Deputy Halligan, there appears to be a problem. Deputy Pringle was in possession.
European Arrest Warrant (Application to Third Countries and Amendment) and Extradition (Amendment) Bill 2011: Second Stage (Resumed)
I think Deputy Pringle indicated he would not be participating.
Are you sharing time with Deputy Pringle?
It is a shared slot for the Technical Group of 15 minutes.
I thought I had 20 minutes.
No; there are 15 minutes remaining.
On a point of order, the slot I was to take was at 12 o'clock, just before the Minister's reply, and was to be 20 minutes. The Ceann Comhairle will have to forgive me, as I am not sure how this works.
At the moment we are dealing with the spokespersons for the main Opposition parties and the Technical Group. Deputy Pringle began as spokesperson for the Technical Group, but had 15 minutes remaining because he was sharing time with Deputy Halligan. The Deputy's slot can then be taken by somebody else.
On a point of order, my speaking time is directly after Deputy Halligan's. Could I give him five minutes of my time so that he gets 20 minutes?
The Deputy will not be directly after Deputy Halligan. We are still on the Technical Group spokesperson's time, which is 30 minutes. There are 15 minutes of that slot remaining. Deputy Halligan or Deputy Boyd Barrett may take the remaining 15 minutes, or else we will have to move on to the normal order of Government, Sinn Féin, Technical Group-----
Maybe we will do that.
The Deputies would be wasting a 15-minute slot.
On a point of order, if I do not take up this slot, may I revert to the original slot before the Minister's reply?
I will call the Deputies later as their slots come up, but they are losing 15 minutes; that is the whole point.
I would prefer to be called later for 20 minutes.
You would prefer to be called later. All right. I will move on to Deputy Terence Flanagan.
I support this Bill. It is vital that Ireland has extradition agreements with all countries. The Bill will enable the Government to apply many of the provisions contained within the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 to Norway and Iceland, bringing into action surrender agreements reached in 2006 between these two countries and the EU. It will also cover any agreements that may be reached with non-member states in the future. The amendments contained in the Bill will provide for quicker and easier processing of extradition requests under both Acts. Since the European arrest warrant commenced operation on 1 January 2004, the use of the warrant has increased every year. For example, in 2010, Ireland issued a total of 373 European arrest warrants to 15 countries, the majority of which were issued for Polish nationals, while a further 32 were issued in respect of cases involving Irish nationals. In 2010, some 14 persons who were subject to European arrest warrants were surrendered to the State, including 11 people from the UK. In total, 148 people have been surrendered to the State since the commencement of the system.
The number of people surrendered by the State has also increased considerably since the commencement of the warrant system, with a total of 424 people surrendered in total. In 2004, only two people were surrendered. This compares to a figure of 161 in 2010, which was more than double the number in 2009. This large increase is very welcome, as we do not want people evading justice when they should be arrested to face the full rigours of the law. The large increase is also due to the fact that the Garda Síochána decentralised the European arrest warrant arrangements from the extradition unit in Dublin to local Garda divisions, which had more autonomy and access to local information. This shows the role that local gardaí can play in arresting suspects who are wanted abroad.
In 2010, the Irish authorities issued 51 arrest warrants for the arrest of Irish nationals in other EU states, of whom 26 have so far been returned to the State. The arrest warrants were sought in respect of many serious crimes, such as sexual offences, murder, grievous bodily harm, drug offences, fraud and organised crime. In general, the most common charges cited by EU member states applying for the extradition of foreign nationals living in Ireland are theft, assault and robbery.
Organised crime, particularly human trafficking and drug trafficking, is a serious issue in this country. Drug trafficking is a widespread problem across Europe, and the European arrest warrant is vital in tackling this. Co-operation between the various authorities and police organisations in different countries is essential to ensure criminals are brought to justice. A good example of this co-operation was seen between Ireland and Spain over the past year. At the end of last year, a suspected member of an international criminal gang from Ireland was extradited to Spain to be questioned by Spanish authorities on suspicion of drug trafficking and bringing weapons into the country. Then, earlier this year, Spain agreed to extradite to Ireland a convicted killer who was wanted on charges of firearms possession and handling of stolen goods. Thus, we can see there is increased co-operation in ensuring that people do not evade the law by crossing borders.
