I wish to share my time with Deputy Ring.
Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill 2002: Second Stage (Resumed).
Is that agreed? Agreed.
This is important legislation because, in common with other European countries, we must bring together the best resources available in all countries to deal with inter national terrorism. I come from County Louth where we have seen for many years the hooded and often naked bodies of people who have been murdered by one side or the other and left on the border with our county. Something which therefore strikes a chord with me and, I am sure, everyone in the country is the extent and extremes to which terrorists have gone. I hope they will no longer go to those extremes now that they have engaged with democratic institutions and are welcome in Parliament. How things can change.
It is important that countries deal with and resolve the causes of terrorism, if possible. Since 11 September, our views on terrorism have changed. Before this we thought that terrorists would not indulge in suicide bombing or the awful extreme acts that took place in America on that day. We must be much more alert and committed to dealing with and fighting international terrorism than we ever thought would be necessary. I support the legislation on these grounds.
The definition of a terrorist is an important part of the legislation. People may differ as to that definition. I am not a legal person but we all know what is meant by someone acting politically to kill or take another person's life.
I notice from the legislation that protocols attach to the transportation of nuclear material. The movement of such material in the United Kingdom or on the Irish Sea concerns me. In the absence of a clear military presence escorting these ships on the Irish Sea, they are theoretically under potential threat from terrorism. By introducing legislation in different countries I hope we will have the power, which may be contained in this Bill, to resort to directly questioning other governments as to how they are dealing with this situation if and when it arises. What protocols exist for dealing with this serious issue? It is theoretically possible that a nuclear transport ship passing through the Irish Sea could be seized by terrorists and the Government should ensure there is transparency about what the British Government is doing to protect these. While I acknowledge armed police from the atomic energy police force in the UK are on board these ships, that is not adequate.
There is a real possibility of a dirty bomb or other activities, which can easily be carried out by determined terrorists. Based on information from the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are serious reports about the question of nuclear terrorism and its importance. A report on those dangers has been in the hands of the Government since last November. I requested that report under the Freedom of Information Act, but was refused on the basis that a period of two years must pass before that can be put in the public domain. In his reply the Minister should specifically address the issues about which he can talk, like the threat of terrorist attacks on nuclear transport ships or the threat to Sellafield.
I challenge those on this side of the House who talk about Sellafield on where they stand on the threat of international terrorism. What are their views on the point at which protest changes into terrorism? One of the main concerns I have about international terrorism is the possibility of an attack on Sellafield. From my viewing of that area there does not appear to be any obvious physical military presence. I would welcome such a presence. Would those who are active in the campaign at Shannon Airport, not welcome a real physical military presence at Sellafield? I certainly would. I am opposed to the war in Iraq as such and I support the notion of peaceful protest. However, I am concerned that Sellafield is not adequately protected by a physical military presence on site. That needs to be established immediately.
In addition to a possible terrorist threat on the ground, I am also concerned about a possible aerial threat. What is the Government doing about the fact that the no-fly zone over Sellafield extends only to 2,000 feet? An aircraft fully laden with aviation fuel – as were those used on 11 September 2001 – would arrive right at the heart of Sellafield in milliseconds and the Government is not doing enough to make sure a physical presence exists on site at Sellafield to repel such an attack. I say that in the context of this Bill and the concerns everybody has at the possibility of such an incident.
I am concerned about international terrorism and the issues that arise in the context of the potential war with Iraq. Everybody would agree that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, his agents are also tyrants and they do the most evil and awful things, which would not be tolerated in any democracy. Whatever happens in terms of terrorism and the threat to world peace, if there is a war in Iraq that has the consent of the United Nations – and it must have such consent – I would support such a war. In that context we must think seriously about where we stand as democrats on the issue of Iraq, the mandate of the United Nations and the mandate of democracy as a whole.
I welcome this legislation. We must be firm and tough on terrorism. This legislation helps us to do that. We cannot ever afford to be ambiguous about this issue and we must root it out wherever it is, particularly in the context of the new threats from international terrorism. I fully support this legislation but I would like to see more effective action from the Government in dealing with the potential threats to our nation from Sellafield and from the transport of nuclear materials.
Like the previous speaker, I too support this legislation. The events of 11 September 2001 probably changed the world and people now have a different attitude to terrorists. America and Iraq are on the eve of war. Any right-minded person would say Saddam Hussein is probably one of the most evil people in the world. It is sad the American people, army and Government cannot deal with him and the people that support him and keep him in power. It is a pity that the innocent people in Iraq will pay the price and are already doing so. Their sons and daughters will be the ones to die and Saddam will be the last one they will get – they failed the last time. I hope there will be no war and he can be dethroned by the people of Iraq rising up and taking him out.
This legislation does not mention negotiating with terrorists or criminals. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, introduced this Bill to the Dáil yesterday. Along with everybody in the country, I was disappointed at the events of last week where two young people were kidnapped. People were defying the State and the Garda Síochána and worrying the people in Limerick and the rest of the country. A Minister who sits on the opposite side wanted to negotiate with these people. What kind of message is sent out to our young people, to the terrorists and to Europe when a democratically elected representative of this House and Government Minister was prepared to negotiate with people who I believe to be terrorists? They are creating fear by defying the law and order in this country and I was outraged. I was in Limerick over the weekend and the people there were outraged as are the people throughout the country. There should be no dealing with terrorists.
I support this legislation because I believe in law and order. I believe that law and order in this country has broken down. We used to listen to the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, the great zero tolerance man. He has now gone to the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and that is a better place for him. That is called the ministry for fun and frolics. He certainly did nothing for law and order in this country. His record speaks for itself. He might have been good at bringing legislation through the House, but legislation is only useful if the resources of the State are then given. Considering what has happened at Shannon, I am surprised that the Garda Commissioner, Mr. Byrne, has not resigned today. This is not because he is not doing a good job, but because the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform failed to give him the resources to protect Shannon Airport. Is it not a sad reflection on this country that we received such bad publicity?
People have a right to protest. Students and building workers, who protested outside the House today, have every right to do so, as do the protesters in Shannon. However, the latter do not have the right to damage public property or take on the State, which is what they have done. We are sending out a message to the world that our Army is being deployed to protect a small airport. There was no need to send the Army to Shannon Airport. With the necessary resources and support, the Garda Síochána would be well able to protect the airport. They have not been given either.
I question the Minister's decision not to chastise the Minister of State in his Department, Deputy O'Dea. I also ask the reason the Garda Commissioner did not ask the Minister for the resources needed to protect the State last week. He should have informed the Minister that he did not have adequate resources in Limerick or at Shannon Airport and warned him he would be forced to take the honourable course of action if such resources were not provided.
There is no point introducing legislation on terrorism. We have no shortage of legislation and more is emanating from Europe. As a supporter of law and order, I believe in the aims of this legislation. Terrorists must be targeted and taken out. We see people here driving Mercedes cars and collecting social welfare every Thursday who have no visible means. The State should be investigating the sources of this money and whether the people in question are involved in drugs, gun running or other criminal activities. If that is found to be the case, they should be targeted by the CAB and the full resources of the State.
We need to be careful in how we define a terrorist. The students protesting outside today are not terrorists, but young people concerned about the future. We do not want the legislation to be abused in such a way that innocent people are targeted. This will not happen. I compliment all our previous Ministers for Justice on how they approached terrorist attacks and bombings here. This House united when there was an attack, regardless of its origins.
There are still some people who do not believe in the peace process. They should be investigated by the CAB and other agencies to ascertain the extent of their resources and money, whether they are obeying the laws of the land or are involved in criminal activity and taken out. The Government would have my full support in this.
I extend my sympathy to the American people following the events in Texas last week when the space shuttle was lost. The world has become a more dangerous place since 11 September 2001 when 20 to 25 people were able to take over aeroplanes and kill thousands of people. They had few weapons and no big guns, tanks or bombs, but they planned the attacks well and created havoc in America and the world. It is very difficult to deal with a terrorist with a bomb in a suitcase who wants to place it on O'Connell Street or a London street and walk away. The resources of the State should be used to target such people and put them out of business. The Government of the day and its agencies, namely, the police force, should have legislation available to them which would allow them to approach the courts if they have information that a person is involved in terrorist activity and plans to attack Britain, America or this country.
We need to be careful as there are two kinds of terrorist. Terrorists are not motivated to any great extent by political beliefs. Rather, they believe in pounds, shillings and pence. We see this in Northern Ireland and in this city. Drugs and control of taxis and finance are what is at stake. If they get in each other's way, they shoot each other for the sake of control. They must be dealt with, regardless of whether they are Unionists or Nationalists.
We must stop the daily carnage in this city where people enter pubs, ask patrons to step aside and shoot their victims. The message sent out from this House and this country last week, which was not taken up by the media because the Minister of State in question, Deputy O'Dea, is a media darling and journalist – a half journalist, half politician, if either – should have been condemned by the Taoiseach, a man who never condemns anything, and the Minister, another media darling. We have listened to his promise yet he is doing very little, which is reminiscent of the Fianna Fáil Party slogan, "A Lot Done, More to Do". People expect and await action.
There is another group in society which should be included in the definition of terrorists, namely, joyriders. Joyriding is not the appropriate description of the events on the night the family of Garda Padden, a constituent of mine, was notified of his death. He was killed by terrorists, which is what joyriders are and they should be treated as such. Law and order is breaking down and if the State cannot deal with that problem, how will it deal with outsiders who wish to enter the country and attack it or use it as a base for supporting Iraq?
The Deputy's time is concluded.
I support the Bill on the basis that I believe in law and order and on condition that the right people are targeted.
I welcome the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill 2002 and commend the Minister for introducing it. His detailed contribution will have allayed many fears and explained the background to the Bill and the thinking behind its various provisions. I was struck in his introduction by the six instances of terrorism which have occurred in the brief 17 month or 18 month period since 11 September. Many of us would have had difficulty in listing or recollecting these actions. The Bali bombing is one which quickly comes to mind, but there were others. Fortunately, one was thwarted by the apprehension of the shoe bomber, who has now been tried and found guilty. This list amounts to a significant number of international terrorist acts in a very short period.
We should be encouraged by the success in apprehending the shoe bomber, as it proves that effective action can be taken against terrorism and that it is sometimes possible to prevent such outrages. On occasion, we are guilty of throwing up our hands in horror and half believing nothing can be done, which is not an option. I am glad the legislation brings action and clarity and I hope it will be acted on at international level.
