Offences against the State (Amendment) Bill, 1998: Committee Stage.

SECTION 1.

Amendment No. 1 in the name of Deputy McManus is consequential on amendment No. 45. Amendments Nos. 40 to 44, inclusive, and amendment No. 45a are related to amendment No. 45. We will therefore take amendments Nos. 1, 40 to 44, inclusive, 45 and 45a together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, subsection (1), between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following definition:

"‘the Agreement Reached in the Multi-Party Talks' means the Agreement set out in Annex 1 to the British-Irish Agreement done at Belfast on the 10th day of April, 1998;".

This amendment is very important indeed. It is consistent with the principles laid down in the British-Irish Agreement. It is worth noting that in the Second Stage debate today practically every Deputy in the House referred to the British-Irish Agreement. None of us expected when that Agreement was being signed that we would be here today in these circumstances. We understand it is necessary to bring in legislation to deal with what is and has been described as a fascist gang. However, it has also been said that while the circumstances have changed, the new context has not changed. The amendment proposes the fulfilling of an obligation to which the Government is already committed regarding the establishment of a human rights commission.

The Government does not have a shining record in terms of fulfilling commitments it has made under other agreements, such as the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Downing Street Declaration. We have been tardy on occasions in living up to commitments we have made. In this case, we do not have a choice in relation to committing ourselves to a timeframe on the establishment of a human rights commission. The timeframe suggested in the amendment is approximately a year after the signing of the British-Irish Agreement.

It is important that we live up to our word and act as we say we will act. If an overarching framework is not established in that manner for the protection of human rights, there is a danger that we will continue the experience that has been part of events in Northern Ireland, the South and Britain where anti-terrorism legislation has from time to time served the public badly and given rise to miscarriages of justice.

The human rights commission, which would be independent, would have as part of its brief an ongoing role in overseeing and monitoring legislation and its implementation. This is the most significant legislation relating to anti-terrorism measures that the House has dealt with in recent years. Grave concerns have been expressed in relation to the powers that will be given to the Garda Síochána. I do not suggest the Bill should not be implemented or that it should come to an end next March. However, I ask the Minister to consider his role in the post British-Irish Agreement context and the new scenario which everybody has welcomed. I ask him to ensure that protections are in place to avoid a position where people may be alienated from the forces of law and order and the political system because of flawed legislation or human failings which inevitably occur from time to time.

The amendment proposes a balance which ensures that we are tough and harsh on terrorists and those who have done terrible things to others, but also that we bear the responsibility of ensuring that the innocent are protected. I listened with interest recently to Mr. Tom O'Malley, a distinguished law lecturer in University College, Galway, who made the point about the importance of having a reference in relation to the legislation and how it is implemented. We need to provide this structure and ensure on an ongoing basis that it works.

I would have no problem if the Minister suggested a better structure. However, it appears the best option would be the promised human rights commission. It would be a beacon if it was provided in Northern Ireland. The standing committee there is already doing a good job, but committees in both parts of the island would be an indication that the commitments in the British-Irish Agreement will stand regardless of the worst efforts of the terrorist. I ask the Minister to indicate how he intends to protect the innocent and established human rights. We also have an obligation internationally to offer protection. I understand the Minister said in reply to questions from the media that it would be up to the courts to do that, but the courts will protect the constitutional status of the legislation. We cannot expect them to act the part of an authority such as the independent commission.

I ask the Minister to accept what we are saying in good faith. We may not like the legislation but we understand the necessity for it and agree with the Government in its determination to root out and crush these evil people. That does not absolve it, however, from its responsibilities, particularly in the context of the British-Irish Agreement, to ensure innocent people are not hurt. There are too many examples where innocent people have been hurt as a result of flawed legislation. We are doing our best but we are not infallible, no more than the police force or the security forces. Nobody is infallible in their daily activities. That is the reason it is so important to establish the commission within a specified timeframe.

In 1988 the then Minister was asked in a parliamentary question to appoint an independent commission to examine the workings and operation of the Offences against the State Act. That question was tabled by Deputy Harney. When Deputy De Rossa recently asked about the commitments in relation to human rights and a human rights commission it was stated in reply — I was taken aback by this — that matters were being referred to the all-party committee on the Constitution, of which I am a member. As the Taoiseach is aware, that committee has agreed a work programme. There is a danger that it will be used as a dumping ground to delay rather than activate. I am concerned that the human rights commission — legislation will be required to place it on a statutory basis — will float out of reach. While this legislation meets a need, it does not negate the spirit of the British-Irish Agreement which the Real IRA set out to damage and undermine. If we are to protect the Agreement in full I ask the Minister to accept the amendments.

Dr. Upton

What I am suggesting in my amendment is that the legislation should cease to have effect at the end of the specified period which the Minister is now suggesting should expire on 30 June 2000. Should it prove necessary to renew it this should be done by way of further legislation,de novo. The British-Irish Agreement specifies that emergency legislation will be reviewed. Should it prove necessary to reincorporate some of the proposed measures they should form part of consolidated legislation. That makes much more sense than what is being proposed and would be preferable to a one or two hour debate on a motion to extend the lifetime of the proposed measures without any provision for amendments.

Amendment No. 45a is associated with this group of amendments, and the Fine Gael Party and I wish to be associated with amendment No. 41 in the name of the Minister. Nobody would disagree that this is tough legislation. It is draconian, as the Minister said, and because of that it is important that there should be a time limit on it. On a number of occasions since the foundation of the State legislation dealing with offences against the State has had to be introduced and expanded to deal with offences against the institutions of the State. Perhaps we did not allow in the past for circumstances in which such legislation would not be necessary. It is extraordinary that there was a state of emergency in the country from 1939 until 1995, when it was repealed.

In spite of the atrocities of recent weeks and the fact that the Government has deemed it fit, on the advice of the security forces, to bring in this legislation, which we support, there is still room for considerable optimism. The parties that have signed the Agreement and that have been elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as the parties in the South that have supported the peace process which has been underpinned by massive support in the referendum, allow for a certain amount of optimism. If the Agreement progresses according to the timeframe envisaged by the signatories to it, we feel this legislation will not be necessary beyond the year 2000. I welcome the fact that the Minister has allowed, in amendment No. 41, that the bulk of the legislation will cease, if not re-enacted, by 30 June 2000. If, at some future date or in June 2000, the Dáil feels part or all of the legislation is still necessary, it is important to include a proviso allowing for its annual review. I hope it will not be the case and that when we reach June 2000 the bulk of the Agreement will have taken effect, the men of terror will have disappeared and those who have not disappeared will be behind bars. I hope the Minister considers amendment No. 45a favourably so that we can signal our optimism that this legislation will not be needed in future and that, if needed, it will be subject to an annual review by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

It is heartening to hear a general acceptance from the Opposition that there will be an annual review if one of these amendments is accepted. Amendment No. 42 in my name and that of Deputy Gormley makes the point that if there is a case for marking the end of December 2000 as a special date and significant in terms of the British-Irish Agreement, then surely it is also appropriate to review this legislation on the annual anniversary of the signing of the Agreement or around that date when minds would be focused on the workings of the process. It is important this legislation is regularly reviewed. If, as looks likely, it is accepted, that should at least be acknowledged. It is an acceptance that the British-Irish Agreement should take precedence over any political climate created by this legislation. Regular review of this legislation may show we have moved faster than expected. We would then be able to do away with legislation, which the Government has acknowledged as draconian. That is a worthy objective.

Emergency legislation has a bad name generally, if only because it is introduced as such but grows legs of its own and affects areas never anticipated. Therein lies the danger. Emergency legislation in the North is referred to as temporary but has been in place since the foundation of the State there. It is important some credibility is restored to the objectives of this legislation by having a regular annual review.

(Dublin West): While continuing my outright opposition to this ill-advised draconian legislation, I thought it proper to table an amendment which calls for the Bill, if passed, to lapse on 28 February next year. There are strong arguments why that proposal should be accepted and why the timescale should be concentrated and telescoped. Even by that time, it will be clear that this Bill is a knee-jerk reaction by the Government and not the answer to the problems as regards Northern Ireland and the campaigns of certain paramilitary organisations.

It is crucial there is a time limit because of sinister new concepts and offences which are all encompassing in their meaning and are generally there simply to be seen as some type of corroboration for the opinion or word of a senior police officer that a person is a member of an unlawful organisation. The concept of association being taken into account is one of those sinister new concepts which should not be in our legislation. We should at least include a time limit if the majority of the Dáil wishes to pass the legislation.

The fact of somebody mixing with people at a funeral or other such occasions could be used as evidence simply for a catch-all offence in order to convince judges, who, when the penalty was increased for membership of unlawful organisations, were quite reluctant to convict based on the opinion of a police officer. This is a dip into a lucky bag of three, four of five new offences the Minister has invented in order to give that corroboration. That is extremely dangerous. The inference from the failure to answer questions is another reason this time limit should be automatically introduced. This is a turnaround in the traditional way justice was administered in that people were innocent until proven guilty. It is draconian that totally innocent activities can now be criminalised with the onus on those who may be innocent to prove their innocence.

Laws can and have been used maliciously by arms of the State for purposes other than those for which they were originally introduced. The Offences against the State Act has been abused in the past in this State. I do not trust the State authorities not to abuse it in the future in regard to trawls for general information about matters that have nothing to do with paramilitary organisations, arms or explosives. The Act has been used in that way to vet people who are politically opposed to aspects of the capitalist State in which we live. The turnaround in regard to the onus of proof is extremely sinister.

The background to the Bill is that it is to deal exclusively with the so-called Real IRA and the perpetrators of the atrocity in Omagh. I remind the House, and people generally, that when legislation is put on the Statute Book it is not applicable only to 50 or 100 people but to every citizen in the State. Every citizen in the State can be caught in the web that is being spun by this legislation.

I remind the House also that the Offences against the State Act, 1939, which is the basis for this amendment, was not introduced simply to make unlawful paramilitary organisations or people like those who perpetrated the barbarity in Omagh. It is stated in section 18, for example, that an organisation that promotes, encourages or advocates the non-payment of moneys payable to the central fund or any other public fund or the non-payment of local taxation shall be an unlawful organisation within the meaning and for the purposes of this Act. It states also that this Act shall apply and have effect in relation to such organisations accordingly. Therefore, an organisation like the Anti-Water Charges Federation, or an organisation set up in Cavan in the past which may have advocated the non-payment of motor tax as a protest against potholed roads, is an unlawful organisation according to the draconian legislation in existence.

The implications of the new proposals in the 1998 amendment could apply to people actively involved in campaign groups which have nothing to do with paramilitarism. That is an extremely sinister development and one to which I am absolutely opposed because peaceful civil disobedience can be criminalised.

I have no doubt that if these new laws are left on the Statute Book they will be used at some stage by some members of the Garda to trawl for information on organisations involved in civil disobedience and political action totally unrelated to paramilitarism. While unremittingly opposed to the introduction of the legislation, if the Minister is to introduce it, I must insist for the reasons stated that he accept an automatic time lapse so that this repulsive legislation does not remain the law of the land.

Under section 18, most of the provisions of the Bill will cease to have effect on 31 December 2000, unless renewed by resolution of the Oireachtas. The number of amendments tabled on this matter reflects a wide range of approaches among Members. Deputy Joe Higgins's amendment proposes that the provisions should lapse by February 1999 unless renewed. The Green Party proposes 22 May 1999. Democratic Left proposes 31 December 1999 and also proposes that the provisions should lapse from 31 March 1999 unless the human rights commission specified in the British-Irish Agreement has been established by that date. The Labour Party proposes that the Bill should lapse completely by 31 December 2000 without any provision for renewal. I will deal with the Labour Party approach first. The Bill already contains the safeguard that most of its provisions will lapse unless a positive resolution of the House is made continuing them in force. That is the way the detention provisions contained in the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act have been dealt with. I do not accept the argument that there is a democratic deficit by approaching the matter in this way rather than by introducing primary legislation to bring about the same effect.