Human trafficking is a profitable form of organised crime in Ireland. In 2009, the Garda investigated 68 cases of human trafficking, with a total of nine people being prosecuted for this serious crime. During Operation Sibling, in 2009, the Garda was involved in a joint operation with the Romanian police which resulted in the prosecution of three Romanian nationals on charges of human trafficking. Such co-operation is to be welcomed.
The introduction of the European arrest warrant in 2003 has been described as one of the most significant initiatives of the EU in dealing with criminal matters. The efficiency and effectiveness of the European arrest warrant was witnessed at the end of April, when two members of one of Limerick's biggest organised crime gangs were arrested at a resort in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian police made the arrests following receipt of information from the Garda. One of the men was wanted by the State to face serious drugs charges and charges of threatening to endanger life. The Garda liaised well with the Bulgarian authorities to ensure the European arrest warrant was executed, and the men were deported to Ireland. Concerns have been expressed more generally about the European arrest warrant by the European Commission. Problems arise in the way certain member states enforce warrants and Irish barristers have expressed concern about the vagueness in the framework decision underlying the European arrest warrant, which was adopted in the months after the events of 11 September 2001.
The European arrest warrant is, however, an essential tool for dealing with organised crime and was welcomed throughout Europe on its introduction. It is vital that the EU's various police authorities are able to co-operate with each other and the statistics suggest they are doing so. We cannot allow criminals to use borders to evade justice. Organised crime is a serious issue and it is being tackled under the European arrest warrant structure.
Until comparatively recently, the ambit of criminal laws in most countries applied only to what was done in the country in question. Persons could not be prosecuted in one country for what they were alleged to have done in another jurisdiction. Thus, Irish citizens were accountable only to the Irish courts for crimes they allegedly committed in Ireland. They were not accountable to the courts of countries such as Albania, Turkey and Zimbabwe, with which we have extradition treaties. In recent years, the laws of some countries purport to apply their criminal laws to acts done anywhere in the world even by non-citizens of those countries. This Bill aims to facilitate such developments. A person who previously lived in Albania, Turkey or Zimbabwe and is now living in Dublin or Cork could through his or her business or other activities provide the excuse for those countries to seek his or her extradition even though the activities in question do not warrant investigation by the Director of Public Prosecution in Ireland and may indeed be completely legal here. The only safeguard, if one could fairly describe it as a safeguard, is the discretion, whim or good sense of the Minister for Justice and Equality. United States law covers a plethora of complex crimes related to rasing funds and financing business. Under the proposed amendments, any Irish citizen who raises funds here in a similar way is at risk of being extradited to the United States, even if the DPP declines to prosecute.
The amendment proposed by the Government makes our citizens and those who legally reside here amenable to the laws of our extradition partners, including Albania, Turkey and Zimbabwe, and potentially applies to every activity in this country undertaken by a person which the applicant country wishes to extradite. A conscientious citizen would be advised to become familiar with the criminal laws of countries with which Ireland has extradition arrangements before adopting any particular course of conduct in respect of these countries. Subject to the decision of the DPP and the discretion of the Minister, one could be at risk of extradition to any number of countries. It is easy to envisage a situation in which a person offended the authorities of a country in which he or she conducted business. Those countries would be able to seek extradition on the grounds that the way in which that person conducts business in Ireland offends their criminal codes and, hence, their extraterritorial law. In such circumstances, only the discretion of the Minister could save a person from extradition. The lawyers whom I have consulted take the view that such a state of affairs is most likely unconstitutional. In practice it applies a whole variety of foreign criminal laws to what citizens do in Ireland, including laws of which nobody here can reasonably be expected cognisant. These laws may be in languages which the citizen does not speak or based on the tenets of various religions. Accordingly, unless the amendment is surrounded by appropriate safeguards, this outrageous and wholly disproportionate proposal will most likely be struck down as unconstitutional, at least insofar as it applies to Irish citizens and permanent residents.