I welcome the fact that there is an element of European Union input in the legislation. I am not one of those who believe that the EU should be kept in the background. It has a positive role to play in international affairs and we have a substantial role to play in the European Union and the United Nations. We are sometimes guilty of overlooking the potential role we can play in Europe and the potential role the EU can play in the context of international terrorism and foreign affairs in general. I welcome the fact that there is at least some input from the European Union in this instance.
Many people here would say the murder of Veronica Guerin was a turning point in that a great deal of legislation was passed and bodies set up which had an immediate and dramatic impact on the level of crime here. People tend to say the same is true of the events of 11 September but apart from anything else, the six examples the Minister gave of major international terrorist acts in the interim period gives the lie to that assertion. While 11 September begets this legislation, most people would accept that very little progress has been made against international terrorism in recent years, and even less before that.
I risk sharing Deputy Costello's concerns regarding some of the definitions in the Bill. I might come from a slightly different perspective in terms of some of them, but it appears that because of the origin of the legislation, a number of the definitions appear to be entirely untrained in the legal area and sit poorly with the Irish law with which I am familiar. I anticipate difficulty down the line in interpreting some of these legislative measures should we ever be faced with the unfortunate situation where they are tested in a courtroom. If that were so, it would be a considerable weakness in the legislation.
I must differ with Deputy Costello in relation to Shannon. He may have given the impression that he thought it was in Limerick, which it is not. To be fair, he did not quite say that but it came in the same context—
The context of proximity. It would be impossible to deal with these legislative measures this week without referring to the acts of criminal damage on the US airline and on personnel defending it.
Like most Members, I welcome the exclusion from the offences schedule of those seeking change in society and engaging in legitimate protests. That has to be the case but I would not like that exclusion to become a safeguard or an escape route for those who would engage in criminal activity, whether against property or individuals, under cover of such protests. That is not acceptable. Those of us who are elected in a democracy have an obligation and a duty to make clear our opposition to such acts of violence. I am disap pointed that some people in this House were not prepared to do that. Like virtually everybody here, I have engaged in protests on numerous occasions over the years. I remember engaging in a protest similar to the one outside the gate today, although it was some time ago. I also remember protesting on the streets of Limerick after Bloody Sunday and engaging in many other protests to do with local issues. It is hugely important that citizens in a democracy should have that right and that that right be defended but I would not make it a right without limits or one which makes every activity acceptable. In particular I have in mind some of the actions in Shannon during the week. It is fair to say in that context that the effects of the protest in Shannon have been far-reaching economically, but that is an issue for a different debate. It is well to bear in mind, however, that World Airways is an important customer in the airport and it is ironic that it has chosen to transfer its business to Frankfurt. We would be of the view here that Germany is strongly opposed to the war, yet that is where the business has gone.
There are a number of exclusions, or non-inclusions, in the definitions in section 6 in particular and also in sections 10 and 11. Section 6 lists a number of actions, individuals and so on and one of those refers to acts committed on an aircraft registered in the State. I am aware that arises from international and European legislation to some extent, but the legislation would be more far-reaching and encompassing if it included, for example, airlines which began their journeys in the State or were intended to arrive in the State. One would hope they would arrive safely but when a plane came down over Scotland, legal complications arose in terms of pursuing those who were believed to be responsible for causing that crash. It would be a pity if what is far-reaching legislation were to have exceptions such as that. It is stated further on in the Bill that we will be required to take jurisdiction where a request for extradition is made and refused. One would tend to assume that in these instances a request for extradition would be made and either granted or refused. Circumstances might arise where such requests would not be made and if that were the case, it would be a pity to leave open such a loophole. I welcome section 6(5) in particular but these lists also arise in sections 10 and 11. I suspect they have been included because of a need for conformity and uniformity with the other jurisdictions but it would be a pity if people were able to avail of the exclusions.
Many of the issues that arise from 11 September are within the remit of the United Nations and the Security Council passed Resolutions 1368 and 1441 with which we are very familiar. Security Council Resolution 1373 which requires states to take a range of measures to combat the financing of terrorism, provides for freezing funds and seizure of financial assets and mirrors the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996. That is a substantial step forward because one of the main difficulties has been to find the means to address the financing of some of these organisations.
The Bill is very important in providing this State with a body of law to deal with international terrorism. I sincerely hope other countries are sufficiently on board to make sure that it works. There is considerable evidence of close links between drug traffickers and terrorist groups, both on this island and internationally. Section 32 makes certain requirements of the banks and financial institutions.
I note that the provisions of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act will be applied to terrorist financing under this measure but I am concerned there has been limited success in this jurisdiction arising from the 1994 Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 in that it appears to be possible for many of these people, usually gentlemen, to hide out in not too distant places such as Spain or Holland and keep the proceeds of their crimes. That is not easy to do in this country but they appear to be able to transfer them to those countries successfully. This Bill does not provide specifically for that but I would welcome a move on the international front which would facilitate more active dealings with drug traffickers and crime bosses on an international stage.
I welcome the Bill which arises against the backdrop of a series of major terrorist offences as outlined by the Minister in his contribution on Second Stage. It also arises from the European Union Council framework decision taken on 13 June 2002, and that framework decision is exhibited as part of the Bill.
The Bill correctly seeks to do two things. First, it is incorporating a series of conventions dealing with terrorism into Irish law. These include the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
There are many provisions in the Bill which give powers to the authorities similar to those of the Criminal Assets Bureau to freeze and seize funds and so on. Those provisions are welcome but the Bill does something else which is also important. It seeks to define acts of terrorism and terrorism as a new crime in itself. The language in the Bill mirrors the language of the framework decision in large part but it then goes a little further, unfortunately. The framework decision includes a specific list of acts, from (a) to (i), which are enumerated as terrorist acts. In our transposing legislation there is a list of offences under Irish law in the Schedule which, combined with the political element, are made into terrorist acts. I have taken the advice of the legal adviser to the Oireachtas and, as I understand it, some of the acts perpetrated at Shannon – attacking an aeroplane, for example – would be defined as terrorist acts under this Bill. That is a mistake.
That is the danger.
That is a mistake because we all condemn the attacks on aircraft at Shannon, as we condemn any acts of violence, but we would not describe those as acts of terrorism. The danger is that if one describes something like that as an act of terrorism, when a real act of terrorism occurs one has devalued the language regarding terrorism. I took the trouble of looking up the definition of terrorism in the Oxford Dictionary, which states: "The systematic employment of violence and intimidation to coerce a Government or community." A terrorist is defined as: "Someone who uses and favours violent and intimidating methods of coercing a Government or community." I found the acts at Shannon quite repulsive but I was equally shocked by the fact that Deputies Sargent and Gormley condoned those acts, which was absolutely disgraceful. However, those acts were not acts of terrorism. I read the Minister's Second Stage speech carefully and he appeared open to the possible amending and tightening of this definition on Committee Stage.
Apart from that this is a good Bill. The correct Acts are listed in the Schedule but if one goes through the definition section, section 6, it could in certain circumstances have the effect of designating a non-terrorist engaged in perhaps minor destruction of property as engaged in a terrorist act. For example, section 2 of the Criminal Damage Act 1991 is mentioned in the Second Schedule. It states:
A person who without lawful excuse damages any property belonging to another, intending any damage to any such property or being reckless as to where any such property would be damaged shall be guilty of an offence.
I note what the Minister is trying to do but by changing the language and structure of the framework document somewhat by trying to define this, he has made the definition too wide. One cannot fully define an act of terrorism. One will not find any definition that will take into account each and every act. The framework decision gave a list of examples of that kind of behaviour and deciding whether or not someone has committed an act of terrorism is going to have to be a matter for judicial decision. It will be impossible for us as legislators to create a definition of terrorism. There will have to be guidelines and parameters in legislation and it will then be a matter for judicial decision in each case. Subject to that health warning, I warmly welcome the Bill. It is well-structured by and large but the definition section is simply too wide. Dealing with terrorism one must always balance the need for human rights, liberty and freedom of expression with the freedom of the State. If the definition is too wide it will have the effect of letting real terrorists off the hook when they commit atrocities.
No Member has more respect for law and order than me. Law and order is a matter of social justice, not something for reactionaries. I do not believe in the "hang 'em and flog 'em" brigade. Law and order is a matter of social justice because if we do not have law and order those who suffer most are the most vulnerable – the elderly, women who cannot walk home at night and children who cannot be sent to the corner shop because they would have to run a gauntlet of those who want to attack them. Young men in particular are also suffering from street violence.
I am strong on law and order but I am concerned that year after year we are passing laws and we seem to have all law and no order. Every time something happens those enforcing the law and others come looking for more powers. We are giving them more and more powers but care needs to be taken in the Oireachtas that we do not upset the fine balance between civil liberty and the need to contain threats to law and order. If we looked at the list of laws we have passed in the last ten years we would find that some of them have been draconian but no matter how strong the law is, it seems order does not prevail. We are told nothing can be done about people loitering on the street yet the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act was specifically passed to deal with that. This Bill should be monitored carefully. When replying to the debate the Minister should tell the House how many criminal justice Bills we have passed in the last ten years, as it is quite a number.
It is possible for the Garda, without reference to anyone, to go to the telephone company and get details of calls made by our citizens with no court order. We ensure great protection of our citizens by providing a very tight procedure, overseen by a High Court judge, before allowing telephones to be tapped. However, if anyone wants to know who the journalists covering these proceedings have spoken to then one only needs a friendly garda to go into the telephone company and say he or she is investigating some matter. He can then get access to one's telephone account.
The numbers dialled and calls received will be available without the telephone user ever knowing, without the supervision of any judge and without a warrant or any other form of accountability. That is an extraordinary power for a garda to have. There should be supervision of that power, it should be overseen in the same way and by the same judge as would be the case with phone tapping. There are dangers inherent in this. I have no evidence but I suspect very strongly that this area has been abused. We all know when people are given powers without accountability, those powers can be used in a way that was never intended.
