I do not know why this Bill is before us. The people, like myself, who have been elected are not happy with this Bill. The Garda are not happy with it. The legal profession are totally unhappy with it. The only result in the end when it passes us will be that it will get at people whom we have legislation at the moment to deal with and it will not do anything to deal with the real criminals in our society. As always, they will have the professional back-up which other people have not.
It is complicated and will have far-reaching effects. Indeed, it may not have any results at all. I would like the Minister to read what we have said, as he is not present. I do not understand why he has another Criminal Justice Bill before us when, as I understand it, he has not yet implemented the last one which he put before the House in the last session. I will quote later what he said on the evening he finished his reply to the Second Stage of that Bill and how quickly he wanted the Criminal Justice (Community Services) Bill, 1983 implemented. I understand it is not yet working.
Nobody seems to think this Bill will have any benefit except to get at certain people in our society, and for the life of me I do not understand it. I have a feeling that if Members of this House, as happened in the other House, commented on the Criminal Justice Bill and did not say it was a great piece of legislation, and that all of it was necessary, it would be said we are backing the people in the streets who were committing crime. As far as I am concerned, and I am quite sure my colleagues who have spoken before me, nothing could be further from the truth. We want to see justice, but it would be important that the Minister would remember that the key word in this piece of legislation is "justice".
We must ensure that after the debate in this House and, I presume, with further amendments, the Bill will leave this House in a form that will demonstrate to the community that justice practised in the right spirit. I do not know how many times before I sit down I will have to say that I support dealing with criminals, but I do not support legislation, whether it be by this Government or a Government of which I would be a member, that is, the next Government, and pretend it would create a more just society or a more caring society. It is our duty as elected representatives of the people to see that everyone gets justice.
It is our duty to see that criminals, no matter how great or how small their crimes, will be dealt with. The sadness of the Bill before us, as I see it, is that the public perception of it is that after it becomes law and the Garda get the extra powers, we will not have any more crime. Of course, that is the greatest load of rubbish. If we are honest, we must admit that this Bill will not do that. At least to ourselves we must be true.
There is quite a lot to be said about it. A great part of it is the role of the Garda and the community. It may not be a popular thing to say — I am noted for saying unpopular things at times; I do not know who will pay the price, perhaps myself in the end — but there is a gap between the Garda and the community. Until that gap is bridged — and the Garda force have to play a greater role than the community to bridge that gap — we will not have it like the old days when people saw the Garda as their friends. After we got our independence this same gap was there. It was closed then and the gardaí became the friends of the people. I am not saying it was the individual garda's fault that the gap between the Garda and the community was created. Maybe it was the Department of Justice taking the Garda off the beat and putting them in fast driven cars. One does not see gardaí on motor bikes any more. Also, society changed and perhaps the Garda saw themselves in a different role. The gap between the Garda and the community will have to be closed before we get results in dealing with the crime rate.
The Minister will tell me, of course, that since he became Minister he has brought back the guards on the beat and all that. You do not see them that much on the beat, even in rural Ireland. Recently they have commenced to put them back on the beat and maybe this will help to bridge the gap which I am concerned about.
There is a policy of transferring guards of all ranks on promotion. The first Commissioner, Michael Strange, defined the role of the Civic Guard as a moral force depending for successful performance of its duties not on arms or numbers but on morals, and the force, as representatives of the civil authority depended completely for its existence on the free will of the people. That is what I have been trying to say. That was the first Commissioner, Michael Strange, talking about how important it was to have communication between people and the guards.
One guard has told me that the high incidence of transfers is a major contributory factor in the decline in community relations. If a guard seeks promotion to sergeant rank, he can then be transferred 50 to 150 miles away from the station. You have here a disruption of his wife and family and the children's attendance at school. More important, you have lost the local knowledge that that man had built up over the years in the local community. Therefore, and this is direct from the guards themselves, you have very few good guards seeking promotion because they do not want transfers.