The amendment should not apply to Irish citizens. If they contravene criminal law in this country, the place to try them is before an Irish jury of their peers. It is impossible to envisage circumstances where citizens should be extradited to some other country to be tried, often without a jury, for crimes they have allegedly committed here. Insofar as non-citizens are concerned, since 2008 there have been procedures that greatly facilitate prosecutions in this State where aspects of the alleged offence occurred or have some effect outside the State. Under the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act 2008, relevant evidence existing outside the State can easily be given in criminal trials in the State either by way of having evidence taken abroad and sent here or through audio-visual links.
Before anyone is extradited for an action that could be prosecuted as a crime in Ireland, it should be demonstrated that it is impossible to have the individual prosecuted in this country. Assuming the impossibility of prosecution in Ireland, the country seeking the extradition of a non-Irish citizen should be required to provide what is commonly referred to as aprima facie case. This is common justice in most democratic countries. The country seeking extradition should provide evidence to demonstrate that it has sufficient proof against the person concerned to justify his or her being put on trial when surrendered. A requirement along these lines exists in many international extradition arrangements, with the notable exception of the USA. When US authorities seek a person’s extradition from Ireland or the UK they do not provide prima facie proof, whereas US law requires Irish or UK prosecutors to demonstrate a prima facie case in the US courts before it will permit an extradition. It is one law for the American State and another for everywhere else.
Where no material part of the offence occurred in the State, for example, a terrorist bombing committed in the US and prepared in Timbuktu, a case may be made for revoking some of the safeguards but the proponents of this amendment are citing extreme and exceptional case to justify the removal of proper safeguards in the more common cases. In the recent case concerning Sean Garland, US authorities alleged that he arranged the distribution of counterfeit US dollars in several EU countries , from his base in Dublin. The documentation sent by the US did not contain a shred of evidence to suggest that the alleged offence even occurred, let alone implicate Mr. Garland. The US authorities merely presented sweeping assertions without evidence to back them up. They repeatedly stated that they did not need to produce evidence until they brought Mr. Garland back to America. Surely that cannot be permitted. We cannot stand over such a regime. Notwithstanding that, Mr. Garland could have been put on trial here. The Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act 2008 applies to the USA, making it very easy for evidence gathered by the US authorities to be used in a criminal trial in this country. No attempt has since been made by the US authorities to have Mr. Garland prosecuted here. Had the US authorities evidence of his guilt, they could easily present the evidence in a prosecution before a jury in Ireland. That no such prosecution has commenced points to a simple conclusion, namely, that there never was evidence of his guilt and the attempt to have him extradited was simply an abuse of the system in order to get Mr. Garland to America. If this amendment is adopted without satisfactory safeguards, the only protection against extradition to the USA or elsewhere, for the purpose of putting the person on trial for crimes allegedly committed in this country, relies on the good offices of the Minister and political convenience.
Many Deputies and Senators supported Mr. Garland. Many of us believed the case was based on the fact that the man had spent his life fighting American imperialism and terrorism in South America, Africa and the Middle East. That was the real reason Mr. Garland was to be extradited. Fair Trials International, FTI, is a London-based non-governmental organisation. It is highly thought of across the world and has claimed to highlight a number of cases demonstrating that the European arrest warrant system is causing serious injustice and jeopardising the right to a fair trial. The organisation says the European arrest warrant has been issued many years after the alleged offence was committed and expressed concern that warrants have been used to force a person to trial when the charges are based on evidence obtained through police brutality in many countries. This has been accepted by many governments across the world. There have been numerous instances where people surrendered under an arrest warrant have had to spend months or even years in detention before they appear in court to establish their innocence. It is the first duty of the State to protect its citizens and allow them the right to a fair trial and we cannot allow the Bill to be passed. The alternative is to sacrifice the safeguards of due process for the sake of expediency.
I reiterate my point about the difference between America and here because the Minister was not in the Chamber at the time I made it. When the US authorities seek a person's extradition from Ireland or the UK, they provide noprima facie proof but when Ireland and the UK want to extradite someone from the US, the law of the US categorically states that a prima facie case must be demonstrated before the person is surrendered. No doubt, this is driven by outside interests. The Minister may or may not admit that he has been contacted by the American authorities or some of their agencies. It is interesting that the Bill has come before the Dáil so quickly. It reminds me of a song by Sandie Shaw called “Puppet on a String”. Perhaps the Minister can make it his favourite tune of all time.