The contents of this Bill run to the heart of some of the considerations of the Convention on the Future of Europe. The Acting Chairman and others have reported to the Committee on European Affairs on the detailed work of the convention, and I pay tribute to him and his colleagues for the amount of time he is putting into that work. The EU committee chaired by Commissioner Barnier has recommended improved, structured co-operation to combat terrorism and recommends such co-operation should have full treaty effect. A proposal will be put to the convention for further debate of the matter and will work its way into the Intergovernmental Conference and the resultant treaty.
If we are serious about combating terrorism, are we right to confine ourselves to only non-state terrorism? The Barnier document appears at first reading to address itself to terrorism by any entity other than a state. Does that go far enough in this day and age? There are rogue states that sponsor terrorism.
We are the least defended and, therefore, the least secure state in Europe. This worries me and the House must turn its attention to that fact. Recently an Irish registered Ryanair flight was to take off from Stockholm and there was an attempt to hijack it. The would-be hijacker was arrested, however, and the flight was able to proceed. If that flight had been hijacked on its way to Britain, I presume the hijacking would not have taken place until the plane was about to descend. It could then have been diverted into Irish airspace or via Irish airspace into Sellafield with all the resultant implications for us. If we had two hours notice of that, we would not have the capacity to deal with it, or any similar act of terrorism. All this talk of legislation is no good on its own unless we have some way to deal with acts of terrorism on a grand scale.
Unlike other neutral countries in the EU, we have not equipped the Defence Forces to provide security and we are not members of any alliance, unlike Northern Ireland which has been a member of NATO since 1949. I am deeply concerned about this. It is an issue the Government and the House should address in a proactive manner. Legislation on its own is useless because we are wide open to attack and everyone knows it. If anyone wanted to retaliate for the use of Shannon Airport there is very little the State could do about it. We cannot have it both ways, we should either join an alliance or equip the Defence Forces with the means necessary to defend and secure the State against terrorism, which legislation on its own cannot do.
My preferred choice would be to take the Barnier document, which hints at a little more because it uses the word "armed" in the relevant clause and hints at more than non-state terrorism, and proposes that the European Union should evolve into a defence alliance. If that happens, the automatic Western European Union requirement of one state to come to the defence of another could be incorporated into a new treaty as a protocol rather than a full treaty provision, thereby allowing those member states that wish to do so not to opt in automatically but on a case by case basis.
That will not come about unless we seek to bring it about. Most of the other non-neutral member states have plenty of cover through NATO and are in no hurry to bring about a European common defence. We should be in a hurry to do it. I raised the issue as a member of the reflection group when we were preparing the Amsterdam treaty. At the time there was resistance. Portugal said it was the most pro-NATO member of the EU and did not want to know about anything else. The Danes had a similar view while the Germans and Italians were indifferent. After a number of readings, however, they came around and were prepared to consider this approach. If we want a European defence and security architecture that suits our needs, we must be one of the architects. We are keeping our heads down and reacting to the proposals of others.
The proposals of the convention to deal with terrorism do not go far enough. Legislation will not give us the cover we require. I would welcome the opportunity to have a broader debate, including on the issue of neutrality, if the House wishes. It might be extraneous in terms of this Bill, but we are missing an opportunity to address the question of both state and non-state terrorism. What is an act of war or aggression but state terrorism? We must be mature and debate these issues.
In times past, we could not criticise the sacred cows of the Catholic Church and the GAA. Now they are kicked in the groin at every opportunity. There are similar issues which we still cannot maturely discuss. We cannot discuss security and defence issues in this House. NATO is bandied around like a dirty four letter word, with no respect for the fact that our neighbours in Northern Ireland have been members since 1949. The people who live in Strabane are no less moral than those living in Lifford but the people living in Strabane have much greater provision for their long-term security and defence.
I am worried for my children because we have left them vulnerable and no law will deal with that. This is all law and no order. The first duty of the Government and of Parliament is to provide for the security of the citizens of the State and we are failing to do so. We are making the rules without providing for the means to implement those rules and that is folly. It is folly to pass one such Bill after another without making the necessary provisions to secure the security of the State and to ensure that the laws we enact can be passed.
Now that the Human Rights Commission has been set up in the Republic under the chairmanship of former Senator, Maurice Manning, which was an inspired and generous choice by the Government given that he was a Fine Gael Senator, this type of legislation should be monitored by that body. We should not await its judgment, but require it to monitor such legislation and to report to the relevant committee of the Dáil and Seanad at least annually on the workings of this legislation to see if it is effective, if it needs to be strengthened or if its provisions are being misused or abused. We should ensure that adequate facilities are built into the legislation to ensure examination and independent assessments and reports to the Oireachtas.
I wish to share my time with Deputies Boyle and Harkin.
Is that agreed? Agreed.
I would be surprised if the people of Strabane concurred with Deputy Gay Mitchell's view of their security arrangements.
The Sinn Féin Deputies will oppose this Bill. We regard many of its measures as totally incompatible with civil rights, particularly the right to protest peacefully, about which we have spoken at length in the House recently, and to engage in civil disobedience in pursuit of political beliefs. The Bill widens the definition of terrorism to include a range of offences under a raft of legislation. The definition of terrorist activity in section 4 includes an act committed with the intention of "unduly compelling a government or an international organisation to perform or abstain from performing an act". I wonder about that definition of terrorism. It could be argued that every patriot who fought for Irish freedom and who resisted British rule by peaceful means or in arms was engaged in terrorist activity. The use of the term "terror", as we recall, goes back in Ireland to the 1920s when it was most applied to British state forces, that is, the Black and Tans and subsequently the Auxiliaries. Yet under this Bill the actions of state forces are effectively excluded from the definition of terrorist activity.
The campaign of the civil rights movement in the North of Ireland in the 1960s was terrorist activity under the definition offered, as were a range of offences which courts in this jurisdiction deemed political during the 1970s and 1980s and, as a result, refused to extradite many people to the Six Counties or to Britain. Under this Bill the last remaining vestiges of the already much diminished political exception in extradition cases will be removed. Let us also look at the global situation and not only the historical one in Ireland. If this legislation had been in force at the time of apartheid in South Africa or British rule in India, the State would have had to extradite Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi if the circumstances had arisen.
The Government is in breach of its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement in pursuing this legislation. In that Agreement the Government committed itself to undertake a wide-ranging review of the Offences Against the State Acts. A review was carried out, but it was not wide-ranging. There was minimal public consultation and there was not any public hearing. There has not been an Oireachtas debate on the report, which was strikingly conservative. That should not surprise us, particularly when one recalls that the majority of the review committee could not bring themselves to recommend that the power to intern without trial should be repealed. Many of the sound arguments against the Offences Against the State Acts and, by extension, against this Bill which reinforces those Acts, will be found in the dissenting minority report of that committee, which is important and should be essential reading for all Deputies in determining their stance on this proposed legislation. Instead of strengthening civil rights, as promised under the Good Friday Agreement, this Bill undermines them.
One year ago Human Rights Watch warned that legislative measures introduced post 11 September were threatening long held human rights principles and "inspiring opportunistic attacks on civil liberties". Amnesty International has also expressed deep concern that national security has become the predominant concern of Governments at the expense of human rights. Amnesty International has urged all states to ensure that any measures are in compliance with human rights obligations. Both organisations have criticised the evolving United Nations comprehensive treaty on international terrorism on the grounds that it could do serious damage to human rights protection by undermining freedom of expression, the laws of war and refugee protections and by creating a loophole which allows the military to commit acts of terrorism in peace time.
Human Rights Watch has criticised the EU definition of terrorism as being overly broad and as threatening freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. Let the record reflect that Sinn Féin shares those concerns and I hope that is reflected by many Deputies in the House. The House is now being required by European framework directive or decision to jump on what I can only regard as a regressive bandwagon to roll back on liberties which Republicans and others have fought and died for since the 18th century. For that reason, the matter before the House today could not be more grave.
The Government is rushing this Bill because it knows it will not withstand close public scrutiny. It is important that there is public scrutiny of what is being proposed. Sinn Féin has many problems with many aspects of the Bill. Unfortunately, time prevents me from listing them all so I will focus my remarks on the core of the Bill, which is also the core of our objectives, namely, Part 2, sections 4 to 6. Part 2 seeks to establish a common definition of terrorist offences to be adopted for the purpose of harmonising prosecutions within the European Union. Yet successive international resolutions, conventions and protocols on terrorism have failed to define it since the League of Nations first attempted to do so as far back as 1937, the year of our Constitution. Even today there is not any internationally accepted definition. There is a good reason for that. It is because the definition is generally subjective and politically loaded. Even the Minister must acknowledge that.
It is like an elephant. One knows it when one sees it, but it is difficult to define.
We should not define it and we should be careful in proceeding. The UN policy working group on terrorism has cautioned that labelling political opponents or adversaries as terrorists – I have heard it said once or twice in my political years – is "a time tested technique to delegitimise and demonise them". The predecessors of every party in this House, with the possible exception of the Progressive Democrats and the Green Party, were so labelled by the British Government. However, I have noticed in this House in recent days that the Government is seeking to so label the Green Party.
As regards the definition conundrum, most experts, including the UN working group, agree that targeting civilians, whether randomly or selectively, for the purpose of generating fear are the two essential elements which separate terrorism from other forms of political violence. The mere facts of political objectives, violent action or destruction of property are not sufficient for the purposes of the definition. However, the definition in both the EU framework directive and the Bill sets the threshold dangerously low. In section 4 of the Bill a terrorist act is merely "an act as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 2, undertaken with intent to compel a government or international organisation". There is no requirement for such an action to be violent, target civilians or seek to instil fear, yet the attempt to persuade or pressure a government to perform or abstain from performing an act is what political protest is all about. We have seen this demonstrated today on the streets outside Leinster House in the legitimate protest by the Union of Students in Ireland seeking to do exactly what the Bill could actually prohibit. This is at the very core of what is wrong in the Bill. It threatens the fundamental right of peaceful protest within a democracy to persuade or dissuade.
I doubt if the students terrorised the Minister for Education and Science.
I hope they did. To compound the definitional difficulties created in sections 4 and 5 of the Bill, section 6 reverses the burden of proof, allowing for a presumption of guilt in relation to intent and putting the onus on the defendant. Since intent is the substance of the offence and the rationale for the increased penalties attached under section 7, defendants will be guilty of terrorism under the Bill unless they can prove otherwise. Undoubtedly, it is such provisions that have caused human rights and civil liberties groups to sound the alarm.
