Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1975: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
Debate resumed on the following amendment:
To omit all words after "That" and substitute the following:
"Seanad Éireann declines to give a second reading to the Bill on the grounds that it contains no provision for an all-Ireland Court, is unworkable, inconsistent with Ire-land's obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights, and repugnant to the Constitution, in that it contravenes Articles 3 and 38."—(Senator Lenihan.)

The debate on this Bill was adjourned on 1st May, the day on which the Convention elections were being held in the North. We now know the results of the Convention elections and I think we should recognise that saying anything which would upset a very delicate situation should be avoided.

The Sunningdale Agreement has been referred to at length and commented on in the context of this Bill. As we all know, the Sunningdale Agreement is all in the past but we should not ignore the very fine sentiments expressed in the agreed communiqué which was issued after that agreement, and indeed one might add that the sentiments expressed in that communiqué are as valid today as they were when the communiqué was issued. In paragraph 10 of that communiqué we have what I would regard as something which is as valid now as it was then. It reads:

It was agreed by all parties that persons committing crimes of violence, however motivated, in any part of Ireland should be brought to trial irrespective of the part of Ireland in which they are located.

That is the first sentence of paragraph 10 and to my mind it is a very important statement. The importance of that statement or the sentiments expressed in it have not diminished in the meantime. We all know that Sunningdale failed. It failed because of the intransigence and the intractable position adopted by certain sections of the Northern community.

The North finds itself in what I would call a post-Sunningdale situation. They have now had elections, they are now facing a very trying time and it is an important occasion for them and for us. The people who brought about the downfall of Sunningdale must surely look back and be wiser men. In retrospect they must have learned something. The achievement of peace in the North is the stated objective of all parties there and, I am glad to say, all parties in this House. To me, that is an area of common ground which at the moment is a waste-land awaiting cultivation. I have already stated that peace can come about through trust and through confidence and an expression of sincerity on all sides of the divide. This Bill is an attempt at sowing the seeds of trust in one small corner of that vast wasteland. It was disheartening at times listening to some of the contributions to this debate.

The people who accepted in principle that something in the nature of this Bill was needed, were the people who made the finest contributions. However, sad to say people from the Opposition side rejected this Bill in toto on principle. I should like to quote a short interjection made by Senator Killilea, Volume 18, No. 7, column 726 of the Official Report. While Senator Russell was speaking Senator Killilea interjected: “We are against the principle of the Bill”. I am glad to say the more enlightened approach from the Opposition did not maintain that they were against any type of legislation in this regard in principle. To my mind they made reasonable arguments. They were sincere. To show that they were not opposed in principle, they suggested that an all-Ireland court might be a more acceptable form of legislation to tackle the problem.

There is another disquieting aspect to be read into some of the comments—again I stress some of the comments—which we have heard from the Opposition. The whole community of the North have been branded as extremists of one kind or another whose one ambition is to ensure that their idealogy will win. We all know that is not true. We all know the vast majority in the North are sincere, moderately minded people, longing for peace, pleading for the right to go about their day to day chores and live in peace and harmony with their neighbours. This group are referred at times as the "silent majority". But majority they are. Silent they may have been, but I would hope in the future they would not be so silent, that they would demand that their aspirations and their wishes as a majority would be respected and reflected in any legislation to bring peace in the North.

One wonders what many of them would have said had they been listening to some of this debate. Genuine fears were expressed. We also had unreasonable ranting. Old sores were reopened. The result is that many people are confused and wonder if the policy on the North, as enunciated by some members of the Opposition, is Fianna Fáil policy. I am convinced that the saner people in Fianna Fáil are as expressed by Deputy Lynch, for the bipartisan approach. They are prepared to ensure that peace through reconciliation will come about. Having said that it is illogical to come here and oppose in toto a Bill which, to my mind and the minds of many others, is an attempt at doing just that—bringing about trust and confidence and as a result bringing about peace through reconciliation and understanding.

The approach of the National Coalition Government is reasonable. It is an approach which is mindful of the suffering which has been endured for the past six years by many thousands of our people in the North. While in Opposition, the parties now in Government backed that same reasonable approach which was offered by the then Government. One would have hoped that same co-operation and reasoned sane thinking would be applied to policies adopted by the Government towards the North.

The question of the fugitive political offender cannot be ignored. It is a problem which is with us and we cannot afford the luxury of turning our backs on it. The Law Enforcement Commission Report, on page 9, refers to the urgency of this matter, when it says in Chapter 1, paragraph 2:

Though the problem is urgent and serious, its solution requires not far-reaching law reform but immediate practical measures to bring a limited, though very dangerous, class of offender, to justice.

These are the facts of life, as the Minister and the Government see them. This is a very serious and urgent problem which must be tackled in a practical sensible way, in the hope that the approach to the problem will bring a solution.

Can anybody in this House claim that the present position with regard to the fugitive political offender is satisfactory? Can any Member of the Opposition suggest when the time might be ripe to tackle that problem? Should it be left for six months, for a year? Should it have been tackled before now and if so, in what way? One of the main objections from the Opposition was the timing of this Bill. On the one hand they argued that as the Minister took his time introducing the Bill there was no urgency. Other Opposition speakers felt that some kind of legislation akin to the proposed legislation should have been brought in before now. At the same time they are suggesting a filibuster on this to postpone its implementation.

Many people, for reasons best known to themselves, feel this is not the best time to introduce this Bill. But the Government have a moral obligation to govern this country and they should not, and will not, shirk their responsibility. There are times when it might not be practical, or indeed wise, to introduce certain legislation; but there is no proof that this is not the time to introduce this Bill. Obviously the Minister feels that the position of the fugitive political offender is so serious that we cannot afford the luxury of procrastination.

Let us be honest about this. It would be much easier for the Minister for Justice to procrastinate, to sit back, say and do nothing. If the Minister for Justice and the Government adopted that attitude, they would be shirking their responsibility to the people. They would not be carrying out the moral obligations placed on them when they assumed power. I am glad to be a supporter of that Government which have shown they have the courage to do what the Minister for Justice is now doing.

I support the Second Reading because I believe the problems to which the Bill addresses itself, that of fugitive offenders, is serious and because this Bill, however ineffective or unworkable in detail it may turn out to be, is an honest and serious attempt to deal with that problem.

If we look at this Bill we can make a certain number of general statements, the truth of which are evident. It is often said, for example, that war is politics by other means. Anybody who reads this Bill will also tend to come to the conclusion that law, too, is politics by other means. The Bill appears to be trying to alter the administration of justice in such a way as to improve not just the safety of people and property, but to improve the general overall political climate obtaining in this island. I suspect that the political aspect of the Bill, although it is effectively secondary to the legal and administrative aspects, may in the end turn out to be its most lasting contribution.

We were told on several occasions, especially on this side of the House, that this Bill comes out of a particular political context—the Sunningdale meeting and the agreement which resulted from it—and that as virtually all the other elements of that particular package have now fallen by the wayside, the political context for this Bill no longer exists and it is therefore untimely to introduce it at this stage. I would argue very strongly that the political context in which we are discussing this Bill existed long before Sunningdale. The political context in which we are discussing this Bill exists today and it will continue to exist for long after this Bill is passed, as I presume it will be.

What is that wider political context? It is very simply described. It is embodied in centuries of discord within this island and between this island and the neighbouring island. It is involved in decades of discord and distrust between the Northern and the Southern parts of this island, more especially since the island was constitutionally partitioned. Above all, that context partakes of the deep mutual suspicion between people on both sides of the Border and within Northern Ireland and between people in Northern Ireland themselves.

I am not saying that all this mutual suspicion was unjustified in the past, or indeed remains unjustified in the present. I believe that one of the results of the simmering conflict situation which we have had here for so long is that the people, on one side or the other, act and hold opinions which constitute threats and actual injustices to people on the other. What I am saying is that this mutual suspicion, which characterises the political context of this Bill, is something we have to live with. We may attempt to change it in little ways, but we must accept that it exists. In many cases it exists on the basis of a reasonable foundation in fact.

The Sunningdale meeting and the agreement which issued from it were an attempt—the first major attempt in over 50 years—to break through this wall of suspicion and discord. I was one of those who welcomed the Sunningdale agreement, although in its aftermath I came to the conclusion which I have voiced in this House, that a number of important things were lacking. In particular I came to the conclusion that the Sunningdale agreement would be unacceptable eventually to the majority in Northern Ireland if it were not supported by unilateral political action on this side of the Border designed to give further evidence of our goodwill to that majority.

I made this point very trenchantly when the Minister for Foreign Affairs was here and I believe that, when he replied to a debate on Northern Ireland, he accepted in broad terms the validity of what I had said. Sunningdale, in the first instance, was oversold and in the second instance, people, both in the North and especially down here, expected Sunningdale to produce the legal fruits of the agreement simply by virtue of the weight it carried. I do not think people were sufficiently aware of the follow-through needed on both sides of the Border, and especially down here, if Sunningdale was to be made palatable to a large section of the Northern Ireland population.

It is true that this Bill is the last relict of the Sunningdale agreement. Does this mean therefore that we have to jettison it simply because all the other elements of the package have disappeared, have been shelved, have been found to be unworkable, or caused more disagreements than agreements? I do not believe there is any logical position to be followed here, because, as I said, the real political context is not the context of that meeting in Sunningdale, but the context of the history of our island and of the relationship between this island and the neighbouring island.

We have been told that the timing of the Bill is wrong. I have no knowledge why the Government brought in the Bill here when it originally was introduced in the Dáil or why they introduced it at this particular time in the Seanad. I prefer not to address myself to those matters because I simply have no privileged information. I prefer to discuss the Bill and its timing in the most obvious terms in which it presents itself to us. For example, it has been suggested in public that one of the reasons why this Bill is untimely is that pushing it through at this stage would in some way threaten the maintenance of the ceasefire which has been agreed by the IRA in Northern Ireland. There is no evidence of any such thing.

When we look at the IRA we can recognise, from the history of their attitude towards the democratic institutions which were set up in 1922, that whatever we may say or do in this or in the other House will have very little effect on them. The only people who have ever received a mandate from the electorate for policies closely related to those at present pursued by the IRA in Northern Ireland showed such contempt for the assembly concerned that they refused even to take their seats. It could be said that a contrary case could be made. If we want to reinforce the atmosphere which is being created by the IRA ceasefire, we should pass this Bill in order to make it quite clear to those people that any resumption of violence by them will be in a different context—one which puts them at a greater risk than they were in the past.

While I am not, broadly speaking, ever in favour of any form of repressive legislation, I feel very strong political arguments can be made in favour not just of this Bill but of taking it at this time. Since the Seanad last debated this Bill elections have taken place for the Constitutional Convention in Northern Ireland. As Senator O'Toole suggested, this might prompt the question "Have the changed circumstances changed our approach to the Bill?" I would argue that they have not. In fact, nothing could more reinforce the widespread belief among the Northern Unionist majority that the Government of the Republic are not serious when they talk of friendship than if we were to withdraw this Bill at this time or defeat it because of the elections which have taken place.

I should now like to turn to a speech on the Bill which summarised many of the main Opposition objections to it. It was made by the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy J. Lynch. The report is from The Irish Times of 22nd April. According to this report, Deputy Lynch, speaking at a function in County Wicklow, referred specifically to the Bill. I quote:

We want to see enacted effective legislation that will accord with the Constitution, that will not be divisive of the people throughout the country and will not create more trouble than it seems to stamp out.

I will take these points, especially the first and second, in order. On the constitutional question it seems that there is not a very strong case to be made. It is true that we in this House and Deputies in the other House have an obligation not to pass legislation that is in conflict with the Constitution. Many forms of legislation apply themselves to areas of law and practice in which the constitutional guidelines are, to put it mildly, imprecise. The fact of whether or not they are actually in sharp contrast to the Constitution, or are completely unconstitutional in their effects, cannot be decided this side of a Supreme Court action. We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that every Bill, as passed by us, contains nothing which could, on the basis of the best advice available to us, be regarded as unconstitutional.

Having done that, our responsibilities towards the constitutionality of the Bills we pass have been disposed of. On the other hand, we already have an undertaking from the Minister that if serious reservations about the constitutionality of the Bill are expressed here, and presumably in the Dáil, he will see whether it would be possible to have it referred to the Supreme Court for a judgment on its constitutionality before it comes into law. This is an option which the Minister should seriously consider. I am not a constitutional lawyer and do not pretend to be an expert, but this is an honest undertaking and one which should be taken seriously by all Senators.

There is another mechanism available to the Minister and the Government if they saw fit. Under another Article of the Constitution one-third of the Members of the Dáil and half the Members of the Seanad—or maybe it should be the other way round——

The other way round.

——may in combination refer any Bill to the people for judgment on whether it is acceptable or not. Another mechanism available to the Minister and to the Government would be to allow a free vote in both Houses of the Oireachtas. I am not putting this to the Minister as an actual proposal but I would be interested to hear his comment.

I will now leave the question of the constitutionality of the Bill and deal with the question of its alleged divisiveness. It is not enough for speakers to claim that the Bill is divisive without being more specific about whom it is supposed to be dividing from whom. Is this Bill divisive because it divides the Government from the Opposition? If it is, it will not be the first Bill of its kind in the history of this Assembly. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Government introducing Bills which divide them from the Opposition.

I have a very distinct memory of sitting in this House from 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning until almost 2 o'clock on the following Sunday morning debating the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Bill which the then Fianna Fáil Government introduced. It was one of the most divisive Bills we have had in recent times. I criticised that Bill for as long as I was able to speak on it. The one criticism I did not make was that it was divisive. The question of whether or not a Bill divides Government from Opposition is totally irrelevant to the content and value of the Bill.

Does this Bill divide the North from the South? I doubt that any Bill produced by this or any Government could divide the North from the South more fundamentally than they are divided at present. I say this with deep regret and a huge wish that things were otherwise. The political reality of the situation is that there is general suspicion between North and South. This does not only apply to the Northern majority; it is found among many members of the Northern minority. However, nationally-minded they may be, they absolutely blanch at the thought of incorporation with this country.

I cannot see any particular evidence that this Bill will divide the North and South any more than they are divided now. Will it divide the Northern Ireland minority from us in the South? I do not know. I have seen no published statements by responsible leaders of the minority community in the North about this Bill. I have certainly seen none which would give me any reason to suppose they wanted it withdrawn or that they are fundamentally opposed to the provisions contained in it. Will it divide the Northern Ireland majority from us in the South? This is certainly not true. It may reassure that dwindling centre group in the Northern Ireland majority that there is a Government here who take some of their fears seriously. In that context, far from dividing them from us, it will give them some sort of reason to look to us, if not with affection, with the beginning of a sense of trust.

Will this Bill divide the Northern Ireland majority from the Northern Ireland minority? To this argument I can only apply the argument applied already to the division between the North and the South. The Convention elections speak of it more loudly than I can. The division between the two communities in Northern Ireland is now worse than ever. It is not a division which has been caused by legislation such as this. It has been caused by the bloody cycle of violence, whether institutional or other, and retribution, which has so disfigured Northern society for so long. Those divisions are deep. This Bill cannot make them deeper. Arguably, it might help to improve the situation, however slight.

When we discuss this Bill we are in a very odd situation. When we take into account the principle of extraterritoriality which the Minister has outlined and which I find myself in agreement with, we are faced with the fact that, in the political context, we are legislating for and indicating a political policy about an area of country and a number of people over whom we have no jurisdiction. This is a constitutional oddity and one which deserves to be examined in some detail.

Rights subsist in people and not in territory. We can say in the Republic that we have a legitimate right to have a policy for Northern Ireland and in particular a policy which relates to people's needs, aspirations and desires in Northern Ireland. In passing it is worth pointing out that it is those politicians in Northern Ireland who are most resentful of any policy enunciated here with regard to Northern Ireland who are most vociferous very frequently in their comments about our political institutions and our political policies. We have a legitimate right to have a policy relating to all the people in the North.

We have, for example, a right to have a policy relating to members of the Northern minority who share, in very broad terms, the ideal vision of a united Ireland. Our policy towards them legitimately takes two things into account: first, their basic civil rights. In so far as they share the majority opinion on this island, politically speaking, they should not by reason of this be put in a situation where their civil rights are in any sense impaired. We are entitled to use whatever peaceful means we can to ensure that their civil rights remain unimpaired. Secondly, we have the right to insist that political institutions and arrangements should be created in Northern Ireland which can have their full consent. These are minimal requirements of our policy with regard to the minority in Northern Ireland. I suspect that they are also the maximum requirements. We need feel no shame about offering them.

When I said that we have a legitimate right to a policy which involves people's civil rights in Northern Ireland, I would argue that this extends right across the two communities. One of the major civil rights in any community is the right to a life free from terror and intimidation from whatever source. In the case of the majority community we owe them the courtesy to take into account the situation in which they have been living for many years. It is a situation shared by many people in the minority community.

It is a situation in which arson, murder and destruction of one kind or another have become regrettably commonplace. Such a policy should be related to do all in our power to ensuring that their civil right to a life free from terror, violence and intimidation is upheld. I might describe our policy towards Northern Ireland in terms of rights and in terms of responsibility. We have a right to be interested in the position and the welfare of those people who agree, by and large, with the political will of the majority of the people of this island. We have a responsibility not only to them but to all the people in Northern Ireland to ensure their civil rights to a life free from terror.

I suspect that when we talk about our policy towards the North it is often overseen. Our capacity down here in terms of legislation and public statement is much more a capacity for harm than good. This is a sad fact of life. It is related to the discord and the suspicion which have characterised relationships between the communities in Ireland over I would not care to say how many years. It is true and cannot be ignored. People in the North, whether the majority or the minority of the community, are always much more ready to read the worst possible construction into anything that happens down here than to read the best possible construction. Our approach should be minimalist. We should do what we can, when we can, discreetly and honestly. We should not, above all, give the Northern Ireland majority community the impression that we have only decided against a physical invasion of the territory that they control because it is more expensive and more troublesome than twisting the arm of the paymasters in Westminster to bring about a situation which will be effectively exactly the same.

We must make it clear that all our political objectives, attitudes and policies are dictated by concern for civil rights, for justice and for fairness in Northern Ireland, first of all as a precondition to a growing rapprochement between the two parts of the island. If we pass legislation down here which will underwrite the sense of fairness which we claim, it will certainly help us in this regard.

I have a number of misgivings about the Bill which I propose to deal with very briefly at this stage. It will come up in more detail on Committee Stage. The first misgiving that I have is a major one relating to the question of the Special Criminal Court. Senator Robinson has already gone into this in much detail, but I do not intend to follow her because she is much more competent to discuss it than I am. I look forward with considerable interest to the Minister's reply to the point that she and Senator Eoin Ryan made on this. Is this Bill going to institutionalise the Special Criminal Court, an institution which is a very regrettable necessity in our present state of affairs. If it is going to have that effect it will put a major question mark against the Bill.

Another point I want to refer to regarding the Bill is the issue of warrants. It is not clear to me as a layman in legal terms who issues the warrant, for example, in relation to an offence in Northern Ireland for which a person is arrested in the South. Are these warrants to be issued simultaneously in North and South or are they issued only in the South? Are there constitutional problems relating to that or not? This is something which I am sure the Minister will clear up in his reply.

A third area which I am worried about is the offence which is created by the Bill of escape from custody in Northern Ireland. It seems to me that this should be looked at carefully. Persons who are in custody in Northern Ireland may be in custody not just in internment but awaiting trial for one reason or other. They are people against whom nothing has been proved. They are people who in our jurisdiction are innocent until they are proved guilty. They are people whose custody prior to trial may have substantial political overtones. If we are going to turn escape from custody in the case of prisoners in this category into an offence, I think we are treading on very dangerous territory. I would urge the Minister to reexamine this implication of the Bill.

There is a fourth area in which I am unhappy about the Bill. I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister relating to the custody of persons who may, or may not, be travelling to the North under the provisions of this Bill. As the Minister made clear to us, people travelling to the North in custody will have to be handed over to the custody of the Northern security forces once they cross the Border. Very severe doubt has been raised about the impartiality of the Northern Ireland security force. I am wondering whether or not there are ways in which the Minister could attempt, while not necessarily agreeing with everything that is being said, to meet some of these legitimate doubts.

One of the mechanisms which occurs to me that might be worthy of exploration is the one which is usually connected with extradition proceedings. My understanding of extradition is, for example, that if the Irish police wish to extradite somebody from Britain to stand and face charges here, extradition proceedings are taken to the British court. If those extradition proceedings result in a judgment favourable to the Irish police, this person is then delivered into the hands, I presume, of the Irish police but on British territory and remains in their custody until he actually faces these charges in an Irish court.