I thank Deputies who contributed to this debate over two days on an important issue with regard to matters concerning US arrest warrants and extradition. There have been interesting and thoughtful contributions to the debate as well as wild, wonderful and imaginative contributions that do not seem to be based on an understanding of how the legislation works, its objectives and its benefits, in particular to this State, in ensuring we protect our people from those engaged in serious criminality. As best I can, I want to respond to what has been said by Deputies but I hope they will forgive me if I do not refer to everyone by name. Some of the same points were made by different Members.
I thank Deputy Calleary for the support for the Bill expressed by him on behalf of Fianna Fáil. I agree with the sentiments he expressed, that we must ensure our legislation is sufficiently robust to meet existing challenges and those that may arise in the future. He made reference to cyber crime and the threat it poses to the State. It is a threat posed across the world and in respect of which there are no territorial boundaries. It is an issue the Government takes most seriously and it is being taken seriously at European Union level. The issue requires substantial co-operation between European Union countries, and on a global basis between countries across the world, in identifying those who engage in that area of criminality. It is important to be conscious of the risks they pose to disrupting essential services or to accessing information that should be kept private, particularly through the manner in which they are prepared to violate data protection laws to access information that should remain private to the individuals concerned. It is an area that classically illustrates the need for international co-operation in dealing with law enforcement issues.
I am not in a position to give a timeframe for the review of the legislation. It will involve more than a consolidation of existing legislation. My original speech referred to the number of times it proved necessary to amend the European arrest warrant legislation. It is desirable that all law in this area is ultimately contained in a single consolidated Bill but it may also be that other reforms are required. The review will be a thorough and fundamental review of how we have implemented the European arrest warrant provisions in Ireland, legislatively and administratively. The aim is to ensure we have a system that is legislatively robust and administratively cost efficient while at the same time protective of the constitutional and human rights of the persons whose surrender is sought. I listened with wonderment to some of the contributions made by Deputies who seem to be extraordinarily and blissfully unaware of the provisions contained in section 37 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, which provide express protection for human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Not if one is being extradited to America.
It is clear that some Deputies are not familiar with these provisions.
We are, we got legal advice on it.
The review will proceed without delay but, equally, it will be a careful review without undue haste. The frequent amendments to the Act are a caution against the rush to reform. It is desirable that we ensure any difficulties that might be anticipated in so far as possible can be anticipated and addressed in the functioning of the legislation. We all know that the nature of legislation is such that, arising from court judgements or unexpected circumstances, flaws that had not been anticipated are discovered and require further amendment. A comprehensive job will be done and I hope it will prove helpful.
Deputy Humphreys suggested jurisdiction to hear European arrest warrant extradition cases might be transferred to the District Court from the High Court, with a view to reducing cost. This is an interesting suggestion but it cannot be addressed the isolation. The legal and other implications in the proposal, and the question of whether it would realise the apparent savings, require careful consideration. We will address the issue in the review of the legislation. On the surface, it might facilitate the processing of applications with less expense and greater speed, particularly those that are not contended. In my recollection as a legal practitioner, when the District Court exercised certain jurisdiction in extradition matters, it inevitably resulted in a substantial number of cases being the subject to judicial review in the High Court. Rather than providing a more cost effective means of dealing with matters, it ultimately proved to elongate court proceedings and add to legal costs substantially. I am concerned that if this jurisdiction were exercised in the District Court, those who justifiably and properly should be the subject of extradition from this State, or who should be transferred to another European Union state using the European arrest warrant procedure, would seek to prolong matters resulting in this State incurring unnecessary legal costs in circumstances where it is unjustifiable. Thus, a substantial proportion of cases determined at District Court level would ultimately be replayed in judicial review proceedings in the High Court. That issue requires consideration and we will pay some attention to it.