I had intended to make some further points but, in deference to other speakers, I will conclude by reiterating my dissent.
The times in which we live have made the very word "terrorism" a trigger of fear and oppression. The need to legislate properly for the risks posed by terrorist activities is not doubted. The several international conventions which we seek to combine in this Bill undoubtedly need an Irish legislative response. However, in speaking of terrorism in its wider sense, I caution against narrowly defining terrorism. The atrocities listed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in opening this debate are undoubtedly terrorist activities by secretive organisations intent on undermining societies, governments and ways of life. Those organisations are peopled at the higher echelons by persons intent on undermining, through evil means, much of what we hold dear in this world. However, their ability to attract and recruit into their organisations is born out of the type of economic and social injustice which exists throughout the world. It is to be expected that, in formulating a Government response to terrorism, we should use whatever influence we have, as a small nation, to speak also of a decommissioning of hearts and minds and the situations from which terrorism is created.
Ultimately, any recourse to violence in whatever form – I wish to be quite categorical – whether it is an act resulting in damage to property or injury and loss of human life, is an admission of defeat by those who carry out such activities. However misguided or misinformed, it is born out of circumstances caused sometimes by frustration but always by failure to follow the right approach to secure political solutions and the betterment of society. I am concerned about the very narrow focus of the Bill because it compromises civil liberties in a number of ways, thereby admitting defeat by those who undertake terrorist activities in society. When we restrict our freedom to congregate, assemble and speak out as we see fit, we have already lost the battle in a war concerning the type of society and democracy we seek to have.
The wider debate on terrorism also has to address the very real threat of state terrorism where it exists and helps to foster the obscene and evil form of terrorism to which the Minister referred so eloquently. In the international climate in which this debate takes place there is no doubt that Mr. Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party constitute a terrorist regime which denies proper freedom of expression to its people and, when considered necessary, has killed and oppressed many of them. We need to consider whether the best way of dealing with such a tyrannical regime is to engage in the practice of terrorism. Like many Irish people, I fear there is a headlong rush to the use of the weapons of war and terrorism to bring about a desired end. Morally, I do not see any distinction between a car bomb in Enniskillen and a cruise missile in Basra if the intent is to kill innocent people to bring about a desired political end. We must be consistent in those principles if we believe in true democracy and the moral basis for it. The debate on the Bill needs to take account of the fact that terrorism is narrowly defined.
In relation to the EU framework directive, my party believes it is as much inspired by the widespread protests against the WTO and G8 in places such as Genoa and Gothenburg as by the real revulsion arising from the events of 11 September 2001. We should avoid that impulse in formulating and enacting the Bill.
When I started to read this Bill, I approached it with an open mind, being reasonably content that Ireland was making its contribution to the fight against international terrorism. However, when I had finished reading it, I was left with a vague sense of unease, although I understand the need for the legislation and support the overall thrust of the action being taken. The Bill is a reaction to the events of 11 September 2001 and it is critically important to ensure we get it right.
Why do I feel a sense of unease? In broad terms, it is very important not to devalue very necessary anti-terrorism legislation by broadening it to the point that it becomes questionable. There is always a certain tension between the need for measures and legislation to destroy terrorist networks and their sources of funding while, at the same time, protecting individual freedoms from the all-powerful arm of the state.
The introduction to the Bill states its purpose as to give effect to the framework decision in combating terrorism adopted by the EU Council on 13 June 2002. The framework decision is binding on Ireland as to the result to be achieved but the form and methods we use to achieve this result are at our own discretion. We have the freedom, therefore, to frame the Bill in such a way as to reflect our own values.
On section 4, which deals with the definition of terrorist activity and terrorist linked activity, I have just one or two observations. Part of the definition of terrorist activity is "an offence committed with the intent of unduly compelling a government or international organisation to perform, or abstain from performing, any act". Do we have a list of these international organisations? Who or what are we speaking about? It is important that the legislation would be more specific.
Also in this section, terrorist activity is further defined as seriously destabilising the economic structures of a state or international organisation. It seems to me that the legislation is not only about protecting people's lives and protecting states from serious destabilisation, but also encompasses economic losses to states or international organisations.
Furthermore the explanatory memorandum states that section 6(6) provides for certain specified circumstances which a court may take into account. These are whether the act caused or was likely to result in major economic loss. Could an attack on a US military plane at Shannon, resulting in damage of €0.5 million or €1 million, come under this category? I heard Deputy Mulcahy refer to this earlier. While I do not approve of the actions at Shannon, at the same time I do not consider them terrorist offences. Would this legislation make it such?
This is a major part of my unease with this broad legislation. It includes not only governments and international organisations, but also internationally protected persons. For example, it rightly includes their person and their liberty, but could it possibly include a custard pie flung into the face of the ambassador of Iraq or UK—
Or of the Taoiseach.
—by a group of students? It also talks about the property of internationally protected persons. In my opinion, that is probably stretching the elastic too far.
The Second Schedule lists offences for purposes of definitions of terrorist activity and terrorist-linked activity. It rightly lists murder, manslaughter and rape but, under 2(f), it lists endangering traffic. While I did not drive a tractor two weeks ago, I certainly recall being involved in cheering the farmers tractorcade and supporting their cause. How far are we going with this legislation? Surely that cannot be defined as terrorist activity.
I note there is no mention of state terrorism or terrorism promoted by states. I have no problem with the section on hostage-taking and the section which seeks to suppress the financing of terrorism, but what about the arms dealers and the democratic countries who sell arms to different regimes and who profit from these transactions? Prior to the invasion of Kuwait many Western democracies supplied arms to Saddam Hussein and he oppressed his own people with these arms, but once he invaded Kuwait we changed our tune – he is now a terrorist and a dictator. I agree he is, but he was before the invasion of Kuwait. Legislation serious about defeating terrorism, which I believe is necessary, must look at all the parties involved.
I wish to share my time with Deputy Naughten.
There are many aspects of this Bill with which I agree. We have no shortage of terror or terrorist associated offences in this country. This is the first opportunity I have had to address the House in the presence of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. He will have to get his act together much more quickly. The events in Limerick and at Shannon Airport, as portrayed throughout the world, are a disgrace to this country. If the Government of which he is a member cannot rise to occasions like that, he will set an image for this country that we certainly do not want. I do not know into what category one would put a protester with a hatchet who did the sort of damage that woman did to an aircraft, irrespective of who owned it, but it would fall into some category, either at the higher or lower end of the scale. After all the talk, what makes the case much more difficult to understand for the ordinary punter in Ireland is how a person could get onto the tarmac to do that damage in Shannon. There were several other instances since which were brought up in the Dáil today.
If we talk about security, surely it is the confidence that our people have in the system which is all important. This is not the first time this has happened. There were breakdowns long before Deputy McDowell got the job. Given the level of interest in this matter at this particular time, however, it was outrageous conduct by both the Minister and the Government that they were not able to foresee that this was likely to happen.
It is true that since 11 September we see the issue of terrorism in a different light. The world has become more violent. I now see the issue on the basis that there are terrorists all over the world who are prepared to do anything. They are prepared to commit acts which we could not even contemplate five years ago. That being the case, the forces of law and order everywhere will have to come together in a network in a way which minimises the risk because what happens in one nation today can easily happen in another tomorrow.
I support this legislation in so far as it is our involvement with that great overall jigsaw which is tasked with the prevention of terrorism world-wide and at European level. There is a case for nuances as regards how far to go, etc., but I am surprised at the number of Deputies who find great problems with what is being proposed.
I realise there will always be a need for checks and balances. That is extremely important in a democracy like ours. However, sometimes when I hear about civil liberties, I ask the following questions. What civil liberties had the people who went to work that terrible day of 11 September? What civil liberties have the victims of hijackings which disrupt flights on which people go about their normal duties around the world? For instance, what civil liberties have people who are on a plane blown up in mid-air or who are held hostage by gangsters like those involved in the Moscow theatre debacle?
There has been a rise in the level of violence, the level of deviousness and cunning and the level of organisation of these activities. If the forces of law and order are not in step with or ahead of those organisations, obviously we will be submerged. It is against that background that I give the benefit of the doubt to the Minister as to what he is trying to do.
There are a number of matters which have arisen which are connected, albeit loosely, with this Bill, which is a cornerstone. I have heard a large number of people, in the past week or two in particular, raise question marks over the ability of the United Nations to fulfil its responsibilities. When the United Nations decides on a certain course of action in a given situation, because of the democracies involved and because of the democratic nature of the United Nations and the objectives and principles for which it stands, I would have thought in the interests of every state and every citizen of every state that we should back it. I hear people saying they do not like what the United Nations is doing. There is nothing to stop people saying that and there were many occasions over the years where I thought that it had lost its teeth. There were times, in Yugoslavia and in other places, where one would have thought that the United Nations had no more strength on the ground than the Society of St. Vincent de Paul might have had in the same situation.
When one thinks of the United Nations charter of rights and all that goes with it, one would imagine that it is in our best interests, particularly as a small country, to see the United Nations flag as being extremely important in so far as this Bill and control of terrorism world-wide are concerned. Many people are inclined to say, with regard to the possible war with Iraq, that they are against it, regardless of whether the United Nations sanctions it. It is difficult to understand that if we subscribe to the principles and objectives of the United Nations. It is difficult to know where people stand when they are totally against what the United Nations has done or is trying to do.
Civil rights and liberties are extremely important in a democracy. The Minister said yesterday:
The Bill does not make it an offence to seek change, nor does it make it an offence to have a cause. We value the right to espouse causes in our society and the Government will continue to defend that right, including the right of persons to espouse causes and views with which the Government itself may disagree.
It would be outrageous to believe that this Bill would impinge on what the students of Ireland did today, what the farmers did last week or what the taxi drivers did the week before. Unless I am reading the Bill incorrectly, I cannot see any connection with those rights. If there was even a slight chance that this Bill would eventually mean that the right to congregate for a cause was called into question, I would not support it. However, I do not believe the Minister has that in mind. I sincerely hope that is the case.
The problem we should be tackling is far broader. I am not an expert on terrorism but I have always found that behind all types of terror ism one will inevitably discover money to be the root cause. It is an extortion racket of some description. That is the reason there should be a more integrated and concerted connection between the police forces of all countries, along the lines of the Criminal Assets Bureau in this country, to deal with money laundering and the other things criminals and terrorists do for money. If they could be beaten at their own game, it would be the surest way of stopping the atrocities.