Technically at a point of exit from the other territory.

Is it technically only at a point of exit?

This is an interesting point that we could discuss more with the Minister on Committee Stage Accepting that what he says is true, it means that either Irish police officers do not go to Britain to accept delivery of prisoners or that they accept them only at the crossing point from the representatives of the local security forces.

Their legal custody would commence at the point of exit. They might have practical custody at the court in the midlands, but they would have no legal custody at that stage.

I would be interested in seeing whether or not we could extend this concept of practical custody to include persons who are travelling from this jurisdiction initially and who will be returning into it. Perhaps this is a point we can discuss later on. The overall effect of this Bill will be deterrent rather than retributive. I think, as I said in my opening remarks, that the substantial legal and other problems which will be created by this Bill, however carefully it is amended and drafted, run a very serious risk of making it very difficult to operate. In so far as it is capable of being operated at all, I think it will become part of a general deterrent to the kind of activity to which it addresses itself.

I do not believe that the courts should ever be part of an apparatus of terror. One of the fundamental principles of our Constitution is the separation of the courts and the Legislature. I see this Bill being rather a deterrent than a retributive thing. If it serves to deter 10 per cent of potential criminals either from committing their crimes in the North and fleeing here or indeed from committing their crimes in the North at all—the figure of 10 per cent may even be high—it will have performed some useful service. It will also have given some evidence, however tardy and belated, to the Northern majority that we mean something of what we say when we talk to them about trust.

One of the points which is frequently made about this Bill is that we should not pass this Bill until or unless people in the North are prepared to do something in return. While this point of view has a certain amount politically to be said for it, when looked at in the context of the last ten, 15 or 20 years, it is rather hypocritical.

For 20 years and longer we in the Republic have been demanding changes in the way in which Northern Ireland is run. We have demanded necessary changes and changes, which in many cases still remain to be made. We have always demanded these changes, until quite recently, without a thought to reciprocity, without a thought to the fact that there were and still are in our own society things which require to be changed and improved. This does not involve acceptance of the belief that our society is just as bad as that in Northern Ireland. I do not think anybody would accept that that was the case. Traditionally, we have demanded changes of Northern Ireland society without ever, except in the context of Sunningdale, suggesting anything in the way of reciprocity. It is about time we made a unilateral gesture in the hope that the reciprocity which it envisages will eventually be given but not at the same time as making the demand.

I should like to conclude with a rather sharp critique of the Minister whose Second Reading speech I found, in general, to be most interesting and valuable. That critique relates to the first part of his speech at column 450, Volume 80 of the Official Report :

There is, I think, an unspoken feeling or a latent mood in this country that wants all the sanctions of the law imposed on these people. There is a growing intolerance of and impatience with their philosophies and activities.

An important distinction must be made here. We may, and indeed must, be intolerant of the activities of the people the Minister has described, but we must never be intolerant of other people's philosophies.

Even if they result in these activities?

I think we must protect freedom of thought and freedom of speech within reasonable limits. One must make a distinction between the philosophies and the activities which they promote. We can apply all the rigour of the law to these activities while at the same time reserving our position on people's right to adopt whatever philosophies they wish, however bizarre or anti-social they may be. We do not want to set up totalitarian systems. The hallmark of totalitarian systems is the attempt to control, not just people's activities but their philosophies as well. We do not want to meet terror with terror. We do not want to escalate the violence. If we are to vindicate ourselves and ultimately defeat these philosophies too, we must do it not with terror but with firmness and justice.

I find myself in agreement with many of the sentiments expressed by Senator Horgan, particularly those which relate to the State's Northern policy. I would commend them to the earnest consideration of the House.

I should like to confine my remarks on this Bill to one specific aspect of the working or the assumed working of the Bill. That aspect I conceive to be of particular interest to the members of the working class in Ireland generally, the ordinary men and women who constitute the Labour movement and those who are associated with the progressive, social and political movements which have arisen.

As senior Members of this House may remember, I had the privilege, a considerable time ago, of addressing the Lower House. After a purgatory of filling party offices, attending party committees, subcommittees and commissions, I have, by the franchise of the Members of the Oireachtas, been elevated to the relative paradise of the Upper House. Whether my previous association with the other House is an advantage or disadvantage in making a maiden speech is not for me to decide, but I crave the indulgence of the Chair in my first essay at confronting Members of the Seanad.

The Bill before the House is, if one wishes to so regard it, a highly, technical, legal Bill or instrument. I am sure the Minister delighted the legal minds among us by his profoundly intellectual exercise in presenting the Bill for the Second Reading. To other Members of the House, like myself, the essence of the Bill— the important nucleus of the Bill— is simple and direct. I shall deal with the Bill in that manner.

I wish to emphasise this aspect because it is subject to a great deal of misunderstanding and false propaganda. To those of us who are charged with leading the Labour movement, this Bill is not designed no matter how many times it may be said to the contrary, against the working class or against the working class movements, the trade unions and so on. Everyone who understands the temper and has experienced the spirit of the trade unions knows that coercive legislation by any Government against the trade unions would be rejected, be given short shrift and would lead to a situation in which the Government would be imperilled. On the other hand, a State which would not take protective steps in advance of a looming crisis, and in time to defend its structures and institutions, does not exist in the modern world. If it did exist, it would soon have to abdicate its authority to subversive forces or collapse through violence within the State. We must get down to fundamentals. Let us remember that this State is founded on violence, founded on an armed insurrection, on a war of independence and on a civil war. We owe our position as Members in these legislative chambers to violence, however exercised, and sanctioned by the legislative will of the people. That gives it a peculiar force. The Government of the State is one that follows the European pattern of Coalition.

Business suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

Before business was suspended I was engaged in the rather academic exercise of considering the origins of the State. This was more or less of a time-consuming nature and although my head continues to address itself to the important question raised by this Bill, nevertheless in all honesty I must say my heart would take more delight if we could find ways to obtain time to consider what I and others like me imagine to be much more important policies and questions, such as those that deal with our economic situation. The portent that is before us with the collapse of the £ sterling to 25 per cent below its level in 1971, the mass of 102,000 unemployed—these matters, to my mind, are more urgent than this Bill may be.

I do not question the relevancy of this Bill but I think its relevancy is relative. Weighing up the various matters involved I think that there should be some way out of the leisurely procedures of this House to enable the Members of it to tackle such urgent economic problems as far outweigh the hypothetical threat to the existence of the State which is dealt with within the provisions of this Bill. It may be quite a dangerous matter even to ask the Minister to take into consideration such an argument of mine but if he were so inclined I think it might be to the advantage of the House, to the advantage of the State, and certainly to a large extent, to the advantage of the Coalition Government, to defer this measure to a time when it may be more urgent and more necessary. The arguments produced by Senator Horgan should give force to the sentiments that I also wish to express. It may be possible within the orders of the House that this Bill should receive the consent of the House on an understanding that it may be placed on the stocks, as the term goes, and be ready for instant and urgent implementation should the political situation deteriorate to such an extent as to threaten the State or the security of the State.

It may be recalled by many with experience, as it has been said of other states, that in a time of crisis it is a usual ploy to distract the minds, the attention and energies of the people generally from important economic questions by putting before them some controversial legislative measure such as this Bill is. I do not think that we should qualify for this type of criticism nor do I think we should be guilty of it because I have a firm belief that the Government, as now constituted, are determined to take every possible measure to relieve the economic situation and to stabilise the situation more favourably than at present.

In returning to my disquisition on the origin of the State, it may do no harm and I am sure it is useful, to review the origins of the present Government responsible for this Bill. This Government, as I have said, followed what has now become in latter days the European pattern of government. It is a pattern of coalition. In Europe there are 17 governments so constructed or so constituted. Our Coalition, as we know, the Coalition in which the Labour Party participate, derives from the acceptance of a 14-point document of intent drawn up by the two contracting partners.

Permit me at this point to interject a personal note on the origins of that Coalition. I was present at one of the final phases of negotiation or, perhaps, at the meeting which might have been termed a clarifying session. It was my impression that at the drawing up of the marriage contract the Labour Party, my party, got far more than that to which they were entitled on a basis of parliamentary or party strength. My analysis, at that time, was that about nine out of the 14 points smacked a great deal of accepted Labour Party policy. These mainly, of course, concerned social and economic aspects of the agreement.

My position was and is that we of the Labour Party, on instructions from a special and from an annual conference of delegates of our party from all over the country, entered the Coalition knowing that as well as many points of agreement, such as I have indicated, with Fine Gael on social matters, there would be differences on other matters, on matters of policy which we in the Labour Party would dislike and of which we might disapprove.

At this meeting I drafted a formula on the question of State security of law and order with which the Labour Party representatives and several of the Fine Gael members agreed. However, on further consideration the Fine Gael side of the conference felt that they could not accept this formula in full as it appeared to be too flexible. Dealing further with the matter I took it from this experience that there was the possibility of a crisis arising some time later on this very matter of security. This Bill may indicate its presence to some small degree and the importance of it is not to be exaggerated. We have concluded a bargain, a compromise. Fine Gael did not find it easy to accept all our demands on social matters, social welfare and so on and we did not and do not find all their views palatable to us. But having concluded the bargain we must, in honour, abide by it and I intend to do so.

The prime duty of any Government, Labour or Labour-Coalitionist, is to defend the structure of the State which dispenses social benefits for our people. If the present Government, in their wisdom, deem this Bill essential to so doing, to so maintaining their existence and so maintaining their freedom to work and to assist on matters economic and social, then their claim for support in full by the members of both parties must be considered valid. They shall be supported, as they are at present, by the Administrative Council, the supreme governing body, of the Labour Party and of which I am honoured by being chairman. The members of this body, as most Senators would know, are responsible men and women. They do not take decisions lightly and once decisions are taken, they observe and implement majority rule.

As we of the Administrative Council see it, this Bill is designed to protect the lives and the fortunes of ordinary men, women and children against the despicable thugs, mobsters and paramilitary gangsters acting like little Napoleons who have so long dominated the stage in several important parts of our country. We do not deem it remotely likely that in practice, as has been asserted elsewhere, it will be turned into an instrument directed against legal and lawful working-class associations and groups such as trade unions or against the trade union movement as a whole. Such a thing, if it were to happen, would be considered intolerable by us. The bonds of the Coalition would be rudely shattered and the demand for a new political arrangement would become imperative and could scarcely be denied. It is at least a hazard, a risk, one which I think we should take and are taking.

There are concepts and policies among the 14 points of intent with which the Labour Party did not wholly agree and do not wholly like. No one can ignore this; it is public knowledge, despite whatever substance there is in such an argument, we remain convinced that it is in the best interests of the common people of this State that the agreement on Coalition should hold, that the structure of Government which developed from that document of intent should be upheld and that the Government should be allowed to carry out their programme of social and economic reform.

If defensive measures are deemed by the Coalition Government to be necessary, let us have them. Even a brief consideration of the alternative to the present Coalition Government at this late date is unnecessary for it has shown itself to be so repugnant to us and to the Irish people that few will be attracted to it. This should be foremost in the minds of those who might be tempted by other considerations to line up with the Opposition. The questions they have to ask are these. Would they rather endure another long spell of monotonous, one-party Government? Would such a Government be any better equipped or better minded to deal with the dangers of the activities of the gunmen and hooligans? These sectarian strong-arm men are of the same type and calibre of Hitler's SS forces. No one has any doubt about what disasters would follow from the accession to power of these, our own gangsters. They now constitute ready material for any outstanding facist leader to rally to his flag of hatred of democracy, hatred of the workers and hatred of their movements.

Any legislative measure that tends to suppress the anarchy that the savagery of these men would introduce into our own country is to be commended by all right-minded people. An example from the recent history of the European Continent shows that a continuance of these activities would in time strangle the Labour movement North and South. The risk of such a fate is greater from tolerance of the thugs and their actions than from any hypothetical misuse of the provisions of this Bill against popular organisations within the State, such as the trade unions.

The Labour Party have for too long been associated with resistance to oppressive and coercive measures by the State to be indulgent of any misuse of the powers which we grant to the Government under this Bill. Though the Government resulted from a marriage between the party of law and order, as Fine Gael may correctly be called, and the party of social progress, which is a title proper to the Labour Party, the acceptance by the Labour Party's leadership of the concern of our Coalition colleagues was part of the bargain that launched the electoral compact which achieved the success of the parties concerned and resulted in their accession to power. I was then, and still am prepared to favourably balance the merits of the social measures accruing to our people against the necessity of defending the State in a modified traditional Fine Gael manner. The Labour leadership did not attempt to hide, ignore or deny this aspect of the agreement. This measure might become necessary to the State if we had conferred on us greater responsibility in a coalition of the future or if we were deemed fit to govern on our own. Then the Labour Party would, in defence of the State institutions, find in this measure the legislative provisions essential to their continuance in power and to their service of the people in their programme of ever-extending social welfare and vastly improved housing programmes, the mounting control of the state of our national resources and further participation in the management of important sections of our economy. Such a constructive programme motivates all sections of our Labour movement. The aim and inspiration of that movement is Irish socialism, a socialism springing from our own national needs and national history. Socialism here and in general is a historical outgrowth of democracy. Without the protection of the latter the former cannot come into existence, cannot develop and cannot come into power.

On these broad grounds alone the Labour movement as a whole, much as it may regret the necessity of the Bill under consideration, must oppose every tendency to destroy democracy or even to restrict, cripple or curb its growth. There are those of our members, public representatives in this House, who may have reservations about supporting the Bill, and some have voiced those reservations. It is normal practice in democracy to respect such conscientious reservations. Members of other parties on other occasions have expressed reservations and acted upon them. In the Coalition we should strive to have equality for all Members of all parties.

On this aspect, one should deplore the fact that through false propaganda and misinterpretation, sometimes deliberate, the Bill has caused a certain degree of divisiveness in some of the important trade unions. The Minister has taken pains to clear up several misunderstandings and he should give further consideration to reassuring the House that there is no iota of intent on the part of the Government to regard the Bill as an anti-working class measure.

I noticed with appreciation that Senator Mullen, in conclusion, made a sympathetic reference to James Connolly and his teachings. That is particularly significant to me, coming from one whose dedication to his work in the trade union and the Labour movement generally commands our respect. We can be certain from a study of Connolly's works and life that, were he alive today, he would use all the power of Labour's forces to vigorously and effectively combat and suppress all the murderous groups against whom this Bill is directed. The important inspiration to be drawn from James Connolly's socialism is that it was intended to act as a shield and a sword for the common people of this country. The provisions of this Bill should be examined in that light and in the broadest possible sense.

I have listened with very considerable interest to the contribution made by Senator Connolly. I am happy to see him here in the Seanad and I look forward to hearing him speak frequently in our debates.

I thought that the general line of his speech was rather strange. As I understood him, and I may be misinterpreting his speech, it seemed that he was saying that he did not like the Bill. But he was urging certain Senators to accept this Bill, not because they liked it or because they thought it was a good Bill, but in order not to rock the boat of Coalition. Of all the reasons for supporting a Bill of this kind, this seems to be the worst. He also suggested on a couple of occasions that there was no real reason for opposing this Bill. He said he had been assured by the Minister that there was nothing in the Bill directed against the working class.

A Bill of this nature, which many of us believe flies in the face of all the ordinary tenets of criminal jurisprudence, is a bad Bill which ought not be supported irrespective of what section of the community may be affected. All of us are equally Irish. All of us are equally entitled to the protection of the law. All of us are equally entitled to be tried in accordance with the ordinary concepts of law, whether or not any of us belong to the working class or any other class.

This debate seems to have been held in an unreal atmosphere. No one really believes that this Bill is ever going to become law. No one believes that, should it pass through the Oireachtas, it will be accepted by the Supreme Court as being in accordance with the Constitution. No one believes, either in this House or outside it, that any single individual will ever be convicted under the Bill. One wonders why the Government are pushing this Bill. We all know that at present we face many very serious problems. The financial situation is deteriorating day by day. There are great numbers of people out of work. Thousands more week by week fear they may lose employment. The Government's budgetary and other financial problems grow more serious every day. In the light of this situation one must ask why are the Government pushing a Bill of this nature which has no relation to the immediate practical needs of the nation and which, in so far as it is intended to deal with the appalling situation of violence in the north-eastern part of the country, has no relevance to this and in practice would do nothing to help matters there?

It has been said by the Minister and others that this Bill originated with the Sunningdale Agreement, followed by the meetings and the report of the Law Enforcement Commission, followed by the usual lengthy period of gestation which one associates with the legislative programmes of this Government. Finally, the Bill did emerge in its present extraordinary form. It was introduced into Dáil Éireann last November. But for five months nothing was done. Admittedy, during that period nothing was done about any of the other problems that face us. The Government continued, week by week and month by month, with their prevailing policy of doing nothing to repair the leak in the roof with the hope that the rain will ease off and things will get better by themselves. They did nothing with regard to the needs of the nation or about this Bill. Then there is this sudden, unexpected revival of interest. Overnight, as it were, the Bill was taken out of whatever pigeon hole in which it was lying and was suddenly withdrawn from the Dáil and introduced here.

One wonders why. Was there some kind of outside pressure? Were there meetings with members of the British Government? Was there any insistence by the British Prime Minister or somebody else that this Bill should be proceeded with? We do not know. One cannot find any sane, normal, sensible reason why it should suddenly have been brought forward in this way.

I will say again that a Bill of this constitutional and legal importance never should have been introduced into this House. There are many other Bills lying around on the Dáil Order Paper that could have been introduced in this House or transferred to this House and could have been dealt with eminently successfully by Seanad Éireann. It is disgraceful that a Bill of this nature should have been introduced to a House which is popularly elected and to which under the Constitution the Government are solely responsible and then discharged from there.

This Bill has been debated for a number of days and it is not unfair to say that the speeches from the Government side, including the Minister, have universally evaded dealing with the terms of the Bill. A number of them have confined themselves to saying that there is a need for this Bill pointing out the dreadful violence which is taking place in Northern Ireland, and saying that as a result this Bill is needed. The answer to that is of course that a Bill is needed but not this one.

Many Senators opposite completed their speeches without mentioning the Bill at all. Their main effort has been a political one in order to discredit the Fianna Fáil Party. We had a rather colourful speech from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, Deputy Kelly, who said that Fianna Fáil favour murderers and bank robbers. We had a remarkable speech by the Leader of the House, Senator M. J. O'Higgins, on the First Reading of this Bill. At column 193, Volume 80, he said:

Anyone who does condone murder should oppose this Bill. Anyone who does condone kidnapping should oppose this Bill. Anyone who does condone kneecapping should oppose this Bill. Anyone who wants to see churches burnt in the North of Ireland should oppose this Bill. Anyone who wants to see dwelling-houses in the North burnt with people inside them should oppose this Bill. This is the company Fianna Fáil voluntarily are stepping into by their attitude here today and yesterday.

He continued:

I find it hard to forget that a young man who sat behind me on these benches since the last Seanad elections was one of the victims of the murder and terrorism that is rampant in part of this country. This Bill may help to stamp that out.

The Senator is well aware, I am sure, that the deeply regretted murder of Senator Fox had nothing to do with this Bill. It took place in the territory of the State. Those responsible were convicted under the existing legislation of the State. The matter was brought in simply to further the atmosphere that has been created that those of us who for many reasons feel that this is a disastrous and dangerous and unconstitutional Bill are to be associated with this kind of murder and terrorism. We had from Senator Halligan a similar type of statement. He said, at column 904 of Volume 80:

The argument that this Bill is repressive is a contemptible argument. It is implied only by those who have an emotional sympathy with the Provisional IRA...

This type of extragavant language is no way to deal with a Bill of this nature.

As I mentioned, Senator O'Higgins said that anyone who wants to condone murder should oppose this Bill. I could just as easily say that anyone who wants to discredit utterly the courts and judges and administration of justice in this State should support this Bill. I could say that with equal truth. I accept that the Government do not intend to discredit the entire administration of justice. But the inevitable result of this Bill becoming law would be that this would take place.

The Bill claims to be directed against the IRA and various other men of violence who have disgraced Ireland in the eyes of the world. These men of violence are the one group who will lose nothing by the passing of this Bill. The people who will lose should this Bill become law are the law-abiding members of the community. All of us, whether working class or not, who depend completely on the protection of the rule of law or the integrity of the legal institutions of the State will suffer as a result of this Bill becoming law. I am convinced that no single individual will ever be convicted under the Bill. The men of violence on the contrary will rejoice at the undermining of our legal institutions by this Bill.