A number of Deputies, including Deputy O'Brien and Deputy Daly, have cited the European Commission's report on the implementation of the European arrest warrant system in support of their contention that it is a flawed system. The report is an indication of how transparent the system is. I refer to the facts that it is being kept under review and that difficulties that arise are being commented on and considered so as to facilitate their being addressed in a uniform manner across the European Union. As might be expected, unfortunately, the extracts of the report used by the Deputies entailed a very selective reading. They ignored those parts of the report, or the bulk thereof, that do not support their arguments. The Deputies ignored the finding in the report that the European arrest warrant "has undoubtedly reinforced the free movement of persons within the EU by providing a more efficient mechanism to ensure that open borders are not exploited by those seeking to evade justice". It is true that the Commission acknowledges that the European arrest warrant, despite its operational success, is not perfect. I am not claiming perfection for it.
The report points to the progress being made on measures establishing minimum procedural rights across the Union under the roadmap on procedural rights. While Deputies have bemoaned the lack of a proportionality test regarding the issuing of a European arrest warrant, none has mentioned that section of the report which deals with this issue. Paragraph 5 of the report sets out in detail the amendment to the handbook on how to issue a European arrest warrant, which provides expressly for a proportionality check. On listening to some of the Deputies opposite, one would be forgiven for believing Ireland's role in the European arrest warrant system is merely to surrender its citizens to other states. It seems to have escaped their attention that the system is a mutually reciprocal one and that Ireland has also had people surrendered to it from other states who had sought to evade justice here.
In 2010, 26 persons were surrendered to Ireland on foot of European arrest warrants. Offences committed in this State in respect of which European arrest warrants were issued by Ireland included murder, sexual offences, drug offences, assault, robbery and arson. I do not believe Deputies O'Brien, Halligan or Daly would seek to argue in this House that those properly charged with murder, sexual assault, robbery, arson or drug offences should not be extradited back to this State to have their cases properly determined and prosecuted here.
I refer to evidence being produced in the State. That is not the case in America.
Principal among the offences cited in the European arrest warrants sent to Ireland for execution - I refer to warrants we were to implement – were 15 cases of murder, 25 sexual offences, including rape and the sexual abuse of children, 20 drug offences, 31 offences associated with organised crime and robbery, and 97 fraud offences. Are Deputies seriously suggesting we should cease to be part of the European arrest warrant system and that this State should become a safe haven for Europe's most serious criminals?
That is unfair; the Minister should not make that allegation. He obviously has not listened to what we are saying.
Is that what the Deputies are stating?
This is a wrap-up speech. The Minister is replying.
Deputies, in opposing the European arrest warrant system, are not thinking of the consequences.
We are opposed to extending it-----
There are also missing the reality-----
The Minister is replying and we will be putting the question.
Everyone seems to be very excitable today and I have no idea why.
It is the match.
I appreciate that people are feeling tense as the Spanish match approaches.
The Spaniards are at the gate.
Let us hope that nothing happens to Spain this evening that requires the use of European arrest warrants on some later occasion.
There is a serious issue to be considered. In principle, a number of Members of this House have said here that they are opposed not only to this amending Bill but also to European arrest warrant legislation. Let us be absolutely clear: what this legislation does is facilitate the removal from this State of individuals facing serious charges in other parts of Europe so they can be dealt with through a proper court process, which falls under the effective application of the European Convention on Human Rights. Should any state violate the convention, it can be brought to court therefor. The instrument facilitates the returning to this State of people who engage in serious criminality in this State. It seems to escape Deputies' notice that some of those who are subject to European arrest warrants have left the state of which they are citizens to come to Ireland to evade justice. There is an extraordinary lack of insight in some of the speeches I have heard delivered on this legislation.
The Commission reports that, among those surrendered thanks to the European arrest warrant, were a failed London bomber caught in Italy, a German serial killer tracked down in Spain, a suspected drug smuggler from Malta extradited from the UK, and a gang of armed robbers sought by Italy whose members were arrested in six different EU countries. A large international operation against highway cargo theft networks resulted in the dismantling of networks in five different countries.
And a man in Albania who slashed the tyres of three cars.
A Polish schoolteacher.
The Minister has the floor.
Can Deputies seriously suggest that a system that brings to justice the perpetrators of such heinous crimes is wrong? I hear Deputy Halligan shouting about people slashing tyres. Did it occur to him that individuals who own cars are entitled to have the freedom to go about their business without people slashing their tyres? Is there some level of criminality that the Deputy wants to condone and facilitate, no matter where it happens and who perpetrates it?