I understand the link Deputy McManus wishes to make between the provisions of the Bill and the establishment of a human rights commission. Both Governments are totally and wholeheartedly committed to the human rights aspects of the British-Irish Agreement. The British Government has provided for the establishment of a human rights commission in the Northern Ireland Bill and that legislation is well advanced. We are committed under the terms of the Agreement to establishing a human rights commission with a mandate and remit equivalent to the Northern Ireland commission, as well as taking further measures to strengthen and underpin the constitutional protection of human rights in this jurisdiction. I have established a human rights division in my Department to deal with our obligations in this area. A human rights commission Bill is in the process of being drafted and we hope it will be processed in the Oireachtas in the forthcoming session to enable the setting up of the commission to be completed by early next year.

I do not believe it is right to make a legislative connection between that and the terms of the Bill. It seems to me to be wrong in principle that, if for any reason the Oireachtas was not in a position to finalise the necessary legislation, the provisions of a Bill aimed against those who represent a murderous threat to the community should lapse. Who would benefit from that? I hope the Deputy accepts my assurances that we will do everything in our power to establish the commission in the timescale referred to in the amendment.

This leaves the issue of what review date should be set for the legislation. I have reconsidered the matter in the context of the amendments tabled and I suggest that my amendment, bringing forward the review date to 30 June 2000, is a reasonable approach in the circumstances. In suggesting that date, I am conscious of a realistic timescale for the review of Offences Against the State legislation, including this Bill, which is to take place and the timescale to process legislative proposals when that review is completed. I have made considerable efforts to meet the concerns of the Opposition in the matter and I hope the date of 30 June 2000 will prove acceptable.

Amendment No. 45a seeks to ensure that if sections of the Bill are renewed they should be subject to an annual review by the Oireachtas. I propose to meet Deputy Flanagan's point. The official amendments will provide that where a provision is being renewed it shall be for a period specified by the Oireachtas and that before any such renewal takes place a report must be made on the operation of the relevant section. I hope Deputies Flanagan and Higgins accept that these amendments meet the objective of Fine Gael's amendment.

Deputy Joe Higgins stated that the burden of proof is being reversed by this legislation. That is not correct. The burden of proof is the same as it always was in a criminal trial — the case must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Evidential changes are being made which will, for example, provide that the court may or may not take an inference from an individual's silence or refusal to answer a question material to the charge or offence. However, that is far from stipulating that the burden of proof has been reversed and that it is the accused who must prove his or her innocence. That is not the position. The inference may be taken by the court as corroboration of the evidence already given on the individual's guilt, but it is neither the case that the burden of proof is being reversed nor that the inference alone could be used to convict an individual. It is important to make that point.

Deputy Higgins must also be aware that the 1939 Act made various provisions concerning illegal organisations. However, for an organisation to be made illegal it would have to be proscribed by a suppression order. Two such orders exist — one concerning Óglaigh na hÉireann, the IRA, and the other concerning the INLA. I am strongly advised and satisfied that the term "IRA" or "Óglaigh na hÉireann" used in the context of a paramilitary organisation remains proscribed irrespective of the adjective placed before it.

Deputy O'Malley made an interesting contribution and asked a rhetorical question which all Members are obliged to ask themselves in the context of the review of this legislation. He asked why it should not be an offence for all time for an individual to direct the activities of an unlawful organisation; to withhold information concerning a bombing or murder using firearms; to collect information for such purposes; to engage in training people in the use of firearms or explosives to maim and kill or to be in possession of items to be used to blow up people? Those good questions impressed me. We have legislation on the Statute Book pursuant to the Firearms Acts and the Explosive Substances Act dealing with matters such as this. These are new offences in Irish criminal law. I understand people's concerns in regard to the drawing of an inference in relation to an individual's silence. I am of the view that this provision is constitutional and within the parameters of the European Convention on Human Rights. While I am not the final arbiter, it is also the advice of a number of leading experts in the criminal law field, not least some of the experts in the Department. That is important for the reason that the ultimate guarantor of human and civil rights here, so far as any individual is concerned, is the 1937 Constitution.

A considerable body of jurisprudence has been built up since then by the High and the Supreme Courts which is the envy of much of the free world. If any provision of this legislation interferes with human rights to a degree that takes away the constitutional protection, it is clear the courts would hold any such provision or provisions of this legislation to be unconstitutional. I hold that the legislation is constitutional but I emphasise we have a written Constitution which is the envy of many countries in the free world and it is the ultimate guarantor of people's protections.

I listened with interest to the Minister speak on the establishment of a human rights commission. I thought he was doing well for a while and I was pleased to learn some progress has been made. It appeared he would have no difficulty in having it in place by the deadline of 31 March until he said — I think he let the cat out of the bag — that somehow the Oireachtas may not be able to set up this commission on time. That is extraordinary and unacceptable. Not long ago, to satisfy some tourist interests, the House rushed legislation through in relation to firearms which foreign gun clubs bring into this country. We were able to do this without any difficulty and with tremendous speed. Yet the Minister, who has clearly indicated there is some backing for his commitment in relation to the establishment of a human rights commission, cannot guarantee, even though there is a generous allowance in my amendment, that body will be in place by the first quarter of next year.

(Dublin West): There is more argument than ever for an automatic lapse of this legislation, if passed. The Minister is wrong in a number of the points he made about the Offences against the State Act. An organisation does not have to be declared unlawful by the Government. It can be so by virtue of section 18. Section 19 provides that the Government may issue suppression orders against specific unlawful organisations. My initial points about the alarmingly wide-ranging nature of the original legislation being compounded by this amendment Bill still hold. I spoke today to a person active in building opposition to Ronald Regan's presidential visit to Ireland several years ago. He was involved in political activity of a campaigning nature which involved distributing leaflets, posters, etc. His house was searched by the Garda using powers under the Offences against the State Act. That bears out the point I am making.

The Minister stated that the burden of proof has not been shifted. However, on the most simple reading of the Bill a lay person will see the Minister is absolutely wrong. There is a huge shift in the burden of proof to people accused, many of whom may be innocent. Let us leave aside the fine arguments of lawyers, etc. What does the Minister say, for example, about section 8 which states, "it shall be an offence for a person to.possess information which is of such a nature that it is likely to be useful in the commission by members of any unlawful organisation of serious offences generally"? What does he say about section 12 which states: "a person who instructs or trains another or receives instruction or training in the making or use of firearms"— for example, teaching somebody to hunt —"or explosives shall be guilty of an offence"?

The section continues, "it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that the giving.of such instruction was done with lawful authority". What does this do other than potentially criminalise a whole sector of the population and place upon those people an onus to prove their innocence? What is this if not a shifting of the burden of proof? I ask the Minister to explain this issue to the Dáil as I am sure other Members would like to hear him squaring the circle.

For these reasons, and the continuing draconian nature of the legislation, the time safeguards being put forward should be accepted.

The amendments tabled by the Green Party concern a review of the legislation on an annual basis. I listened carefully to the Minister and believe he has provided further argument to the case for accepting the amendments, principally because he has selected certain parts of the Bill which he feels will stand the test of time and ought to be part of the normal corpus of legislation. There is a case to answer in this regard and the matter is worth examining. However, this requires a review of the Bill. This makes it even more important to provide for an early review of the legislation so that there can be a sifting of the wheat from the chaff and to ensure we are not lumping essentially reasonable aspects in with completely unreasonable and very questionable aspects which we seek to amend.

Directing an unlawful organisation, if it is of a paramilitary nature, ought to be a crime. However, the Bill must be amended to make it so. Also, training persons in the making of or using firearms in a paramilitary or criminal context ought to be a crime.

Alongside this is the very questionable issue of guilt by association. On the one hand we are asking people to co-operate while on the other hand we are saying that if they talk to or know somebody associated with a crime they themselves could quite likely be as guilty of the crime as the person they are reporting. This Bill is a mixture of proposals, some of which are highly questionable. For that reason I ask the Minister to consider making provision for an annual review as is done in Britain, or any other country where emergency legislation exists, so that the law can be repealed or improved.

In response to Deputy McManus's amendment, the Minister said he hoped to introduce the appropriate legislation dealing with human rights issues, as specified in the Agreement, in the autumn. Does the Minister not want to wait for the report of the all-party committee on the Constitution? Does he intend to proceed with the legislation regardless of that report? Could he advise the House on the consequences of that report for the legislation? I understood that he would await the report, meaning that he could not fulfil his hope of introducing the legislation in the autumn.

I have not had the opportunity to speak on this Bill yet. I believe the Government is acting in good faith in this issue. I believe it is trying to defend the British-Irish Agreement against terrorist attack. It should be borne in mind that had the bomb in Omagh been in another town, it could have meant the end of the British-Irish Agreement.

The Minister and the Taoiseach have been honest enough to describe the legislation as draconian, as it certainly is. It was stated by an Opposition leader this morning that the legislation posed no threat to civil liberties. That is patently untrue. The Bill represents a significant erosion of civil liberties.

As legislators, we must ask the question if such an erosion of civil liberties is justified in the current conditions. We must try to ensure that the most important civil liberties are safeguarded. Most importantly we must ask if the suspension of these civil liberties is a temporary phenomenon. We have heard from the Minister that there will be a review in 2000.

If we look at the situation in Britain, where there have been many miscarriages of justice, at least there is an annual review. The calls from the Opposition are entirely reasonable and I ask the Minister to tell us why he cannot agree to the suggestions which have been put forward. I have listened to him carefully but the Opposition is displaying a genuine concern for civil liberties. There can be no question that this legislation is a significant erosion and that we cannot let it remain on the Statute Book permanently. That is the fear on this side of the House. I ask him to reconsider what he has put to us tonight.

I understand the Minister is accepting a Fine Gael amendment on the timeframe for this legislation.

Concerns have been expressed on the Opposition side of the House about certain sections of this legislation and, therefore, a limit to the length of time which some of these sections stay in force is essential. That is what we did in the drug trafficking legislation which introduced very heavy penalties into law. There was a review of that legislation after 12 months. I see from the Minister's speech that he selected the year 2000 because it ties in with other aspects of the Agreement. That is a defensible position although I would be happier if there was consistency in the time limits for sections introduced in legislation and we stuck with a 12 month timeframe. People have spoken about the need to review the legislation from a civil liberties point of view and that is as it should be. We, in the Opposition, can only take the Government's word that it has the necessary security information available to it that legislation of this kind is required at this time in order to protect our citizens.

We cannot second guess the Government. The former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, made the same point during the 1970s when he said that Parliament must take into account the fact that only the Government has access to certain security information. However, we must ensure that if this legislation is put in place with the express purpose of taking monsters off our streets who continue to see bombings, killings and beatings as legitimate acts, it will stand up to scrutiny and will not be cast down by a Supreme Court judgment, the European Court of Human Rights or by any other court within this jurisdiction or outside it. We have a responsibility to ensure the legislation will stand up to scrutiny.

I assume the Minister, in preparing these sections, has taken advice on the European Convention on Human Rights and has satisfied himself that if somebody were to challenge any sections of this legislation, it would stand up to scrutiny. Not only is it necessary to stipulate a time limit for the review of the legislation in order to ensure that nobody with extra powers will abuse them, we must also ensure the legislation will not be challenged easily or overturned. That would be the worst of all worlds. I wish the time limit to be included for those reasons.

At the time of the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act in 1996, we included an extension to the seven day detention period and the various safeguards which judges were obliged to observe. I recall speaking to the Garda Commissioner at the time and pointing out that for the sake of the men and women of the Garda Síochána, it was necessary that no criticism should be levelled at any action taken by them. It was necessary that the accusations about the heavy hand of the law made in the 1970s would not again be made against the force.

I thank the Minister for accepting the amendment which goes some way towards ensuring that if it is found that this legislation must continue after the year 2000, it will be reviewed regularly. I have no doubt that if the Minister finds the legislation is flawed, which I hope it is not, he will get a ready ear in this House.