The Minister will say that the guards cannot dictate policy. If they are good enough they will be promoted and it is too bad if the local communities where they did very well and were good communicators lose them. What is actually happening on the ground is that many of these man who should be promoted from guards to sergeants are not asking for promotion or putting themselves in line for promotion at all.
I would propose here, and the suggestion is direct from the guards themselves, that maybe we could have a system of transferring them in a regional method. It is something which should be looked at. Recently guards were transferred from the bottom end of the country right up to the north and ones in Donegal transferred down again. I am not talking about reasons for transfers or political interference in transfers. I am talking about a system that should be looked at because they are guards who have complained to me that they intend remaining just guards because if they took promotion they would be transferred automatically. I am saying it because I think it is something that maybe the Minister or his senior officials could look at.
There is quite a bit in this Bill about the rights of persons. There is no doubt they could get into a lot of trouble by not understanding some of the legal phraseology in the legislation. I would worry about the questions that might be asked right away after arrest. When a person is taken to a barracks, even though he may not be foolish and may indeed be far from being fooled, he could get into trouble by not knowing exactly his rights or what the direct effect of this Bill will have on such a person.
Again, as in all walks of life, you could just have one person in a barracks who would happen to be the wrong person and you would have an innocent person in the barracks until the courts proved him not guilty. We have these types of people — unfortunately, or fortunately, we have not too many of them — and you might have the wrong person in the barracks for some of this questioning. This gets me to the right of the person and his solicitor, which is further on in the Bill.
The day the Minister came into this Chamber with his Second Stage, much amended, speech, I watched a film on television later that night dealing with the fifties and the unemployment and the sadness of that time. It is probably an awful thing to say; we have our ups and downs in Irish history but we always seem to be able to deal with them. We certainly are in a troublesome time at the moment. Having looked at that film and remembering some of the things the Minister had said in his Second Stage speech on the same day, I submit it will take a lot of will and more than just coming in here with the Bill pretending that it has all the answers to deal with crime. It has not. I would be wrong for me to stand up here and say the Bill is grand or to remain silent.
To get back to the unemployment and the sadness, Senator Higgins last week referred to this and said that the nation should not get bogged down or play up the amount of crime and not talk about the good things at the moment. Really for somebody elected and serving in public life full-time. I do not think there is too much good out there at the moment, but I agree with Senator Higgins that we should not be the ones to throw in the sponge. Regardless of the criticism we get, if we do it many people will feel that if the politicians say, "I am just finished. Unemployment is gone so high, crime has taken over," they will throw in the sponge and it will be a sad day.
What I am trying to say is that people who were elected in the fifties faced a challenge and I do not see much difference from the challenge that faces us this evening. Unfortunately, many of the changes that we have witnessed, unemployment and social problems, have increased. The standard of living, has fallen. I am not going to point to anyone who suggested why that might be because I believe the reason for all the unemployment is that there has been a change in family lifestyles. I must say that I do not intend to try to turn back the clock and say that we can change the lifestyle of Ireland today, but there is nobody at home when some of those kids go home from school and even when the teenagers go home.
This is getting back to some of the social problems we have in Ireland. When people in responsible positions, like politicians, talk about bringing in legislation to allow everybody in a household to work — I am talking about the father and the mother — we must remember then that there is nobody at home when those adults go back. We are talking in a sense that there is a fall down in discipline. The fall down in discipline goes right across the board from the teenager up. To discipline anybody now, whether she or he does the right or the wrong thing, is something we should not do it appears.
On 16 February 1981 the Garda college was established in Templemore. At the time it had three objectives: to provide higher training for officers of the Garda Síochána — inspectors, superintendents, the chief superintendents — to organise training for inspectors, superintendents, and chief superintendants and to promote police related research. From talking to the men directly involved, this college has practically failed in those three objectives. I understand that there are 11,400 gardai in the force and to deal with that number of personnel there should be several higher management courses. At present they have one refresher course for superintendents. That consists of 15 in a class per week from 2 p.m. on Monday to 2 p.m. on Friday. The opinion of those man — it has been brought to the notice of the present and former Ministers — is that there is no way that such a course is adequate to bring results.