We are talking about trial in one's own country. There is one law for Americans and another for Europeans.
There are to be no more interruptions.
It is unfortunate that some Deputies approach this issue with a closed mind drowning in irrelevant and outdated anti-American ideology.
According to some barristers in Ireland, what the Minister is doing is unconstitutional.
Let us have the conclusion of the debate.
I was somewhat shocked to hear Deputies opposite refer to the European arrest warrant as involving no-questions-asked extradition. Equally, it was suggested that it offers no protection for the human rights of persons sought. I can only assume from these ill-informed comments that the Deputies are either not bothered to read the European Arrest Warrant Act in full, have read it and do not fully understand it or have chosen to ignore wilfully its provisions.
Before anyone can be arrested on foot of a European arrest warrant in Ireland, the warrant must be endorsed for execution by the High Court. This is provided for in section 13 in Part 2 of the 2003 Act. Before the court endorses the warrant, it must be satisfied that the warrant complies with the Act. Second, when a person is arrested, he or she must be brought before the High Court as soon as may be after arrest and will be entitled to a full hearing before the court on the surrender request. The person is entitled to a lawyer without charge, if appropriate, and, if necessary, an interpreter. There is also a limited right of appeal to the Supreme Court against an order for surrender.
On the question of human rights protection, I refer Deputies to section 37 of the Act. This section provides that a person shall not be surrendered if surrender would be incompatible with the State's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights or would constitute a contravention of any provision of the Constitution. It also bars surrender where it is believed the prosecution or punishment was based on one of discriminatory grounds listed or that the person would be treated less favourably on one of those grounds of discrimination. I should point out that the Human Rights Commission, which according to those opposite condemned the 2003 Act in its entirety, welcomed the inclusion of section 37 and, in particular, the reference contained in it to the Human Rights Convention. I trust this dispels any notion that human rights are not protected in the European arrest warrant procedure.
I am also concerned at statements made by Deputies opposite which give the impression that this Bill will in some way automatically extend the scope of European arrest warrants to countries outside the EU. I can only assume from these ill-informed comments that the Deputies have either not bothered to read the Bill in full or have read it and do not fully understand it, or have chosen to wilfully ignore its provisions.
Part 2 of the Bill enables the provisions of the European Arrest Warrants Acts to be extended to countries other than EU member states. As I said in my speech, this is subject to some important limitations. Section 2(3) in applying the European arrest warrant arrangements to a third country may only be made where there is an EU agreement on surrender in force with that third country. Such an agreement would of course require a high degree of mutual trust between the EU and the country concerned.
We already have that agreement with Albania and Zimbabwe.
We have no such agreements with Albania-----
Please Deputy, the Minister is in possession.
We have no agreements with Albania and Zimbabwe. I do not know what illusion the Deputy is labouring under, what he has been reading or who has been briefing him on this matter, but he is living in fantasy land if he thinks that is the position. In the context of the European arrest warrant procedure, there is currently only one agreement in place relating to the European Union, which is between the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway. When we implement this legislation that will be able to be progressed further. Is the Deputy seriously suggesting that there is not a proper justice system operating either in Iceland or Norway? If he is, he might have given us some information.
Why is the Minister not commenting on the extradition treaty we have with America?
Please Deputy, we have the debate. The Deputy has had his opportunity.
The Deputy is obsessed with America. We are fortunate that in dealing with serious issues such as terrorism and organised crime that there is substantial co-operation between this State and the United States.
I have no problem with that.
Long may it continue because it is in the interests both of the citizens of this State and the United States, and their security.
Do the Americans have to provide evidence to extradite somebody from this country? They do not.
Is the Deputy suggesting to the House that if some of those who were engaged in putting together plans for the Twin Towers atrocity were based in this State, that this State should not be free to extradite them, on request, to the United States?
No I am not, and the Minister knows that.
The Deputy is talking rubbish.
So the Minister does not think the Americans should have to provide evidence in this State to extradite someone?
This is not Question Time, Deputy.
Under the legislation they do not have to provide it. That is my argument.
We are on a Second Stage debate.