We should put the implications of this Bill into some kind of context. Senator Alexis FitzGerald, in a rather striking phrase, compared those who were worried by the effects this Bill would have on the legal system to a passenger on the Titanic when the ship was sinking worrying about the structure of the deck chairs. Senator FitzGerald's remark sounds very much like saying the end justifies the means. When it comes to criminal jurisprudence, the rights of the citizen to be tried in accordance with the rule of law, I do not think the end can ever justify the means.

In any event, we should realise that if for practical purposes we were to assume that this Bill became law and was to operate in a manner envisaged by the Government, it could have no perceptible effect in lowering the level of violence in Northern Ireland. How many people are likely to be involved? In the three years from 1971 to 1974 the total number of extradition warrants sworn out in Northern Ireland and rejected by our courts on the basis that they were in respect of political offences was 33. That is an average of 11 per year. This Bill is not retrospective, so none of those people will be concerned in the new Bill. Eleven or 12 cases a year would be the most one would expect to be dealt with in a year.

When one considers the numbers who are tried for, in one year, murder, knee-capping, arson and various political offences listed in the Schedule to this Bill, thousands have been so charged in Northern Ireland in that period. Eleven cases a year is the number of extradition warrants they will look for in the State. In other words, this enormous complicated edifice that is before us today, even were it to work, would not have even a perceptible effect on the level of violence in Northern Ireland.

It seems to me that the Government in their attitude to this Bill have fallen into the trap that over the years has been set for them by the Northern Loyalist element and also by the British newspapers and media generally and by politicians. They have fallen into the trap set by those who have claimed that the violence in Northern Ireland is being committed by citizens of the Republic of Ireland who go across the Border to commit their murders, their arson and so on and then fly back for protection here. Probably 95 per cent of those who commit those crimes of violence are people who live in the area of Northern Ireland.

In view of the fact that all the indications are that only a small number of people would be affected by this Bill, it is being asked why is there need for worry—after all if injustices are done they will be very small in number. My answer to that is that the mere fact that so few people could be involved makes this Bill even worse. I am not accepting in any way what appears to be Senator Alexis FitzGerald's argument—whether he meant it or not that way—that the end to some extent justifies the means. The end is so ludicrously small and could not in any way even dint the massive mountain of violence that we have in Northern Ireland that the means in this Bill become totally unworthy of our support. There might be an argument in favour of a Bill of this kind if it really was going to eliminate or even reduce the level of violence in Northern Ireland. In a situation where that violence will continue unabated and not be affected in any way by this Bill, I do not think that even the smallest case can be made for the various provisions in this legislation.

What, in fact, does the Bill do? It provides for a trial at the Special Criminal Court in certain conditions. These conditions in brief—I will deal with them all in greater detail later— are that the prosecution will be launched on the basis of an original decision taken by the security forces in Northern Ireland with the extreme likelihood of some element of bias in the decision to prosecute.

This Bill provides in effect that the greater part of the evidence—in most cases all the evidence—will be taken in secret in the absence of the accused, perhaps even without counsel appearing for the accused. I will go into more detail to substantiate these claims—I am giving them only in summary at the moment. The proceedings during which this evidence will be taken will be under the direction and control of a Northern Ireland judge. The judges in the case, the members of the Special Criminal Court, who in theory will be trying that case, will be unable to play any part whatever in this process of hearing evidence. Nor can these judges rule on such matters as the reception of evidence, claims of privilege by the military or police and so on. These will be under the control of the Northern Ireland High Court.

In most cases, in so far as one can see, there will be no evidence at all of the accused's identity—to associate the accused, who will remain in Dublin or in the Republic, with the person who is being accused by these witnesses.

All these matters, and there are many more besides, are to say the least of it, highly unsatisfactory. They are unfair to the accused. They are completely in breach of all the ordinary accepted rules of law and of the generally accepted principles of criminal jurisprudence.

Besides being quite unworkable, this Bill is also contrary to several Articles of the Constitution and it appears to be inconsistent with the Convention on Human Rights. These, in brief, are our reasons for opposing this Bill. None of them to my mind has been dealt with, not alone answered, by speeches from the Government side, nor indeed were they answered or dealt with in any satisfactory way in the Minister's introductory statement.

The form of trial envisaged in the Bill is one—I do not think I am exaggerating in this—of the nature that one would expect in a fascist or communist totalitarian regime. We can only condemn the arrogance of the Government who have brought in these proposals that are clearly ill-drafted, unworkable, entirely oppressive of the rights of the accused, and then when criticised for this by Members of the Opposition, they attack Fianna Fáil and claim that our criticism of this bad and unworkable Bill is an indication of our support for bank robbery, for murder, for kneecapping and so on.

The policy of the Government in regard to events in Northern Ireland seemed all along in the past couple of years to be deliberately divisive. The aim of certain Ministers— obviously one is the Minister for Posts Telegraphs—appears to have been to use the tragic problems of the North as a means to try and damage Fianna Fáil. Take for example the Sunningdale Agreement, a matter about which I will have much more to say later on. The Sunningdale proposals were presented to the country and more particularly to the Fianna Fáil Party with a sort of take-it-or-leave-it arrogance. The Opposition were told there was a package deal. We should accept all of it or none of it as we liked. There was a point blank refusal over many weeks by the Taoiseach to explain certain aspects of the agreement that were causing worry to members of the Opposition.

Instead, we had such Ministers as the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs challenging Fianna Fáil across the floor of Dáil Éireann to fight an election on it if they wished. This arrogant attitude has continued in this Bill. The Bill was rushed to the Seanad from the Dáil—not even one day's delay was granted although it was asked for by the Fianna Fáil Party in Dáil Éireann. The Government knew perfectly well from the moment this Bill was introduced in the Dáil, and even earlier, that Fianna Fáil strongly opposed this legislation, though when it came to the transfer to the Seanad the Government in their usual fashion leaked to the Press what they described as their surprise that Fianna Fáil should have opposed it in this way—according to the leaks to the media, this came as a surprise to them. They had expected that any opposition would be mute.

They knew that this Bill was highly controversial and would be strongly opposed, yet they quite deliberately brought this Bill out of limbo within days of the Convention election in Northern Ireland.

I do not believe for one moment that anything that has happened with regard to this Bill made the slightest difference to the way the voting went in the recent Convention election in Northern Ireland. I do not think it is a matter of any interest to the ordinary voter in the street. I think they voted for broader considerations which were not relevant to the discussions on this Bill.

In these circumstances, any Government that wished to avoid dividing the nation North and South would at least have held their hand on this Bill for two or three weeks until the election was over. They were taking a very grave risk that serious damage could have been done in the light of the Northern election.

Related to this whole question of Government arrogance, we had the attitude of the Minister for Justice during the course of the debate. Ministers in all Governments must sit through long debates. They must sit through speeches which they do not like—that is one of the less pleasant aspects of being a Minister. It must be the first time—nor have I heard it happening in the other House—that a Minister, when a speech was made with which he disagreed, just walked out. The attitude of the Minister for Justice during this debate and his long periods of absence have been notable. He is not present now. There may be some excellent reason for his absence, I do not know, but I have never known of a debate on a Bill, important or unimportant, during which the absence of a Minister has been so notable. It would appear that having rushed the introduction of the Bill into the House, the Minister has since adopted the attitude that he does not care what is said in the course of the debate.

The Government, in accordance with their deliberately divisive policy, in the course of the crucial Convention election in Northern Ireland, have been telling Unionists of all persuasions that the largest party, Fianna Fáil, support the IRA, that they are in favour of murder, violence and so on. What results does the Minister expect these statements to have, when simple opposition to a Bill of this kind based on the unworkable nature of the Bill, its unconstitutionality and on many other matters brough out in the debate, is advertised to our Loyalist countrymen in the North-east as an indication that we are in favour of violence? It seems to me that Ministers, in their overweaning ambition to cause political damage to the Opposition Party, will stop at nothing to discredit Fianna Fáil. The result of all this slandering has been, and will continue to be, that no harm at all will be caused to this party. It seems senseless and utterly dangerous, in the Northern context, to engage in this type of slander.

The Opposition have been setting out in this debate the real meaning of this Bill. One can only urge Senators, in what is left of this debate, to try to forget about their constant and personal attacks on Fianna Fáil and instead to try to answer the very valid objections which we are making to this Bill. So far, Senators on the Government side have not done this.

The main purpose of this Bill is to extend the criminal law of the State for the offences listed in the Schedule for crimes committed in Northern Ireland. I shall deal later with the constitutional aspects of the Bill. First of all, one ought to consider what the position of the accused will be under this Bill. Some Senators from the Government side have given the impression, even though they may not have intended to, that people who will be accused under this Bill are men who have committed dreadful crimes, murder, arson and so on. There is the implication that they deserve what they get.

One must try to maintain the simple rule of law that no man is guilty until he is convicted. The people who will be tried under this Bill—if anyone is ever tried under it—may be guilty or on the other hand they may be innocent. One cannot forget that the choice as to who will be tried under this Bill will be made not by our own legal authorities—in whom we can have complete confidence—but by various members of the police forces, the prosecution and so on, in Northern Ireland, in whom one could have a great deal less confidence with regard to their impartiality.

However, the accused, guilty or not. will be brought before the Special Criminal Court. Because the offences under this Bill, with regard to extraterritorial offences, will have been committed in Northern Ireland, all the witnesses will inevitably be from Northern Ireland. There will be one Garda witness who will give formal evidence of arrest, but every other witness will be from Northern Ireland. They may, under the provisions of this Bill, be examined here. It is quite clear that, when it comes to the police and the military who will be the main prosecution witnesses, they do not in practice travel across the Border.

It was made quite clear by the members of the Law Enforcement Commission in their report that in their view police and military would not cross the Border to give evidence in a matter of this kind, if only because claims of privilege and so on might be decided in a manner unsuitable to them in a court in the Republic. They would insist on giving evidence across the Border in Northern Ireland in order that any claims they might have for privilege would be upheld in accordance with the rules applying in Northern Ireland. If they crossed the Border the inevitable result would be that there would be demonstrations against them outside the courts. In view of the atmosphere generated with regard to this Bill I would not be in favour of such demonstrations—it would be quite wrong that anyone who took part in these demonstrations would not be dealt with by the full power of the law.

However, we must be realistic. There would be such demonstrations but it would be extremely undesirable, from the point of view of the application of the law, that there should be such demonstrations. Anyway, it is quite clear, and the members of the Law Enforcement Commission have no doubt, that the military and police witnesses would not cross the Border. Therefore, the prosecution's evidence will almost always, in some cases in its entirety, be given on commission under section 11 of this Bill in Northern Ireland. In these circumstances what will be the position of the accused, guilty or not?

The accused is given under the terms of this Bill the option to cross the Border to attend the commission. The question is whether he is in a position to exercise this option. I need hardly say that it is a universal requirement of criminal law that an accused who is tried for an offence should be present at his trial and be in a position which will enable him to see and hear the witnesses give evidence. It is absolutely vital that in a Bill of this kind the accused should have a genuine possibility of attending his trial. How genuine is the possibility presented to him in this Bill?

He is to be told by the Special Court that he has the option to cross the Border to attend the commission. Even though he will be on bail, and he will unless it is a very serious case such as murder, he is under these circumstances to be delivered into the custody of the Northern Ireland police. That is what the article says. One problem here is: in whose custody would he be held in Northern Ireland? Our Bill says he is to be delivered to the police.

What guarantee have we that he will not be delivered to the military arm of the security forces in Northern Ireland? We know how some of these regiments, such as the SAS, have behaved in past years. We have no guarantee, but we have the extreme likelihood, that so far from being held by the police, the accused will be held by the military forces if he crosses the Border.

We are told in the Bill that no further charge can be made against the accused in the event of his crossing the Border. But there is nothing to prevent him being questioned if the person who is rightly or wrongly alleged to be a member of the IRA or some other illegal group were to cross the Border and be handed over to either the military or the police. Is it not obvious that they would occupy the period between the giving of evidence and the trial with questioning him about everything they can think of. They cannot charge him with anything but they can question him, not merely about the matter with which he is charged, but also all the other activities in which he may have been involved while living in Northern Ireland.

With regard to the question of custody in which he is to be held, we have a curious situation in this Bill. We are told in the Bill and, indeed, by the Minister in his opening speech, that the accused is to be delivered to the police forces in Northern Ireland. We are told in the corresponding sections that deal with the situation where an accused from Northern Ireland who is being tried for an offence which took place in the Republic and where the evidence is being taken under a corresponding section in the Republic under the jurisdiction of a High Court judge, that while here, he will be held in the custody of the Garda Síochána and in a prison which includes St. Patrick's. We are told by the Minister that the British legislation, which is being prepared in collaboration between the relevant British Department and our own Department of Justice, will be parallel and will have similar provisions. One would have thought that any Minister for Justice in an Irish Government would have ensured that the British legislation gave corresponding protections before he brought a Bill of this kind before the Oireachtas, that is, that the same restrictions or the same protections we are providing for an accused coming here from Northern Ireland to attend the giving of the evidence, would be extended to the person living here who is brought across the Border into the North to hear the evidence against him. He has not done so.

In certain respects, protection given in the British Bill to the accused is much less than the protection in a similar case for someone from Northern Ireland in this Bill. For example section 13 (1) of our Bill provides:

While an accused person is in the State in exercise of his right under section 12 to be present at the taking of evidence under that section and until his removal from the State at the conclusion or any adjournment of the taking of the evidence, he shall at all times be kept in the custody of the Garda Síochána or in a prison.

The British Bill, on the other hand— and this has been passed in the House of Lords and is awaiting a Second Reading before the British House of Commons at the moment—states that:

So long as the accused is in Northern Ireland pursuant to this part of the Schedule he shall be kept in custody.

This is not an accident. One might feel that perhaps this was merely mistaken phraseology which is intended to convey that the RUC will look after them, but it is not a mistake. We are told later:

At the conclusion of the proceedings the Commissioner shall direct that the accused be delivered into the custody of a member of the police force, Garda Síochána, in the Republic of Ireland.

When it comes to crossing the Border into the Republic, then immediately the Garda Síochána are mentioned. But while the accused is in Northern Ireland he is merely to be kept in custody. There is no guarantee contained in the British Bill—which is supposed to be corresponding and parallel to our Bill—that he will not be immediately handed over to the Military forces as soon as he crosses the border. If the accused accepts this so-called option of crossing the border to hear the evidence against him, he is held in custody, and our Bill says in the corresponding case in section 12 (3) (d):

Upon any adjournment of the proceedings, if he thinks it appropriate to do so, on the application of the accused or the prosecutor authorise the temporary return of the accused to Northern Ireland.

If the Minister were here he would agree that this means that as a matter of course the accused in the case of any substantial adjournment will be returned to Northern Ireland and released again on bail. The British Bill is worded differently:

If the accused has exercised his right to attend the examination as a witness he shall, unless the Commissioner otherwise directs, remain in Northern Ireland until the examination is completed.

Here you have a negative form and the clear implication there is that as a normal course the accused will remain in Northern Ireland until the examination is concluded. The implication of this is that the accused who has been on bail in this part of the country could remain for a long period in the custody of the military or police forces of Northern Ireland until the final examination is completed. It is clear that where a trial is taking place in the Republic and evidence is being given across the border, frequent adjournments may be necessary. In a situation where one cannot really have any faith in the integrity or impartiality either of the Northern Ireland prosecutors or of the Northern Ireland Judiciary, let alone the police and military forces, it may well be that excuses will be worked up to prolong the proceedings by extensive adjournments. One can imagine a situation where a soldier, for example, had gone on leave. The High Court judge will agree the application of the presecutor to adjourn the proceedings for one, two or three weeks until this man comes back. While this is going on the accused will be in custody.

Not at all. He will come back to this jurisdiction.

Before the Minister arrived I was dealing with this matter. The Minister in section 12 rightly phrases his Bill in such a way that it is obviously expected that in the case of an adjournment, the accused will be returned. But my complaint is that the British Bill, which is supposed to correspond with ours, does not say this. The effect of the wording of the British Bill is to suggest that the accused will be kept in custody, unless otherwise decided by the commissioner. There is a definite indication that the accused will be held in custody. There is absolutely nothing, either in this Bill or in the British Bill, to say that the accused must be returned. It is fully within the power of the High Court judge hearing the evidence in Northern Ireland—and it is suggested in the British Bill that this is what he should do—to hold the accused for an indefinite period.

Under these circumstances one must question whether there is any real option for the accused. He has a right to attend the hearing of the evidence against him. But one wonders, and any court where this is discussed will also wonder, whether there is a genuine right given to the accused, whether guilty or not, which he will be expected to take up.

On the other hand, the accused can refuse to exercise this dangerous option of crossing the Border into the hands of his accusers, the military or somebody else, and can stay here. In this case he will hear none of the evidence against him. What will the accused do? Obviously, as I said, he will stay here. He would be mad to do anything else. The Bill says he has the right to hear the evidence, but there is no real right unless it is a right he can exercise without fearing that he will suffer by violence. Would any accused voluntarily go back to those from whom he has already escaped? Would any accused on bail choose to go to prison for an extended period while evidence is being given? Would he expose himself to the extensive and rigorous questioning that undoubtedly would take place by the military and/or the police?

Reference has been made now and on other occasions to the proceedings in Strasbourg. We all know that methods of questioning by military police in Northern Ireland have been in many cases bordering on torture. At the very least the accused could expect rough treatment; at the worse he could expect much worse. In practice the accused would stay here. The evidence will be taken in his absence. There is no free choice given in this Bill.

The Minister speaks of this as if it were a case of the accused agreeing to go into the custody of the Garda. Even there, I am not sure that an accused would be willing to be detained during a prolonged hearing of evidence when he had been on bail. There is no comparison between going into custody of the Garda and being handed over to the tender mercies of the British Army or the police forces of various kinds in Northern Ireland.

We also have to consider that the Provisional IRA will not recognise the court. The accused, therefore, very often will not have counsel or a solicitor either. In such case the trial would be a farce. The Minister may say that in such a case it is the accused's own fault, that if the accused takes the idiotic line that he will not recognise the State and therefore cannot recognise the court and cannot be represented, it is his own fault. Of course it is. Nonetheless, can one really visualise in a democratic country a trial procedure under which the evidence could, and would be heard, in the absence of the accused and very often in the absence even of counsel or solicitor for the accused? I would remind the Minister again that an accused is innocent until convicted. In the unfortunate circumstances we know exist in Northern Ireland the accused under this Bill may well have been unfairly prosecuted.

The major part of the trial—the Minister does not like to call it part of the trial, but the semantics at the moment do not matter, and I will go into this question later—or evidence will therefore be given in Northern Ireland. This evidence will normally be in the absence of the accused. The proceedings under both the Minister's Bill and the corresponding British Bill will be in secret. I am not sure of the purpose of this, but I am certain of the effect. We would have what would seem like the Star Chamber procedure. We could have a criminal trial, perhaps for a very serious offence, and the evidence would be given in the absence of the accused, of the newspapers or of anybody else. In other words, it would be held in secret. The witnesses can withhold their names. We all know what this means. We have these mysterious hooded figures coming in who are called soldier A, soldier B and so on. Questions of the exclusion of evidence and privilege will be decided by the Northern Ireland judge. I will come back to this later.

Section 16 of the Bill provides that the accused may be represented by his own counsel and solicitor, that is, where evidence is taken in the Republic for a trial taking place in Northern Ireland. The accused may bring his own counsel and solicitor from Northern Ireland to appear for him in the Republic and to take part in the hearing of the evidence, examining witnesses and so on. Why does this not appear in the corresponding British Bill? I would have thought it was the duty of the Minister to ensure, before he brought this Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas, that the protection given in his Bill to the accused were complimented exactly by the protection given the accused in the British Bill. There is nothing in the British Bill which says that the accused can have his own counsel and solicitor from the Republic. It says that he has the right to be represented by a counsel and solicitor, but not by the counsel and solicitor appearing for him in the trial.

The Irish judges of the Special Criminal Court who will be appearing at these proceedings where the evidence is being given have no power to take any part in the proceedings, nor do they have any power to ask questions of the witnesses. The Minister, however, says in section 12 (4):

The members of the court in Northern Ireland concerned and any officers of that court designated by them shall be entitled to be present at each sitting of the Commissioner, and it shall be the duty of the Commissioner to arrange these sittings so as to facilitate their presence and to comply with any request by those members to put any particular question or questions to the witness.

In other words, where the Northern Ireland judges who are trying a case come to the Republic to hear evidence, it is the duty of the High Court judge specifically laid upon him by this legislation to ask the witnesses questions for the Northern Ireland judges. But what happens when the Special Court goes to Northern Ireland? Their position is quite different.