We have to be realistic enough to know that it is not possible to stamp it out altogether but we should at least give the law enforcement agencies in various countries the type of flexibility that will allow them to deal with this terrorism at the level at which it operates. We are not talking about catapults; we are talking about a huge wave of terrorism organised by people who will stop at nothing. These people make fortunes out of this activity. They are the armchair generals and often the people who get shot or blown up are not the people who devised the action. Ultimately, however, unless we keep ahead of the posse, as this Bill seeks to achieve, we will be in serious trouble.
I wish to return to the right of people to congregate on behalf of good causes. It would be wise of the Minister to make abundantly clear what type of terrorist activities this Bill applies to and, in so far as he can, give broad definitions of the activities to which it will not apply. There has always been a belief in this country, which I share, that it is most important to have a counterbalance to the laws of the land in the sense that, in a democracy like ours, people are entitled to demonstrate and clearly indicate that they are not happy with something that is happening in their lives or in their environment. I would not accept, under any circumstances, any retraction of the rights we enjoy in this country in that regard. That is most important.
The Minister will have no trouble from me in so far as the main objectives of the Bill are concerned. I want to see international and domestic terrorists beaten, whoever they are. Most law-abiding people want that too. We have to nail our colours to the mast on this occasion and, in so far as that is necessary, I support it. However, the Minister must outline how far this will actually apply in the context of Irish democracy as we know it.
I endorse the point made earlier by my colleague, Deputy Gay Mitchell. We continually bring legislation before the House dealing with justice and policing matters but there seems to be a major question mark over its enforcement. It is pointless to debate and tease out legislation in this House if it is not going to be implemented. That is a major concern. The Minister has put a long list of legislative proposals before the House. We have already dealt with some, including the juvenile justice legislation. My concern is whether this legislation will be enforced.
The one positive element in this Bill is its provisions regarding the financing of terrorism. Realistically, if we are going to curb terrorism, the way to do it is by accessing the terrorists' funds and tying them down. The funds are the vehicles by which organisations like al-Qaeda carry out their terrorist attacks. This legislation is based on what happened after 11 September 2001. I welcome the structures that are being put in place, which are similar to those that apply to the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The issue of Shannon has been raised on a number of occasions. It is, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs put it this morning, embarrassing that there has been such free access to an international airport like Shannon, an airport that is servicing the United States, a key target for some of these groups. If it were not for the vandalism that took place, and I do not condone it, we probably would not today have the levels of security at the airport that should have been there in the past. Organisations such as al-Qaeda have in the past had members in this country and one can be sure there are still sympathisers here. When we did not have the current level of security there was nothing to stop somebody putting a bomb on one of those planes. It could have been a passenger flight going to the United States and nothing could have been done about it. It was crazy that the Government had to wait until this week to put those measures in place.
I wish to comment on the vandalism that took place at Shannon Airport. There is a fine line between what one can define as vandalism and somebody interfering with an aeroplane. Had the type of interference that took place not been detected until after the flight had taken off, lives could have been in jeopardy. That has been forgotten in this debate. By allowing people free access to interfere with planes at Shannon Airport, the lives of people on those planes are being put at risk, irrespective of their cargo. However one wishes to define it, this should be of concern to this State. We must put the resources in place to ensure that the security of our airports is guarded very closely.
I move on to section 6 of the Bill, and the definition of offences committed outside the State. It will be extremely difficult to catch the people involved in any of the offences mentioned in this legislation. Wherever they are apprehended, it is imperative that they can be charged and prosecuted within that jurisdiction. Only a very limited number of offences committed outside the State can be prosecuted under this legislation. They are restricted by section 6(2), and these restrictions are repeated throughout the Bill. Take the example of people involved in hostage taking or a bombing offence in another part of the world who happen to turn up in Ireland. My concern is that they could not be prosecuted here. If an individual is charged and acquitted in another jurisdiction and happens to turn up in Ireland – it may have been a bombing that happened on an Irish ship or aircraft – and new information is then revealed to the authorities, that should be taken into consideration when deciding whether a further prosecution is warranted. We have to deal strongly and swiftly with this problem and be quite adamant that people involved in terrorist activities are subjected to the full force of law and that the law will be enforced regardless of where the offences took place. Terrorists have thrived on the fact that they can commit an offence in one part of the world and then reside for the rest of their time in another jurisdiction where they cannot be prosecuted.
Part 4 of the Bill deals with the suppression of the financing of terrorism. This legislation ties in with the Criminal Justice Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996. Is similar legislation in force in the United States? The difficulty we have had in this country for a long time relates to the funding of terrorist activities on this island by sources in the United States. The United States has turned a blind eye to that funding in the past. It is all very well introducing this legislation here, but the difficulties we have experienced in the not too distant past stemmed from the inflow of funds from abroad for the purchase of arms and bombing equipment to conduct terrorist offences in this State. I ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to consider these points before proceeding to Committee Stage with this Bill.
Contrary to what this Bill suggests, it is not always morally wrong to seek to compel a state to act or to refrain from acting. Many acts with intent to compel a Government, such as those listed in this Bill, were committed by the ANC during the apartheid years. Were it not for the actions of Nelson Mandela and the ANC, would we still have an apartheid state in South Africa? Yet Nelson Mandela would be convicted and condemned as a terrorist under this Bill.
Equally, in their time, Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera and other people who struggled against the colonial occupation of this State would be convicted under the Bill. To take a current example, does the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform believe that the Kurdish people will liberate themselves without acts of political violence? Does he believe, in the context of what appears to be an almost certain war in Iraq, that the Kurdish people's rights will be taken into consideration? Does he believe that a Turkish Government that has allowed 101 hunger strikers to die to date has any concern for a people it suppresses? Does the Minister maintain that letters of protest to Saddam Hussein or prayers outside his presidential palace will suffice? Likewise, would the United States have been decolonised without acts of political violence such as some of those laid out in this Bill?
What about East Timor? Would that state have been created without acts of violence intended to compel a Government? Surely the killing of innocent civilians is always wrong, regardless of whether the perpetrators are al-Qaeda, suicide bombers or British paratroopers on the streets of Derry. Seeking to compel an unjust Government can often be both necessary and morally justifiable.
A related problem concerns section 6. We all know that terrorist attacks can be and are undertaken not only by non-state actors but also by state actors and state-sponsored actors. Yet under section 6(4) the activities of armed forces during an armed conflict are specifically excluded from prosecution as they are dealt with under international law. How does that apply to American forces in the Middle East? As the Minister and other Deputies know well from experience close to home, it is not always agreed what constitutes an armed force or even an armed conflict.
This section specifically excludes armed forces of a state in exercise of official duties, as does section 10(6) which actually exempts armed or state forces from the offence of terrorist bombing. Yet the perpetration of both state and state-sponsored terrorism is well documented. It is a scandal that this Government has decided to introduce this legislation before the International Criminal Court legislation has even been drafted. If this Bill were to become law, Part 3, section 11, on internationally protected persons could extend this protection to war criminals if they are heads of state or are on official business. I am not suggesting for one moment that this is the Government's intention, but it would be the practical effect for the duration of the period following this Bill's inevitable passage and prior to the passage of the International Criminal Court legislation into law.
All of the problems that have been raised by myself and others with regard to the overly broad definition of terrorist offences obviously hinge on the question of who and what groups undertaking what kind of activities would be targeted under the wider powers and draconian measures proposed under Part 6, sections 12 to 24, on the suppression and financing of terrorism. Given the way this Bill is drafted, a very broad range of political support groups could be targeted for assets compensation. All of the problems in the smaller details of the Bill hinge on the unacceptably broad definition of terrorist offences and the exemption of state forces from the force of law for undertaking the same actions.
My colleague, Deputy Ó Caoláin, was one of only four Deputies to speak against this measure when it was last rushed before this House for rubber stamping in the form of a proposed framework decision. Today, I add my voice to his and to those few colleagues in this House who will take a principled and politically unpopular stand against this assault on civil and human rights.
The Fine Gael Party broadly supports the legislation the Minister is seeking to move through the House. It tries to put into effect a Council of Europe agreement of 1995 on the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances under the Vienna Convention. This Bill will put into effect a number of international instruments as part of the response to terrorism by the EU and the broader international community. As Deputy Deasy has often said, there is no point in enacting legislation to tackle terrorism or law and order issues unless the resources to back it up are made available. We have a great deal of law but no order. There is an enormous amount of legislation on the statute books. I accept this must be constantly reviewed, but making available the resources to implement and enforce it is the challenge.
When one looks at the efforts made in spending enormous amounts of money in recent years, one sees there was not much accountability or efforts made to ensure the resources were targeted at the places of greatest need. Fine Gael sees targeting resources to help the Garda overcome an escalation of crime as one of the greatest needs.
Everyone was appalled at events in Limerick where a small group of people, well known to the Garda Síochána, could destroy the reputation of a city and hold it to ransom. We saw housing schemes cordoned off by the Garda and people being allowed into or out of them only at the Garda's discretion. People could not travel freely through their areas because of the activities of criminals and subversives. That would have been a sad day for any community and for the reputation of any city or area. The State has to seriously consider allocating the necessary resources to tackle it.
The Garda receive many calls reporting crime but those making the calls get very little back-up because there are inadequate resources to deal with it. I was disappointed to learn that the Garda overtime bill is to be cut from €69 million to €50 million in 2003. This is happening at a time of increasing lawlessness and Dublin has witnessed its highest number of murders since record keeping began. The 2,000 additional gardaí promised in the programme for Government will not be in place this year because a retrenchment must take place to pay for the sins of the previous Government. That Government increased public expenditure by 50% in two years without seeking value for money or targeting it at priority policy issues. With the cut in overtime and the failure to recruit the 2,000 gardaí it is clear law and order issues are not a Government priority. Legislation is a priority but law and order is not. Communities are uneasy about this.
The use of the Army to do the Garda's job at Shannon Airport is another sad feature of the Government's attempt to deal with law and order issues. There would not have been a breach in security if gardaí were present in sufficient numbers to deal with what started out as a peaceful protest but was perhaps hijacked by others for political ends. The Army should not have had to be called in to deal with this because of inadequate resources for the Garda Síochána.