The Minister, in his speech, seemed to indicate, as did the Taoiseach this morning, that the only people who objected to the terms of this legislation were those not on ceasefire. He stated that the Real IRA and Continuity IRA should be left in no doubt as to the consequences of their actions. The Minister appeared to be excluding the Provisional IRA which is on ceasefire. We know judges refer to debates in this House when interpreting legislation and I want the Minister to give a categorical assurance on the record that this legislation, when enacted, will be used against anybody who perpetrates, or is suspected of perpetrating, terrorist acts. We must ensure that we do not create a second class of terrorist called the Real or Continuity IRA and that we do not exclude the Provisional IRA, which murdered people for the past 30 years, from the application of these measures. The Garda must be instructed that anyone involved in terrorist activities can be subjected to this legislation.

As it is now 7.30 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to sections 1 to 4, inclusive, of the Bill and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; and, in respect of each of the sections undisposed of, that the section or, as appropriate, the section, as amended, is hereby agreed to".

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 22.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Ferris and Sargent.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • McDaid, James.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • McGennis, Marian.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Moffatt, Thomas.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • Ellis, John.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Wade, Eddie.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Stagg and Sargent.

  • Broughan, Thomas.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Higgins, Michael.
  • Gilmore, Éamon.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Penrose, William.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Ferris and Gormley; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.
Question declared carried.

Ahern, Dermot.

Kitt, Tom.

Ahern, Michael.

Lawlor, Liam.

Ahern, Noel.

Lenihan, Brian.

Brady, Johnny.

Lenihan, Conor.

Brady, Martin.

Lowry, Michael.

Brennan, Matt.

Martin, Micheál.

Brennan, Séamus.

McDaid, James.

Briscoe, Ben.

McGennis, Marian.

Byrne, Hugh.

McGuinness, John.

Callely, Ivor.

Moffatt, Thomas.

Carey, Pat.

Molloy, Robert.

Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

Moloney, John.

Coughlan, Mary.

Moynihan, Donal.

Cowen, Brian.

Moynihan, Michael.

Cullen, Martin.

Ó Cuív, Éamon.

Davern, Noel.

O'Dea, Willie.

de Valera, Síle.

O'Donnell, Liz.

Doherty, Seán.

O'Donoghue, John.

Ellis, John.

O'Flynn, Noel.

Fleming, Seán.

O'Hanlon, Rory.

Foley, Denis.

O'Keeffe, Ned.

Fox, Mildred.

O'Malley, Desmond.

Hanafin, Mary.

O'Rourke, Mary.

Harney, Mary.

Power, Seán.

Haughey, Seán.

Roche, Dick.

Healy-Rae, Jackie.

Ryan, Eoin.

Jacob, Joe.

Smith, Brendan.

Keaveney, Cecilia.

Smith, Michael.

Kelleher, Billy.

Wade, Eddie.

Kenneally, Brendan.

Wallace, Dan.

Killeen, Tony.

Wallace, Mary.

Kirk, Séamus.

Woods, Michael.

Wright, G. V.

Níl

Bell, Michael.

Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

De Rossa, Proinsias.

O'Shea, Brian.

Ferris, Michael.

O'Sullivan, Jan.

Gilmore, Éamon.

Penrose, William.

Gormley, John.

Quinn, Ruairí.

Higgins, Joe.

Ryan, Seán.

Higgins, Michael.

Sargent, Trevor.

Howlin, Brendan.

Shortall, Róisín.

McDowell, Derek.

Stagg, Emmet.

McManus, Liz.

Upton, Pat.

Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.

Wall, Jack.

(Mayo): On a point of order, I give notice to the House that I will be moving amendment No. 4a in the name of Deputy Flanagan and myself on Report Stage.

SECTION 5.

Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

(Dublin West): I move amendment No. 15:

In page 7, subsection (2), lines 10 to 12, to delete all words from and including "being" in line 10, down to and including "be," in line 12.

Section 5 states that "in any proceedings against a person for an offence to which this section applies evidence is given that . at any time before he or she was charged with the offence, on being questioned by a member of the Garda Síochána in relation to the offence or when being charged . failed to mention any fact relied on in his or her defence in those proceedings, being a fact which in the circumstances existing at the time he or she could reasonably have been expected to mention when so questioned, charged or informed, as the case may be, then the court . may draw such inferences from the failure as appear proper; and the failure may, on the basis of such inferences, be treated as, or as capable of amounting to, corroboration of any evidence in relation to which the failure is material . " This proposal is manifestly unfair. I and the Socialist Party hold no brief for anyone involved in paramilitary organisations or activity at any level and have never done so even while members of other parties were attempting to arm them. My main function in the Dáil is to stand for the rights, not of a tiny handful of sectarian bombers and killers, but of the three-and-a-half million law abiding people in this State who will come under the ambit of this legislation if it is passed into law.

In the course of this debate many Deputies claimed that the people overwhelmingly support these measures and they criticised me for not doing so. I take issue with that claim. The fact is that people have had no time to consider these measures. The public wants those responsible for the atrocity in Omagh caught, they want all paramilitary activity to cease, they want these people isolated and they want them to finish their campaigns once and for all. However, they have had no opportunity to discuss these measures and, therefore, Deputies cannot say the Government has backing for all of them.

This provision is manifestly unfair and I am amazed it is being proceeded with. Essentially, if somebody does not mention or remember every single thing about some past issue they are being questioned about by the Garda, yet, they remember it later, an inference may be drawn against them.

When a person who is not a hardened criminal is being questioned by the Garda he or she will be nervous, confused and upset. In fact, it is the hardened criminals who will not be nervous or confused and who will probably remember every "fact" they are questioned about. However, it is primarily innocent people who will be at a disadvantage if this provision becomes law. It is utterly unfair to say that somebody should be able to remember everything within the time limits set down and that if they do not it can be used against them in court even if they try to raise issues or facts later.

It is possible that a person may not have the opportunity to speak to a solicitor when being questioned by the Garda or even before being charged. In that case, when a person talks to a lawyer that lawyer may be able to mention some facts or circumstances that are extremely significant in his or her defence. They may not have been aware of their significance, yet, if those are introduced in a subsequent court case a negative inference can be drawn against the accused person. That is manifestly unfair.

There are other reasons people who are entirely innocent may not be in a position to, or may not want to, answer all questions asked. There may be some circumstances in which they could produce an alibi but perhaps felt compromised quite innocently in terms of not being involved in any law breaking, and not wanting initially to involve somebody else, for example, as an alibi. If they were later convinced they could or should do so, that can be used as an inference.

There is the simple question of people's memories. If a person is questioned by the Garda about an alleged offence which was committed, perhaps months or even a year previously, the person may not remember many facts about the issue, or his or her movements. How many of us know exactly what we were doing even a few weeks ago, let alone a few months or a year ago? This is one of the Minister's catch-all provisions to get evidence to corroborate membership of an unlawful organisation on the opinion of a senior member of the Garda. The provision is so wide-ranging as to be open to abuse and to be dangerous.

A conflict may arise in the court between the Garda version of events and that of the accused. That has often happened and, as we are aware from abuses, in Britain in particular, police versions were patently manufactured. The Minister is refusing to include even the minimum safeguard, proposed in a number of amendments, of a video taping procedure of all questioning, interrogation, etc., of an accused person. It would be some small safeguard for the accused person if the Minister had inserted that provision in the Bill. The Minister is refusing to do so. Inevitably conflicts will arise in the court to the detriment of an accused person. It is manifestly unfair and I oppose the provision. My amendment proposes that no such inference, negative or detrimental to the accused person, should be drawn.

(Mayo): Just as in section 3, which set down definitive periods in relation to the calling of witnesses, this is tough but necessary legislation. It is necessary because one is dealing with tough people and circumstances, potential killers, people who are ruthless and have no compunction about doing what they consider must be done to achieve their aims. One is trying to bolt down as firmly as possible any possibility of people introducing alibis. The people about whom we are talking are professionals. They are conspirators who are quite capable of constructing elaborate alibis. They are quite capable, just as in relation to the production of witnesses, of paying witnesses to come on board and substantiate their side of the story because there is no problem as regards money. They are quite competent and capable of coming up with a well-woven tissue of lies and fabrications.

I acknowledge that there is a possibility of memory lapse but, as Deputy Owen said, when dealing with legislation of this kind we must take it from the Government that it knows exactly what it is doing; that it is acting on security advice, and that the advice given to it is that this measure is required to cope with the existing problem and until the year 2000.

At the end of the day, the court may decide in determining guilt whether or not such inferences may be drawn. The ultimate arbiter is the court. By not accepting this section, one is drawing on all kinds of paranoia in relation to the possible indiscretions which may occur. We are not saying such indiscretions have not occurred because there have been some, but we must support as watertight a provision as possible to ensure that what I outlined does not happen. The court will decide and some Members seem to have little faith in the courts to decide whether or not an inference can be drawn.

I did not have an opportunity to contribute on Second Stage but I followed with interest the debate on this and previous amendments.

It is my view, and I think it is one shared by the overwhelming majority of Members, that a democracy has the right to protect itself from those committed to subverting and destroying it. The ultimate civil right and liberty is the right to life. The people at whom this legislation is directed, we are assured by the Minister, are those who place no value on other peoples' right to life. It is, of course, important that this legislation works properly. Opposition Members are relying on assurances from the Minister that the extensive powers conferred by this legislation will be used and directed against any unlawful group or individual committed to violence, in particular, those responsible for the appalling tragedy at Omagh.

The Opposition has a particular duty. It is regrettable that the Committee Stage debate is being compressed. I am always concerned that a brief Committee Stage debate on legislation such as this creates more problems than it solves in that this House does not have an opportunity to tease it out fully and, perhaps, the Minister does not have the opportunity to reflect overnight on what has been said. I would have preferred a procedure whereby the Committee Stage debate would be taken tomorrow.

I would like the Minister to reply to my questions on section 5, amendment No. 15, which apply equally to section 4 which we did not have an opportunity to discuss. My questions relate to the provisions which criminalise associations on the part of certain persons. Has the Minister obtained advice from the Attorney General as to the constitutionality of sections 4 and 5? Is he concerned that those sections could be deemed unconstitutional? Has he addressed the possibility that if there is a referral of the legislation to the Supreme Court and the Bill is found to be unconstitutional because of imperfections in either of the sections that the whole Bill will fall? I would like the Minister to address that very important issue.

The Minister might also address an issue which could have arisen in the debate on sections 1 to 4 and which is applicable to section 5, Deputy Higgins's amendment, the Bill as a whole and other legislation currently in force. If we assume that upon enactment of this Bill there is the possibility or likelihood that certain persons involved in subversion here, who show nothing but contempt for democracy and human life, will be brought before the courts, can we have assurances from the Minister that such people if convicted under this or existing legislation as a member of an unlawful organisation for offences under section 5(1) committed since 22 May cannot benefit from the early release provisions which the Minister is now exercising in respect of other persons? As a result of Garda investigations some individuals may be prosecuted and convicted arising out of the Omagh tragedy under some of the offences described in section 5(1) of this Bill.

I am seeking an assurance from the Minister that the powers delineated and contained in the legislation enacted by the House prior to the summer recess, namely, the Criminal Justice (Release of Prisoners) Act, 1998, will not be utilised by the Government to effect the early release of those responsible for the atrocity that occurred in Omagh and the other atrocities referred to on Second Stage.

It is important to realise that in dealing with this legislation we are not engaging in a public relations or an academic exercise. A strong message must emanate from this House that the type of subversion of the Republic to which a small group of individuals are committed will not be tolerated. These people should not be given encouragement or allowed to believe that if they are apprehended, prosecuted and convicted by the courts, within two years they will be likely to benefit from the type of early release system for which structural provision is made under the Criminal Justice (Release of Prisoners) Act. That system has already benefited a number of individuals without the passage of the legislation to which I referred.