We are told in the British Bill that any judge of the court, shall have a right to suggest to the commissioner questions to be put to the witness. There is no duty laid on the commissioner to put these questions. There is no injunction on him in the British legislation. Why has the Minister not ensured that this elementary protection is not also included in the British legislation? It is clear from the phraseology of the British Bill that there has been a great deal of coming and going, a great deal of collaboration and co-operation between the Department of Justice here and the corresponding Department in Britain. Many parts of the Bill, word for word, are the same. In the light of this, why did the Minister not ensure before bringing this legislation into the House that the British Bill gave the same protection?

We now have the problem of the identity of the accused. Evidence is being given in Northern Ireland by a variety of military, police and other witnesses. The question arises whether there is any means by which the person they say committed the offence is the same person as the person being tried in the Republic. The Minister dealt with this in a very casual way. In his statement he refers to the various forms of evidence, fingerprints and so on. He says also that in other cases there may be no dispute as to the identity of the person involved. Later he says that a prosecution eyewitness may be able to identify the accused as the offender because he knows him personally.

Surely in neither of these cases is there any agreement as to the identity of the person being charged? A person who knows the accused personally can say: "I was going down the road and I saw Johnny Reilly running away from a house with a gun." He knows Johnny Reilly well. He could recognise him if he saw him on the street. How did he know that the Johnny Reilly being tried by the Special Court in the Republic is the Johnny Reilly he knew and saw running away from the building with a gun? The Minister has not dealt with that matter. It is a much more serious problem than he suggests. While everyone may agree that Johnny Reilly did it, there is no agreement and no evidence that the person being tried before the Special Court is the same Johnny Reilly everybody is speaking about.

The position of the judges who are asked to take part in these proceedings will be very difficult. There will be constant shuffling back and forth across the Border—carloads of officials, lawyers, judges. They will of course be under the protection of the RUC. So long as the minority in Northern Ireland continue to feel that they have been unfairly treated, and so long as the RUC are not acceptable to the minority in Northern Ireland, it will mean that the judges for the Republic will be in an extremely compromising position. As I said, there will be an added difficulty because they will have no control over the witnesses or the manner in which evidence is given, nor will the judges know anything about the background or the circumstances of the evidence as given.

We all regret the conditions which exist in Northern Ireland but we must recognise that they do exist. Under those conditions who knows what pressures in individual cases may have caused the giving of evidence or indeed the absence of other evidence which could be useful to the defence of the accused? We know, unfortunately, that in Northern Ireland there is, apart from the Special Branch and the police, various military reaction forces, military intelligence units and the SAS. No one call tell what pressures and threats may call a witness to give evidence on commission. The fear of detention in Long Kesh, for example, could well actuate the giving of evidence in certain cases. Apart from being a total departure from our practice of criminal law, it is clear that the dangers of this type of evidence are incalculable. The reliability of such witness could not really be tested.

The whole proceedings will be intolerably cumbersome. There will be this constant shuffling to and fro across the Border. There will be a slow procedure of giving evidence to allow time for the note-takers and later for the transcription from the tape—if tape is used—and possibly endless adjournments to take instructions. Should there be legal representatives, their position will obviously be very difficult.

The basic issue of the original decision is to prosecute. As I said, we have to assume that the accused, even though he may be or may be alleged to be, a member of the IRA, is innocent until convicted. We have to consider whether we can place any real reliance on the decision to prosecute being taken in an unbiased and impartial way. That decision will be taken in Northern Ireland.

I do not know if there is any Senator who would be willing to stand up and say he had complete confidence in the lack of bias, and the impartiality of the judiciary, the military, or the police forces in Northern Ireland. One regrets having to say this. Indeed, in the absence of a Bill of this kind, I hope that one would not refer to this type of thing in the hopes that with the passage of time the situation in Northern Ireland might improve. But the fact that this Bill is before us requires me to say this.

There is not one Senator on any side of this House who would be willing to accept the impartiality of the process in Northern Ireland under which these people would be accused in order that they might be tried under this piece of legislation. For example, some of the offences contained in the Schedule to this Bill relate to the illegal possession of firearms and so on. I think it covers any case in which a person would have an unlicensed weapon. If one is found with a revolver one clearly comes under this Bill. We all know that in what one might describe as Loyalist circles there are probably a hundred thousand or more illegal guns held. We know that nobody is prosecuted for this nor will be. Under these conditions——

That is not true. They have been prosecuted already.

What you might describe as token prosecutions are taken for show, but nonetheless, as between the members of one section of the community and another, I do not think any of us need have any illusions that the structure of the law with regard to prosecution for firearms is heavily weighted in one direction rather than another. Of course, there are some prosecutions, but there are still about one hundred thousand and will continue to be.

There is the clear evidence of discrimination in Northern Ireland. There is the situation where paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, provided they belong to one particular section, are allowed to march in uniform through the high streets of Belfast and Northern Ireland generally. Apparently, Mr. Orr says that the UDR can include these people. All these factors of known discrimination must bring into disrepute this whole concept of seeking terrorists who allegedly have escaped to the Republic and are wanted for crimes in Northern Ireland. When I say "allegedly" I know there are such people. We would like to see them dealt with in the way that their crimes merit, but we cannot disguise the fact that we cannot have confidence in the administration of the prosecuting procedure in Northern Ireland.

It is only recently that the Minister for Foreign Affairs was reported in the newspapers as protesting to the British Government against the unfair and uncertain way in which these matters were being dealt with in Northern Ireland. Then we would have a situation that under this legislation our forces might well be required to try cases in circumstances where, for purely political reasons, exactly similar cases in Northern Ireland itself were being ignored.

In other words, one can say that this Bill is, first of all, unworkable and unfair to the accused, to the witnesses and to the judges. It is an intolerable breach of the rule of law in the universally accepted practices of criminal jurisprudence, and calculated to bring our courts into contempt. Fianna Fáil support what is the alleged object of this Bill, that is to punish people who commit crimes of violence and to ensure that the men who commit these crimes have no refuge anywhere in Ireland. But this Bill is a charade. It will not achieve its purpose and no one will ever be convicted under it. The only effect will be to discredit the entire legal system of the Republic. Perhaps the greatest difficulty presented by the Bill is the fact that it is clearly contrary to several Articles of the Constitution. First of all, there is Article 3 which says:

Pending the re-integration of the national territory and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established by this Constitution to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of that territory, the laws enacted by that Parliament shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstát Éireann and the like extra-territorial effect.

The long title of this Bill describes it as:

An Act to extend the criminal law of the State to certain acts done in Northern Ireland, to provide for the admission of evidence obtained by the examination of witnesses in Northern Ireland at trials for offences in respect of those acts, to enable evidence to be obtained by the examination of witnesses in the State for trials in Northern Ireland for corresponding offences under the law of Northern Ireland in respect of acts done in the State, to reform the criminal law in other respects and to provide for related matters.

It would appear, on the face of it, to be a direct breach of the provisions of Article 3 of the Constitution which set out with considerable clarity that the laws of this State are to apply, as a general rule, to the State and not anywhere else. The Minister dealt with this in his opening speech in a manner which was casual and also misleading. At column 452, Volume 80, of the Official Report of the 24th April, he said:

I would like at this stage to deal with the concept of extra-territoriality. There is nothing novel or extraordinary in this concept. It has already been adopted in our legal system.

Then he goes on to say at column 453.

In our legislation there are plenty of procedents for the assumption of extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction.

He listed five Acts passed at the time. First of all, I think it is somewhat disingenuous to say there is nothing novel or extraordinary in this concept. As the report of the Law Enforcement Commission pointed out at the top of paragraph 20:

The taking of extra-territorial jurisdiction covering a wide range of offences is unprecedented in common law countries.

In common law countries, of which, of course, we are one, it is clearly both novel and extraordinary.

The legislation referred to by the Minister is an old British Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, and, as the Minister pointed out in his speech, it has never been used. The other four Acts he mentioned are all on foot of international agreements and would appear to be covered and specifically authorised by Article 29 of the Constitution which deals with the adoption as the law of the State of international agreements. They are not, therefore, precedents for proceedings such as are set out in this Bill. The Minister took up a great deal of space in his opening speech with matters of international law and he quoted four different cases in which he says "it is considered to be normal or possible to have extra-territorial jurisdiction such as is laid out in this Bill". At column 456 of the same volume of the Official Report he says:

It is at the very basis of the sovereignty of a State that it must be able to guard itself and punish activities for breaches of its criminal law no matter where committed that can affect its own security. This is the security principle, to which is allied the protective principle which allows a state to punish any person for infractions of its criminal law when the effects of these infractions will be or are calculated to be felt within the state, no matter where or by whom committed.

These offences are those which can affect the security of the State. I accept that some of the offences listed in the Schedule to this Bill might be held to affect the security of the State. There are others—for example, a case where someone is charged with having a revolver in his attic. Not by any convolution of the law could this be held to be a danger to the security of the State. Most of the offences listed in the Schedule do not come under this head.

The Minister also quoted a United States case which, he said, declared that the protective principle was recognised in international law:

"The concept of essential sover-eighty of a free nation clearly requires the existence and recognition of an inherent power in the State to protect itself from destruction."

It is now no longer doubted that a State may in exercising its sovereignty punish its nationals for breaches abroad of its criminal law to such extent and in such manner as it may deem proper.

The Minister has provided quite clearly and specifically in this Bill that the offences listed in the Schedule apply whether committed in Northern Ireland by nationals or non-nationals. I am not sure whether one could claim in the absence of their agreement, but I suppose one could claim that under our citizenship laws most Northern Ireland people are Irish citizens, but certainly there is nothing in this Bill that requires that offences be committed by Irish citizens. They could be committed by Englishmen or Germans or any other nationality. Therefore this also does not apply to this Bill.

The third principle is set out by the Minister as follows:

As a state in exercise of its sovereignty may protect its citizens abroad, some states will prosecute any person for infractions of the criminal law committed against one of their nationals.

The Minister's Bill does not provide in any way that the offences committed in the Schedule must be against an Irish national. This does not apply either.

The fourth principle set out by the Minister is what he calls the universality principle:

Finally, there is the universality principle which allows for the punishment of certain grave offences that offend the conscience of mankind. These are such offences as murder, the use of explosives, trading in drugs, trafficking in women and children, piracy jurs gentium, hijacking of aircraft, breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions on protection of sick and wounded combatants, prisoners of war and civilian enemy aliens in time of war and so on, where international policy clearly justifies universal suppression.

Some of the offences such as murder and use of explosives clearly qualify under this head, but many others do not. None of these four heads that the Minister set out in his opening speech in an attempt to justify the extra-territorial provision of the Bill applies to the offences listed in the Bill. We are left with the position that under our Constitution the laws of the State are quite clearly expressed to apply only to the territory of the State. International conventions and so on are covered under Article 29. It is allowable in those cases. With regard to the offences listed in the Bill none of the supposed international precedents listed by the Minister covers the case. They are irrelevant to the Bill and to Northern Ireland.

Article 38.3.1º of the Constitution states:

Special courts may be established by law for the trial of offences in cases where it may be determined in accordance with such law that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice, and the preservation of public peace and order.

This has been dealt with at some length by Senator Mary Robinson and others. It is absolutely clear that the requirements for a Special Court to be set up under Article 38 of the Constitution relate to the territory of the State. Where the Constitution speaks of the ordinary courts being inadequate to secure effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order, it flies in the face of all reason to suggest that the administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order could be outside the jurisdiction of the State. It is quite clearly intended to be within the territory of the State as set out by Article 3 of the Constitution.

The possible permanency of the Special Court has been raised by many speakers. The only court that can take part in the proceedings under this Bill is the Special Court. I presume this is because of the difficulty of transporting a jury to and fro across the Border to hear evidence. The Minister has provided that only the Special Court can deal with trials of this kind. The Special Court is set up by Government proclamation. Clearly this is a most undesirable type of court. One would always hope that the Special Court would be in being for the shortest possible period and that another proclamation would be introduced to end its activities as soon as circumstances warranted it.

If this Bill were to become law it would still be open to a Government to introduce a proclamation abolishing the Special Court. For practical purposes then this Bill would cease to have any effect. There would be no way of trying an accused under it. Having said to the Northern Loyalists, the British Government and so on: "We are bringing in this Bill to try people who have escaped across the Border; even though it may be quite an unworkable Bill, nonetheless the effort has been made," it would be virtually impossible for any Government of the future to abolish the Special Court and in so doing take all the teeth out of the Bill and make it null and void. As a practical result of the enactment of this Bill the Special Court would become permanent. I accept that the Attorney General could direct that the only trials to take place were those of an extra-territorial nature; nonetheless it seems highly undesirable that even an indirect result of the passage of legislation such as this would be to make the Special Court permanent or institutionalised. The provisions of this Bill may well be in breach of Article 34 of the Constitution, which states:

Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution,

There is no doubt that this Bill establishes a new court. The Minister in the Bill describes it as a commission. He says that the commission is not a part of the trial. On page 18, of his speech he states:

...let me stress that what takes place before the commissioner is not the trial or even part of the trial. The Commissioner in the North is simply taking evidence for the trial and the admissibility, cogency and relevance of that evidence is a matter for the trial court.

This is an exercise in semantics, and faulty semantics at that. Let us consider the position. Almost all the evidence will be given to the commission with the Special Court judges present. They listen to the witnesses, judge their reliability and so on, and later on sitting in the Special Court they will listen to the reading of typescript of the evidence. Their decision whether to convict or acquit will be based not on the facts as stated in the reading of the typescript but on the evidence that they have heard at this commission, the ideas and demeanour of the witnesses and their attitude to the manner in which the whole proceedings were conducted by the Northern Ireland judge.

The proceedings have all the characteristics of a trial. It is worthwhile considering in some detail the powers of a commissioner. In considering these powers and functions one must bear in mind the provision of Article 34 of the Constitution that justice should be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution.

The powers of a commissioner—a member of the High Court of Northern Ireland—are fairly extensive powers. They are given to him indirectly in this Bill, directly by the corresponding British legislation. He can fix the date and the times of sitting. He determines the procedure of the sittings. He can direct when the sittings are to be private. He can direct that the name and address of witnesses will not be disclosed. He can direct witnesses to attend and give evidence and to produce documents and so on. He can give any other direction for the purpose of examination that appears reasonable to him. He can decide—this is a very important power which I thought would be given only to a judge acting as a judge in court—whether the accused is to stay in custody in the event of adjournment. He can decide whether he will be returned to bail or be kept in custody. He can exclude anyone from sittings in the interests of order. He can determine questions of privilege and of the immunity of witnesses. He can determine questions as to the exclusion of any evidence or the withholding of any document or things on the ground of public interest, and he can also question the witnesses himself. Witnesses at these proceedings are given the same immunities and privileges as if they were witnesses in a trial on indictment. A witness can commit contempt as if he were in a court of law. These witnesses can commit perjury.

It seems to me to be flying in the face of all reason, in the face of the ordinary meaning of the English language and of the ordinary meaning of legal terms and definitions to say that these proceedings before a commissioner, before a member of the High Court in Northern Ireland, are not proceedings before a court and before a judge acting as a judge and that these proceedings are not, in fact, part of the trial. How can they be anything else but part of the trial? The judges of the Special Court have no control whatever over any single one of all these matters.

The accused is being tried before the Special Court. All the evidence is given in many cases before the so called commission. The High Court judge from the bench in Northern Ireland is in charge of proceedings at that stage. The members of the Special Court must ultimately decide whether the accused is guilty or innocent. I have mentioned they will consider exclusively in this regard the proceedings that they witnessed before the commission. How can they deny them in these circumstances. The commission is a part of the trial, the commission is a court and the comissioner is acting as a judge in an Irish criminal case. In the event that this Bill is submitted to the Supreme Court before being signed by the President, I strongly suspect that the Supreme Court will hold that no matter how the Minister may describe the proceedings in his Bill, it is in fact the creation of a court otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the creation of a judge or the authorisation of trial by a judge other than in the manner provided by the Constitution.

Another difficulty we have to face in regard to this Bill is the Convention on Human Rights. Under Article 6 of the Convention on Human Rights the accused has an absolute right to be present at his trial. Section 11 of the Minister's Bill only gives the accused an option to be present. The option I mentioned is not really an option. You cannot say that the accused has a right to be present at his trial if the circumstances are such—and they undoubtedly are such—that in most cases an accused would not dare to exercise that option. The accused also under Article 6 of the Convention on Human Rights must have the right to get defence witnesses on the same conditions as witnesses against him. It is highly unlikely that in a situation such as this, where the accused is living in one jurisdiction and the evidence is being heard in another, he will be in a position to search for witnesses with the same facility as the prosecution. Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights says:

The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

We all know there is a wealth of complaints in Northern Ireland at the moment and there have been for many years that in the detection of crime and the taking into custody of persons, there is direct and blatant discrimination. It cannot be said that in this respect the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention are secured without discrimination on grounds such as race, language, religion or political or other opinion. No one, not even the Minister, will maintain that such equal rights exist in all cases today in Northern Ireland.

We have said, as we set out in our recent amendment to the Second Reading of this Bill, that we will be willing to support the creation of an all-Ireland court.

How does that tie in with the Constitution?

I can assure the Senator I am going to deal with that aspect. Senators opposite and the Minister have seized upon the fact that it is unconstitutional. I thought that a number of prominent speakers on behalf of Fianna Fáil had made it clear what our view on this was. We accept, as the Minister ought to accept in regard to this Bill, that the creation of an all-Ireland court would per se not be in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. I have said on a number of occasions, and I repeat now, that we in Fianna Fáil would wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support the passage of a referendum to amend the Constitution to allow for such a court.

One of the safeguards which the people have at the moment against the activities of certain Ministers— particularly the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, who would like to eliminate large sections of the Constitution—is that the Government know they would not get any amendment to the Constitution passed without the support of Fianna Fáil. On this issue Fianna Fáil have made it clear that we would support and work to get through the amendment of the Constitution to allow for the creation of an All-Ireland court. It could be done very rapidly. The only delay would be in the drafting of a suitable amendment and, as far as Fianna Fáil are concerned, we would be enthusiastically in favour of doing this. Therefore, the constitutional problem is not one at all.

As has already been said by several speakers, it is quite clear from the phraseology of the report of the Law Enforcement Commission that on the whole they were in favour of the proposal of an all-Ireland court but that they were being pressurised, both by the Irish and British Governments, to produce a report within a matter of weeks—a situation which one should regret because in many respects their report would have been more complete had they been given more time. They made it clear that, although they were attracted to the idea of an all-Ireland court, because of the problem of delays and the need for a referendum on the Constitution and so on, they could not recommend it. This appeared to be their only worry on the matter.

The Government and a number of Senators have suggested that one cannot even begin to consider the question of an all-Ireland court because it would be unacceptable to the Loyalists. I wonder what evidence the Government have to support such an argument. The Law Enforcement Commission was composed of eight members, four from the Republic and four from Northern Ireland, and I do not think it would be unreasonable to suggest that the four Northern Ireland members would be Unionists of some persuasion and yet all four appear to have agreed that, provided the constitutional problems could be overcome, they would be in favour of an all-Ireland court. This was an authoritative statement from the Unionist side. Because of that I cannot imagine why anyone can stand up and say in a blanket statement that an all-Ireland court would not be acceptable to the Loyalists. In view of the quite exaggerated importance which the Loyalists place on this question of territoriality, because they are wrongly convinced that the greater part of the violence originates in the Republic, it may well be that even though in principle they might dislike the idea of having an all-Ireland court, since it would be limited entirely to extra-territorial matters, they might well, if it was put to them in that way, accept the idea.

In any event, I would be interested to know if the Government have made any effort to find out if the Loyalists would agree. Or, is it that the British Government have conveyed to the Irish Government the idea that the Loyalists would not agree? We do not know. We have merely been told in rather vague terms that the proposal is impossible because the Loyalists would not agree. We are entitled to say to the Loyalists: "Look here, we are more than willing to see that terrorism is prosecuted successfully, no matter where it may originate and no matter where the terrorists may flee. We are anxious to do it and this, to our mind, is the only workable way it can be done; any other system simply will not work; take it or leave it."

Notice taken that 12 Members were not present; House counted and 12 Members being present,

This, then, is the alternative which Fianna Fáil have proposed: that there should be an all-Ireland court which would avoid many of the difficulties raised with regard to this legislation. It may be that further difficulties would arise in legislation of that type but, on the whole, it would be far more acceptable both from a legal point of view and also from the point of view of many people in the country.

