Written Answers. - Public Order.

Richard Bruton

Question:

838 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994, does not specify either the distance or the duration during which a person directed by the Garda must leave the vicinity of a public place; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that this creates difficulty for the Garda in enforcing these provisions as the Act does not appear to confer on them the right to decide on either the expulsion periods or the expulsion distances in relation to disorderly young people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2116/99}

As the Deputy will be aware, section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994, allows the Garda, in prescribed circumstances, to direct a person to either desist from acting in a particular manner and leave immediately the vicinity of the place concerned in a peaceable or orderly manner or both. The Deputy will appreciate that the manner in which this provision is implemented varies depending on the particular nature of the circumstances with which the Garda is confronted. The central consideration is that the person the subject of a direction does not remain a threat to public order of the kind envisaged by the section. I understand that the provision which was extensively debated in the Oireachtas when the legislation was being considered, was drafted on the basis of allowing sufficient flexibility to deal with the wide range of incidents which can arise while at the same time having regard to the rights of individuals.

In any event, the Garda authorities have not indicated that the operation of the provision in question has given rise to any particular difficulties. The provisions of the 1994 Act are used extensively by the Garda and I believe that it is widely accepted that the legislation has proved invaluable to the Garda in dealing with public order issues.