A further limitation is that under section 2(4) an order applying the European Arrest Warrant Act to a third country must reflect the terms of the agreement it gives effect to. What is being done here provides a legislative mechanism to give effect to agreements on surrender negotiated by the European Union as a whole - I would emphasise that - with non-EU countries. However colourful either Deputy Halligan's contribution about Zimbabwe or Deputy Daly's invocation of extradition to Thailand under this provision may be, they are also completely inaccurate. We have no such intentions or arrangements. I can also assure Deputy Pringle that Australia and the United States do not fall within this provision either. Therefore, perhaps we can have a little less excitement on that issue.
Deputy Mattie McGrath made a very interesting speech and I feel it would be remiss of me not to make some reference to it. He informed us that this legislation - and I hope I am doing him justice - should not be enacted. He did not want anyone extradited under it and said he would be voting against the Bill. He also said he had serious principles on this issue.
I must say that I was somewhat taken aback by Deputy Mattie McGrath's attack on the European arrest warrant system because he has form on this matter. He has obviously forgotten what he said on previous occasions both in this House and elsewhere. When he stood up to speak I expected to receive his support. As a member of Fianna Fáil, he had previously supported this measure not just by voting it through the lobbies but by express statements he made.
I presumed him to be a staunch supporter of the European arrest warrant system, particularly having regard to the records of this House. They show that on 28 May 2009, Deputy McGrath made a particularly eloquent speech on Second Stage of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009, which amended the European Arrest Warrant Act of 2003. In that speech he said:
Part 1 of the Bill contains the standard preliminary features of all legislative proposals including the Short Title, the interpretation section and the provision that the Exchequer will bear the cost of administering the Bill when enacted. Part 2 contains amendments to the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005. The 2003 Act, which gave effect to the European Union framework decision on the European Arrest Warrant, replaced extradition arrangements between member states with a system of surrender based on arrest warrants issued by judicial authorities in member states. The amendments proposed in this part of the Bill are necessary to deal with issues that have arisen in the administration and implementation of the 2003 Act. As the House will be aware, the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 has been in operation for more than five years. There is now a better understanding in Ireland and across all member states of the European Arrest Warrant system.
The Deupty then voted enthusiastically in favour of the European arrest warrant system. On 24 September 2009, Deputy McGrath issued a statement, which I think was directed at the national media but perhaps only got coverage in his local media, under the happy title "Lisbon treaty will help tackle crime in Tipperary". He has not yet enlightened us as to whether or not the Lisbon treaty helped to tackle crime in Tipperary. In that particular statement, which may still be accessible on his website, he said that organised crime is international by nature and requires, and I quote:
a concerted and united international response to it to be effectively tackled. The Lisbon treaty will give the European Union more effective powers to combat cross-Border crime such as human trafficking and drug smuggling. In an internal market where there are 500 million people living in 27 different countries, member states need to work more closely together so that they can defeat those international drug barons and slave traders. Organised criminal groups have evolved over the years and tend to have highly sophisticated networks. Ireland is best placed to tackle these criminals with the full force of the European Union behind it.
I presume that today Deputy McGrath is as concerned about international drug barons and slave traders as he was back in 2009. In this context, he went on to say that "the treaty will also build on the work that the EU has already done in the area of cross-Border crime". Listed below were just a few examples of EU anti-crime initiatives of which he obviously approved. I ask Members to guess the first initiative to which he referred, and I quote:
The European arrest warrant has ensured that criminals can no longer escape justice by fleeing to another European Union member state. The European arrest warrant has led to a substantial reduction in the time it takes to surrender a person from one member state to another for prosecution.
The Deputy said that approvingly in urging his constituents to vote "Yes" to the Lisbon treaty. What metamorphosis has the Deputy experienced since he delivered that speech?
It was noticeable that in his contribution to this House, Deputy McGrath made no reference of any kind to these aspects. However, he said something that is as relevant today as it was in 2009 concerning the European arrest warrant system.