One of the problems of this legislation is that it stems from a situation which no longer exists. It stems from the old concept of the Sunningdale Agreement of some 18 months ago. No sooner does one mention the word "Sunningdale" than a concerted chorus comes from Members and supporters of the Government that what Fianna Fáil are doing is trying to bargain, that they are saying: "All right, we will deal with terrorists in return for some quid pro quo from the Northern side.” On the contrary, I would suggest that those who express this view have little concept of what precisely was involved in the Sunningdale Agreement. It envisaged an entirely different atmosphere in Northern Ireland to that which existed before Sunningdale or indeed exists today.

It is in the light of the whole concept of Sunningdale that we must consider this legislation. What did Sunningdale envisage? It is no harm to remind Senators opposite, who at one time were so vociferous in their support of Sunningdale and who now seem to have forgotten what it stood for. First of all, under paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the agreed communiqué which was issued following the conference between the Irish and British Governments it was provided that there should be a Council of Ireland and coupled with this a Council of Ministers chosen from the two forms of Government in Ireland. There was to be a form of consultative assembly chosen from the Assembly in Belfast and Dáil Éireann. Then paragraph 10 provided that something was to be done to deal with crimes of violence. It was agreed by all parties that persons committing crimes of violence, however motivated, in any part of Ireland should be brought to trial irrespective of the part of Ireland in which they are located. It is under that particular section that this Bill is envisaged. One might say that that particular paragraph is the only thing left of the whole elaborate edifice that was Sunningdale.

Paragraph 11 dealt with human rights. It was agreed that the Council of Ireland would first of all consider how the provisions of the European Conventions would become law in each part of our island. That, of course, is a euphemism. What it really means is to become law in Northern Ireland. Secondly, it was agreed that the Council would recommend whether additional protection was needed in the field of human rights. Again, I think that is essentially a euphemism. In the third place it said that this additional protection would influence the creation of an ombudsman or complaints commissioner. Paragraph 12 spoke of:

...the need to ensure public support for and identification with a police service throughout the whole community.

That is an important point and could not be stressed too much—"the need to ensure public support for and identification with a police service throughout the whole community". Again, I quote:

The Conference expressed the hope that the wide range of agreement that had been reached, and the consequent formation of a power-sharing Executive, would make a major contribution to the creation of an atmosphere throughout the community where there would be widespread support for and identification with all the institutions of Northern Ireland.

Paragraph 14 says:

...the British Government stated that, as soon as the security problems were resolved and the new institutions were seen to be working effectively, they would wish to discuss the devolution of responsibility for normal policing and how this might be achieved with the Northern Ireland Executive and the Police.

Paragraph 15 says that the three Governments would co-operate under the Council of Ireland "through their respective police authorities". The Irish and British Governments were each to set up a police authority "appointments to which would be made after consultation with the Council of Ministers of the Council of Ireland". Northern appointments were to be made after consultation with the Northern Ireland Executive which would consult with the Council of Ministers of the Council of Ireland. When the two police authorities were constituted "they will make their own arrangements to improve policing throughout the island and developing community identification with and support of the police services".

Paragraph 16 reads:

An independent complaints procedure for dealing with complaints against the police will be set up.

Paragraph 17 reads:

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will set up an all-party committee from the Assembly to examine how best to introduce effective policing throughout Northern Ireland with particular reference to the need to achieve public identification with the police.

That was the Sunningdale communiqué. On this, 14th day of May, 1975, what is the position? There is now no Council of Ireland, no Council of Ministers, no consultative Assembly, no Northern Ireland Executive, no powersharing. There is no progress on human rights. There is no ombudsman, no action to increase public support for the police. There is no police authority; no independent complaints procedure. All that is left of this vast and promising edifice that was Sunningdale is this rather squalid Bill.

Ministers have the nerve to pretend that Fianna Fáil's point about Sunningdale is "bargaining for political gains with people's lives." This is entirely and completely untrue. The simple point is that the provisions of this Bill could only ever begin to be workable if there was a totally new atmosphere in Northern Ireland. In the absence of any progress with any aspect of the Sunningdale proposals the Bill remains irrelevant and ridiculous. It cannot be worked in a situation where, as a result of the collapse of Sunningdale, there continues to be a complete lack of confidence in the minority in Northern Ireland with regard to the impartiality of the judiciary, the military, the police and the public prosecutors.

Finally, I want to summarise. I regret taking up the time of the Seanad at such length, but it is important that we should be clear as to precisely what is involved in the Bill. I may summarise our objections to the Bill. First of all, it is clearly repugnant to article 3 of the Constitution, to article 34 and to article 38. Secondly, it seems clearly inconsistent with certain articles of the Convention on Human Rights. Thirdly, it does not provide for fair trial because the accused is not given a genuine chance of hearing the evidence against him. He is given an option but not any real, genuine right. The procedure for receiving evidence is unsatisfactory and unworkable. Further, there is the very serious objection that the evidence—in most cases all the evidence—will be given in secret. It does not seem to me that you can make a trial public by reading secret evidence out in the form of a typescript. The names of the witnesses in certain cases can be kept secret. There appears to be no method of identifying the accused as the person who, in fact, is being accused by the evidence. There is, finally, no assurance of fair administration of this procedure by Northern Ireland prosecutions. For all these reasons, it does not seem to provide for a fair trial.

Fourthly, the passage of this Bill will gravely compromise respect for our courts and judges. Fifthly, this Bill marks a complete breach with the rule of law and with the universally accepted practices of criminal jurisdiction. Sixthly, for purely political reasons—the question of our relations with the North and perhaps of our relations with the British Government —this Bill will make the use of the Special Court and therefore trials without jury permanent. Finally, the entire circumstances envisaged at Sunningdale no longer exist and the Bill is impossible to administer in existing conditions. For all these reasons we oppose the Bill and intend to vote against it.

First, I would like to say that Senator Yeats owes no apology to the Seanad for his contribution today, even for the length of it. I was glad he apologised even though he did not owe an apology. We all know who owes the Seanad an apology, an apology which we have not received, either from the Senator concerned or any other Senator.

On a point of order, no Senator in this House owes an apology to any other Senator.

The Senator should be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

Of course there is a Senator who owes the Seanad an apology. There is a Senator who owes me personally an apology, and that is Senator McGlinchey. He said that if I agreed with the Bill I would be a collaborator with the British. I deny that. I will agree with the sentiments of this Bill. If he or his family gave the service that my family gave to this State then he would know what is in my mind. He may not know that my father served this State, was a member of the Oireachtas from 1922 to 1927. He was an active trade unionist at that time. He served the country in that regard. My father served through those difficult times and my mother had to put up with the abuses that came the way at that time. I should like the Seanad to condemn the attitude of Senator McGlinchey. I am entitled to ask that the Senators on the other side should apologise to me. I also served this State by being a Member of Seanad Éireann, and I will serve it to the best of my ability. I see much good in the Bill that is before us. By accepting that Bill I feel too that I am serving the people in this State of ours.

I have confidence in the justice of this State. It has been tried and justice has prevailed. It will be tried in the future and justice will also prevail. This Bill will help justice to prevail in this State. If there is bad law in the Six Counties, all we can do is use our influence and our advice to try to improve that law. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice and the other Ministers of the Cabinet have been doing that as had the late Seán Lemass when he was Taoiseach. He approached Terence O'Neill and offered his advice. We, on this side of the House, also approached those people and advised them to improve the law there. We cannot legislate for the Six Counties. We cannot legislate for Britain. We can legislate for the Twenty-six Counties. If this sorry situation still persists, remember that Fianna Fáil have been in Government for 33 years since 1922 and if they say we have failed, they also failed to do anything about it.

We on this side of the House condemn the IRA, the UDA, UDR and all those military bodies. We condemn them emphatically. We can, by this Bill, bring some form of justice. We can try those who shoot or bomb in the Six Counties and run for protection to the Twenty-six Counties.

Does any Senator doubt that justice should be done in this regard? Although he is not here I ask Senator McGlinchey this question: If he were travelling in the Six Counties with his wife, having left his family behind him in Donegal, and if his wife were shot and the person who carried out that act escaped to the Twenty-six Counties, would he then cry for justice or would he accept the situation that that person was allowed to go free because he was in the Twenty-six Counties? I would say that he would be the first man to look for justice.

Let us take some of the deeds carried out in the Six Counties in the past six months and we can see that because of the law that is there now there was an avenue for escape. Let us take, for example, the wife who heard the knock at the door, who opened the door hoping to meet a friend but was brushed aside, and saw her husband being shot at the fireside with her children around her. That person escaped to the Twenty-six Counties. Should we allow that person to go free? Of course we should not. That person should be brought to justice. But because of his political affiliations he goes free. Let us take the people, the husbands or wives or children of those who went shopping one day hoping to bring home food, clothing or toys for the family. Members of an illegal organisation came up to that shop, planted a bomb and then ran for shelter, probably to the Twenty-six Counties. That bomb caused many deaths, 12, 13 or 14. Is it suggested that because he escaped to the Twenty-six Counties the person who planted the bomb should go free? I doubt that very much. I doubt very much that any person in the Twenty-six Counties of Ireland would agree that that should be allowed to happen.

Let us take also the situation when the bombs were planted in Dublin. Dublin people coming from work were killed by those bombs and the planters escaped to the Six Counties. Should they, because of their escape to the Six Counties, escape from justice? I would like to ask the people of Dublin and relatives of those who were killed how did they feel about it. How do they feel today about those people escaping? How do they feel about those people not being brought to justice? To me, life is precious, the most precious thing that God created. The life of a human being is more precious than anything. Anyone who takes that life away intentionally should be brought to justice no matter in what part of the globe he is. Any avenue that allows that person to escape justice should be closed and closed quickly and the sooner that avenue is closed the sooner we will get away from bombers and murderers and the sooner peace will come back to this country.

The majority of Irish people, whether they are in the Six Counties, the Twenty-six Counties, in England or anywhere else in the world, want justice. Those of our people who are earning their living in England want justice more than any others because they are living with the English people and working happily with them. It damages those people who are living happily in England. We all know that. We know why they had to leave this country and we know that after living a while in England they became part of that community. We know too that they always think of us here and when financial help was needed those people sent it across and helped us.

This Bill was introduced because of the abhorrence of violence and the crimes committed in Ireland against Irish people. If we abhor violence then we must agree that this Bill must be accepted and enacted. Even if amendments have to be made, the heart of the Bill must be accepted by all. We all know of many acts of violence even if they were not the cause of death. We allowed this situation to carry on : people could raid banks either in the Six Counties or the Twenty-six Counties. Some young girl, a cashier for instance, found a gun produced and the frightened girl had to hand out the money. Justice must be done in cases like this. The only way we can carry out justice is to pass legislation here and in the Dáil and make that legislation stand. This is what we are trying to do today.

I have listened to contributions from Senators on this side and the other side and I hold nothing against the people who have opposed the Bill because they might see something in the Bill that we cannot see. They are entitled to make amendments. If they are accepted by the Seanad and the Dáil those amendments will be included in it.

I cannot say that I am proud of Senator McGlinchey. He did not make any contribution to help this Bill. He made a contribution attacking it. I know every word he said because I was here from the minute he stood up on Wednesday until we adjourned on Wednesday night. I was here at 10.30 on Thursday morning until he concluded after 1 p.m. that day. Not once, in my opinion, did he contribute in any way to a proposal to amend the Bill. What he said, in my opinion, had the effect of putting Protestants against Catholics. His implication being that any bad acts that were done were done by Protestants.

I would like the people who were not here that day to read Senator McGlinchey's contribution and to read it carefully, whether they are from Cavan or Donegal in his own constituency, or Monaghan or any other county in the Twenty-six Counties. He has no love for the Protestant faith. I am a Catholic and I accept those who think that another faith is better than mine—I am proud to be a Catholic but I would not condemn those of any other faith. He has condemned them more strongly than any other person I have ever heard. Everything bad that was done was by those of the Protestant faith.

He said he did not like character assassinations and that people are trying to do this, especially to him, because he might be called a Provo or a member of the IRA. After listening to his speech I am convinced his sympathies are that way. He condemned the UDR, the UDA, the British and the RUC. Of course he was right to condemn them for their acts. The acts he referred to were carried out and he was right to condemn them for that.

We must remember, however, that even though he condemned the IRA he never once specified one act that they did and there were many murders carried out by the IRA and the Provos which he could have mentioned. He avoided them and by doing so there is no doubt in my mind that he has favouritism towards the IRA and condemnation for the others. All paramilitary organisations should be condemned whether they are the IRA, the UDA, the UDR, the UVF, the Loyalists or the Protestant extremists which he mentioned. We have Catholic extremists as well and I condemn them here and now.

I have confidence in the justice of this State and that justice will prevail if people are brought before the courts. If they are brought before the courts in the Twenty-six Counties and evidence given in the presence of the prisoner or in the presence of the High Court judge, when that evidence is examined by the Commission, I have confidence in the justice of the Twenty-six Counties.

As I have said, life is precious. I hope we will do something in the next few days, by passing this Bill either as it is or in an amended form, that will help life to be preserved; that will help the mother or the wife or the father, son or daughter, to go out to shop in peace, to answer the knock at the door without fear, to be able to walk the streets of Dublin, Belfast or Derry in peace; to enable the people in the Twenty-six Counties to take their holidays in the Six Counties and to enable the people to come from the Six Counties to enjoy their summer holidays here.

Do we ever think of what has happened? Do we ever think of the fear of the people who are sitting at home waiting for the bread-earner to arrive home? The usual time would probably be six o'clock when that person is expected home and because of some delay that person could be held up for 15 to 30 minutes without sending word home. Do we ever feel for the person who is at home who is worried in case something has happened? Is it not time that those people can live in peace? Is it not time that that fear was got rid of? We should do all we can to help in that regard.

We should do all we can to help the Twenty-six Counties and the Six Counties to come closer together. We will come closer together if we have confidence enough in one another to be friendly with one another, to respect one another. If we do all this and if we hold out the hand of friendship—as the late Seán Lemass held it out to Terence O'Neill—to those people in the North we will be doing much to help the people to live happily together whether they are from the Six Counties or the Twenty-six Counties. We have much to offer and this Bill helps in some way to do that. It helps us to come closer together, to know the problems that are in the Six Counties and in Britain. We are all very close if we only realise it—our relations are scattered all over the two islands.

We can have confidence in each other and can offer confidence to the other people by talking to them and by showing that we are interested in them. The principal way to show that interest is to condemn the violence that has taken place in the past six or seven years. We can condemn that violence if we speak long enough and loud enough and show that we are not afraid to speak up. By condemning that violence we can bring everybody closer together.

We all know that because of the bomb and the gun the two parts of our country are more divided now than they have ever been. If we can eliminate the bomb and the gun and the hijacking and the robbing we will be moving in the direction of getting the people of these two parts of the country closer together, to have confidence in one another and to work for one another. The wife can know that if the husband is a quarter of an hour or half an hour late there is no fear that he will be shot on the way home, that he will be kidnapped or that he will be knee-capped. We often forget, when we are talking about wars and battles and so on, that the people who are left behind are the people who really suffer. If we, by the passing of this Bill, help to show that we are about to do something to bring back justice to the Twenty-six Counties, the Six Counties and Britain, we will be doing a good day's work for everybody concerned.

We held out the hand of friendship to the people of the other faith, to priests and Ministers and that little act brought much sanity back to this country. The coming together of those people should point out to us that we should forget our religious differences.

If we accept the contents of this Bill we may be able to bring to justice those who are causing so much trouble. Unlike Senator McGlinchey, I am not enjoying myself here today. This is not a subject for enjoyment. It needs much careful thought. I hope Senators and the Members of the Dáil will give it a lot of thought. Their contributions may help in some way to bring the people, North and South closer together. The hand of friendship would be extended and we all could then live happily together.

It is not my intention to indulge in a constitutional argument in connection with this Bill. I have never tried to be a bombast. I leave all that to the lawyer Members. I had reason to ask when I objected to the introduction of the Bill why it has been introduced at this time, in view of the situation in Ireland at present. This Bill is a very small part of the Sunningdale Agreement but I am at a loss to understand why this part of the Sunningdale Agreement should be taken and regarded as something one should support, bearing in mind that other more important parts of the Sunningdale Agreement, such as recognising the Irish dimension, continue to be ignored. Coming, as it did, before the Northern Convention elections, there is the implication that at somebody's instigation there was an attempt made to further appease the extreme elements of the Unionist people in the Six Counties. If this is so, and I believe it is so, it would appear that it has not worked, because we all know now that any attempt to appease that type of element up there has failed.

I am at a loss to understand the absence of consultation on this Bill with responsible bodies in the North who advocate a 32-county Ireland. It is evident that no consultations were held. No consideration was given to the points of view of people who set out to become elected to whatever type of parliament they are offered. Paramilitary forces exist both sides of the Border. The SDLP were obviously not consulted about the timing of the introduction of this Bill. It has been made known to me by prominent members of the SDLP that they conveyed to the Government and to the Opposition their unfavourable reaction to this Bill. Bearing that in mind, is this not another display of bad judgment on the part of the promoters of this Bill? I question the political strategy involved. Even if no controversial elements were contained in the Bill, this is not the time to introduce it.

In November and December, 1972, when the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Bill, 1972, was being introduced by the then Government, the Opposition, which contained Labour Party Members and Fine Gael Members, made many speeches about the introduction of that type of measure. A colleague of mine in the Labour Party took time to make the point that this could be described as a political trap to accuse people of being Provos. It is very easy to label people who have regard to the importance of speaking out. In this particular matter one could be described as a Provo, an Official, an IRSP member and so on simply because he set out to express himself. I reject any accusation from anybody that I am a Provo, an Official or an IRSP member. I am a member of the Labour Party. The Labour Party belong to me as much as they do to any other member of the party. I will not accept that this type of label has to be attached to somebody who expresses his or her point of view.

The previous speaker mentioned intimidation. I have had my own experience of threatening telephone calls since I took my stand on this Bill. I am also very conscious of the bombs planted in Dublin some time ago. I abhor the idea of bombs, be they planted in Ireland or England. That is not the way to bring about the freedom of our country. In the final analysis we will all have to sit down and talk. I abhor particularly the interference with people who set out to explain themselves, whether their point of view agrees with mine or not. We all have a right to express ourselves.

I object to any type of repressive legislation. I recognise people's religious and political rights, their freedom of expression and movement. Some Senators said this is not repressive legislation. I do not want to go into detail on this Bill, but it makes the Special Criminal Court permanent. This was the same type of thing that was talked about when the present Government were in Opposition. It also affords the police an opportunity for power of arrest and search without warrant. To my knowledge, the only other way in which that is permitted is under the Offences Against the State Act and I hold that that Act is repressive.

I would also expect in a matter of this kind, particularly when we are thinking in terms of the interests of the whole country, that there would be consultation with all the parties. I understand that all the parties represented in both Houses are interested and support the idea of a 32-county Ireland, no matter what one or two odd fellows might say. There has been a marked absence of consultation. I would like to say in all seriousness to the Minister, for Heaven's sake take this Bill back and do not pursue it. There is something more important to be done in this part of our country even by the Minister's own Department in the treatment of prisoners, political or otherwise——

There are no political prisoners in this country.

Whether political or otherwise, that is a matter of contention. Whether they are political, or young or old, there is a marked absence of some understanding and a need to do something urgently about the treatment of people who are found to offend the law. There is no denying of this, it is crying out every day of the week. Let us consider what happened in the last few weeks. I heard that two convicted prisoners and one on remand were found dead—hanged. There is an obvious need for proper examination of prisoners before admission to a prison. Such people should be medically treated. I do not want to go too far into this but everyone realises that there is a need for our young people to be properly treated. There is need for a proper form of rehabilitation for prisoners. This is not done. We all know from experience and it is a well-known ploy that if you want to take people's minds off the main objective, you introduce something controversial. It would answer this House and the other House better if they considered the problems in this part of Ireland—there are over 103,000 people unemployed, prices are rising and what effect has the British £ on our wellbeing? We should be talking of what should or should not be done in connection with the economy.

Am I to take it that the ploy is being fully utilised here? Are the people expected to have regard to this controversial Bill and feel that this problem, which is affecting unemployment and the cost of living, will go away? That problem will not be solved with this type of legislation. In addition, I want to say that from my reading of the scene, having regard to the time I tried to take to read the debates of 1972, there is a huge double-think being indulged in in respect of this matter at the moment. Why the double-think is beyond my comprehension.

One of the most important industries in this country, next to agriculture, is tourism. This Bill is no contribution to tourism. It is not an encouragement to people to come in and spend a holiday here, raising a scare as if something must be done urgently to withstand the reason for the introduction of this Bill. There is no real case in existence for this Bill. I do not believe it will put an end to sectarian murders. Furthermore, in that connection, I am at a loss to understand why there was not a public expression of this Government's protest to the British about their inactivity in so far as the sectarian murders are concerned.

