropping the stipulation about crimes being political depending on the circumstances. Also, and this is a most important point, we are providing for certainty by listing offences in the First Schedule to the Bill. This approach will mean that the courts will have a much easier task in deciding a political offence.

Deputy O'Donnell inquired as to the relationship between the offences in section 3 of the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987, as amended by the 1994 Bill, and the offences in the Schedule. The position is that all the offences in the amended section 3 are covered by the offences in the Schedule but not all the offences in the Schedule are covered by the terminology of section 3. In other words, the Schedule is wider than section 3 as regards the offences covered by it.

Deputies Mitchell, Gilmore and O'Malley referred to section 6 of the Extradition (Amendment) Act, 1987.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.