The reforms we are introducing to the European arrest warrant system are of crucial importance in protecting citizens of this State, ensuring that those who commit serious crimes in this State can be returned here for trial, to protect citizens of this State from those who have committed serious crimes in other parts of Europe locating here and, possibly, engaging in criminality in this State and, to ensure that those against whom charges have been brought in other European Union countries can be effectively returned to the States that are bringing criminal proceedings against them within Europe. These are important objectives. Ultimately, they are about human rights and ensuring we do everything possible to protect every citizen of this State against criminality, that we bring those who are alleged to have committed offences before our courts, that we have the maximum co-operation from our European Union colleagues in returning to this State those who we want to put on trial and ensuring this State is not burdened by becoming a safe haven for criminals who have committed serious crime across the European Union. In the context of our general extradition laws, I do not want this State to become a safe haven for those engaged in serious crime, be it in the United States or any other country in which the rule of law applies and in which there are constitutional protections of personal rights and civil liberties.
The Minister knows that that is not what we are opposed to.
- Barry, Tom.
- Breen, Pat.
- Broughan, Thomas P.
- Browne, John.
- Burton, Joan.
- Butler, Ray.
- Buttimer, Jerry.
- Byrne, Catherine.
- Byrne, Eric.
- Calleary, Dara.
- Carey, Joe.
- Coffey, Paudie.
- Collins, Niall.
- Conaghan, Michael.
- Conlan, Seán.
- Connaughton, Paul J.
- Conway, Ciara.
- Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
- Costello, Joe.
- Coveney, Simon.
- Creighton, Lucinda.
- Daly, Jim.
- Deasy, John.
- Deering, Pat.
- Doherty, Regina.
- Donnelly, Stephen S.
- Dowds, Robert.
- Doyle, Andrew.
- Durkan, Bernard J.
- English, Damien.
- Farrell, Alan.
- Ferris, Anne.
- Fitzpatrick, Peter.
- Flanagan, Charles.
- Flanagan, Terence.
- Hannigan, Dominic.
- Harrington, Noel.
- Harris, Simon.
- Hayes, Brian.
- Healy-Rae, Michael.
- Heydon, Martin.
- Hogan, Phil.
- Howlin, Brendan.
- Humphreys, Heather.
- Keating, Derek.
- Keaveney, Colm.
- Kehoe, Paul.
- Kelleher, Billy.
- Kelly, Alan.
- Kenny, Seán.
- Kirk, Seamus.
- Kitt, Michael P.
- Kyne, Seán.
- Lawlor, Anthony.
- Lynch, Kathleen.
- Lyons, John.
- Maloney, Eamonn.
- Mathews, Peter.
- McConalogue, Charlie.
- McEntee, Shane.
- McFadden, Nicky.
- McGrath, Mattie.
- McGrath, Michael.
- McHugh, Joe.
- McLoughlin, Tony.
- Mitchell, Olivia.
- Moynihan, Michael.
- Mulherin, Michelle.
- Murphy, Catherine.
- Murphy, Dara.
- Murphy, Eoghan.
- Nash, Gerald.
- Naughten, Denis.
- Neville, Dan.
- Nolan, Derek.
- Noonan, Michael.
- Nulty, Patrick.
- Ó Cuív, Éamon.
- Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
- O’Donovan, Patrick.
- O’Mahony, John.
- O’Reilly, Joe.
- O’Sullivan, Jan.
- Penrose, Willie.
- Phelan, Ann.
- Phelan, John Paul.
- Quinn, Ruairí.
- Reilly, James.
- Ryan, Brendan.
- Shatter, Alan.
- Shortall, Róisín.
- Smith, Brendan.
- Stagg, Emmet.
- Stanton, David.
- Timmins, Billy.
- Troy, Robert.
- Tuffy, Joanna.
- Twomey, Liam.
- Wall, Jack.
- Walsh, Brian.
- White, Alex.
- Boyd Barrett, Richard.
- Daly, Clare.
- Doherty, Pearse.
- Ellis, Dessie.
- Ferris, Martin.
- Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’.
- Fleming, Tom.
- Halligan, John.
- Healy, Seamus.
- Higgins, Joe.
- Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
- McGrath, Finian.
- McLellan, Sandra.
- Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
- Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
- O’Brien, Jonathan.
- O’Sullivan, Maureen.
- Pringle, Thomas.
- Stanley, Brian.
- Tóibín, Peadar.
- Wallace, Mick.