In this day and age we talk about human and civil rights. We are inclined to forget that there is a Commission on Human Rights in existence, or supposed to be in existence, in the Six Counties. It has been in operation since 1973 chaired by Lord Feather, the former General Secretary of the British Trade Union Congress. It is strange that after 18 months of operation, nothing meaningful has emanated from that Commission. Did any member of this Government complain and ask "what about human rights in the Six Counties?"

I was fearful before the Convention elections that, with the introduction of this Bill and its pursuance if it becomes an Act, the Minister for Justice would deal with his opposite number —the Minister for Home Affairs. As the result of that election we all know there is no thought about power sharing. If these people get their way our Minister will have to deal with Craig, if not Paisley. Can you see justice being brought about in that way?

Mention has been made about the fairness of our courts. What guarantee have we that fairness will be given in the Six-County courts, particularly when you have in mind the type of operation there and the way in which the members of the British Army who brutally murdered Irish people—absolutely innocent people who had nothing to do with Provos, the Officials or anybody else—were let free? This is the confidence we place in that "set-up" up there. We should bear in mind the expressions of the Commander-General of the British Army of his feeling about the situation there, that the British Army is a sacred cow in so far as England is concerned, and that nobody in the British Houses of Parliament stands up and says: "This is wrong, and that is wrong, in so far as the Army is concerned."

I am concerned, too, about the restructuring of the Six-County police force. That was supposed to be on the cards but it has been given up by the British. As I already said, the Irish dimension has been given up by the British. Why are we bending over backwards to go along with such people? Why do we have to do this? I am sorry to say that the British Labour Government have never done anything useful for Ireland. This is ironic coming from a Labour man but if we received anything from the British, it was from the Conservatives that it came. We can go as far back as the Welsh wizard, David Lloyd George, the Liberal, who perpetrated Partition. That era was followed by J.H. Thomas and Ramsey MacDonald, both Labour men, and they did not do anything for Ireland. We had to wait for Chamberlain, a Conservative, to give us back our ports. Wilson did a double trick with Attlee in connection with Irish affairs. Who prorogued Stormont? Can we trust that person enough to have dealings with him? I have asked the question: "Why has this legislation been introduced at this time?" I should like to know if there has been any pressure put on the Government by Mr. Wilson or anybody else. The Minister in his introduction emphasised law and order. His speech ignores the fact that there is such a thing as a law and order complex. We must remember that it takes two to make a war.

Mr. Stan Orme rang me after my speech on the introduction of this Bill. I seem to owe him an apology. He told me that what he had said to me about their being in possession of the Dublin car bombers was confidential. My understanding was that there was no confidentiality about it. It might have been confidential at one time. What I had referred to was the meeting between Senators and Deputies, Members of the Labour Party. If he regarded that as confidential I was not so told at that time. When I met Mr. Orme I drew his attention to a situation which continues to exist in the Six Counties. This is a basis for recruitment into the Provisional IRA or any other organisation. I am referring to the confidential telephone. People are asked on television to ring up if they have any information about a person but the matter will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We all know what that means. It has happened that people, because they did not like another person, have rung up the British Army and told them that they had reason to believe this, that or the other thing about a particular house. A raid then takes place and the man and his wife start protesting because they are absolutely innocent, but all they get is the butt end of a rifle and the wife and the husband being pulled about. Naturally, when the raid is over the people will say: "Well, if that is justice I am for the Provos or for this or for that." There is a possibility of our having that type of situation down here now.

One of the aspects of the Bill with which I am very concerned is the way in which evidence will be taken. Could we seriously believe that witnesses will travel to the South to give evidence? I believe that even the accused is unlikely to risk protective custody in the North to examine the witness. The backing is not there. It is not a question of being palsy-walsy about this. This is a serious matter. This brings me back to the point of why this legislation is being introduced now. What are we getting by way of a bargain, if there has been a bargain? Who is dictating to whom?

When this Government were formed there was great talk about open government. I admired it, too. There is nothing open about this Bill. This is what troubles me. We will have a situation which will divide instead of uniting people. It is wrong to place our Army and Garda in this situation. How can we be expected to collaborate with the armed forces in the North when they are not trusted by the majority of our people living there? The British involvement in Irish affairs is a very sad piece of history. If we are to rectify that part of history we ought to do it by some other means.

I recognise also that there is a marked difference between the operation of British civil law and the Brits when they are seeking retribution. There are records to prove this. We often say that there is a great sense of justice in their civil law but when it comes to the Brits defending what they hold to be their own, especially the utilisation of their Army, it is an entirely different matter.

We all know that the RUC have been identified as a biased and sectarian force. I presume they would be utilised if this Bill is passed. When we speak of co-operation with the forces of law and order in the North of Ireland, that is important to bear in mind. It is important to identify clearly what we are to involve ourselves in. I do not have to spell out the deeds of the British Army, since 1969 or before that, or of the SAS. We must show that we are not falling over backwards to placate the British.

I was horrified by the Minister's remarks, quoted in The Irish Times before the Convention elections, in which he criticised the attitude of the SDLP towards policing in the Six Counties. We are often told that good relations exist between the Government and the Opposition Party in regard to the SDLP. If this is so, why does more consultation not take place? If we regard the SDLP as the law and order party, the constitutional party, why do we not consult them before introducing a Bill of this kind and ask them for their views?

I am satisfied that it is the wish of most Members of the Oireachtas— there may be one or two exceptions— to see a united Ireland. Some people might like us to forget our origins and what we hold dear. They would like us to forget our philosophy, forget Pearse and Connolly. I reject the views of such people. Personally, my ambition is quite clear. I seek the welfare of all the people of Ireland and the opportunity for us all to live in harmony so that we can look to the future with hope, but I do not see any of these aspirations contained in this Bill. We have suffered Partition for a long time. If successive Governments had tried, since the introduction of Partition, to do something towards uniting our country, I believe we would not have so many killings as we have had for the past few years. I deny anybody's right to label another person without understanding them. If I did not believe in negotiation, I believed in the gun and the bomb, I would not be in this House, I would not be a member of the Labour Party.

I would entreat the Minister to give further consideration to this matter, leave it to one side and through him I would appeal to the Government and indeed to the Fianna Fáil Party, to combine and put their minds down to the real problems confronting our country—growing unemployment and high prices which will eventually result in worse situations.

Recently the Minister for Finance warned everybody of what is likely to happen. He indicated that if things go on as they are, there is only one thing left, and that is to get out. We know from looking around that there is no place to go. This is our country and we should all be able to sit down and talk in a rational form about the real problems that confront our country, forget this type of legislation and get down to reality.

Business suspended at 5.50 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.

I should like to start by paying a tribute to Senator Mullen for making a very sincere speech, not every part of which I would agree with, but in a debate which has not always been characterised by sincerity he spoke from the heart and I salute him for that, particularly as an Independent with no axe to grind. I know what he said may not have pleased the people on the Government benches. It may have given some joy to the Opposition, but that is not the point I am trying to make. Senator Mullen obviously meant every word he said. I always find that, when you have someone like that, they are the sort of people one can talk to and negotiate with. I have done some talking, too, with Senator Mullen. He is someone I respect greatly. I think that his sentiments are extremely important ones. I do not agree with everything he said, but it is important the area of disagreement regarding the proposals in this Bill should be made clear, and they have not been made entirely clear by some of the Opposition speeches. This whole area is a difficult and a delicate one. It involves our relationship with Northern Ireland and with Britain. I look on these as separate relationships. One of the great problems is that they become confused very often.

I must say that some of the things that have been said here so far worry me. I think we are approaching a crisis in Anglo-Irish relationships. We may try to wish it off. We may try to adopt the stance that the only way out of this problem is for the British to remain in Northern Ireland, but I do not think that is going to happen. This whole series of relationships are at the kernel of this Bill.

If the Minister does not mind me paying him a compliment, in my discussions with him personally as a member of the Government I have always found him one of the people who were particularly sensitive to the kernel of this problem. Whether I agree with every proposal or whether I do not, is not the question. I think he made these proposals in the correct spirit. I have always found in my discussions with him that he was willing to consider all aspects of a question however vexed. I would not say that this is a trait which characterises everybody in the present Government or indeed everybody in the previous Government. I would lump them all together.

There is still a great lack of sensitivity in our relationships with Northern Ireland. This may have betrayed my particular prejudices, but I think the kernel to this Bill is the fact that we have got to make some sort of distinction between the North of Ireland and Great Britain. It may be that from the purely legal point of view Northern Ireland is just a part of the United Kingdom, and if we wished to follow Enoch Powell's logic that is exactly where we would end up. Nobody, whether he is Irish or British, excepting Enoch Powell and a few of his followers, could deny that there is a very important difference between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. That is one of the cruxes of this Bill as I see it.

I have tried to stress the special relationships which I think we should have in this part of the country with Northern Ireland. This is quite distinct from any relationship we should have with the rest of the United Kingdom. This is one of the crucial points at issue here. I tried to point that out to the Minister for Education last week and he refused to be led down what he called an emotive alleyway. I thought that it was a disappointing reaction from a Government Minister. He thought no distinction could be made, but the crux of the whole Irish problem is we have got to distinguish between our relationships with Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

There have been some points that have been put in opposition to this legislation. There have been pretty war-like speeches and there have been some speech talking about the impossibility of justice in the North and how there is a biased situation; the courts are biased and the police are biased. These are problems. I am not saying that there is not a measure of bias and I am not saying that there are no problems. One has only got to look at the Widgery Tribunal and the recent McElhone case to see the sort of problems there are.

One of the things we have got to face up to in the Republic of Ireland is that sooner or later we are going to have to deal with the people in the North. It is my very sincere conviction—and that has been cemented by recent events—that the majority community in the North will not do a deal with us while they can hide behind Britain's coat tails. I do not think I would have put it as strongly as this some years ago, but I am becoming convinced that the deal that has got to be done between the Irishmen on this island—and that involves legislation such as this—will not be done while the British presence is so strong on the ground.

I might illustrate this in an anecdotal way. I was in Waringstown last year talking to a Protestant group doing my bit to try and put a moderate Southern point of view and I got a very good reception. I had played cricket against the famous Harrison family from Waringstown. Waringstown were once the Irish champions. The Waringstown people were prepared to receive me whether I had horns growing out of the back of my head. I put my point of view to them and there was a good deal of discussion afterwards.

People might realise that Waringstown is not an area noted for its liberality of views: it is in the Bible belt; it is a hard-line Protestant and a hard-line Unionist area. In the middle of the discussion one of the members of the audience got up and said: " There are lots of things that I dislike about the Republic but when it comes to the relationship between the Republic and Northern Ireland, having Britain involved is like taking a mother-in-law on your honeymoon." That was a good way of putting it. Sooner or later we are going to have to face up to the situation of having to deal with our fellow Irishmen and this may mean our fellow Irish Protestants in the North.

It occurred to me during the debate that some of the war-like speeches made in opposition to the Bill were not just entirely anti-British in their motivation but they had sectarian traces as well. I say this as a Southern Protestant. I feel that the people who made them did not realise or did not make them in that spirit, but as a Protestant I must say that I interpreted some of the sentiments in this way.

I saw a remark recently attributed in the Northern newspapers to a member of the IRA who was reputed to have been asked what he was going to do when the British left, and he said: "Then the fight will be with the planters and that is where it is going to end." As someone who spends a great deal of time in Northern Ireland, I wonder when the fight comes with the planters on which side I am going to be. The way in which some of the sentiments have been expressed in opposition disturb me greatly.

I have been attempting to make the rather difficult and subtle distinction between anti-British and anti-Protestant. It is an important distinction. Being Irish may involve one in being anti-British in a civilised way. The interests of the two countries may diverge more as time goes on: they may diverge in a critical way over the situation in Northern Ireland. This is totally different from being anti-Protestant. As I said, we will be faced with a situation in which we are confronted with the Northern Protestants without the British umbrella. I feel Britain will not stay in Northern Ireland ad infinitum. They may decide to leave the Irish to their own devices rather sooner than some of us would like. That is the problem we have to face. It is important that we face it now rather than then.

I have always attempted in my contributions not to minimise the differences in approach which we have in the South: we should not minimise them. There are two different strands of opinion: they both involve the idea of Irish unity and what should be done about it at this particular time. This legislation is a genuine attempt to do something about our relationships with our fellow-Irishmen in the North. My main criticism is that I am not sure it will work. I cannot stand over a situation in which Irishmen are murdered in Northern Ireland and their murderers hide in the South.

I spend a great deal of time in the North with both sections of the community: I have many contacts there. I have great feelings of affection for the North and I have spent a good deal of time up there since I was young. I cannot give an answer to the people who say: "Look, they have just murdered so-and-so and his killer is hiding out south of the Border. What are you going to do about it?" It is a very great problem. I am not sure that there are not other approaches to this whole matter.

The Minister in his opening speech invited us to suggest alternative methods of trying to deal with the problem. Of course we know the Law Enforcement Commission has reported on possible ways of dealing with this problem. Many speakers have pointed out that the Law Enforcement Commission was a result of the Sunningdale Agreement and the Sunningdale Agreement has now broken down. This is the last vestige of Sunningdale. Is it right to put this last vestige of the Sunningdale Agreement into practice when no other part of the Sunningdale Agreement now holds? It is a very difficult question and one that should be raised and faced. I am not absolutely sure that what is being proposed in this Bill is the right way of dealing with the problem.

One of the things that has worried me most of all in the discussion that has gone on is the talk about the problem of bias in the Northern courts, in the police, and in the Northern Administration as a whole. I am not denying that bias exists: it is obvious to every objective person that there is a problem of bias. How bad that bias is is one of the things that has to be taken into account if legislation is being passed which gives some power and involves some co-operation between the authorities north and south. Have we got to the stage when our judiciary here can really co-operate with the Northern judiciary and when our security forces here can co-operate with the Northern security forces? If we are going to pass legislation like this it is one of the problems we have got to consider very seriously. It is easy to say that there is no bias in this part of the country. I often ask myself, when this question of bias is raised, if, when the State was founded in 1921 and 1922 we had a population in this part of the country that was divided along religious lines 60 : 40 as the population in the North was, would we have had a situation which settled down as quickly and as happily as it has done. I am certain we would not. I think when we spend our time patting ourselves on the back and saying what a fine healthy unbiassed race of people we are, we should reflect on the situation. The minority here is 5 per cent and the minority has kept its head below the ground most of the time. The minority did not do badly out of the deal. I am saying that the minority played it pretty cool and the minority, because it was only 5 per cent, was not in a position to kick up a hell of a row.

If one reads the reports of Seanad debates in the 1920s or the 1930s you will see a totally different picture to the picture that emerges now, even in a political debate like this. There was much more bitterness between the Government and the Opposition then divided along civil war lines. There were very many unpleasant references to the minority and to their behaviour. There were the famous debates on censorship. There was the famous debate which "named"The Tailor and Ansty—a book written by that delightful couple in West Cork which was publicly burned in their hearth in Gougane Barra. There was incredible bitterness—not just civil war bitterness but sectarian bitterness. It is to our credit that we have got over this situation: it does not obtain now. It is to some extent a reflection of the fact that the religious minority has been a small one, 5 per cent to 95 per cent. One of the pleasant happenings is that our religious problems have settled down and we are in a position to face our religious differences in a civilised way.

I think this is at the kernel of this legislation. The Northern community is much more evenly divided. The unfortunate partitioning of the State, which was as a result of political manoeuvering between the Northern Protestants and the British, has left a situation like that. It will not remain as it is for very long. When we talk about bias and security forces that we cannot trust, we must realise that sooner or later we shall have to deal with the people up there. It may be considerably sooner rather than later.

My feeling is that the real deal will not be done while Britain is still on the ground. The Northern Protestant will not do a deal while Britain is there. The day on which Britain withdraws may be nearer than we think. That view is compounded by a number of different things, one of them being the economic problems which Britain faces, the fact that Britain is now in a post-colonial situation and the fact that the internal problems in Britain are building up and she appears to be unable to solve them. I have said on a number of occasions in this House and I have always urged that our best way of doing something constructive about the North is by asserting our own independence and our own personality as a nation in the South. The Northerner gives us credit right across the board for all the things we have done ourselves. In very many ways we should be striving to be more, rather than less, independent of the United Kingdom—in our institutions, our legal system, in our economics and in our financial system. A Northerner will not give us any credit for trying to ape Britain.

One of the things that worries the Northerner—particularly the Northern Protestant—when it comes to a political settlement—is that he feels a deal will be done behind his back between Dublin and Westminster. The Northerner has a very ambivalent attitude to Westminster. We must distinguish that there are three corporate states to be considered in this matter—the Republic, Northern Ireland and Westminster. We should make every effort to co-operate with Northerners but in the case of Britain our interests may diverge very widely. This is one of the key difficulties in this discussion.

I wonder if we should not have looked at one of the other solutions which was mentioned by the Law Enforcement Commission and which involved changing our extradition laws. The Law Enforcement Commission produced no conclusive report on that matter; in fact they divided equally. The four Southern members of the commission put a case against changing the extradition laws and, using the revised extradition laws to deal with the situation. The case for changing the extradition laws was put by the four members from the North and the UK. I think that matter should be looked at again. We should strike a pretty hard bargain with Westminster if we intended changing our extradition laws.

I will make some suggestions, but I do not really think that the Bill before us will ever work. It is too cumbersome and too complicated. There is too much coming and going between the North and the South. There is too much travelling to get evidence. It is unlikely to work. It is an attempt to solve the problem and I shall treat it in that spirit, but its mechanics are too cumbersome and technically too difficult. Perhaps the same criticisms would apply to what I will suggest but they should be taken in the same spirit.

We should look at our definition of political offender and make certain exceptions to the relevant Act, which is the Extradition Act, 1965, in the specific case of Northern Ireland. The relevant section in the Extradition Act, 1965, is section 11, which says:

(1) Extradition shall not be granted for an offence which is a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence.

(2) The same rule shall apply if there are substantial grounds for believing that a request for extradition for an ordinary criminal offence has been made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on account of his race, religion, nationality or politcial opinion or that that person's position may be prejudiced for any of these reasons.

If one looks for the definition of "political offence" in the Bill it is as follows:

"political offence" does not include the taking or attempted taking of the life of a Head of State or a member of his family;

That means that the term "political offence" is not defined. I presume the Minister will indicate whether I am right or not in that the term "political offence" is then left to be defined by the court and that there is no legal definition of that term written down, that we work on precedents and that the situation may vary according to the time at which——

It defies objective definition because, essentially, it is a subjective assessment by the criminal of what he is doing.

Does this mean that the perpetrator of the offence defines whether the offence is political?

He alleges that it is and it is up to the courts then to accept his subjective assessment of himself.

That, to my mind, compounds the legal difficulty. However, that is the way it is and that is the limit within which we must work.

I now want to look at the arguments put forward by the Southern representatives who sat on the Law Enforcement Commission which indicated that the change in our extradition laws would be unworkable as far as we were concerned. There were four members of this commission and on page 27 of the commission's report there is an addendum which says:

Mr. Justice Henchy's opinion is based on the conclusion that if the constitutionality of the proposed legislation were challenged in appropriate litigation (e.g. pursuant to a reference made under Article 26 of the Constitution) it is not possible to advise that the legislation would not be held to be repugnant to Article 29.3 and therefore invalid. This conclusion would be unaffected if the words ina dtreoir in the Irish version of Article 29.3 be read (as it has been suggested that they should) as having a less restrictive connotation than the corresponding words (“rule of conduct”) in the English version.

In other words, Mr. Justice Henchy's feelings were that any attempt to change the extradition laws would be unconstitutional. The other three members of the Southern team put their feelings as follows:

These members cannot advise——

this is on page 42, paragraph 68 of the report

——that the Government of Ireland could legally enter into any agreement or that the legislature could validly enact any legislation affecting its relationships with other States which would be in breach of the generally recognised principles of international law. For so long as these generally recognised principles forbid the extradition of persons charged with or convicted of political offences these members cannot advise that any agreement or legislation designed to produce this result would be valid.

I accept that argument and I think it is a very powerful and important one. However, if one looks at our Constitution and the constitutional provisions which have been quoted— Article 26 and Article 29.3—Article 26 refers to the decision of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of a Bill which is being referred to them. Article 29.3 states:

Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States.

