I apologise for the Minister's absence. He is indisposed today and sends his apologies. I also join him in congratulating Deputies Collins and Mac Lochlainn on their new appointments and hope they do well in their new brief.
I remind the House that three persons are before the courts following a Garda Síochána operation undertaken in the light of events at the funeral. Deputies will appreciate the need not to say anything which could prejudice proceedings.
I repeat the remarks of the Minister for Justice and Equality following the events at this funeral. Some of the events were reprehensible and absolutely unacceptable. Paramilitary trappings must not blind anyone to the fact that criminal terrorists want, for their own reasons, to drag the people of this island back to a dark past. The Government is determined that they will not succeed in their aim. They and their kind have been disowned by the majority of the people on this island. In treating the will of the people, North and South, with such contempt, they dishonour democracy.
I recognise fully the difficulties which confronted gardaí at the funeral. The Garda Síochána members present had, above all else, a particular responsibility to ensure the safety of the public in what was a crowded environment. Sometimes these events are deliberately orchestrated to try to provoke a reaction from the Garda with a view to generating public disorder and greater publicity for those involved. Both the Minister and the Garda Commissioner have expressed their full support for the operational decisions made by the gardaí on the ground who had to deal with this situation.
Subsequent to these events, the Garda conducted a large number of searches and arrested 17 people. Three individuals were subsequently charged before the Special Criminal Court on Saturday last. I welcome the support which Deputy Collins expressed publicly for the gardaí pursuing this matter.
An Garda Síochána has the Minister's and the Government's full support and the support of this House in its investigation of this matter. The Deputy can be assured that the Garda will continue to take every action open to it to deal with the activities of such individuals, whether they are engaging in terrorism or organised crime. Behaviour of the kind engaged in by some at the funeral was completely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.