Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Bill 2019: Report and Final Stages

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

“(4) In proceedings for an offence under this Act, a weapon or other explosive device capable of releasing nuclear energy is presumed to be designed for a hostile purpose or for use in armed conflict unless the court or jury, as the case may be, is satisfied, having regard to the whole of the evidence, that there is a reasonable doubt that it is so designed.”.

The purpose is to insert a clause for the purposes of prosecution that weapons or other explosive devices falling under the remit of the Bill are presumed to be designed for a hostile purpose, which is for the purpose of causing, or being likely to cause, death or serious injury to any person or substantive damage to property or the environment. This means that a defendant would be responsible for raising a reasonable doubt to rebut that presumption. This category of clause has previously be contained in other similar legislation including the Biological Weapons Act 2011.

Fianna Fáil supports the Bill and the amendment, which gives a definition of a nuclear weapon or other explosive device in the context of the Bill. Fianna Fáil is very supportive of the Bill generally. The treaty enables Ireland to become a state party to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It prohibits participation in a range of activities relating to the transfer, development and use of nuclear weapons. Ireland has a great record on this issue. Nuclear weapons continue to pose a major threat to us all. Recent events do not give us much cause for hope, particularly the US Administration's recent decision to cease the long-standing Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, INF, Treaty with Russia, the US Administration's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and the breaching by Iran of the nuclear deal and the limit on uranium stockpiles. These are all causes for concern. I hope that the Bill, now in its final stages, has a very speedy passage through the Houses and is enacted as soon as possible.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration and passed.

The Bill will be sent to the Seanad.