I suggest that a comprehensive course of 12 months duration should be obligatory for all newly promoted inspectors. That should be regarded as a minimum. A stark beginning has to be made and it should be the training of newly promoted inspectors, who will be, of course, the superintendents, chief superintendents and future Assistant Commissioners. It is the opinion of the Garda force that the Garda Commissioner is not totally committed to this development. Perhaps that is where the crux lies or maybe it is that the funds are not there.
That brings me to the training of a garda. For quite some time I have had strong views about this and I do not know if many of my colleagues will agree with my views. I do not understand in the Ireland of today, with the Garda playing the important role they are playing why the Government, whether it be this Government or the last, do not see that a garda should have the same training as a person going to the Army cadet college.
I have always felt that. Bearing in mind what the gardaí of today, and, indeed yesterday and, more so, of tomorrow, have to do I am convinced of the need for such a college. I know something about the Army cadet college because I know people who went through it. I do not understand why the Minister does not, with the Minister for Defence, plan the setting-up of a college to train Garda recruits to exactly the same status or degree as persons joining the Army. One has to be very careful when distinguishing between lads and girls. At one time one could say the lads and that was in order but now one has to be more careful.
I suggest that rather than having this ridiculously short 22 weeks of training and then claiming that that guard is ready to deal with everyday police problems we should have a college for gardaí similar to that for the Army. There was a time when gardaí were not thought of as having the same status as a cadet in the Military College. We need a college for the gardaí and we need it now. This has been suggested. I understand that the college is not being used properly and the Minister should take a closer look at that and establish a proper training college for gardaí.
We do not see the Army in the same role as the Garda, and maybe we should. Some of the Army personnel would not come out of the Military College and make the same mistakes some young gardaí make after coming out of Templemore. We are asking the Garda to do a very tough job and it is not going to get any easier but there has been no change in the system of training. One must consider how long it takes to train a nurse or teacher but why we as legislators think a Garda recruit will be properly prepared for any situation after 22 weeks in Templemore has me baffled. Why is it that a Minister for Justice has not proposed a change? Former Minister for Justice, Deputy Gerry Collins, proposed a helicopter section in the Garda Síochána and I would like to ask the Minister, Deputy Noonan, why that proposal was dropped by the Government. Deputy Gerry Collins' commitment to bring in helicopters had the blessing of everybody. Support for that proposal was contained in the Garda News of June 1984 which stated:
A police car is able to patrol about one-fifth of a square mile per hour while a helicopter can patrol an area of 7.5 square miles with equal effectiveness.
If two helicopters were to be leased for around £350,000, that would constitute a mere 6 per cent of the overall Garda transportation budget.
It is in such searches that the helicopters makes most savings in manpower.
Last year the Garda Síochána spent just over £7 million on transportation, almost £3 million of which went on the purchase of new vehicles. If two helicopters were to be leased for around £350,000 that would constitute a mere 6 per cent of the overall Garda transportation budget. This would by no means be an exorbitant figure for the type of benefit likely to be obtained.
Why was the idea dropped? It had the blessing of everybody. It is possible that the whole idea came from former Minister Gerry Collins or the Garda. The benefit of such a service is clear and it should be looked at again.
I was pleased to note that the Minister told the Dáil that he wishes to ensure that the guilty are convicted and that the innocent would be at no risk. I would love to know where in the Bill the Minister finds that guarantee to the innocent and to us, that the criminals will be dealt with. For example, there is a requirement on a garda in charge of a station to inform a detained person of his right to call a solicitor. Likewise the garda in charge must inform the detained person of his right to have one other person informed of his whereabouts. I read a lot of what the Minister said in the Dáil and what he said in the Seanad in his Second Stage speech. I am sure that Minister Noonan hopes this will be done, but we have to have safeguards to ensure these obligations are carried out. A large responsibility for a detained person's safety and proper treatment is placed in the hands of a garda in a station. I would earnestly request that these people receive a proper briefing on their new role. This is getting back again to the training programme I spoke of earlier. I am not talking about a faded yellow circular sent to all stations. I am proposing that these men and women be brought together, even on a divisional basis, and the new additional role they must play and the responsibilities they carry in relation to these safeguards explained to them. There have been too many instances in the past of internal Garda communications breaking down. It must not be allowed to happen again.