A great deal of play was made in the commission's report about the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other states. In other words, we cannot go against the prinicples of international law if we are drawing up a treaty with Britain. My contention is that some way should be found around this notion because the treaty we draw up should not be a treaty between Ireland and the United Kingdom. It should be a treaty between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Article 2 of the Constitution talks about:

... the national territory consisting of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and territorial seas;

Article 3 reads:

Pending the re-integration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and Government established ... the laws enacted shall have like area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstát Éireann and the like extra-territorial effect.

Article 3 may make my proposals difficult but Article 2 indicates that there is some doubt as to exactly what we are trying to do territorially. My feeling is that we should attempt to redefine political offences purely vis-á-vis Northern Ireland—that in all other cases, the definition of “political offence” or the non-definition of “political offence” which we adhere to at the moment should stand. We should amend the Extradition Act along the line of saying that as far as Northern Ireland goes “the following offences are not political offences...”. These refer to the murder or the killing of Irish citizens, because as far as we are concerned they are Irish citizens who reside in the North whether they are policemen or civilians.

This kind of provision would not go beyond the bounds of possibility, but if we were to do this seeing that Sunningdale has broken down and that we are not in the position which we were in—with a power-sharing Executive and the whole apparatus which was in Northern Ireland when these agreements were originally hammered out—then we should in a sense go for a high price as a quid pro quo for any deal we did with Great Britain. This might mean some human rights commission, some safeguards for the communities in the North which Britain would have to give us.

Something could have been done along that line because it is just another step in the whole change in our thinking of separating Northern Ireland from Britain. As I said earlier, nobody says that Northern Ireland is the same as any other part of the United Kingdom. It may be legally so. As far as our Constitution is concerned it is not quite the same according to Article 2.

Article 2 defines the national territory as including Northern Ireland. What that means in the legal sense is not clear, because Article 3 says that as far as our laws are concerned they have the area and extent of application as the laws of Saorstát Éireann, applied to the Twenty-six Counties.

Here we could make administrative distinctions and we could say that certain offences which are committed in Northern Ireland are not political offences and that we could amend the extradition laws along these lines— just make this amendment as far as Northern Ireland is concerned and leave the rest of the definition or non-definition of political offence unchanged. I do not think this would be beyond the wit of man. It would be a more satisfactory way to achieve what we are doing. The main argument that was put up against the changing of the extradition laws was the fact that we were in some sense not going according to international custom as indicated in Article 29.

The whole point is whether this is an international dispute or a dispute with Northern Ireland, an international dispute by virtue of Article 2 of the Constitution. It is not clear to me. I think there is considerable leeway there and something could have been done. It could only be done if we did a deal with Britain and this could be a very tough deal.

The situation is fast arriving when we will have to do some very tough deals with the British over the Northern situation. I would imagine the situation will be so changed that the deals will have to be done through Irish people. I do not think they will be simple or lack contention or lead to immediate Irish unity, but I think we should not be talking in this emotive way. It is one thing to talk about Irish unity. That is pointless at this time. It is another thing to talk about the aspiration to Irish unity. I do not think that does much good.

What we should be concentrating on is a special relationship with the North. Unity means so many different things to so many different people. Since all-in political unity is so far away in the future, and it often appears to get further, it is counterproductive to hammer away at this business of Irish unity. What we should be talking about is a special relationship with the North, this sort of suggestion, even if it is only sketched out in the barest of details —that we would have a special relationship with the North vis-á-vis the definition of a political offence, by excluding certain offences from the definition of offence and thereby allowing them to come under the ordinary extradition treaties.

I do not think that we will see a situation where there is a single political administration in this country for very many years, maybe in my lifetime. There are too many problems at the moment. I think there will be new opportunities occurring and we have got to work on this special relationship. The present Bill is an attempt to do something that is necessary but I do not think it will work as it has been set down. It is just too cumbersome and has too many obstacles. Perhaps the same thing could be said about the suggestion I have made. I am not a lawyer and I cannot work these things out in detail. There is something worth examining again in them.

The real situation is that the time has not come when we can do these sort of deals. The time will come when the deals will have to be done. The question is are we going to have the will and the nerve and the courage to take some very unpleasant decisions at that time, decisions which go against many of the things that are ingrained in us? Are we going to have the nerve to be generous to our fellow Irishmen when the time comes? I would prefer to see these deals being done between the two parts of the island. That is when the crunch will come. The whole point is whether we can do it. When that situation arises will we be able to make all these leaps in the dark? Will we be able to trust our fellow Irishmen, which may include our fellow Protestants? Will we be able to get over our prejudices on both sides? Will we be able to work together?

The Bill is an attempt to solve what is a very aggravating problem. It is not one that has much likelihood of working. My criticism is to be accepted purely in that technical sense. I respect the fact that many people see the situation differently. As I said at the start, I respect Senator Mullen's view very much. My view would differ considerably from his in some respects but I have always felt that Senator Mullen is the sort of person I could deal with and negotiate with and in the end of the day he would hammer out some sort of bargain.

That is the attitude we want to treat these problems with. We want to go into the discussion in a constructive frame of mind, not be just entirely destructive. That is not to say the problems are not of considerable magnitude. But there is no point in running away from them. There is no point in just playing politics with them. We have got to face them. We have got to continually keep putting constructive suggestions forward no matter how grave or how grey the situation is at any time.

In the next 18 months to two years it is likely to become very grave and very grey. It will demand all our courage and tolerance and generosity and it will be the great test of the Irish nation. We may have an opportunity to solve the Irish question. If we are niggling and sectarian and just ploughing the old furrows, we will not get anywhere. On the other hand, if we are courageous and generous then we will start to make progress towards some final settlement of the problems of these islands. It will not be easy but it is something that we have got to take on.

I look at this Bill in that light. I do not think it will work, but we must continue to put forward constructive solutions to these problems. I do not think we can run away from them. We must continually face them in the right spirit and deal with them in the way we find to be the best at the most appropriate time.

Members of the House, in examining this Bill, should ask themselves two questions. The first question would be is there a need in present circumstances for a Bill of this kind? The second one is, if there is is this Bill the best possible measure to deal with this situation? There should be unanimity on one aspect of it. I do not think that anybody with any sense of responsibility whatever could seriously contend that things are going well on this island. A person who might have that point of view or who might by equivocation convey that point of view is doing a disservice to the community.

I do not think for one second that anybody could contend that the vast majority of the people here, North or South, are happy with the state of violence that has existed here for the past five or six years. I do not believe that anyone believes it is right that this violence should go on and on forever without the slightest sign of termination. It does not do the slightest good for anyone to harp unduly on the causes of this violence. Everybody in this House, everybody in the 32 counties of Ireland, knows perfectly well that the long history of domination and oppression has contributed to bringing this violence about.

I do not believe the majority of the people here think it is right that we should have private executions, assassinations, bomb attacks on innocent people, the destruction of property. I do not think anyone gives any thought whatever to the numbers of innocent people who have lost their lives, who have been maimed in this period of disturbance. Justification can be found for it.

It is a sad thing to say that this country is regarded and has been regarded for the past five to six years as one of the trouble spots on this earth, and we do not appear to have made much headway towards wiping out that name. The sooner everybody here says that violence in Dublin and violence in Belfast is equally wrong the better. If people are killed in the streets of Dublin that is wrong. If people are killed in the streets of Belfast that is equally wrong. If people are killed in the streets of Dungannon or on the streets of Monaghan, that is wrong. If innocent people are blasted of the earth in Coalisland or Belturbet, that is wrong. We must make up our minds to say clearly that if a dead body is found lying in the streets in Dublin or Monaghan or Dungannon, or Belfast, that we will not indulge in a piece of mock hypocrisy or selective abhorrence. We must indicate whether we approve of this or disapprove of it before we know whether he is a Catholic or a Protestant, a papist or a prod. We cannot countinue to behave in that sort of way, the attitude that a crime is not a crime in itself, that it depends on who the victim is before it is labelled as a crime: if a victim is a person who disagrees with me in matters of faith or disagrees with me in matters of politics, then to put that man to death is not just a crime. It might be some sort of misdemeanour at worst but if he happens to agree, to identify with me in matters of faith or politics, then it is a serious obnoxious crime and it should be condemned and the perpetrators should be dealt with.

We first have to get our thinking straight on these matters. Do we want to have crimes that we excuse and do we want to have ones which we will not tolerate? A crime is a crime of its own essence. Whether the victim is a Protestant, a Catholic, a white man or a black man, whatever he is, it is a crime to put him to death violently without a trial or to inflict punishment on him.

That is the sort of thing we have come to tolerate. As long as we continue to tolerate that we cannot say that our standards are not low. I do not like indulging in emotive statements, but if people have difficulty in making up their minds as to what is right on one side of the Border as compared with what is right on the other side of the Border, we should ask ourselves was it right or wrong that a Member of this House, Billy Fox, should have been done to death. Was it right or wrong that an attempt should have been made on the life of John Taylor, an elected representative of the North of Ireland? Was it right or wrong that several attempts should be made on the home of Austin Currie, another elected representative?

If we could come to that state of thinking in this part of the country then I believe we would come much closer to solving the problems that exist in it, to bring the two different sections in Northern Ireland closer together and to bring the whole of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland closer together. I believe that firmly and that is why I am supporting this Bill. It will do everything to bring that state of affairs about.

I live close to the Border and violence as I see it has put the two sections of people in the North further and further apart. It has generated animosity and hatred that were not there to the same degree before it began. There could have been latent animosities and dislikes before but they have become activated to a high degree by the violence that has occurred in the past five or six years. I am sorry to say that I believe it will take years of goodwill to bring the people of the North as close together as they were some ten years ago before this began.

I do not contend that everything was all right in the North at the time. I do not think for one second that the minority in the North had a fair deal. I know that there were victimisation, oppression and denial of rights. I do not think that it is going to do any good for the Oireachtas to indulge in mud-slinging across the Border, nor do I think it will do any good for the people on the other side to throw mud towards Dublin. If we could bring about a state of affairs where we would not throw mud from either camp, then we would be getting further on the road to harmony and peace.

I put it to Members of this House that the situation in Northern Ireland is that when an election comes around an extremist on the majority side does not have to go before the electorate with new ideas of social and economic advancement. He does not have to give any thought whatever to that type of business. I believe that a member for Bannside can be elected without giving five minutes thought to matters of social and economic conditions in that constituency. I believe that all they have to do is give some thought to fomenting sectarianism and to stirring up strife, going back to the day of the slogan "Home Rule is Rome Rule". An emotive speech of that kind can whip people into a frenzy. He can command a huge vote there, although everything that is said is negative. This is doing nothing to improve conditions in that part of the country and to raise the living standards of the people. It is doing nothing but generating fear, contempt and hatred in other sections of the people of that constituency and in us. That is all that is necessary to command a huge vote.

That is made easy for these demagogues. They can make a case to the electorate in the North that we in the South are harbouring people who, in their view, are sent out to wreck their State, and once they start off on that premise they can talk for hours and win the emotional support of people. The result of the recent election simply goes to show that the further the violence goes on the more these people succeed in banding that type of person together and getting the maximum support for them at an election. That is one of the great tragedies of this past decade.

If the hate-mongers get material and if they become sufficiently credible as a result of our apparent inaction in the south, then everything is made easier for them. I know there are Members of this House who are just as conversant with affairs in Northern Ireland as I am.

It would be a good thing for the Members of this House and the Dáil to be brought on a tour of Sandy Row or the Falls Road to see the living conditions enjoyed by some of the people who march in their thousands after rabble rousers. The standard of living among the working class in Sandy Row is appalling. It is a most regrettable state of affairs that people there, on pure sectarianism and the propagation and dissemination of hatred, can be content with the sort of conditions they are living in. Talk of anti-Republicanism, anti-Popery and anti-Catholicism is a sufficient diet to keep them from thinking of matters that are of dire importance to themselves and their wives and families. They can be whipped into a state of fanaticism.

I do not hold to be the last word on those things. I do not hold myself out to be infallible. There are people whose views differ from mine and they are equally sincere. There are people who genuinely hold that it would be a good thing if the British left Ireland tomorrow morning and let the Irish people settle this question for themselves. People who believe that believe it firmly. I would like these people to reflect on the fact that Craig and other leaders in Northern Ireland have certain ideas about a unilateral declaration of independence. If tomorrow morning they were cut off from Britain, from the mother country, from King and Queen and everything they profess to adore, rather than come in with us they would go it alone.

That, in my opinion, is an indication of the grave distrust they have of us—they would rather take on the huge task of working out their own existence absolutely independently of what they call the mother country and of the other part of their own island. That sort of thinking can come only from the fact that these people rightly or wrongly think that anything at all would be better than teaming in with us. Public men here who might, by rash and reckless statements in the past, have driven these people to that line of thinking have done a great disservice to the Irish nation and probably have done something they did not intend at the time. These are the facts.

If this Bill does something to take away the credibility of these demagogues and rabble-rousers who pretend that those people who do wrong in the North are welcome with open arms down here and we provide a haven for them. If this Bill does something to remove that line of thinking, it will have gone a long way to removing the mistrust that exists between the two sections of the community.

Everybody here must agree—perhaps we do not agree with the manner of achieving it—that if we got our priorities right and a couple of messages went from Dublin saying loudly that it is not and never was the intention of the Government or the people to provide sanctuary for people who have done wrong in the North. If that message could be got across that no responsible person in this part of the country believes the majority or the minority should be steamrolled and bulldozed into subjection, it would be for the better. The message that while we aspire to unity, we do not intend to steamroll, bulldoze or blast a man into that unity should be clearly got across to the different sections of the community in the North. It should be our aim, and it has been the aim of different governments in the past, to treat the minority with such fairness that this State could become an example of tolerance and fair-play. The history of this State is highly creditable with regard to our treatment of the minority.

The religious barrier does not and never has operated in this State. If we are so ambiguous and equivocal about our attitude to certain matters that occur in relations between the two States, and with regard to the actions of people in the north and south, we might lose, and have lost, the credits we are entitled to and we are proud of, with regard to our treatment of the minority. It is no trouble for those in the North who do not want to hear that message to point out that we shelter people they describe as criminals, wreckers of their State, murderers and so on. That is their theme at the present time.

There are different views on violence. We were a subject nation for so long, and because religion and politics were intermixed the situation became supercharged with emotion and, as time went on, it got more difficult for people to think clearly and objectively about one or the other. In the history of this country there were leaders who believed intensely in constitutional or peaceful means to obtain the national objective. There were others who thought the pace of attainment was too slow and they revolted against it. There were leaders honoured in history, who preached the doctrine of Ireland, not because they thought they were going to attain military success and drive out the despots because of their military prowess, but because they believed that that was one way of drawing the attention of the world to conditions prevailing here. While they might fundamentally have been opposed to the thoughts of violence, they came to the conclusion that that was the only way to draw world attention to the conditions that prevailed here. We had those who preached that peaceful means were the way to attain success and freedom is not worth the shedding of one drop of human blood. Leaders like Wolfe Tone believed in constitutional and peaceful ways in the beginning but because of the treatment meted out to people in different parts of the country, they changed their minds and came to the conclusion that violence was the way to do it—force of arms.

These differing strains of thought are running concurrently in our history even to the present day. They did not disappear in 1921 because we did not obtain our full objective. They are still here. I am not here to pontificate on such matters or to say who is right and who is wrong, because circumstances can cause a person to change his mind radically from one view to another and it did do so in the past.

I would not be honest with myself if I did not say that in the beginning violence was justifiable to draw attention to the conditions in Northern Ireland; it is not justifiable now. The world knows the conditions that prevailed in Northern Ireland. World attention has been drawn, but throwing mud from Dublin to Belfast and returning the mud from Belfast to Dublin, will not solve the problem. We must get down together and show that we live in the one island, we recognise the differences between us; none of us can become so confused, so muddled or so depraved of standards that we will tolerate open murder, we will not tolerate murder, knee-capping, bank robberies, and we will not tolerate bombs being placed where they are bound to kill innocent people. If we stand for that, our future will be short and confused, and we will come to a bad end. I do not believe in it. I cannot understand why some people might try to confuse their standards in that regard.

Some advances have been attained in Northern Ireland. We all remember the campaign "one man—one vote". It was wrong that certain people, because of their wealth, could have as many as four times the number of votes as the working man. The introduction of proportional representation is an advance, in so far as it removed the symbol of bigotry, sectarianism and oppression. The abolition of Stormont was also an advance. Power-sharing was an advance. Unfortunately, it did not last long enough. That was not entirely due to the citizens of Northern Ireland. It arose from the unfortunate fact that an election was held in Great Britain before power-sharing got a fair opportunity of proving itself. It gave those who were opposed to it an opportunity of sweeping the polls. If power-sharing had got a fair chance it would have shown itself to be the ideal solution to the predicament the vast majority of Northerners found themselves in.

There are people in the North who see power-sharing as the ideal solution. After the election Harry West could have been excused for gloating over the success that attended the efforts of his party, because he said there would not be power-sharing at the helm. He did not think that those who differed strongly from them would be allowed to put their hands on the wheel of State. He indicated that he was not averse to power-sharing at some level. It would be a success, and something to be proud of, if power-sharing were embarked on again. Of course, it would not meet our aspirations if power-sharing were introduced on a very limited degree. Half a loaf is better than no bread. If power-sharing were introduced at some level, and if it were seen to be successful even to a limited extent, I believe we would be on the way to achieving something worthwhile. We will not succeed in uniting both sections if we continue to provide asylum for those who commit crimes there and escape down here.

I have heard it said that it is well known in Northern Ireland who planted the bombs in Dublin, Monaghan and Belturbet. It is also well known that there are people who committed serious crimes there who are walking the streets of Dublin. How can two peoples come together if we share that sort of thing? If we believe that a murderer who planted bombs killing innocent people is walking about scot-free in the North, and the criminals who planted bombs in Monaghan and Belturbet are at large in the North, and if both communities with equal sincerity believe the other community harbour people they regard as criminals, until positive steps are taken to clear up that situation, relations will not improve. I support the Bill. The Minister has done something worthwhile in introducing it.

It is a great pity it was said in this House that Members of this Government are collaborating with Britain or that they are dancing to a tune played by Harold Wilson. After 50 years of freedom and democratic Government it is disgraceful that a Member of Parliament would stoop so low as to accuse a Member of the Government of collaborating to the detriment of the Irish people.

Of course you are collaborating with the RUC, as you collaborated with the RIC.

I did not interrupt the Senator. I am making my case to the best of my ability. It was said by others that the Senator provoked interruption, but I did not interrupt him at any time.

The Senator would defend the RUC and the RIC.

I want to go on record as having said that it is a pity because people in this House hold different political views, that one person should accuse another of being a collaborator with some outside force. That should not have been said. People from every party have served this country well in difficult times.

And there were some who did not.

There are people on the Fine Gael and Labour sides who have served their country with distinction. I will not quarrel with a man who claims that there are people on the Fianna Fáil side who also served their country well.

Nobody on this side arrested Fr. Griffin.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator must stop interrupting.

If a man does not feel the cap fits him he should not wear it.

Nobody on this side arrested Fr. Griffin.

That was said here in this House. I have given my views on that and I do not intend to say any more about it.

Reference was made to our prisons this evening. It was said that we should be more progressive in our treatment of prisoners. I would agree with that. Prisoners should be well treated. As far as possible, we should rehabilitate them in the light of modern science and psychology. Concurrently with the desire to treat wrong-doers well, we should have an equally strong desire to treat those who do not do wrong well. If innocent people are gunned to death by a recklessly placed bomb or a recklessly fired shot, we should be concerned. It is just as important to be careful about what we do for the innocent as to be progressive about what we do for the guilty. Some straight thinking should be done on that score. If my attitude is old-fashioned, then I am proud to be numbered among the old-fashioned.

It was said that the introduction of this Bill was ill-timed and that the Government and the Minister would be better employed in devoting their time to working out solutions for unemployment, inflation, the fall in the value of the £, and so on. I have a few thoughts and I want to express them briefly. The fact that we spend £24 to £25 million extra per annum on maintaining law and order and security is something we should think about. Above and beyond the normal expenditure for the police force and the Army, we are spending £24 to £25 million extra per annum. I do not profess to be a financier or an economist of international or even national standing, but it is elementary that the expenditure of that vast amount on something so non-productive is a strong contributory cause to inflation. If anybody thinks I am wrong I should like to hear from him. As a prerequisite for full employment or for a reduction in the unemployment figures at the present time, it must be clearly established that this is a lawful country, that we are a law abiding people, that we can resolve our differences by discussion and that we do not have to resort to the gun. If we could establish that image abroad, we would attract more industrialists to invest their money, skill, technique and know-how here. Some industrialists have been frightened by the image the violence has given this country.