As the Minister stated on Second Stage, section 5, which Deputy Joe Higgins is attempting to amend, follows along the lines of sections of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act which introduced certain restrictions on the right to silence so that inferences could be drawn. However, as the Minister correctly pointed out, a person cannot be convicted on the sole basis of inferences being drawn from their remaining silent.

It is not contained in the legislation, however, the Government indicated that it intended to bring back into play the mechanism whereby someone could be declared to be a member of an illegal organisation on the word of a chief superintendent and that this would be corroborated by the inference drawn from a person's silence. In turn, if the inference drawn from someone's remaining silent cannot be used as the basis for a conviction, two wrongs cannot be added together to make a right because the section of the 1972 amendment Act which states that a person can be convicted of membership based on the word of a chief superintendent has already been overturned by the courts.

I wish to refer to an article by Gerard Hogan, an eminent constitutional lawyer whose words the Minister and Minister of State at Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy O'Donnell, were fond of quoting when in Opposition, which appeared recently inThe Irish Times. The article stated that any effort to reintroduce the mechanism where the word of a chief superintendent would suffice to convict someone of membership of a proscribed organisation would be unconstitutional. Is the Minister drawing together two pieces of evidence, namely, the word of a chief superintendent and the inference drawn from a person's silence and making each corroborate the other? This will lead to problems because if the legislation is overturned by the Supreme Court it will collapse in its entirety. I am concerned that, because the Bill has been hastily drawn up, the Minister may not have had the opportunity to give this matter proper consideration.

What is meant by the use of the term "unless the accused was told in ordinary language" in section 5(3)? Does "ordinary" refer to language in every day use as opposed to extraordinary language or the kind of convoluted legal language which contains the terms "herewith", "theretofore" and "notwithstanding"? I do not know what is the legal definition of "ordinary language". Everyone can assess what ordinary language might mean in terms of someone being held by the Garda. Will the Minister clarify if the section is referring to ordinary, civilised language?

We are discussing sections 5, 6 and 7.

We are dealing with amendments Nos. 15 and 16.

We got caught in the last grouping of four sections so that the Minister got off scot free without having to answer questions about three of the four sections. What does "a person who directs terrorism" mean? Does the Minister have a legal description for the word "directs"?

Does the Minister think in section 7 the word "knowingly" should at least be included so that it will read a person "knowingly" has an article in his possession? Somebody might not knowingly have an article in his possession. Will he clarify why he included section 7 when the offences referred to are already covered under the Explosive Substances Act, 1883, and the Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1990? It seems the section might be superfluous. I hope the Minister has not formed the habit of including superfluous sections so that legislation will look harder. We must be sure of the need for it.

I support Deputy Shatter's remarks. The Taoiseach is on record saying people would not receive the early release benefit of the Agreement if they were not on ceasefire when the Agreement was concluded and had not yet been convicted of offences, even if those offences were committed before the ceasefire. However that commitment is not legally binding and that is why Fine Gael wanted to amend the legislation to make sure that is included in law. As things stand people who committed offences and were not convicted before May 22 will find a loophole through which they will slip and be able to avail of the prisoner release programme under the Agreement. The Minister would stand indicted if people who carried out the Omagh atrocity could avail of the prisoner release programme, which is part of the Agreement.

Section 5 is obviously intended to allow inferences to be drawn from silence in certain cases. The purpose of Deputy Higgin's amendment appears not to allow inferences to be drawn and I oppose that. To accept it would be to take one of the main pins from under the legislation. It could be argued that I would have been better off not producing the legislation rather than accept this amendment.

I do not accept the proposition that allowing inferences to be drawn from silence in certain specified circumstances represents an unwarranted attack on the rights of an accused person. This is already contained in the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996. I recently received the report of an expert group which I established to examine changes in the criminal law proposed in the report of the Garda SMI steering group. The expert group recommended that such an inference provision be extended to all offences which carry a penalty of five years, which is wider than that proposed in this section.

To a large extent, Deputy Higgins's argument amounts to putting a hypothetical case before the House and arguing it as if he were in court. The court can decide to draw an inference from the silence of an individual in certain circumstances but it is also open to it not to draw any inference. The effect of section 5 is not to require a court to draw an inference from the failure of a person to mention a fact relied on in his defence; it permits the court, as appears proper to it, to draw such an inference from such a failure. Also, a failure would only give rise to such an inference where a person could reasonably be expected to have mentioned the fact relied on. The requirements will mean that many of the circumstances mentioned by Deputy Higgins will not arise. We are not talking about stand alone evidence where an inference is concerned. If the court should decide it is entitled to draw an inference, that may only be used as corroboration of other evidence. In other words, the fact that the court decides it is proper that an inference should be drawn does not mean that it may convict on foot of that inference alone — it may not, there must be additional evidence.

Other Deputies have strayed on to different sections and amendments. It would be inappropriate to go into the issue of prisoner releases, raised by Deputy Shatter. Amendment No. 4a dealt with that subject and I will deal with it when it arises. We are now dealing with amendments Nos. 15 and 16 to section 5.

We passed it by because of the grouping of amendments.

I will give the Deputy an overview, although I do not know whether that is in order. His amendment seeks to prevent the Minister exercising any powers of release, remission or commutation in respect of any offence or offences referred to in section 1 of the Bill. The provisions for special release arrangements in the British-Irish Agreement do not refer to offences committed after the date mentioned in the amendment. Everyone would agree that it is unreasonable for me to accept a blanket prohibition on releases. Under Deputy Shatter's amendment, if a prisoner with a short time left to serve was at death's door, no power of release could be exercised.

That is not the whole amendment, it relates to those not yet convicted.

It must also be borne in mind that scheduled offences mentioned in section 5 could be committed by people who are not members of an unlawful organisation. I do not believe the amendment is appropriate as it would involve removing legitimate powers from the Minister of the day. That and other issues are not covered by amendments Nos. 15 and 16. If I wander to other amendments that have been discussed and dealt with——

: It was not discussed. That is the problem.

——we will not achieve the order set by the House, that we deal with sections 5 to 7 between 7.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m.

What about the constitutionality of the legislation?

I note Deputy Shatter specifically mentioned two sections and I am satisfied that those provisions are constitutional. That is the advice available to me. Deputy Shatter will know better than any Member——

Is that the advice of the Attorney General's office?

——that I cannot be definitive in that respect because the question of whether legislation is constitutional or otherwise is a matter for the courts and, ultimately, the Supreme Court. We have taken the advice of the Attorney General on these provisions which is to the effect that the legislation will stand up. I am satisfied with that advice from the first law officer of the land. While I am quietly confident that the legislation will stand up, there have been moments when Ministers for Justice and the most eminent of Attorneys General have stated the precise same and the courts have held differently. I am confident, in general terms, that the legislation will stand up in as much as I am satisfied, on the advice available to me, that it is within the European Convention on Human Rights.

What does the term "ordinary language" mean?

I recall there was some ordinary language in the drug trafficking Bill of 1996. "Ordinary" means ordinary.

Amendment put and declared lost.

(Dublin West): I move amendment No. 16:

In page 7, subsection (2), lines 17 to 22, to delete all words from and including "may" in line 17, down to and including line 22 and substitute "may not draw any inferences from the failure.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

We now come to amendment No. 17. Amendments Nos. 30 and 34 are related and, therefore, amendments Nos. 17, 30 and 34 may be discussed together.

I wish to indicate that I intend to table amendment No. 30 on Report Stage.

That is noted.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 7, between lines 36 and 37, to insert the following subsection:

"(6) Evidence shall only be admissible under this section where that evidence has been taken in circumstances where an accused person, having been arrested, has been detained in a Garda station to which the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (Electronic Recording of Interviews) Regulations, 1997 (S. I. No. 74 of 1997) apply and has had any interview conducted recorded on video and audio tape.".

Is this not part of an earlier group of amendments? We were told we would not be allowed to go back.

We are not allowed to go back. Amendment No. 17 has been moved and we are discussing with that amendments Nos. 30 and 34.

On a point of order, I do not wish to delay the proceedings but I would have thought that once Deputy Higgins's amendments were defeated the Chair would have put the question that section 5 stand part of the Bill.

We have to deal with No. 17 as an amendment to section 5.

I would invite the Minister to deal with the question of corroborative evidence as put forward by Deputy Owen.

Deputy Gormley has moved his amendment.

And time is of the essence. This is an extremely important amendment. I listened with interest last Monday to "Questions and Answers" on RTE television when the Minister of State, Deputy Liz O'Donnell, was quite adamant in saying she would support such an amendment. It was also stated by Deputy Brendan Howlin that he would be supportive of videotaping.

If we are going to have such draconian measures, if individuals are going to be kept for periods of up to four days in police custody, we ought to have a safeguard of a civil liberty so that we can see clearly that no abuse takes place while a person is in custody. We are all familiar with the case of Elaine Moore, on behalf of whom my colleagues in Fine Gael have made representations. If this individual or someone like her, someone who is vulnerable, were to be held in police custody for four days, perhaps intimidated, perhaps deprived of sleep, that person could at the end of that period of time sign a confession. So often we have seen examples of people who have signed confessions in that intimidating atmosphere. Often it is the vulnerable and the innocent who sign confessions, not those who are hardened and have the psychological wherewithal to withstand that. Terrorists have their so-called green book on how to avoid that sort of intimidation so that they do not sign confessions. This is a safeguard and already, because of 1984 legislation, there is an option. Because of the draconian nature of this legislation we are calling for this provision to be mandatory.

It is regrettable that our police force attracted over 1,200 formal complaints in the past year for which records are available. Seventy-five separate civil actions were initiated against the Garda Síochána in 1997 and 13 gardaí were disciplined arising from sworn inquiries. The criminal justice system and the absolute necessity to secure safe convictions must be protected from possible wrongdoing by rogue gardaí relative to persons who are in custody and likely to be charged with a serious offence.

Videotaping is not expensive and not technically demanding. It must be used when arrests are made under this Act and where inference provisions are to apply. All of this is common sense if we are to avoid the suspicion that intimidation is taking place. We have seen examples of it in the cases of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. I have the highest respect for the Garda Síochána but in certain circumstances intimidation can take place. To avoid this suspicion and to ensure we have safe convictions it is vital that we have videotaping. I call on the Progressive Democrats to honour their commitment and on other parties who have looked for this provision to support this as well.

Dr. Upton

I wish to re-enter amendment No. 10 in my name on Report Stage. I support this amendment. It is in accordance with the recommendations of the Martin committee which were accepted by all sides of the House, including the Labour Party. A decision in principle was taken to introduce audio-visual recording of interviews in all Garda stations. It is a pity this process, which started in 1984, is not yet completed and we still have not succeeded in introducing the system to each Garda station. It is most important that the system is introduced. If the Minister is unable to introduce it to all Garda stations, he should ensure that it is used in Garda stations where suspects at which the Bill is primarily aimed are held.

As it is now 8.30 p.m., I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That sections 5 to 7, inclusive, of the Bill are hereby agreed to."

Question put and declared carried.
SECTION 8.

Amendment No. 24 is an alternative to amendment No. 23 while amendment No. 25 is consequential on amendment No. 24. Amendments Nos. 23 to 25, inclusive, may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Before Deputy Higgins moves his amendment, I wish to re-enter my amendment No. 3 on Report Stage.

(Dublin West): I move amendment No. 23:

In page 8, subsection (1), lines 13 and 14, to delete "which is of such a nature that it is likely to be useful in" and substitute "with the intention of assisting".

I hope even the conservative political parties which are supporting the Government will oppose the provisions of section 8 which are all-encompassing and alarming. If one leaves aside ideology, anybody who claims to be liberal could not possibly agree to section 8 as it stands. Section 8(1) states: "It shall be an offence for a person to collect, record or possess information which is of such a nature that it is likely to be useful in the commission by members of any unlawful organisation of serious offences generally or any particular kind of serious offence." I am opposed to the Bill in its entirety, but the amendment seeks the deletion of the terms "which is of such a nature that it is likely to be useful in" the commission of serious offences. Could anybody disagree with the amendment?