It is important that we have international co-ordination on criminal matters. I read with interest the academic debate that is going on between the former leader of my party, Deputy John Bruton, and the Minister regarding EU co-ordination and how it can deal with many law and order and terrorism issues and the sovereignty of these decisions. It is a very healthy debate. I hope an EU response can be put in place, particularly regarding drug trafficking and terrorism.
There is a Border on this island that constantly reminds us of the need for protection against the subversion of this State from criminality. Whether it is from Nationalists or loyalists, there is a continuous fear in Border areas at times of an escalation of violence and irregular activity in the other part of our island that it will spill into this jurisdiction. This gives a constant reminder of what is was like in the bad old days of the 1970s and we do not want to revert to it. A co-ordinated response between jurisdictions is crucially important and resources must be allocated to this. I am very glad to note the co-operation between the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and his counterparts to ensure the Northern Ireland police authorities and the Garda have the best possible relationship and share intelligence, ensuring the protection of our citizens and our State is high on the agenda at all times.
The abuse of alcohol is a growing problem in most urban areas in the country. While there might have been reasons for the extension of the opening hours of public houses, we must now accept there is a culture here that cannot deal with these changes. Some people cannot come to terms with pubs being open until 2 a.m. on weekend mornings and feel they must stay out until the pub closes rather than adopting a more responsible attitude to alcoholic beverages. An urgent review of the liquor licensing laws is necessary. The vast majority of publicans do their best to ensure there is good law and order on their premises. It is difficult for the Garda to deal with the thousands of people under the influence of alcohol that come on to the streets at all hours of the early morning. They congregate in an unruly fashion in many urban centres.
The purpose of this legislation is to tackle terrorist groups in a decisive and co-ordinated way and it is worthy of support. I know the Minister makes strong statements of intent on dealing with terrorism. I wish he had more influence at Cabinet level with his colleague, the Minister for Finance, to secure the resources necessary to implement some of the worthy proposals he issues from time to time. It is a mistake that we do not give that a much higher priority when there is evidence from the figures I mentioned that our society is somewhat out of control in terms of law and order issues. Issues regarding the protection of the citizen against criminality and subversion, whether on an individual basis or on the basis of the State being protected from terrorist groups on this island or out side this jurisdiction, will always be a priority for us on this side of the House.
This Bill reflects a tendency that is now rampant in the countries of western Europe and the United States since the attacks in America on 11 September 2001. The fight against terrorism has become the catch cry. Under the fight against terrorism, we have a range of reactions which, for the most part, are utterly simplistic in their approach. The Government is going along with that every step of the way and continues to do so.
The first sentence of the speech of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform reads, "The events of 11 September 2001 represented a defining moment for the world." In many ways they were a defining moment in the sense of shaping the history that has been recorded since then and the history currently being made under our eyes. However, there have also been other crucial defining moments, or moments which could have been chosen to be defining, which the Government and the international community chose to ignore. When an American bomb crashed into the al-Amiriyah air raid shelter in Baghdad on 13 February 1991 and slaughtered 400 innocent civilians, we could have chosen that to be a defining moment and from that allowed many other developments to flow which could have been positive for the subsequent history of humanity.
What we are dealing with here is the propaganda led by the United States and aped by the Governments of country after country inside and outside the EU. If we subject the simplistic talk about the war against terror, as it is called, we can perceive the total limitations of that concept. It is designed to cover rather than to elucidate, as if terrorism was a country, an army or a fixed entity against which one could wage war, in the same way as in previous times in history countries declared war on each other. Terrorism is a method used by certain groups related to political ends which they are trying to achieve.
The Socialist Party and the international movement to which we are affiliated, the Committee for Workers International, has always taken a position of resolute opposition to terror as a means of struggle to achieve political ends. In the genesis of Marxism and of the socialist movement dating back 100 to 120 years this was one of the key debates that went on in the rising movement of the organised working class and particularly of the international socialist movement.
Was Lenin against terrorism?
It is interesting the Minister raised that point.
Trotsky was in favour of Lenin.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's younger brother unfortunately was hanged by the tsarist government in Russia for allegedly carrying out an act of terror.
The Deputy has read all the books.
This was before the turn of the last century. Lenin was a resolute opponent of terror.
Funnily, he never wrote about that; he wrote about the exact opposite.
No, he did not. The Minister should read him and also read Trotsky. It would be instructive for him to do so.
If the Deputy was a kulak, he would know what terrorism is.
Lenin was a resolute opponent of—
Yes. He counterposed the mobilisation of the organised working class, in the case of the peasantry of Russia, as the means to break the vicious feudal regime, the tsarist regime, which was bathed in the blood of workers and peasants at that time.
Was he against terrorism?
As the magnificent Russian revolution of October 1917 bore out, it was the mass uprising of the workers and the peasants which overthrew one of the bloodiest regimes our world has known. I do not have time to pursue this, but to forestall the Minister I have to say this—
I am glad to note that Lenin was against terrorism – that is news to me.
—when the new Russian state was created, the workers' and peasants' state, it was immediately assaulted by the forces of supposed democracy in the West, including Britain, all of which sought, in blood, to drown the young revolutionary state because they feared terribly for their own system, their wealth and empires. If we had on the globe one example of a workers' democracy, that was it. The drowning in blood of the young state, the horror that was implemented upon it and the decimation of the cadres of the revolution of 1917 was part of the reason Stalinism in the 1920s was able to gain control and finished off the work that was started by the Western armies intervening. That is the real history. The Minister should read it.
There was no benchmarking then.
Is the Deputy saying Lenin was against terrorism? I am just asking for a simple "yes" or "no" answer.
There are fascinating biographies and histories of those who participated as opposed to the cartoon images with which the Minister seems only to be familiar.
I was forced to digress as a result of interjections. To return to the Bill, Marxism for the record has always been opposed to the method of terrorism and terrorist acts by groups for many different reasons.
In the early days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland sections of the left were seduced by sections of the republican movement using these methods. We were a tiny force. We stood in opposition and said that those means would result in a disaster for the working class in Northern Ireland, and that has proved to be correct, while the main culprit was the actions and the repression of the British imperial forces at that time.
A secret elite, accountable to nobody but itself, cannot be substituted for the mass action by working people, the youth, trade unionists and poor people, nationally and internationally, as a means of changing structures – economic, political and social – in society.
Terror attacks on civilians which are indiscriminate like the attacks on 11 September are repugnant to us. We also argued that their methods often strengthen the forces of the reaction and the right wing and, unfortunately, that is exactly what the events of 11 September have achieved.
President Bush would not now be in a position, lining up and positioning hundreds of thousands of troops and the most horrific weapons of mass destruction, to launch an assault on Iraq, with many Western countries genuflecting to him, including the Irish Government, were it not for the actions of 11 September, which have given him a pretext for launching this imminent attack. It is a very thin pretext because the linking of Iraq to Al-Qaeda is nonsense, as everyone knows, and another smokescreen for the real plans of the United States Administration. It would not be in the position it is in now were it not for the propaganda value to it of the horror and slaughter of 11 September 2001.
The Government, including the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, is in step with and going along with the stampede. Instead of an analysis of the reasons we have the world we do and some people are so crazed that they believe they can perpetrate acts such as those of 11 September 2001 or others less drastic and gain a basis for support in certain parts of the globe, we have this stampede to cover up reality. That is the position.
It is amazing the manner in which the Bill is formulated, especially earlier parts of it. Dealing with acts of murder and so on is already provided for in law, about which there is no question. However, the Bill introduces the act of: "unduly compelling a government or an international organisation to perform or abstain from performing an act, or seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, consti tutional, economic or social structures of a state or an international organisation". The insinuation is that it is the thin end of the wedge in so far as it can be and I have no doubt will be misused and abused by states down the line. The phrase "unduly compelling a government" could mean a strike movement or a mass movement of civil disobedience such as the huge anti-poll tax campaign in Britain.
Does the Deputy ascribe any meaning to the term "unduly"?
The point is that, in the framework—
What about the apartheid regime in South Africa? Does "unduly" have any meaning in that context?
No. The framework decision, the basis for the legislation, states nothing in it may be interpreted as being intended to reduce or restrict fundamental rights or freedoms such as the right to strike, freedom of assembly and association, etc. However, once something is in law, it stands on its own. In the case where a Government feels under pressure and, for certain reasons, wants to use this legislation against a social movement as opposed to a terrorist organisation, a lawyer can wave the Framework Document about as much as he or she likes but it is not enshrined in the legislation. Therefore, we are introducing new, broad ranges of activities that enter the realm of political and social protest movements. There is no denying this.
I would like to compel a Government to perform or abstain from performing an act, and try to.
"Unduly" can mean different things to different people. Regarding the phrase "seriously destabilising . . . economic or social structures", I want to destabilise the economic structures and system dominated on a global scale by multinational corporations which cause massive problems internationally and put in place an alternative that would bring humanity forward and upward instead. It is incredible. For a Minister who once considered himself a liberal – in some senses as it was always relative—
Despised by Trotskyites as a middle class liberal.
—to be pushing this into legislation is strange.
There is enormous hypocrisy at the heart of the Government in shrouding itself in this type of ill-defined and broad catch-all legislation which is a threat to civil liberties, the right to protest, freedom of speech and mass civil disobedience. There is the huge hypocrisy on the part of the Government in sending the Army into Shannon Airport to protect United States warplanes which are designed to drop their payloads—
They are not warplanes or bombers.
—and protect the pilots using the airport and the rest in transit, the better for them to arrive safely on the borders of Iraq in order that they can drop their payloads of bombs and munitions of mass destruction on the Iraqi people, just like the bomb dropped on the Amiriyah air shelter in 1991. The Irish Army is now part of, auxiliary to and complicit in the United States campaign for an imminent attack on Iraq.
The actions of a number of people in damaging the aeroplanes in question could clearly come under this legislation. Their actions are not the way we, in the Socialist Party, seek to build the anti-war movement, a growing movement that I hope will compel the Government to pull back from facilitating the ongoing war effort. However, it does not matter whether one supports such actions. The people who did the damage are not terrorists but anti-war campaigners. However, they could be arraigned under this legislation, which is nonsensical.