Tourism was referred to. I should like to ask one simple question. Take a man and his wife in Birmingham, Glasgow, Coventry or one of the big industrial cities of England, who are thinking of going on a holiday, they have various points to check up on. The £ is falling in value. The purchasing value of the £ in France, Germany, Italy and the other countries is daily growing less. In these circumstances, they might think of coming to Ireland. If they gave some thought to the violence that frequently occurs here they would be deterred from coming. Violence is a contributory cause of our unemployment. It is stopping industrialists coming here, and is adversely affecting tourism. These are my views on the first question.

Opposition speakers suggested an all-Ireland court. I do not profess to be an expert on legal matters but I have good reason for believing that the question of setting up an all-Ireland court was discussed at Sunningdale. It was obvious that we could not hope that the Northern Ireland people would agree to it. From a layman's point of view, it would be tantamount to their yielding some jurisdiction, and for that reason, they ruled it out.

It often happens when you have deadlock between opposing views that a compromise is reached. This is a compromise that was likely to succeed and be accepted. If it is unconstitutional it can be verified in the Supreme Court. If that is the only objection to the introduction of this Bill, it should be clearly stated. Nobody should be in any doubt about most people favouring a speedy end to the violence that has gone on for so long. If this Bill is passed, then the mechanics are there for having its constitutionality tested. If the Supreme Court are satisfied that it is constitutional, then that is that.

The Minister, in normal circumstances would never dream of introducing a Bill of this nature. The Minister and his colleagues believe the situation we are faced with calls for measures of this nature, that this is the way to bring a most unhappy state of affairs to an end and to help generate goodwill between the people here and in the North. As soon as we have progressed on the road to goodwill, and violence comes to an end, this Act will be taken off the Statute Books. As things are at present, this legislation, or something akin to it, is a necessity.

I was impressed by the last speaker. There is not much on which I could disagree with him. The nice thing about this debate is that I find myself agreeing with everyone.

I was impressed with Senator West's speech. He spoke very reasonably. But he seemed to forget that no less a person than the then Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, swallowed his pride and went up to Stormont on behalf of his people. He encouraged the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland to come to Dublin. I guarantee that Seán Lemass or his party did not lose one vote, but the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, now Lord O'Neill, lost his seat. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he signed our memorandum for civil rights, which is being debated in Strasbourg now. I felt for that man.

Nobody would be more anxious than I would that a Bill should be introduced which would curb violence. I am not satisfied that this Bill will do that. I do not think the present Government believe it either. If they believed in the Bill they would have introduced the Bill in the lower House which is democratically elected. Nobody need try to persuade me that Seanad Éireann, although it is the Upper House, is democratically elected. Every Member of the House knows that the method of election for the Seanad is a most unsatisfactory one. Any Parliament in which the Head of Government may elect 11 members cannot be regarded as a democratic one. Therefore this Bill should not be introduced in the Seanad. After introducing the Bill in the Dáil the Coalition Party withdrew it and sent it to the Seanad so that they would have something to do. That day the Government had a majority of two votes. When the Bill was opposed in the Seanad the majority was ten, with five seats vacant. If the vote were held today there would be a majority of 15. Those are my views for the present, which reminds me of the story about the young man who had decided to take up politics; he had been addressing his first audience for some time when he realised that he was not making much of an impression, so he stopped and said: "Ladies and gentlemen, these are my views for the present, and if you do not like them I will change them." I am saying the same thing to the Seanad.

In his opening speech, the Leader of the House, Senator M.J. O'Higgins, gave the Seanad a lecture on their ignorance of the Bill. He mentioned the work which went into the drafting of the Bill. This is the last remnant of Sunningdale. I have long since lost confidence in all these wizards in the political or legal professions. I am older than the State and I remember when the Treaty was signed. I do not blame the people who signed the Treaty in 1921-22, although a civil war followed that signing, because they were no match for their opposite numbers. The signatories to the Treaty accepted it on the understanding that the Welsh wizard, David Lloyd George and the then British Government would set up a boundary commission and give, the words used were, "the right to secession" to South Armagh, South Down, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry City. The Irish delegation accepted this proposal and then they proceeded to enact the different articles of agreement. I think it was under Article 12 the Boundary Commission was to be set up. The legal men of that day— they were KCs, Senior Counsel had not been invented at that time—were very able men. They established the Boundary Commission with the help of Judge Featham who was an eminent man in the legal profession. The commission had not proceeded very far nor had collected much evidence when Eoin MacNeill realised he was wasting his time. So bad was the case that not only was he going to withhold the right for them to vote themselves in or out of what was then known as the Free State, but he intended to draw a straight line on the map from Dundalk to Derry and the then head of the Government, who was the father of the present Taoiseach, went to London to implore the then British Government not to do this. A photograph appeared of this meeting in The Irish Independent at the time.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Would the Senator confine his remarks to the Bill before the House?

With due respect to the Chair, anything that I cannot say inside the House I shall say outside.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator must be kept in order.

I have a wife who kept me in order for the last 45 years and if the Leas-Chathaoirleach would like to take over she is welcome.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I do not think that goes with this job.

When Fianna Fáil first came to power the first problem they tackled was the retention of the land annuities—£5 million a year— when money was worth more than it is now. I am referring to legal opinion which has a bearing on this Bill. The then party in power sought the advice of the legal profession, all able lawyers. The present Attorney General's father was one of the people who was asked to advise the then Government if it was legal to retain the land annuities. The majority report that came back—because there could be no minority on that—was that the annuities were legally and morally bound to be paid to the British Government.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

This has no reference to the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill.

This has reference to the Bill. I am entitled to say that.

It would have been cheaper to pay them.

I like the Senator's generosity. I would like to hear him before an audience looking for votes in a general election.

I would not get many from the Senator.

The Senator could not blame me after the statement he made.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Would the Senator resume on the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill?

The facts are that this House should not be asked to implement this Bill when the remainder of the Sunningdale Agreement has gone by the board. It is an insult to our intelligence. However, I should pay tribute to Senator Alexis FitzGerald. When he spoke he was most consoling. He paid tribute to us for amending the Constitution that enabled the present Government to bring in a Bill like this.

It was natural for the Government to agree to implement a Bill such as this. But when the rest of the Sunningdale package had gone by the board, surely it was time to have a look at what was being done. Now we are in the unhappy position that even if the Bill were passed, I do not believe it would pass through the Supreme Court. As regards what has been said about the Bill stopping all violence, it was also hinted in Senator O'Higgins's statement that because this side of the House oppose the Bill we were in a way conniving at the activities of illegal organisations and bodies. The facts are that neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael nor the Labour Party believe in violence. The majority in the North do not believe in violence. Why, say, then, that we were conniving at violence by some illegal bodies?

I am not completely without hope for the North. I know as much about the North if not more than most people, as I live near the Border. I am heartened by the thought and the knowledge that one thing has emerged, not by force of arms but certainly by force of circumstances. It has driven the churches, both Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter together. It is a pity Tone did not live to see it. If anyone wishes to remember anything about it, I will refer them to the Rev. Dr. Butler who preached the panegyric over the late Lord Brookeborough, and mind you, he paid little tribute to Lord Brookeborough. I would like to quote from The Evening Press of April 30th, 1975 a news item about the Rev. William Arlow. It is a pity Senator West has gone; he must not have heard of these men.

The mysterious clergyman who prevented the possible slaughter of 20 Catholics by talking the UDA out of the sensational kidnapping plot was the Rev. William Arlow, it was reliably learned in Belfast today.

This is all very encouraging. I believe that Tone, Davis, Emmet, Henry Joy McCracken, the brothers Sheares, William Orr, Betsie Grey and, of course, John Mitchel, the people that made our history, the people who started Republicanism, will once again influence us through their descendants.

I have great sympathy for the Taoiseach and the Government. They were led up the garden path when they expected the British Government to keep faith. At what stage in Irish history did the British Government keep faith? I cannot remember. The man that stopped the British Government was Andy Barr. He stopped them implementing the Sunningdale Agreement.

The British Government adopted the same attitude as in 1914 when the Irish Party were about to introduce Home Rule. The British Army mutinied on the Curragh—the same thing over again only the men were in different clothes. Knowing all this they ask us to put our faith in a Bill like this. I do not want to be too critical but it is taking leave of our senses, and we are in danger of creating an overspill from the North, thus making a bad job worse.

I hope I have made my points clear. If I did not I hope you will let me have the excuse that other speakers want to put their views. However, these are my views, and I see no reason why I should change them. I thank you very much for your attention.

It was like a breath of fresh air to hear Senator Brennan talking. He talked about the system of election to the Seanad, which has nothing to do with this Bill. There was one time he was brought in under the Taoiseach's arm and he did not object to that. But I will give him the credit that when we faced the country in 1973 he was successful. He was the only one of the 11 to come back.

I certainly have read the Minister's statement in connection with this Bill on several occasions and I would like to compliment him on the comprehensive statement he made to this House when introducing this Bill. Any fair-minded person would accept the Bill. If people commit crimes in the North of Ireland they can step in here and swagger around here, and that crime includes murder, manslaughter, common law offence of arson, kidnapping, false imprisonment, burning of houses, knee-capping of people, etc. These people walk across the Border and can walk around and nothing can be done about them.

We had the reverse case here. We had the case of the people who came down and killed 28 people here in Dublin one evening. These people went back across the Border. They were known and they were arrested and not one thing could be done with them. We have information in our party which is no longer a secret. It was supposed to be told to us in confidence but has been mentioned three or four times in this House, and nothing could be done to these. No party should stand behind anyone that would come along with their bombs, their car bombs, et cetera, and kill innocent people going about their duty. We are all Irish people, no matter what part of the country we come from, and the offences are against Irish people. For that reason we should make sure that people who commit these terrible crimes that are being committed would not find themselves here in a haven of peace or vice versa.

There is quite a lot of talk by the new Republican Party now. It was down in very small letters. Now at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis it will be in capital letters, Republican Party. They are trying to bring it out that all this legislation is against the Provisional IRA. If I thought that this Act only referred to the Provisional IRA I would not vote for it. But it does not refer to the Provisional IRA. I have a certain amount of respect for the IRA. Because if they commit deeds that we do not agree with they have the courage to stand up and say that they did certain things. They give reasons for doing them. They have a ceasefire for quite a time. They have been quite honourable up to last weekend in connection with the ceasefire. This Bill is not against the Provisional IRA. It is against the criminal North or South of the Border. We believe that no one should be allowed to come in here and commit an act of violence here and cross back over the Border and say "goodbye, Éire, I am as safe as a house" and vice versa no one should come from across the Border and be fully protected here. That is what has brought this Act here. We all have our reservations about voting for this type of legislation. No Government that was ever in power had reservations about voting for certain legislation. I am sure that if I put the shoe on the other foot and say to the Fianna Fáil Party, who were in power when The Offences Against the State Bill was made an Act of Parliament, there were plenty of people in the Fianna Fáil Party who had reservations about that Bill but still they had to take the responsibility of being members of a Government and vote against it, perhaps even sometimes against their own conscience.

Like the Senator is doing now.

I am not doing it now. I have no qualms of conscience about this. I believe it is a good Bill. We all must agree that Sunningdale was a failure. It was a failure because of the action of the bigots among the majority in the North, the general strike, etc. etc. If Sunningdale had succeeded we would probably have agreed about a Bill like this because we would have had an all-Ireland court and that would have solved the whole matter, which we know now cannot happen. I do not see anything sinister about this measure. I would advise those people who have spoken against it to read every single line that the Minister said when he was introducing it. I know it was no great pleasure to the Minister to introduce this Bill. It is no pleasure for anyone to introduce legislation in which Irishmen and no one else will be involved, only Irishmen, on both sides of the border, whether they commit the crime here and go across the Border or whether they commit the crime across the Border and come here. We do not like to see people who have committed crimes against humanity going free, with no way whatsoever of bringing them to justice. The people of Dublin lost their 28 relatives in one evening and people who committed these crimes crossed the Border were arrested and put into Long Kesh for a few days and nothing could be done about them because they got across the Border. If anyone went up to the North and knee-capped someone there and stepped across the Border here and was free I would not like it especially if it was a relation of mine, and I have plenty of them on the far side of the Border.

If this Bill is passed—and it will take a while from what I can see—if an offender steps across the Border he will become a fugitive offender. Under the present law he cannot be brought to court here. If he can get across the Border, if he is one of the other particular people, he cannot be brought to court here. As I have mentioned before about Dublin bombings, the culprits were known and nothing could be done about them. I cannot see how any sane man can agree that people who committed acts like these should be let go free when there was plenty of evidence that they were involved.

Fianna Fáil had an alternative that we should have an all-Ireland court. But the Law Enforcement Commission said that it could not become a reality and it could not offer any practical solution to the present problem. Quite a number of people here, who know more about law than I do, have said that what is now proposed is not constitutional. Our President is one of the greatest constitutional lawyers in the world. I am quite sure that when this Bill is put before him he will examine it, fine-comb it and see if there is anything unconstitutional about it. If there is, he will put it before the Council of State and if they have even a doubt about it being unconstitutional they will put it to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court decide that it is unconstitutional we will all abide by that decision.

The crimes being committed at the moment in Ireland are against the Irish people. They are brutal acts by Irishmen against Irishmen. If we are going to stand for that type of situation I think we should examine our conscience and see if we are right or wrong in defending people who murder, maim, burn, kidnap or hijack. Those are only some of the offences that are dealt with under the Bill. I think that the Bill might go too far as regards the question of robbery. There are several types of robbery. I would like to see the Minister introducing a Theft Act because theft is completely distinct from robbery. I would not like to see this Act being used every day of the week if it applied to theft.

I consider section 10 of the Bill one of the most important sections; it is not retrospective. No one can be collected until the day this Bill comes into operation. Section 14 gives an option to stand for trial here or return to Northern Ireland. I would be surprised if any person who was caught in the Twenty-six Counties would opt to go back to Northern Ireland to look for justice. I would say he would get much more justice here.

Reference was made to our prison conditions this evening. I would like people to see prison conditions in the Six Counties in comparison with prison conditions in the Twenty-six Counties. We know that no prison conditions can be perfect. The people who are in prison have done something against society and they cannot expect sofas and feather beds. I do not think there is any abuse of prisoners in this country, unless, of course, situations arise where the prisoners themselves get into a certain situation and then law and order has to be kept in the prison.

Section 15 provides that when a person who is tried for a crime in the Twenty-six Counties is acquitted and goes back to the North of Ireland he cannot be brought to court in Northern Ireland because of a typical Act of Parliament passed by the British Government. I think that is very good. I would not like to see a person who was convicted and served his sentence in prison having to go back and face a new trial. That is a very important part of this Bill. From that point of view it is not repressive legislation. As I said before reservations are quite common. Any Government must carry through certain legislation that is not popular but Members of the Government must take responsibility. They must have legislation which they believe is for the general good.

The Labour Party have been heavily attacked in connection with this Bill. We, in the Labour Party, agreed before the last election to take part in an inter-party Government, a national coalition. We are prepared to honour the obligations and agreements we made with the Fine Gael Party to take part in a National Coalition Government, I have no apology to offer for that and I do not think that anyone in the Labour Party has.

The trade unions have been pressurised in connection with this Bill but no Paisleys, Wests or Craigs have been killed. The people who have been killed in the North of Ireland were people killed at their work, trade unionists and workers. These are the only people that are killed every day in the North—not the leaders but the ordinary workers. We should do everything in our power to protect these people's lives and to see that people who commit brutal offences against humanity cannot step across the Border to safety. We have all seen the Law Reform Commission reports. The Minister has no room at all for amendments to this Bill. For that reason, I am in full agreement with this Bill.

Senator Mullen said that evening that there was an absence of consultation. I would like to disagree with him completely on that, because the Minister was asked to consult with us and did so two or three times before the Bill was brought in. He satisfied quite a number of us as to why he found it necessary to bring in this Bill. Senator Mullen asked the Minister to withdraw the Bill. I am not so unhappy about that because he did not say that he would not support the Bill. All he asked was, if it was possible, would the Minister withdraw the Bill. He spoke about tourism also and asked what this Bill was doing for tourism. I shall leave that to the Minister to answer when he replies. He said there was nothing in the Bill to end sectarian murder. Thank God sectarian murders are not happening on this side of the Border. They have been happening in Belfast in particular. Whether it be on the majority side or the minority side, we shudder at the thought of sectarian murder.

Senator Mullen also mentioned the Convention elections. What happened as regards the Convention elections? In one constituency 13,000 people did not vote and they all belonged to the minority. For that reason the Unionists got complete control because the Provisional IRA told people not to vote. But for that there would be power-sharing. The Offences Against the State Act was also mentioned but that did not arise in our time. There are people here in this House who had to vote for that Act because they were members of the Government at that time. I am happy about voting for the Bill as presented by the Minister.

The contribution which I am about to make is somewhat different to the contribution which I would have made if I had spoken prior to the Convention elections which were held recently in Northern Ireland.

I am no IRA sympathiser no more than I am a sympathiser of the UVF or all the other various paramilitary organisations which have done so much damage to humanity in recent years. I regard them all as equal: they are a menace to society and in years to come, when history is being written and read, I am sure that all those paramilitary organisations will be described as the most ruthless gangs that ever existed in any democratic society. Therefore, there is no need for anyone to say that we in the Fianna Fáil Party are Provos or that there has been a change of heart in so far as the Fianna Fáil Party are concerned.

My opposition to the Bill is personal. Even if the party had made no decision I would still oppose the Bill because I believe it is unworkable. It is unnecessary and it will not solve any problem which the Minister and the Government are setting out to solve. It is a controversial piece of legislation. Is its timing wrong? Is it necessary? Will the Government continue to go through with this legislation or will they decide that it is not necessary to continue with it? Do they feel that the political climate is changing, both north and south, and also in Britain?

In talking about the Bill, we seem to concentrate on the IRA, the UVF, and various Governments here, but the real culprit in all our problems in this country is the British Government. Sooner or later the British Government will have to issue a declaration of intent and let the world know what they intend to do in regard to retaining control of Northern Ireland, continuation of subsidies to Northern Ireland and in regard to all the State-subsidised industries. We hear threats from Paisley, Craig and West elements about going it alone, about a declaration of independence, but these are only threats to the British Government. It is extraordinary that successive British Governments have succumbed to the threats of various Unionist groups, and para military organisations, all groups that have pledged loyalty to the British Government. Therefore, the time is now opportune for Britain to say whether she proposes to continue subsidising the Northern junta as it is, or whether she proposes to pull out.

If a declaration of intent were issued we would know where we stand and we could all work together and plan for the future. At the moment we have a bipartisan approach to the problems of Northern Ireland and it may be under some strain. However, the British Government must say: "We are deciding to pull out of Northern Ireland. We believe we should have done so 50 years ago but it is better later than never." They have had to do that in every other colony in the world. They pulled out in many cases and left a trail of havoc behind them.

No matter what threats are used by the Paisley, Craig or West elements they are only using those threats because they know that will achieve the desired result. They have no intention of going it alone because they would not have the resources. First of all, they would not have the support. Somebody talked about the Boundary Commission. The people of South Down, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry would, I think, decide to come in with the rest of Ireland and play their part in building a new society. Therefore, the so-called Loyalist element would be left with the hinterland of Belfast. They could not hope to survive in some sort of tiny loyalist state of their own. They would have no alternative then but to decide to do a deal with Dublin and that unity in the long run is the only solution to all the problems which confront the Irish people and which have bedevilled the progress of this nation for hundreds of years.

We want unity. We want the Northern people to join with us in developing the resources of this small island. We want the talents, the brains and the ability of the Northern people. We want them with all their industrial expertise and all the ideas which have been created over the years. We want them to work with us in developing this little nation which could become a showpiece for the entire democratic world.

Therefore, I think the timing of this Bill is wrong: the climate is wrong. When Britain backtracked on Sunningdale it is up to them to take the bold step and decide that the time has come for them to decide once and for all the future of this nation and the destiny of millions of Irish people who have suffered so much over the years.

It was a great pity that Captain Terence O'Neill when he was Prime Minister in Northern Ireland did not succeed in the goal he set out to achieve. He was a realist. History will prove that the road which he proposed to take was the correct one. It was the only road which could bring about the desires of the Irish people. A great mistake has been made. Thousands of lives have been lost since that historic trip over the Border by Captain Terence O'Neill. The hard liners decided it was opportune for them to play the old Orange trump card once again and bring out the Orange drum and arouse hostility and furious opposition to his efforts on that occasion.

Debate adjourned.

Can I get some indication when the Bill under discussion will be taken again?

We will have that information tomorrow.

The Seanad adjourned at 10.00 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 15th May, 1975.