As it stands, the section criminalises everybody. Each person probably has some information in their possession in whatever form which might be useful to a person who wants to commit a serious offence. This is an incredible and all-embracing blanket provision which criminalises an entire society. I do not understand what the Government is attempting to achieve. I hope the other parties in the House will support my request to the Minister to explain why the provision does not state that it will be an offence for a person to collect, record or possess information with the intention of assisting illegal activities. Why is the provision not framed in that clear manner. If proof of an offence was adduced, somebody might be convicted. However, half the population would be criminalised under the section as it stands. Section 8 (2) does not make up for the way in which section 8(1) is formulated.

The Minister did not respond to the points I made about the burden of proof which he denied is being shifted irrevocably under the Bill on to the accused whom until now the State has had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt has committed an offence. How can he do this when section 8 (1) states that it shall be an offence for a person to collect, record or possess information which is of such a nature that it is likely to be useful to an unlawful organisation in the commission of a serious offence? Section 8(2) states that it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under the section to prove that at the time of the alleged offence the information in question was not being collected or recorded by him or her or in his or her possession for the purpose of its being used in the commission of a serious offence. The burden of proof is being shifted irrevocably on to the accused who is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. I would be astounded if this catch-all measure had the support of other political parties in the House.

There is a danger that this legislation could lead to miscarriages of justice. Deputy Jim Higgins is acting on blind faith in using the security advice available to the Government as justification for supporting it. That is extremely dangerous. Security advice is not proof. The security forces in Britain were convinced that six men had perpetrated an appalling atrocity in Birmingham in the 1970s. They would have availed of the provisions of section 8(1) liberally to try to corroborate their belief. Even though they were innocent the six men concerned spent 15 years in jail. We cannot rely on the word of unnamed and unseen members of the security forces. These provisions would have been manna from heaven for those who framed Annie Maguire and her family in that infamous episode. This is extremely dangerous and most alarming.

I hope to receive the support of other parties and ask the Minister if he still holds to his assertion that the burden of proof is not being shifted irrevocably to the accused.

Section 8 is very important and raises significant questions amongst those who are used to the presumption of innocence as a cornerstone of our legal system. Amendment No. 24 is an attempt to claw back some of the doubt concerning the dilution, or even reversal, of the presumption of innocence. The substitution of the words "it is intended to be used, or to be made available for use" in the commission of a serious offence for the words "it is likely to be useful" is intended to focus the work of investigation into terrorist organisations more clearly. We also seek to delete subsection (2). It is vital that we recognise that under the legislation as proposed, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Dáil or a local authority who is in possession of information from a committee meeting, for example, is liable for arrest and charge depending on the nature of the material concerned. A person in one of those positions could get enough public attention to clear themselves, but someone who does not have access to the media may not be able to do so. It is not acceptable to treat people who cannot be proven to have some criminal intent as criminals on the basis of information available to them. We all have material available to us which would be useful to persons plotting a serious offence. As former Deputy Michael McDowell said, a telephone directory may be analysed for such criminal intent.

That does not make criminals of us all, but criminal intent is a different matter, and the objective of these amendments is to focus on criminal intent. If we do not amend this section, I fear we will play into the hands of those looking for propaganda to recruit young people into illegal organisations. One need only remember an incident when a member of Sinn Féin was arrested while in possession of number plates. The IRA got great propaganda value in the area by saying that this was harassment, as the number plates were collected to demonstrate harassment. The charge was that these number plates were being collected with criminal intent.

This section will be of propaganda value and will also take up police time with wild goose chases and lines of inquiries which would help to focus investigations will be diluted. It is important to focus this section if it is to remain in the Bill, but it borders on a charge of reversing the presumption of innocence which is a cornerstone of our legal system. For that reason the Minister must seriously consider it before it discredits the entire Bill.

I have grave doubts about the need for this section, its efficacy and its constitutionality. I cannot see the reason for the section, phrased and designed as it is. This legislation is riddled with constitutional anomalies and difficulties and I predict that if section 4 is not the first section to be found unconstitutional, it will be section 8, as an alternative, if he attempts a prosecution under it.

I am well aware that in the context of the amendment tabled and section 8(1) to which it applies there is a defence provided in section 2. There is the defence for a person charged with an offence to prove that at the time of the alleged offence the information in question was not being collected or recorded by him or her or in his or her possession for the purpose of its being used in the commission of any serious offence. The offence is contained in section 1 and is simply collecting, recording or being in possession of information which is of a nature which is likely to be useful in the commission of a serious offence by members of any unlawful organisation. If the section referred to information not only likely to be useful in the commission of a serious offence but information collected, recorded or obtained by someone and in their possession which was passed on to them or communicated by them to an unlawful organisation to be used in the commission of a serious offence, I could well see that constituting an offence.

If I case a bank I intend to rob or follow a person I intend to murder, I am recording the information for myself, if I carry out the offence. My following the movements of a bank manager so that I know the time of day he travels to his bank and the route he follows and my passing that information on to the IRA which uses that information to carry out an offence is what should constitute the offence. Some of the previous speakers made the same point in similar language.

The Minister has a grave difficulty with this section. We, on this side of the House, are anxious to do what is necessary to ensure the gardaí have available to them any powers they genuinely require to bring to justice those guilty of atrocities. This section is badly drafted. The danger of nodding it through tonight and sending it to the Seanad compounds the difficulties we have.

A journalist accumulating information on the activities of an unlawful organisation could be said to have in his possession information which would allow for the commission of a serious offence. If a member of an unlawful organisation like the Real IRA is unhappy about future proposed activities of the organisation and he communicates the information about future activities to a journalist, the journalist writes the exposé. The journalist's possession of that information is useful to the unlawful organisation because if he communicated to the unlawful organisation the name of the person who provided the information, it might shoot the person. This section is not well thought out or well drafted. It has constitutional problems and there are difficulties also in the context of the European Convention.

I ask the Minister what advice he has from the Attorney General about this section. Has the Garda or the Commissioner requested the insertion of this section for a particular purpose? The Minister may not wish to reveal the purpose but where is the need for this section? We are entitled to an explanations as to why this section is included in the legislation. Has the Minister considered the grave dangers it poses to a democracy? Other Deputies referred to miscarriages of justices which occurred in the past in other jurisdictions. There is always the danger in the aftermath of the type of appalling atrocity we saw in Omagh that ill-thought out legislation is enacted by parliaments by way of a knee-jerk reaction. This is one aspect that is ill-considered. I would be interested in hearing the Minister's responses to the amendments proposed and his explanation as to the need for this section.

If the Minister wishes to retain the section in the legislation and is unwilling to accept amendments from this side of the House, I invite him to consider, as he has not done with his own Report Stage amendment, providing for an offence under section 8(1) that the information collected is collected with the intention of communicating it to an unlawful organisation or members of an unlawful organisation or is so communicated. There is need to ensure we deal with this issue correctly.

I appeal to Members to give us time to reach the Minister's amendment No. 26 which is bizarre in the extreme. I am not sure whether the impact of that amendment is fully understood.

I will be brief because Deputy Shatter has said much of what I wanted to say. The Minister may have been coerced into putting this section in the legislation, which appears to mirror the British legislation. The Minister of State, Deputy O'Donnell, did not appear to be briefed about this when she appeared on a radio programme with me last week. To use a common expression, she was "gobsmacked" when the interviewer put it to her. This is one of the sections she seemed to have difficulty with and she appeared to question it in yesterday's newspaper.

I ask the Minister not to put this section to the House because I am equally unhappy that the amendments tabled by our Opposition colleagues will address the problems. I await with interest the Minister's explanation for his amendment No. 26 and the reason it is being brought forward tonight.

The Minister should have second thoughts about this section. I presume it has something to do with a person being found with a list of car registration or telephone numbers, as happened in the case of a group of people in the UK who were carrying out surveillance on a property and who had particular information. That is different from the offence referred to here which refers to collecting, not using, information. If the Minister were on this side of the House and I brought forward such a section he would find a number of holes in it and would ask me to withhold it until such time as he had an opportunity to amend it. If the Minister puts it tonight I hope he will come back with amendments later this evening on Report Stage.

Neither I nor the Government have been coerced by anybody. We are reacting to a real and serious threat. Incidentally, to my knowledge, Deputy O'Donnell did not query this section.

Section 8, as drafted, provides for an offence of collecting, recording or possessing information which is of such a nature that it is likely to be useful in the commission by members of any unlawful organisation of serious offences. It provides for a defence——

We have that. The Minister should move on. He is taking up too much time.

——for a person charged to prove that the information was not being collected for the purpose of its being used in the commission of such offences. Under the amendments now presented it would have to be proved that the information was intended to be used or made available to members of an unlawful organisation and in those circumstances the defence allowed for would not be necessary.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how the section would be of any use if these amendments were accepted. It would be virtually impossible to prove that the information would be used by members of an unlawful organisation in the commission of an offence. If that could be proved there would probably be no need for the offence because the person could be charged with conspiracy or aiding or abetting an offence.

Deputy Shatter said that the passage of the information should constitute the offence but in those circumstances it appears there would be no point in having the legislative provision as it is now presented. What I propose merits a provision in UK legislation and is designed to deal with circumstances where a person is gathering certain types of information. For example, if gardaí were to discover that someone possessed details of the movements of members of the RUC and literature on bomb-making equipment, they might not be able to show that this information was going to be used for the commission of a particular offence. In those circumstances, it is proposed under section 8 that the person could be charged with an offence and what would be at issue would be for that person to show the information was not being collected for the purpose of the commission of an offence by members of an unlawful organisation. Given the realities involved in combating the ruthless activities of terrorist organisations, the provision is reasonable and balanced and I oppose the amendments which, as I explained, would be likely to deprive the section of any effect.

I reject Deputy Joe Higgins's assertion that the burden of proof is being shifted. The offence as constituted is contained in subsection (1) but that offence must still be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Subsection (2) provides that it shall be a defence for the person charged to prove that, at the time of the offence, the information in question was not being collected or recorded by him or her for the purpose of being used in the commission of any serious offence. That does not obviate the necessity for the offence to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt before the Special Criminal Court. There is a difference between the proof required for the prosecution to succeed and the defence with which subsection (2) deals.

Deputy Higgins said that an unlawful organisation is an unlawful organisation under section 18 irrespective of whether there is a proscription order on it. However, it has never been known for a person to be convicted of being a member of an unlawful organisation without there being a proscription order because such an order, under section 19, is conclusive evidence. If an offence is brought under section 8, it will be for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the information was likely to be useful in the commission by members of unlawful organisations of certain types of serious offences. In the example of a journalist to which Deputy Shatter referred, such a person may collect and possess information which could be construed as being useful to members of an unlawful organisation if supplied to them. In the unlikely event of a journalist being prosecuted for that, it is clearly stated in subsection (2) that it is a defence for the journalist to prove that the information was not being held for such a purpose. In any event, the prosecution would still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual possessed the information for that purpose.

We are dealing with serious offences which are defined for the purposes of this section to only include the most serious offences involving loss of life, serious personal injury, false imprisonment or serious loss of or damage to property. The offence is targeted specifically at those who may not be directly involved in acts of terrorist violence but who play an essential part in their planning or preparation by the collection of information which is used for the purposes of the selection or identification of targets for terrorist attacks or in the carrying out of such attacks. Terrorist groups cannot operate without the active assistance and involvement of such persons who must, therefore, also bear some responsibility for the use to which the information they collect is put. However, as with the offence of possession of articles for purposes connected with firearms and explosives, it will equally be open to a person who has been proved to have information——

On a point of information, Acting Chairman, I did ask the Minister——

,Carlow-Kilkenny): It is time to put the question. The Minister is not yielding.

I am seeking the guidance of the Chair.

——to show that the information in question had not been collected or was not held for the purpose——

I am seeking the guidance of the Chair.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy must be brief as the time is up.