We must insist on the Garda on a divisional level being brought together and brought up to date with the provisions of the new Bill and, indeed, with other legislation which exists concerning a person's right.
Certainly, there is scope for abuse. I have the utmost respect for the Minister but I am less than reassured by his remark in the Dáil when he said that "There are reasonable safeguards built in to avoid the possibility of abuse." With respect, unless he does this by bringing gardaí together to inform them of what is in this legislation concerning the right of people to a solicitor, there will not be any safeguards. We are all aware of how hard it is to contact a solicitor. Let us be honest. When dealing with solicitors, even when you do not want anything from them, or dealing with them as a client who will pay them for some ordinary service, one has to have an appointment. The solicitors are up on a higher plane and one has to make an appointment, even for criminal cases. When it is stated that the person taken to a station is asked to name a solicitor it must be remembered that quite a lot of people in towns and outlying areas may not have dealt with a solicitor before and just could not name one. It is solely the responsibility of the garda in charge of that station to deal with the solicitor for that client. I am not saying that the Garda would abuse this, but the terms of this legislation, rather than being explained in a faded document, will have to be dealt with in divisional areas.
I made reference earlier to the original Bill which the Minister put through this House and, indeed, the other House. When concluding his Second Stage speech on the Bill dealing with community services the Minister said he would reiterate that he considered that this Bill was important and progressive and would bring into our criminal justice system a new sanction which was fundamentally different from others.
It is possible he will come back and tell us that the terms of that legislation are in operation. I am not aware that they are. I hope in regard to the Bill before us, when it eventually goes from here and if the President signs it — that is if part of it is not declared unconstitutional — we might have action a little faster on it than we had on community services.
It is wrong to introduce legislation for legislation's sake. Since the State was founded any legislation introduced for that reason never proved to be good legislation. I am not convinced, having listened to speakers here and, indeed, to those committed Members in the other House, who after this Bill went through said they were not happy. It is wrong to come in here, or into the other House, and pretend that in implementing the Criminal Justice Bill we will cure all the crime and ills outside. That is wrong. This Bill will not do it.
Until the Minister introduces the complaints procedure the terms of the Bill will not be implemented at all. Derek Nally, who has retired as General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, in November 1983 said that as far as the complaints procedure was concerned we must wait and see. Now, in September 1984, Derek Nally and myself are still waiting to see because I understand the complaints procedure has not gone ahead. I understood the Minister will have to consult all sorts of people — maybe he will not consult anyone at all. The important thing about the complaints procedure is that the Minister — he got away with this in the other House — cannot implement the terms of the Bill and make them work until he brings in the complaints procedure. Perhaps I have it wrong. I am not a lawyer, but that is the way I see it. We are talking about giving increased powers to the Garda, but without the complaints procedure.
We talk about reducing the level of crime but we are not creating the necessary environment to do so. We are supposed to stand up here and welcome a piece of legislation which I do not see as solving any of the problems. Perhaps by the time the Second Stage of this Bill is finished the Minister may come in and tell us that he has set up the complaints procedure but he has to consult the Garda because the increased powers in the Bill lie dormant until the new complaints procedure is brought forward. Whoever is in charge now think they must be consulted before the complaints procedure is put through and that means a further delay in implementing this Bill.
It is now 1984, 21 years after the death of John F. Kennedy. At the time he tried to create a world where "all men are given equal opportunities, a world where trust replaced mistrust, a world where hope shone brighter than the darkness of hopelessness". I hope that what I have said in not supporting this legislation will not give the wrong slant to anybody. I have my reservations for the reasons I have given. If I thought it was going to help one person in not having their house broken into or their car stolen or if it would stop the greater crimes that are taking place in this country today I would stand up here and warmly welcome this legislation. Even if a Fianna Fáil Government were in power and if this Bill as it is were before this House I would still be critical of it.