If the next Parliament does not like this Bill, or any Section of this Bill, it can amend it in a single day by a one clause Bill. Senators are optimistic about the future. The future to be normal, or anything like normal, would want to be a big advance on the present. I do not know whether Senators are judging the country by the conditions in Dublin or the counties around Dublin, but there are large areas in the country where robbery under arms is at the moment routine. A Senator the other day handed me a list of raids on premises in Offaly. They have gone on steadily every second and third day right through May, June, and right up to July. If the Senator supporting the amendment is familiar, say, with what is happening in West Cork, as I think he is, I am rather surprised that he should support the amendment. At the moment, in certain areas, both of these offences are the normal and the routine, and imprisonment will not check them and deter the people who are living by their guns.
Imprisonment as a deterrent is largely blunted in this country for a combination of reasons. It is a fine thing to get up and speak humanitarianism and confine it to the criminal. It was a question of having pity on people who are under the the harrow, and taking steps necessary to stop the persecution. One can dilate on flogging, quote Parnell, talk about the British Army and Navy, and talk about the priests and clergymen of other religions who were persecuted in the past, but the bald fact remains that the only two classes of people against whom it is proposed to use the Bill is the man who robs with a gun, and the man who burns his neighbour's property, and not even to those who have done that in the past, as this Section does not apply to any offences committed before the date of the passing of this Act.
It is a fair warning to the gun-man and the torch-man, and we should really take a broad view of our responsibilities to the people of the country, and recognise that they have a right to be protected in person and property, and the means we are using, and the methods we are adopting to protect must be the methods that will, in fact, protect them. That is the case with this Bill, and this Sub-Section of the Bill. There is an absolutely indefeasible right in the people to live secure in their person and property. If imprisonment is not a deterrent, and I am absolutely satisfied it is not a deterrent, and is not going to be a deterrent, then we have no cause for not debating a measure that would be a deterrent. That is the problem that Senators, like the members of the Dáil, and members of the Executive Council have to face, that the Government is failing in its most elementary function in many areas. The Government cannot be allowed to fail here, and if it did fail here then the people of the country would have a perfect right to call upon a Government elsewhere to protect them.