Amendment No. 26 is of great concern to all Members. The time allocated for this section has run out. Is it possible for the Minister to re-enter the amendment on Report Stage so we can debate this matter? Will the Minister do so?

Subject to the Clerk of the Dáil's opinion, I do not believe it is technically possible for me to do so. However, in deference to Deputies I will ask the Chair for some indulgence to explain what the Government means by this amendment.

Acting Chairman

The advice is to deal with this matter on Report Stage.

The best approach is to withdraw the amendment and resubmit it on Report Stage. I am happy to do so.

I thank the Minister.

Acting Chairman

As it is now 9 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That in respect of sections undisposed of in sections 8 to 9, inclusive, of the Bill that the section or, as appropriate, the section, as amended, is hereby agreed to."

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 64; Níl, 23.
Question declared carried.

Níl

Bell, Michael.

Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.

Broughan, Thomas.

Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

De Rossa, Proinsias.

O'Shea, Brian.

Ferris, Michael.

O'Sullivan, Jan.

Gilmore, Éamon.

Penrose, William.

Gormley, John.

Rabbitte, Pat.

Higgins, Joe.

Ryan, Seán

Higgins, Michael.

Sargent, Trevor.

Howlin, Brendan.

Shortall, Róisín.

McDowell, Derek.

Stagg, Emmet.

McManus, Liz.

Upton, Pat.

Wall, Jack.

SECTION 10.

We move now to sections 10 and 11. Amendment No 29 is in the names of Deputies Jim Higgins and Flanagan. Amendments Nos. 31 and 32 are related and amendments Nos. 36 and 37 are consequential on amendment No. 31. We will discuss amendments Nos. 29, 31, 32, 36 and 37 together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 9, to delete lines 12 to 33 and substitute the following:

"4(a) Where a member of the Garda Síochána arrests without warrant a person ('the arrested person') whom he or she, with reasonable cause, suspects of having committed a serious offence, the arrested person—

(i) may be taken to a Garda Síochána station, and

(ii) if the member of the Garda Síochána in charge of the station has, at the time of the arrested person's arrival there, reasonable grounds for believing that his or her detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence, may be detained in that station for a period or periods authorised by subsection (4A).

(b) Without prejudice to paragraph (a), where a member of the Garda Síochána suspects an arrested person of having committed a serious offence, that person may——

(i) be taken to a place of detention, and

(ii) if a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of inspector who is not investigating the serious offence has,

at the time of that person's arrival there, reasonable grounds for believing that his or her detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the serious offence, be detained in that place of detention for a period or periods authorised by subsection (4A).

(4A)(a) The period for which a person may be detained under subsection (4) shall, subject to the provisions of this subsection, not exceed 6 hours from the time of his or her arrest.

(b) An officer of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of chief superintendent may direct that a person detained under subsection (4) be detained for a further period not exceeding 18 hours if he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that such further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned.

(c) An officer of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of chief superintendent may direct that a person detained pursuant to a direction under paragraph (b) be detained for a further period not exceeding 24 hours, if he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that such further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned.

(d) A direction under paragraph (b) or (c) may be given orally or in writing and, if given orally, shall be recorded in writing as soon as practicable.

(e) Where a direction has been given under paragraph (b) or (c), the fact that the direction was given, the date and time when it was given and the name and rank of the officer of the Garda Síochána who gave it shall be recorded.

(f) The direction or, if it was given orally, the written record of it shall be signed by the officer giving it and——

(i) shall state the date and time when it was given, the officer's name and rank and that the officer had reasonable grounds for believing that such further detention was necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned, and

(ii) shall be attached to and form part of the custody record (within the meaning of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Síochána Stations) Regulations, 1987) in respect of the person concerned.

(g) (i) An officer of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of chief superintendent may apply to a judge of the Circuit Court or a judge of the District Court for a warrant authorising the detention of a person detained pursuant to a direction under paragraph (c) for a further period not exceeding 72 hours if he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that such further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned. On an application under this subsection the detained person shall be present in court and may make submissions or have submissions made on his or her behalf before the court.

(ii) On an application under subparagraph (i) the judge concerned shall issue a warrant authorising the detention of the person to whom the application relates for a further period not exceeding 72 hours if, but only if, the judge is satisfied that such further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned and that the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously.

(h) (i) An officer of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of chief superintendent may apply to a judge of the Circuit Court or a judge of the District Court for a warrant authorising the detention of a person detained under a warrant issued pursuant to paragraph (g) (ii) for a further period not exceeding 48 hours, if he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that such further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned.

(ii) On an application under subparagraph (i) the judge concerned shall issue a warrant authorising the detention of the person to whom the application relates for a further period not exceeding 48 hours if, but only if, the judge is satisfied that such further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned and that the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously.

(4B) On an application under subsection (4A) the person to whom the application relates shall be produced before the judge concerned and the judge shall hear any submissions made and consider any evidence adduced by or on behalf of the person and the officer of the Garda Síochána making the application.

(4C) When issuing a warrant under subsection (4A) the judge concerned may order that the person concerned be brought before a judge of the Circuit Court or a judge of the District Court at a specified time or times during the period of detention specified in the warrant and if, upon the person's being so brought before such a judge, he or she is not satisfied that the person's detention is justified, the judge shall revoke the warrant and order the immediate release from custody of the person.

(4D) If at any time during the detention of a person pursuant to this section there are no longer reasonable grounds for believing that his or her detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence to which the detention relates, he or she shall, subject to subsection (4E), be released from custody forthwith unless he or she is charged or caused to be charged with an offence and is brought before a court as soon as may be in connection with such charge or his or her detention is authorised apart from this Act.

(4E) If at any time during the detention of a person pursuant to this section a member of the Garda Síochána, with reasonable cause, suspects that person of having committed a serious offence other than the offence to which the detention relates and——

(a) the member of the Garda Síochána then in charge of the Garda Síochána station, or (b) in case the person is being detained in a place of detention, a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of inspector who is not investigating the offence to which the detention relates or the other offence, has reasonable grounds for believing that the continued detention of the person is necessary for the proper investigation of that other offence, the person may continue to be detained in relation to the other offence as if that offence was the offence for which the person was originally detained.

(4F) To avoid doubt, it is hereby declared that a person shall not be detained pursuant to this section for more than 168 hours from the time of his or her arrest, not including any period which is to be excluded under section 4 (8) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, in reckoning a period of detention.

(4G) Nothing in this section shall affect the operation of section 4 of Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

(4H)(a) The Minister may make regulations prescribing specified places as places where a person may be detained pursuant to subsection (4) (b), and a place for the time being standing so specified is referred to in this Act as a ‘place of detention'.

(b) Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 and any regulations made thereunder shall, with any necessary modifications, apply in relation to places of detention as they apply in relation to Garda Síochána stations.

(4I) Every regulation made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.".

I will be brief because the debate so far has been marked by a lack of contributions on the part of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I hope that between now and the end of the debate the Minister will avail more often than heretofore of the opportunity to explain many of these sections, rather than merely paraphrasing the sections as contained in the Bill in reply to questions raised.

This is a lengthy amendment which attempts, on the part of Fine Gael, to offer an element of streamlining as far as all aspects of detention and extension of detention are concerned. The Minister will be aware of the debate which took place on the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act two years ago. The features of that Act, as far as detention is concerned, are reproduced in the form of an amendment this evening.

It is extraordinary that we treat those persons accused of drug offences in a more stringent and draconian fashion than those accused of very serious terrorist offences.

This amendment will extend significantly the powers of detention available under the Offences against the State Act in this jurisdiction. Included in what will, in effect, be a seven day period of detention will be a number of built-in safeguards which should meet the concerns of those who might not wish to have a period of detention of seven days' duration.

At a stage when an extension to a detention period is sought, not only will an application have to be made before a judge sitting in court but the accused person, on whose behalf the application for detention is being made, will also have an opportunity of appearing in court, making submissions and having a lawyer present to outline why an extension to the detention period might not be reasonable in the circumstances. Before any decision on an extension could be granted, such a person would have every opportunity to place before the court reasons in his or her defence why he or she had acquitted himself or herself within the meaning of the legislation The judge would obviously have to satisfy himself or herself on the necessity for a further order under the section and he or she would have to be satisfied that such an order was required for the proper investigation of the offence concerned and also that the investigation was being conducted in a diligent and expeditious manner.

The Minister, in this legislation, has provided for a cumulative detention period of five days. He will recall the Emergency Powers Act, 1976, which was introduced following the horrible murder in this jurisdiction of the then British ambassador to Ireland. That Act allowed for a detention period of seven days. Such a detention period was deemed necessary to ensure the Garda had sufficient time to conduct their investigations. I would have thought that, having regard to the serious manner in which we are treating this legislation, the Government might also have considered a seven day detention period in this instance. The safeguards contained in this amendment are sufficient to meet people's concerns. I would like the Minister to outline his reasons for not allowing for the same period of detention as was catered for under the Criminal Justice Act, 1996.

Criminal law requires proper and adequate codification and should be consistent. I can think of no better way of ensuring that than to introduce various Bills which attempt to protect society from those who are not prepared to abide by the rule of law and order. A set series of measures should be introduced in order that people would be aware of the law. Creating a labyrinthine structure of legislation makes the interpretation of the law extremely complex and does little to instil public confidence in the criminal justice system. The Minister would be doing a service by providing for such consistency.

(Mayo): I am at a total loss to know why the Minister has not opted for a seven day detention period. It is difficult to understand why he would settle for something less than that and enshrine it in the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act. Why is a distinction being made between drug traffickers and barons on the one hand and paramilitaries on the other when both cases concern lethal, cold blooded and insidious actions?

I recall vividly when the Minister was in Opposition and the drug trafficking legislation was being passed through the House by the then Minister, Deputy Owen, he advocated that the strongest possible measures should be taken, such as the seven day detention provision, to ensure a valid conviction against drug traffickers. The 1996 drug trafficking legislation is positive proof that, irrespective of what has been said, the State has the capacity to avail of strong measures like seven day detention without abuse, overuse and the dangers of miscarriage of justice.

This Bill provides for a gradual approach to detention, starting with six hours, 18 hours, 24 hours, etc. Paragraph (g)(i) which provides for 72 hours detention states: "A judge concerned should issue a warrant authorising the detention of the person to whom the application relates for a further period not exceeding 72 hours but only if the judge is satisfied that further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned and that the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously". The same provision applies where extension of a warrant is sought for a further 48 hours. There is also a provision that if at any stage it becomes obvious there is insufficient evidence, the person is released forthwith.

One of the arguments the Minister will make is that in dealing with drugs you are dealing with something that has to be ingested and passed through your system. That argument was not used when the 1996 legislation was being passed. There is a parallel here in that one case exactly replicates the other. There should be no differentiation between the effective seven day detention provided for in the drug trafficking legislation and this provision. I cannot understand the rationale of Members. On the one hand we are talking tough, but tonight we are reluctant to introduce a very effective measure that has worked for drug trafficking.

Dr. Upton

I oppose this amendment for a number of reasons. First, I do not believe it is necessary. The seven day detention provision has been referred to. Deputy Higgins said that the basic reason for inclusion of that provision in the drugs legislation relates to the time it takes for drugs to pass through the intestine.

Second, the Garda Síochána does not want this provision because it feels it is unnecessary. In this case we should defer to the views of the Garda. There is no useful purpose to be served by including unnecessary harsh provisions in the Bill. It is adequately harsh and is designed to serve a purpose. If we can go forward on the basis that it will serve that purpose, that should be adequate.

This Bill is a balance between harsh measures and concerns about civil liberties, etc. The Minister has got it right and this extra harsh provision would serve no useful purpose. There are also concerns about how this measure would relate to the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. There is the risk that we would find ourselves in difficulty with——

The Labour Party fully supported the inclusion of this provision in the Drug Trafficking Act.

Dr. Upton

We supported it because it was necessary.