The Government is silent on the terror used as a matter of policy by the United States Government and the fact that it has taken unto itself the right to strike at will with no hearing, judge or jury against those it considers to be its enemies and blast them out of the sky, as it did recently in Yemen, killing six people. We do not know if one of those six was guilty of a crime but perhaps the other five were not. We know that the United States Government underwrites the actions of the Israeli defence force in organised state terror on a weekly basis against the unfortunate Palestinian community, blasting civilian communities from its helicopters because they harbour an alleged enemy of Israel, never mind that innocent women and children are obliterated in the process. Is that not terrorism? Why is the Government silent on these issues?
On the question of defeating terror, why does the Government not use the resources and research available to it in this situation? Why do we not have the energy and resources that go in to drafting legislation such as this and the hyperbole about the war on terrorism and so forth? Why do we not submit to the most rigorous scrutiny the values and decisions by which western Europe and the United States annually spend hundreds of billions of euros and dollars on the creation of weapons of mass destruction? Why do we not subject to rigorous scrutiny and criticism the fact that thousands of the best scientific minds in the western world and tens of thousands of industrial workers are engaged in nothing but the creation of weapons of mass destruction? Why do we not counterpose to it that, if those resources and that genius were diverted to addressing the problems of humanity such as hunger, starvation and disease, a transformation would be brought about in the world that would rid us of the causes of conflict that make people so crazy that they believe they can go and do horrible things? Why do we not have that type of discussion?
The answer is that the Government has accepted completely the propaganda of the United States Government which is intent on sending a message to the world that no one shall stand against the US empire and its law in the form of the trade terms it wants to lay down on behalf of its multinationals with poor people for their resources, and in the form of the political structures it wants to impose on the Middle East. Our Government is complicit in this. That is quite shameful. This is just part of the general inane propaganda response to the really serious problems we face and which cause suffering for hundreds or even thousands of millions of people. It is useless. It is less than useless and I oppose it.
That was a very interesting exchange of views between the Minister and my colleague on this side of the House. I do not wish to revisit that other than to mention that I would be loath to become involved in a military response unless all other options had been tried and failed.
I marvel at the degree to which poor old Saddam Hussein is portrayed these days as an unfortunate and innocent victim of circumstances and, strictly speaking, he has done no wrong at any time before. He may not be a terrorist, but let us not forget that a certain European in the mid-1930s had a particular attitude to people's rights. At that time William Shirer wrote that he was not a democrat. He did not recognise democracy, but rather used it to the best of his ability and was an excellent propagandist. Saddam Hussein is not such a bad propagandist either. Shirer warned people in Europe and America that this man had an agenda that he intended to pursue and something should be done to impede him before he got too strong. At that time in the United States there was a huge non-interventionist lobby, headed to a certain extent by William Randolph Hearst, who believed Europe was defeated and not capable of getting involved in a war.
And Joseph Kennedy.
Yes, Joseph Kennedy as well. For obvious reasons they swapped comics as it were. Shirer was right. He was in the midst of it at the time and recognised what was happening. He pointed out that public opinion had not been alerted to what was going on. Suddenly it was all too late and events took on a life of their own. The power of propaganda was very obvious during that era, which was lethal as is the case leading up to and during all wars. I hope we will not have a war now, but people must remember that some extraordinary things have happened in Iraq in recent times. Somebody mentioned that people would be killed. Unfortunately, if a war takes place people will be killed and we hope that never happens. Radar stations beside schools could be bombed, which begs the question as to why they are beside schools in the first instance.
I worry about another aspect of this legislation. It is trenchant legislation and we recognise the need to ensure that people can go about their business in the ordinary way without fear or hindrance and the due process and laws of respective lands should be followed. Irish citizens, wherever they may be, should be afforded and are entitled to the same protection as citizens of other nationalities in this country. I have a doubt about the ability of this State to implement this legislation. It is the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill 2002 to give effect to a number of international instruments directed against terrorism and to meet commitments entered into by the State under a number of headings, arising from UN Security Council resolutions and EU commitments previously.
Of course we are committed to the UN Charter, but I wonder if the institutions of the State, of which the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is part, have the ability to respond to incidents such as we have seen in recent days. People have every right to protest peacefully, but do not have the right to take the law into their own hands and decide how to set about it. I am alarmed that internationally we are being held up to ridicule. At a time when so much emphasis has been placed on the need for security at airports, all of a sudden it is possible for people to walk nonchalantly into an airport, which allegedly is a sensitive area and apparently is a high security area. However, members of the public can walk in there at any time. They can overpower the forces of law and order and do wilful damage for whatever purpose. How can we expect to be taken seriously in the international community in our efforts to enforce or implement legislation such as that before us if we are unable to do a simple job like keeping people from crossing the runway when planes are taking off?
That is an issue that we as a nation and a people must examine very carefully. However, we must also examine the degree to which our image can be damaged internationally as a result of the kind of happenings we have seen in recent days. It is very fine to say we are against the war. We are all against war, just as we are in favour of all the good things in life. However, the international community views us in a particular fashion and on the basis of their conclusions they will make their own decisions and will determine the degree to which they can rely on us in the future. I do not know what the Minister thinks, but I believe that there are serious question marks over how we respond to such incidents.
For many years I have been hearing how sensitive some of our installations might be in the event of a terrorist attack. If there were a terrorist attack on any of the vital sensitive installations around the country, what would happen? Would we be able to fight them off? Would we be able to avert the possible tragedy? What would we do? I do not know. I believe we would read about it in the following morning's papers. People would probably be arrested, but only after the event. Nothing would happen beforehand.
It is like the whole question of crime in the country. We have closed circuit television cameras to record the events. We can view them afterwards and see that an offence has taken place. We then prosecute and take action, but that is after the offence. It is of little consolation to the people who are the victims in those circumstances. Every day there is a shooting, stabbing or beating that is fatal. Although we have a high rate of detection afterwards, what consolation is that to the victims? How do we counter that? Is it sufficient to say we have detected and have evidence to bring people to justice? We cannot bring the dead back to life. We seem to rely too much on what happens after the event and the same applies to this legislation.
Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of incidents of what is described as organised crime. How does crime become organised? Why do we allow it to become organised? Why do we have CCTV cameras taking photos of what is happening on the streets of our towns and cities? These crimes, which could be terrorist related for all we know, continue to happen, yet we can do nothing more than record them and take action after the event. Why can we not prevent these incidents instead of repeatedly responding to them?
A few weeks ago, I raised the issue of our rising homicide rate, which is catching up with that of New York. This is an extraordinary development and an indictment of our system. To the best of my knowledge, the annual murder rate in New York ten years ago was about 600 and this has been reduced to a level of 84 or 85.
It is more than that.
The last figure I saw indicated it had fallen to 85 or thereabouts. What is extraordinary is that the homicide rate here is catching up with a city whose population greatly exceeds the population of this country.
Members mentioned the 11 September attacks, about which Americans and others are understandably sensitive. The attacks forced the US to ask serious questions and resulted in it setting out to find those it felt should be made accountable for them. If everybody was to decide to allow incidents of this nature to pass unnoticed, the perpetrators would gain strength and encouragement. Do we want action to be taken or should we limit response to making a protest? Unfortunately, great powers do not protest, they take action.
The Bill includes provisions on the financing of terrorism. These will have serious international implications because there are a number of well known financiers operating in the area of terrorism. Nobody knows how they get a return for their money, but one presumes they do, given that financiers do not do something for nothing. To what extent does the legislation overlap on the area of tackling organised crime? The financing of organised crime is widespread here. Is it envisaged that the legislation might be used to deal with this problem?
I am aware we already have an extremely effective agency, the Criminal Assets Bureau. It may well be that an extension of its powers is envisaged. It is also possible that some of the activities of organised crime fall within the remit of the legislation. I ask the Minister to address this issue. The suppression of the financing of terrorism is a new approach which gets to the source of the problem by cutting off and confiscating the funds of those directly involved in providing the wherewithal to international and domestic terrorists.
On the issue of the definition of terrorism, we are constantly faced with the question as to what terrorism is. What constitutes idealism and what constitutes the pursuit of nationalistic or idealistic objectives? The answer is simple. Terrorism is where a group uses innocent bystanders as targets in order to validate its cause. As innocent persons have done nothing wrong, they should not be used as an example in a war of attrition or to make a propaganda point for the perpetrators. This needs to be recognised in this country because from time to time voices raised here have found a reason for certain actions. The question is whether the victims of an action bear responsibility for the reason for which it is perpetrated. It is fundamental that the legislation recognises that the killing of innocent people congregating for whatever purpose by a group or individual in order to prove a point flies in the face of everything for which we stand.
We need to be unequivocal on this as there have been such instances on this island in recent years. The one which immediately comes to mind is the Omagh bombing. I often wonder what the unfortunate people from Spain and elsewhere who were bereaved by that bomb felt about the idealism behind the act. Did they regard it as a good propaganda exercise which brought to the attention of the powers that be the need to do something? It was nothing other than a black day in the calendar which held up the wider cause of nationalism to ridicule and derision. We cannot have it both ways.
I hope we in this country contribute to enforcing this stringent legislation introduced in response to 11 September and other actions which have occurred since. We cannot pass the Bill and walk away claiming we are a poor country which, unfortunately, cannot afford a proper fence around its major installations, such as airports. It is internationally recognised that airports are a sensitive area. People bring bombs on board aeroplanes and pass through small areas to plant devices on aeroplanes in transit.
It has been suggested that Ireland could become a target. The likelihood of Ireland becoming a target would be strengthened if the international community found us to be vulnerable and lacking the ability to take action. That would be an extraordinary development, which, I hope, will not occur. It is the responsibility of the Department to ensure Ireland lives up to its current international obligations and takes action on new obligations laid down in the legislation. I appeal to the Minister to ensure we do so.
I thank all the Deputies for contributing to this debate. It is not out of politeness or parliamentary good manners – far be it for me to engage in that – that I say it has been of great assistance to me to listen to this debate because the points made in relation to the Bill have been, generally speaking, constructive, objective and analytical. Even though I would not agree with much of what has been said by some people, I agree with much of what has been said by most people in the course of this debate.
Looking at the text of the Bill, there are some areas which already occur to me in light of the comments that have been made here as to what we should do by way of fine-tuning the Bill to make sure it is not what some people fear it might be and to demonstrate beyond doubt that it will be a Bill which is addressed to international terrorism.
Deputy Ó Caoláin talked about the definition of terrorism that is to be found in the European framework decision. There is no doubt that the Justice and Home Affairs Council procedure, which requires text to be generated by the Commission, deliberated upon by the various officials and then finally at Justice and Home Affairs Council meetings, is a somewhat ponderous exercise and one which, from time to time when one is listening to it, is much less easy on the ear than what took place in this debate.
We have to bear in mind, however, that we have undertaken international obligations. I was not a Member of this House when the particular framework decision was the subject of a resolution in both this House and Seanad Éireann allowing my predecessor to adopt the particular framework decision, but I am aware that in the period from 11 September 2001 to June 2002 there was significant pressure internationally for countries to take seriously the threat of international terrorism.
One of the points I constantly make, and made at the time to anybody who would listen to me, is that just because we have serious work to do which must be done quickly does not mean it should not be done well. We should be careful about what we do, and that applies to this legislation. Some Deputies suggested we have been rushing this legislation. It has not been rushed. It was published in December. It is now February and we are debating the principle of it and we are about to engage in a process where it will go to a committee of this House and be subject to a line by line examination as to its exact meaning and the propriety of what is happening. I am entering this process in that spirit. We have undertaken international obligations. We have signed up to conventions. In order to discharge those international obligations we must ratify those conventions by legislation. In relation to the European Union, we are obliged as a matter of Union law to implement, albeit in our own way and through our own legislative mechanisms, the substance of the framework decision.
Deputy Ó Caoláin spoke about the definition of terrorism. I did say, and I did not mean it flippantly, that it is like an elephant. Everybody knows what is a terrorist act when they see a terrorist act but it is not so easy to define precisely what it is about that act that distinguishes it from, say, an act of war or a political assassination. It is not easy to come together with a few paragraphs which state that this is an act of terrorism, that is a freedom struggle, this is revolution, that falls into the category of terrorism. It is not easy to come up with legal definitions which are so precise and clear as to their meaning and yet act to categorise one thing into one category and one thing into another.
By the same token, however, we cannot have a law which is entirely dependent upon the subjective intent or good conscience of the perpetrator. To go back to Deputy Durkan's example of Mr. Hitler in the 1930s, we all know there were apparently many people of good faith who supported him and who carried out terrible atrocities in his name, people who were satisfied in their own mind that they were doing the right thing. I have no doubt that some of the people who carry out atrocities now believe that they are meriting martyrdom in a next life or that they are pursuing justice internationally by the terrible things they do. I have no doubt that a number of the people involved in the events of 11 September, and the other catalogue of offences I mentioned in my opening contribution, did not believe they were acting in bad faith.
I am open to amendment of the Bill to reduce its effect to precisely what we want to achieve, albeit in accordance with our international obligations. Whatever else we do, we cannot substitute the good faith of the individual as the arbiter of what is or is not acceptable. A bomb could not go off in a crowded supermarket or shopping centre and not amount to terrorism and it does not matter what the perpetrator believes is right or wrong or the direct or indirect effect he or she believes it will have.
Or who they are, if a state is involved.
That is another point. It was suggested on a number of occasions that state terrorism was not comprehended by this legislation. I recall a reference yesterday to the Rainbow Warrior matter. That might amount to an offence under this statute and other acts which have been perpetrated from time to time. There is no exemption for agents acting on behalf of a state from the ambit of this Bill. There is an exemption for armed forces of a state acting in an armed conflict and who are subject to international humanitarian law. That is a different matter but we are not talking about a Bill which states that secret agents of a state are somehow exempt from its effect because they are acting on behalf of a state.
What does the Minister make of the unstaffed plane the Americans used to blast six people in Yemen recently?
I will not be drawn into that. If somebody deploys that kind of force in Ireland, it will be an offence under Irish law. If a plane carrying either of us, our friends or family is blasted from the sky, that will be an offence under this statute.
That is true but is the Minister comfortable that our allies are using those methods?
I will not get into the question of allies because I have to be orderly in this House.
I ask the Minister to proceed.
When it comes to allies, I am happier to parade my allies in public than to be associated with the persons whom I would point to, if I were mischievous enough, as the Deputy's allies. I cannot let the Deputy away with his potted history of the turn of the 20th century. If he believes that I will not be in a position to go through the works of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and produce justification after justification for terror being unleashed upon class enemies, and brutal language used to justify it, he is very much mistaken.
That is a different matter.
Terror against class enemies is permissible. That is where we are getting to now.
What about the dictatorship of the proletariat?
We were told the late Comrade Lenin totally opposed terrorism because of the unfortunate experience of his brother at the hands of the tsarist regime.
Terror against class enemies within the Soviet Union, especially against people like the kulaks, petits rentier and the bourgeoisie, was the coinage in the kind of politics to which Deputy Joe Higgins and his friends aspired.
The Minister is absolutely wrong and ignorant of the history of our movement.
The dictatorship of the proletariat was based on terrorising its enemies within its own society, brutalising them, depriving them of their property, abrogating their rights and trampling them down. That is the history of the early days of the Soviet revolution.
The Deputy is wrong if he thinks otherwise. I know Deputy Higgins is apt on occasion to draw a line in the sand and say Stalinism was a reaction to the unfortunate intervention of the West in this glorious revolution of workers and peasants. I was glad to hear him say it today.
That is not exactly what I said.
He said Stalinism was a reaction to that and that therefore when Comrade Trotsky was driven into exile he was an innocent victim of these events. The Deputy believes those things but there are people who believe Haile Selassie is still alive in a cave in Ethiopia and they are equally mistaken.
The Minister should read the history, not the comic strip.
We will get back to the serious business of what we are dealing with – an Act which brings Irish law into conformity with our international obligations. I am and remain a liberal and I will not bring into law any measure which would have the illiberal effects described earlier. The text in the preamble to the framework decision states that that decision is not designed in any way to prejudice the civil liberties referred to by Deputy Higgins. If it is not sufficiently clear from the Bill in its present form that the preservation of those rights is maintained by the text to be enacted into Irish law, I am happy to amend the legislation to make it very clear that those rights are preserved. What I am doing in relation to the framework decision is meeting our obligations to transpose it into Irish law. I do not intend to put in something which is more draconian or less conscious of the need to preserve civil and political liberties in the State.
Will the Minister agree to amend the definition of terrorism?
We have some latitude, as this is not a formula which must be transposed into Irish law letter for letter. If amendments to the definition of terrorism are tabled which are consistent with the framework decision and are more apt to get nearer to the definition of an elephant, as it were, without actually providing a mathematical formula for the definition of an eleph ant, I will gladly go down that road. I assure Deputies I will consider improvements to the Bill to focus it more clearly than the language of the Justice and Home Affairs Council managed regarding what we all agree constitutes terrorism. Despite our arguments about the history of 100 years ago Deputy Higgins and I would agree, I assume, that to let off a bomb in a supermarket is terrorism by any standards. If we can move towards an agreed definition of what terrorism is that is consistent with our international obligations and which is more obviously consistent with our concepts of civil liberty and the like I will be happy with improvements to the Bill, something I stressed when opening the debate.
Regarding Deputy Ferris's contribution, we are not saying terrorism is defined according to whether the individual concerned believes his or her actions are justifiable. There must be an objective definition of terrorism. It cannot be entirely subjective. I accept some of Deputy Ferris's points but I cannot offer a definition of terrorism which is based on the proposition that the mind or conscience of the individual perpetrator is decisive regarding the criminal nature of the act. That cannot be a fair definition of terrorism and would not be true to our international obligations.
Deputy Mitchell referred to gardaí obtaining the records of telephone calls from telecommunications companies. It is not true that any garda can request such information. Under the 1993 Act a request for such information can only be made in writing by a garda of at least chief superintendent rank. The power to obtain telecommunications records has been very important in the State's fight against all forms of crime across the spectrum, from child pornography to drug dealing to murder. We should remember that.
Deputy O'Dowd referred to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which has a twofold objective. It establishes a level of protection to be required to be applied to nuclear material used for peaceful purposes while in international transport and it also provides for measures against acts in respect of such material while they are in international transport as well as in domestic use, storage and transport. Ireland has ratified that convention.
Deputy Durkan asked if the financing of terrorism provisions could be used to combat organised crime. The 1994 Act – the CAB legislation – is adequate to combat organised crime. The amendments to be made to this Act will fortify it in certain respects but the Act is not designed primarily to deal with organised crime, it is intended to deal with international terrorism.
Deputy Naughten mentioned the jurisdictional aspect of the various offences. Those jurisdictions are in conformity with the framework decision and the conventions to which the Bill will give effect. The jurisdictions are wide but going further to accept universal jurisdiction could be constitutionally suspect. Based on the advice available to me when I was Attorney General and since, it is arguable that the Constitution does not empower our State to adopt a universalist approach to jurisdiction so that, for instance, we could try an Australian for a crime committed in Antarctica. There are constitutional limits to the competence of the Irish State to adopt international jurisdiction.
Deputy Costello stated in relation to the Middle East in particular that it is important to address the causes of conflict when responding to the problem of international terrorism and I agree with him. Some Deputies' contributions echoed Deputy Costello's important point and I welcome that reminder.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle
Will the Minister move the adjournment of the debate?
I would prefer to terminate it.
Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Niall.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Breen, James.Brennan, Seamus.Browne, John.Callanan, Joe.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Carty, John.Cassidy, Donie.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cregan, John.Cullen, Martin.Dempsey, Noel.Dempsey, Tony.Dennehy, John.Devins, Jimmy.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Finneran, Michael.Fleming, Seán.Fox, Mildred.Glennon, Jim.Grealish, Noel.Hanafin, Mary.Harkin, Marian.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Hoctor, Máire.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.Kelly, Peter.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Seamus.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDowell, Michael.McGuinness, John.McHugh, Paddy.Martin, Micheál.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Michael.Mulcahy, Michael.Nolan, M. J.Ó Cuív, Éamon.Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.O'Connor, Charlie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Donovan, Denis.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Malley, Fiona.O'Malley, Tim.Parlon, Tom.Power, Seán.Ryan, Eoin.Sexton, Mae.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wilkinson, Ollie.Wright, G. V.
Boyle, Dan.Connolly, Paudge.Cowley, Jerry.Cuffe, Ciarán.Ferris, Martin.Gogarty, Paul.
Gregory, Tony.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Joe.McGrath, Finian.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.