The Deputy does not——

Dr. Upton

Most terrorists will not engage in terror by way of the consumption of semtex or other explosives on the grounds that it will take so long to pass through the gastro intestinal tract.

That is not the only reason.

Dr. Upton

This measure is unnecessary and that is why I am opposed to it. On the basis of the best security advice available, there is no reason to include unnecessary provisions in this legislation. It is for that reason I disagree with this proposal and I will oppose it if it goes to a vote.

,Carlow-Kilkenny): As it is now 9.30 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: “That the amendments set down by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to sections 10 and 11, of the Bill and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; and, in respect of each of the sections undisposed of, that the section or, as appropriate, the section, as amended, is hereby agreed to”.

Question put and declared carried.

I wish to resubmit amendment No. 30 on Report Stage.

I wish to resubmit amendments Nos. 33, 34 and 35 on Report Stage.

SECTION 12.

(Dublin West): I move amendment No. 38:

In page 10, subsection (1), line 28, after "explosives" to insert "with the express intention of using the explosives or firearms to cause grievous bodily harm to another person or killing another person".

Section 12 deals with another all-embracing new offence created by the Minister. Section 12 (1) states that a person who instructs or trains another or receives instruction or training in the making or use of firearms and explosives shall be guilty of an offence. While continuing my vehement opposition to all the measures in this section, I am putting down an amendment which adds "with the express intention of using the explosives or firearms to cause grievous bodily harm to another person or killing another person".

The way this debate is being handled bears out the correctness of the protest I made this morning to the Taoiseach about the allocation of time. Not one Deputy from the major Opposition parties supported me. They probably agreed the allocation of time with the Whips. It is absolutely incredible. Members of the leading party of the Opposition have made devastating criticisms of section 8 and have raised serious constitutional issues. Yet, the Bill is being rushed through with the consent of all the main parties. The folly and irresponsibility of it was clear to me and I hope it is clear to more people now, so it will not happen again. Fine Gael is all over the place in relation to the legislation and it clearly needed more time to consider its position.

Let us decide.

(Dublin West): I am going on the evidence before my eyes and no assumptions are necessary to see it.

We are more balanced than Deputy Higgins. He only has a single focus.

(Dublin West): Deputy Shatter stringently and effectively criticised section 8 and its implications. Fine Gael then failed to support the vote against it.

Acting Chairman

I remind the Deputy we are discussing section 12.

(Dublin West): I ask the Minister to listen to me on this occasion. In his provision there is no distinction with regard to the innocent use of firearms, for example, for clay pigeon shooting. The hunting of birds and animals is not a nice activity and I do not approve of it but it is not illegal. A person training someone to be a good clay pigeon shooter is guilty of an offence under section 12(1). My amendment specifies that to train someone with the intention of maiming or killing a person is a serious offence. Why is that not spelt out in the Bill? I hope the Minister can offer a rational explanation.

This is my third attempt to seek an explanation from the Minister on the burden of proof. Perhaps he will be able to give a satisfactory reply on this occasion. It is clear from section 12(1) that a person who simply trains somebody to use a gun for innocent purposes shall be guilty of an offence. Subsection (2) provides that it "shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that the giving or receiving of such instruction or training was done with lawful authority" or for innocent reasons. In other words, the burden of proof is irrevocably shifted.

When a similar point arose with regard to section 8, the Minister said there is still an onus on the prosecution "to prove"; but to prove what? Under section 12(1) it means the onus is on the prosecution to prove that a person instructed another person on how to fire a gun. However, that instruction might be given for lawful reasons. Under another subsection the burden of proof is shifted to the person concerned to prove that the instruction was for lawful purposes.

This legislation is turning on its head the traditional approach to where the burden of proof lies. In two previous attempts the Minister failed to answer this point. I hope that having spelt it out clearly, he will now be able to give an answer. He might also explain the logic of section 12(1). Why does it provide for an all encompassing offence with regard to activities in which 99 per cent of participants are innocent people? Why not provide for a more specific offence, for example, training people in the use of explosives or firearms to assault, intimidate, maim or kill others? Why is the provision so broad?

Members of the Opposition have raised serious questions about this legislation even though they support it. There is an onus on them to demand answers from the Minister in this regard.

It is unexpected and refreshing to find myself in agreement with Deputy Higgins.

(Dublin West): I am sure the Deputy's embarrassment is equal to mine.

I hope he is not too surprised.

He is flattered.

Section 12(1) states baldly that "a person who instructs or trains another or receives instruction or training in the making or use of firearms or explosives shall be guilty of an offence". The section provides for two defences: that the instruction or training or the giving or receiving of it was done with lawful authority or on the basis of a reasonable excuse.

I do not know what type of lawful authority exists in this regard. Leaving aside the exception provided in subsection (4) which relates to the Defences Forces and the Garda Síochána whose members are trained in the use of these items, many other people would be affected by this provision. Some people are trained in the use of explosives for mining, quarrying and demolition work. Many people throughout the country use firearms for legitimate purposes. They possess shotguns for the control of vermin and hunting rifles for hunting and, although some people might not approve of such activities, the weapons are legitimately held.

Anybody would prudently train or arrange training for a young family member who wished to engage in such sports or activities. If a person cannot prove that this was done with lawful authority, or does not have a reasonable excuse for doing so he commits an offence. Can the Minister explain what a lawful authority is for people not included in the assembly referred to in subsection (4)? If I am an ordinary citizen holding a firearm certificate and receiving instruction in the use of a shotgun for legitimate purposes or being trained in the use of explosives for mining or quarrying is there a lawful authority to whom I can turn to sanction my training? I am not aware of one. I know of no official person in our public service or local authorities who is entrusted with giving lawful authority for training in the use of firearms or explosives. If there is I would like the Minister to tell me who it is. The courts would be interested in knowing of this authority if they are to implement this legislation. Judges will have people charged before them under this legislation and they will need to know what the lawful authority is. They will also need to know what constitutes a reasonable excuse. Would it be a reasonable excuse for me to say that I was training with a pistol because I wanted to try out for the Irish team in the European pistol shooting championships? People who use hunting rifles and any of the more specialised firearms already must conform to a number of stringent conditions in order to hold their gun licences. People cannot, without moving heaven and earth buy a rifle of bigger than a certain bore. If they do they must show that they have a safe place to keep the rifle or else keep it in the local Garda station. Such people have legitimate reasons for training in the use of firearms but I do not know if they have lawful authority. Can the Minister explain what he means by lawful authority and what he has in mind when he speaks of a reasonable excuse?

This is another section where specific provision is made for a defence. This involves a clear and unambiguous reversal of the burden of proof. If I am brought before the courts because I have been receiving training in the use of a firearm I will be guilty of an offence. My only defence will be that I had lawful authority or a reasonable excuse. I am not told what lawful authority or a reasonable excuse is. I will have to prove my innocence rather than the prosecution prove my guilt. Will the Minister tell us why the burden of proof has been reversed here as in two other places in the Bill?

I too am perplexed. Section 12(1) states that a "person who instructs or trains another or receives instruction or training in the making or use of firearms or explosives shall be guilty of an offence." Can the Minister tell us why that is? If a person cannot prove lawful authority or give a reasonable excuse but there is no evidence of illegal activity or of connection with an illegal organisation is such a person still liable to be convicted and sentenced to as much as ten years in prison?

This is another section which threatens to discredit the legislation the Minister is trying to enact. It has all the hallmarks of rushed legislation, there is no doubt about that. When one reads it and listens to those who have spoken, clearly the burden of proof is on the accused, which radically turns our legal system back to front. It has a serious danger also of effectively allowing lazy investigation, especially when there is a crisis and a considerable amount of public anger after an atrocity. Proper forensic testing will send somebody who is guilty down.

We have had bad forensic testing in the past and huge miscarriages of justice relating to firearms and explosives. This is where the Minister needs to focus his energy and resources. His own forensic testing unit is severely under-resourced. He would admit that himself and maybe blame the Minster for Finance. Nonetheless, that is where the test will be as to the seriousness of the Government in dealing with offences relating to arms and explosives. This section does nothing except put up a smoke screen whose constitutionality and effectiveness are extremely questionable. There is a serious risk of turning the legal system back to front resulting in gross miscarriages of justice. I ask the Minister to look more closely at the section and come back with commitments on forensic testing, which would ensure some credibility for his intentions.

It appears the language in section 12(1) is not sustainable or defensible. It is totally unqualified; it is not even qualified directly to subsection (2). However, even if it were to be defended in terms of section 12(2), I imagine the Minister would say that lawful authority and reasonable excuse being allowed as a defence will make it possible.

The interesting point made by Deputy Dukes is that the offences in section 12(1) and the lawful authorities are not specified. However, the assumption is that in any case something that is allowable only by having the permission of a lawful authority, or something that has to be defended by offering a reasonable excuse, is entirely abnormal. There is no construction of subsection (2) other than that there is no normal legal use of a firearm in terms of instruction——

Other than in the Army.

——and training and no preparation of explosives other than for the use of demolition sections of local authorities in knocking down a dangerous building. These are not specified in terms of lawful authority. The suggestion is that in such a vacuum they are all offences and the person has to come in with a defence. Are people to argue the existence of the public good to defend themselves? It is absurd. The fact that the provision has a sanction of ten years tagged onto it makes it ludicrous.

I urge the Minister to acknowledge that section 12(1) is unsustainable and to re-examine it before Report Stage.

Section 12 provides for the offence of instructing or training another, or receiving instruction or training in the making or use of firearms and explosives. It is a defence to show that the training or instruction was given or received with lawful authority or reasonable excuse. This amendment would involve having to prove that the training was being given with the express intention of using the explosives or firearms to cause grievous bodily harm to another person, or killing another person. This would mean in practise that the Garda would have to be able to link the training to a specific offence that was going to be committed. Putting it simply, if the Garda found members of an unlawful organisation drilling with firearms on the side of a mountain and someone giving instructions, an offence would not be committed under the section if the amendment were accepted because they would have to prove what offence would be committed as a result of the training. This would completely reduce the effectiveness of this section and I cannot support the amendment.

Members of the House are reading section 12(1) in isolation and not taking into account that, according to subsection (2), it is clearly a defence for a person to show that the instruction or training was done with lawful authority or that he or she had a reasonable excuse. In those circumstances it must be clear that the Director of Public Prosecutions when presented with a file such as this would have to be satisfied that the State was in a position to prove its case against the individual. Clearly if there was the possibility that an individual could prove that what he or she did was done with lawful authority or could produce a reasonable excuse and the Director of Public Prosecutions was satisfied that the possibility was such that he would not be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, there would be no point in the State bringing the case because the case could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If an individual was in a position to prove that the training or instruction was done with lawful authority or that there was a reasonable excuse, that would stand as a defence which clearly would rebut the prosecution in that instance.

If one reads subsection (1) in isolation one could be forgiven for making the case which has been made but I respectfully submit that the case falls because of the presence of subsection (2). For example, section 15 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, provides that:

Save as authorised by a Minister of State under this section, and subject to the exceptions hereinafter mentioned, it shall not be lawful for any assembly of persons to practise or to train or drill themselves in or be trained or drilled in the use of arms or the performance of military exercises, evolutions, or manoeuvres nor for any persons to meet together or assemble for the purpose of so practising or training or drilling or being trained or drilled.

If there was no such authorisation for that, it would obviously be an offence. That subsection (2) is set out in the Bill means that the situation is as I outlined.

(Dublin West): The truth here is that the Minister is utterly perplexed about what he is proposing to the House.

Clearly.

(Dublin West): I do not know who has run away with the Minister on this occasion——

The fairies.

(Dublin West): ——but it is quite clear that in the aftermath of the terrible events at Omagh some people, who are perhaps in his Department and who are over anxious in regard to what they want to put on the Statute Book, have bent the Minister's ear beyond any rational understanding.

Even the short and satisfactory debate we have had points out the idiocy of some of these proposals. It is repressive legislation but some of its proposals are also idiotic and this is perhaps one of the clearest examples of this.

I have been in many courts, including higher courts, at various cases. One thing I have learnt is that when one's counsel stands up to argue, he or she does not argue that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in moving a Bill stated that it should really be taken to mean other than what it says. You would be laughed out of court if you tried that approach. We must deal with the construction of the Act before deciding the outcome. It is incontrovertible that under section 12(1) it is an offence to engage in what is a totally innocent activity. It is written in black and white, one is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if one trains somebody in the use of firearms. Subsection (2) states: "it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence." but one is guilty of an offence under subsection (1). The fact that one might or might not be charged is fortuitous, but this Bill criminalises entirely innocent activity, and that is absolutely idiotic.

It is quite clear why this measure is included. It is included as another catch-all section for corroborative evidence, particularly in regard to membership of an unlawful organisation. A senior officer stating his belief that the accused is a member of an unlawful organisation may require corroboration and give evidence that such person was teaching another person how to shoot clay pigeons. It is part of a general all-encompassing section which is discredited. The Minister has conceded our point; the burden of proof is shifted and he has had to belabour the fact that innocent people will have to rely on section 12(2). He has conceded the point that he has irrevocably shifted the burden of proof onto entirely innocent people. The Minister should accept this amendment or table an amendment which would make this less idiotic.

The Minister, in the course of a careful lengthy reply has failed to explain what is meant by the words "lawful authority" and "reasonable excuse". In that failure, he has admitted that this section is only there for show.

The Minister referred to a case where the Garda would come across a number of members of an organisation on a mountainside drilling with firearms or being trained in the use of firearms or explosives. If the gardaí find a group of people on a mountainside in Wicklow, Connemara or anywhere else — it does not have to be a mountainside — engaged in training in firearms or explosives, what else are they likely to find? If a group of subversives are being trained in the use of a kalashnikov, an automatic pistol, a revolver, semtex, plastic explosives or homemade explosives, one can be sure of a number of things. They will not possess a firearms licence nor will they have a licence for each kalashnikov, automatic pistol or revolver. That being the case they are immediately guilty of an offence under the Firearms Act.

If one finds a group of people being instructed in the use of plastic explosives, semtex or homemade explosives, they will not possess a certificate such as that required when blowing up the cooling tower at Allenwood power station or demolishing a dangerous building. One is obliged to obtain permission from the Garda to do such things. The people in question will not have a certificate of that kind in their possession, particularly if they have home-made explosives comprising a mixture of fertiliser, fuel oil, etc. By virtue of the fact that these people are in possession of semtex, plastic explosives or home-made explosives, they are already committing an offence and there is no need for the provisions contained in the section.

There is no requirement to include subsection (2) in the section. One need not define what is a defence because there is no defence for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm or explosives without an authorisation to use them. There is no need to go to the trouble of reversing the burden of proof in the way it is done in subsection (2) in order to convict people of such offences once there is adequate eyewitness evidence from the gardaí who apprehend those involved in this sort of activity. We do not need the section, the reversal of the burden of proof it contains or the mysterious, inexplicable, unexplained, mumbo jumbo about lawful authority or reasonable excuse. There is no reasonable excuse under the law for having an unlicensed firearm or being in possession of explosives without a permit. The law already caters for what the Minister states needs to be done. We do not need this "cockamamie" section to do that because the activities against which it legislates are already offences in their own right.

This debate has shown that it might not be a bad idea if the Minister, instead of producing garbage of this sort, recognised that there are certain legitimate uses of firearms and explosives and that perhaps we should establish a lawful authority to regulate how people are trained in the use of these dangerous devices. There is no such authority in existence at present and the Minister has failed to explain why that is the case. We do not need to discuss reasonable excuses because there is no reasonable excuse for people to be engaged in paramilitary training on mountainsides or to be taught how to use kalashnikov assault rifles, explosives, etc. The section is not needed and including it in the Bill will place in law an unenforceable and unworkable provision, which is bad.

Earlier today I listened to Deputy O'Malley doing his tough guy act for the Progressive Democrats and sticking out his chest with pride while discussing the 1972 Act, which encountered difficulties while passing through the House. I am familiar with such difficulties because I had trouble putting an extradition Act through the House in 1986 and 1987 due to the opposition of those on the Government benches and Deputy O'Malley who wanted to insert aprima facie provision into the of warrants procedure with the UK. He did not succeed because I stuck to my guns.

On Second Stage, Deputy O'Malley regaled Members with the story of one section of the 1972 Act which he went to great trouble to have passed. In 26 years, the provision of that Act to which the Deputy referred — under which a chief superintendent can obtain a closure order against a building he believes is being used by a subversive organisation — was used on one occasion. I am not a betting man but I would bet my bottom dollar that whatever was achieved by that one use of that provision, which was upheld on appeal in the High Court, could well have been achieved by other means.

We do not need to clutter the Statute Book with unnecessary legislation. We do not need window dressing of the kind contained in section 12 which will enable the Minister to pretend that he is doing the devil and all about this problem in order to assuage a mood of public outrage. We do not need to include in law mechanisms which are so complex and unfathomable as to be utterly unusable. The Minister's explanation of the workings of the section was a model exposition of the futility of this measure. I want the Minister to get the report of what he said during this debate, sit back in tranquility some evening and amuse himself by reading it because it was the most hollow, futile explanation I have heard in 17 years in this House.

For example, one would not be able to make a successful film such as "Saving Private Ryan" without being guilty of an offence and would have to offer as an excuse that people had to be trained in manoeuvres and to use explosives. That is another little footnote on the realms of absurdity to which this subsection can be interpreted.

I am sorry Deputy Dukes had to leave because his argument is as disingenuous as the earlier statement by Deputy Flanagan that I was not giving explanations when he knows I am limited by time and most of the time seems to be taken up by the Opposition, which is its privilege. His argument is disingenuous mainly because neither I nor the Government took this matter lightly. We carefully considered the provisions and it is a disgrace that somebody of the Deputy's experience should insinuate otherwise.

If I were to accept Deputy Higgins's amendment the offence could not be established because it would be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the instruction was taking place to cause grievously bodily harm to or to kill another person. Deputy Michael Higgins appears to agree with Deputy Dukes that the provision with regard to a reasonable excuse is a joke. However, it was a standard provision in criminal legislation long before the foundation of the State. That is how much of a joke that is and now we know where the joke lies. This is no joke.

An individual can have a reasonable excuse. If an individual was being trained, to use Deputy Joe Higgins's example, to clay pigeon shoot, that would constitute a reasonable excuse. If, for example, members of the Army were training other members how to shoot that would constitute lawful authority. Gardaí teaching colleagues how to discharge rifles, etc, would be teaching with lawful authority. However, to suggest that one could not have a situation where there would not be a reasonable excuse or lawful authority, and that this provision is a window dressing exercise is as illogical as it is farcical and nonsensical.

Deputy Dukes stated that there could not be a reasonable excuse for having explosives anyway. Of course, he defeats his argument because if there could not be a reasonable excuse for having explosives then there would be no need for the defence of reasonable excuse because one would be correct on convicting under subsection (1) in the first instance. That is the circuitous, nonsensical argument put forward by the logician, Deputy Dukes.

It has long been the practice in Irish criminal legislation to establish an offence and then go on to outline what the defence might be.

There is something wrong with this provision.

For example, the Firearms Act, 1990 states that it shall be a defence if one can show good reason or lawful authority for having knives, etc., in a public place. This provision has been the law in Northern Ireland for a considerable period and the sky has not fallen in. Deputy Dukes may not be aware that Irish criminal law is similar to British criminal law and that both of our legal systems derive from common law.

I agree with Deputy McManus that something is wrong. I regard Deputy Dukes's argument as disingenuous — he insulted the Government by alleging this legislation was a smokescreen, when it is dealing with a serious problem in a serious fashion. He hardly expects me or any other member of the Government to accept such a sneer on a matter as grave as this. The offence in section 12 of the Bill is a major one and it carries a maximum penalty of ten years' imprisonment and/or a fine. This provision is designed to deal with people involved in instructing or training people in the making or use of firearms or explosives for the purpose of blowing up people or property.

(Dublin West): Why does the Bill not say that?

That is what the Bill is about, when the niceties are dispensed with.

Deputy, please resume your seat and allow the Minister to explain and I will allow you to respond.

Deputy Dukes may regard it as a fanciful notion that people are drilling with firearms or giving instructions on the side of a mountain, but it is not, no more than this provision is.

(Dublin West): The Minister said the purpose of the provision was to make it an offence to give instructions on firearms or explosives for the purpose of blowing people away. Why does section 12(1) not say that, instead of criminalising the nation?

The Minister must accept the good faith of this side of the House. Strong words were said but it is wrong of him to adopt this attitude to the amendment. We all want to get the bombers and killers but this section undermines the Bill. It makes it an offence to train and instruct or to get training and instruction in the making or use of firearms — it does not say "illegal firearms". This means that a person who buys and has a permit for a legal firearm will be less likely to end up in court if he does not learn how to use it — that is the logic behind the section and the Minister cannot simply rubbish that view. We made the point that there is an obligation on the Minister not only to find the guilty and punish them but to protect the innocent. I take it from what he said about the earlier Act that this is already covered in relation to people organising in a military fashion and for illegal purposes. However, the experience has been that almost inevitably the innocent are drawn into this kind of legislation. At some point somebody who is innocent and may be considered suspicious because of the way he or she looks or talks or because he or she cannot express himself or herself well and is not able to give a pat answer may be drawn into this legislation. The gardaí can get it wrong.

I ask the Minister to understand that we are not playing games here. We are taking this seriously despite the fact that we were not given the necessary time to tease out the detail of this Bill and that the Government is insisting on bringing in this Bill in one day for no good reason other than it likes to do it that way. It did that with the legislation on Cabinet confidentiality and the firearms amendment legislation to suit the Italian tourists and it is doing it again now. We sought to extend the time for this debate to provide for proper reflection, but we did not succeed. The Minister has a duty to do his best as regards this Bill. I do not like to hear the type of response he has given in this House to the serious questions that were raised about this section.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá 15; Níl 60.
Amendment declared lost.

Níl

Ahern, Michael.

Lawlor, Liam.

Ahern, Noel.

Lenihan, Brian.

Brady, Johnny.

Lenihan, Conor.

Brennan, Matt.

Martin, Micheál.

Brennan, Séamus.

McDaid, James.

Briscoe, Ben.

McGennis, Marian.

Byrne, Hugh.

McGuinness, John.

Callely, Ivor.

Moffatt, Thomas.

Carey, Pat.

Molloy, Robert.

Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.

Moloney, John.

Coughlan, Mary.

Moynihan, Donal.

Cowen, Brian.

Moynihan, Michael.

Cullen, Martin.

Ó Cuív, Éamon.

Davern, Noel.

O'Dea, Willie.

de Valera, Síle.

O'Donnell, Liz.

Doherty, Seán.

O'Donoghue, John.

Ellis, John.

O'Flynn, Noel.

Fleming, Seán.

O'Hanlon, Rory.

Foley, Denis.

O'Keeffe, Ned.

Fox, Mildred.

O'Malley, Desmond.

Hanafin, Mary.

O'Rourke, Mary.

Haughey, Seán.

Power, Seán.

Healy-Rae, Jackie.

Roche, Dick.

Jacob, Joe.

Ryan, Eoin.

Keaveney, Cecilia.

Smith, Brendan.

Kelleher, Billy.

Smith, Michael.

Kenneally, Brendan.

Wade, Eddie.

Killeen, Tony.

Wallace, Dan.

Kirk, Séamus.

Woods, Michael.

Kitt, Tom.

Wright, G. V.

I propose to bring forward an amendment to section 14 on Report Stage.

I am now required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That in respect of sections 12 to 19, inclusive, of the Bill amendment No. 41 is hereby made to the Bill and that in respect of each of the sections undisposed of the section or, as appropriate, the section as amended, is hereby agreed to and that the Title is hereby agreed to".

Question put and declared carried.