Garda Síochána (Complaints) Bill, 1985: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I referred to the two aspects of this Bill which I felt were of some general interest. The structure of the Bill and of the complaints procedure is far too complicated to meet the needs of the members of the general public who wish to make complaints against members of the Garda Síochána. I have dealt with that matter fully, so I will not bore the House with it again. There are, however, a number of other points to which I should like to refer during the course of this Second Stage debate. The Minister in his speech introducing this on Second Stage referred to one point which is of central importance to the complaints procedure and to discipline within the Garda Síochána. He referred to the contents of section 7 (9) which provided, according to the Minister, that a member of the Garda Síochána who has refused to answer questions or furnish information during an investigation of a complaint may subsequently be required to do so in certain limited circumstances. Because this provision can be invoked there must be no possibility of criminal proceedings arising in connection with the conduct relating to the complaint and the conduct must have arisen in connection with the performance of the member's official duties. The investigating officer must also inform the member concerned that he is acting in accordance with this subsection and that any answer the member will give will not be admissible in evidence against the member or his or her spouse in any proceedings whatsoever other than disciplinary proceedings against that member.

The Minister also said he believed this was an appropriate provision to have to enable complaints by the public to be properly investigated. It does no more than place the Garda in the same position as any employee in the public or private sector who is asked to give an explanation about his or her conduct following a complaint about it.

The Minister has been misled in this regard and he is overstating the strength of his argument considerably. One of the attractive elements of the complaints procedure promised by the previous Minister for Justice during the discussion on the Criminal Justice Act was that he intended to make it a disciplinary offence for a member to refuse to answer a question in respect of a matter which arose in the course of that member's official duties. It is obvious that this matter has been substantially watered down by the Minister and his Department following representations from the various Garda representative organisations. I recognise the right of the Garda representative organisation to make the representations but it is up to the Minister to view those representations against the background of the common good. In doing so, he has gone considerably farther than the common good requires or would allow.

In addition the statement of the Minister, to which I have already referred, contains at least one substantially incorrect statement. It is not true to say that this provision places the Garda Síochána in the same position as any other employee in the public or private sector. There is no obligation on the member of the force during the investigation of a disciplinary offence to answer the question and the matter of answering that question at a later stage only applies where there is no possibility of criminal proceedings. In effect, that will only apply where the Director of Public Prosecutions has already decided that no criminal proceedings should take place. That is not the position people in ordinary jobs find themselves in when faced with an accusation about the performance of their duties.

Imagine the position of, say, an employee of a supermarket who was suspected of leaving money short or putting money in their pocket, or indeed, of assaulting a member of the public with whom they were doing business. There is a case — assault of a customer by a person going about their duties — where they would obviously be liable to criminal proceedings. Of course, the fact that they are liable to criminal proceedings and would not have to answer questions from the Garda Síochána concerning whether they had assaulted somebody would not remove from those people the responsibility of answering questions from their employer about the incident. Even while assault proceedings are pending there would, of course, be a duty on the employee to answer questions from the employer concerning whether or not the assault had taken place and the circumstances surrounding it. I could not imagine a situation where the morning after an assault was alleged to have taken place, somebody goes back to their job in Roches Stores, or wherever, and is accused of having assaulted a customer, The question of legal proceedings is pending and the manager says: "Why did you do that?" And they say: "I will not answer any of your questions because I am not obliged to incriminate myself". Of course they are not obliged to incriminate themselves, but as a result of the failure to answer the questions they leave themselves liable to dismissal.

The fact is that a person has to make a choice. As an employee there is no doubt that they must answer questions which relate to their employment. As a potential defendant they are, of course, entitled under the Constitution and the law, as it is, to refuse to answer those questions, but they must, as is normal, take the adverse consequences of their refusal, whatever those adverse consequences may be. in the normal situation an employee would not be entitled to refuse to answer legitimate questions from their employer on the sole basis that to do so might leave them open to prosecution. They would be entitled to refuse, but the employer would be entitled, in advance of any assault accusation in court or any adjudication by the court on it, in respect of an employee who had refused to give the information requested by the employer, to dismiss the employee or take other disciplinary procedures. So it is not true to say that the members of the Garda Síochána are in the same position as any other member of the general public or any other employee of a State, semi-State or other organisation.

People seem to be confused about two things. One is the investigation by the Garda Síochána of a matter in their role as the upholders of the law so as to lay a possible complaint against a person, on the one hand, and their role as part of an investigation team to decide whether disciplinary proceedings are justified on the other hand.

As the Minister quite rightly points out, in the unlikely event of a decision being taken to ensure that a member of the Garda Síochána ultimately is forced to answer questions and where the person must be informed in writing that that particular section is being invoked, the member would have to be advised that the information made available under that section will not be admissible against him or his spouse in any proceedings whatsoever other than in the disciplinary proceedings against him. Is that not the protection that you need?

Members of the Garda Síochána say they want the investigation of complaints against their members to be carried out exclusively by members of the Garda Síochána. I know the Minister has got rid of the exclusive element of that but, by and large, the complaints against members of the Garda Síochána will be investigated by members of the Garda Síochána.

That is fair enough but what they are confusing is the fact that the same force, although different members, may also be investigating that complaint for the possibility of laying criminal proceedings against the person. They are getting those two things confused and there is no need for it. There is no reason why the investigating officer, in the pursuit of his duties, could not give precisely the same undertaking that any information which he would glean would not be admissible against the member except in so far as the disciplinary proceedings were concerned. It is not necessary. The same person will not be investigating the criminal element of it. I do not see any good reason why the investigating officer cannot at an earlier stage require information from the member to aid and assist that inquiry. That information could be used only in the investigative process for disciplinary proceedings and for the actual hearing of such proceedings.

I do not see any reason why that should not be done. What has happened is that the obligation to answer questions from one's superiors as to the method in which you carried out your duties can now be set aside if any member saw even the remotest possibility that as a result of answering that question he might leave himself liable to prosecution. When a complaint has been made the members will say nothing, as they are entitled to do. That has destroyed the effectiveness of the Bill. It is a matter which we must consider on Committee Stage. If a separate force or a separate arm of the Garda Síochána was in existence for the investigation of complaints like this, this problem would not arise. It should be part of the procedure that no use could be made of the information so gathered except in disciplinary proceedings. It has already been suggested that that requirement should exist. There is no reason why information cannot be sought at a much earlier stage to decide whether disciplinary proceedings are justified.

There was an amendment in the other House excusing from the duty to make certain information available to wives of members of the Garda Síochána who are themselves members of the Garda Síochána. I do not understand that. It seems to be confusing the criminal law and discipline. It appears that somebody decided that questions which are legitimate in respect of every other member of the force should not be legitimate in respect of spouses of members of the force who are themselves members of the force. Where a husband and wife are members of the force under no circumstances can one be asked questions about the other, irrespective of the circumstances, for disciplinary proceedings. That appears to be ridiculous. The reduction of the obligation which should exist to answer questions has effectively destroyed a substantial portion of this procedure and makes it virtually useless. It might work in theory but not in practice.

The Minister of State might like to give us an expanded view on what is meant by the principle of double jeopardy. He referred to it in his speech. What is the present position in regard to double jeopardy? What he is saying in effect is that it may not refer a case to the Commissioner or a tribunal if the breach is in substance the same offence as that of which the member concerned has been acquitted. I am not worried about the conviction aspect because that is dealt with elsewhere. The standard of proof required in a criminal matter is totally different from that required for a disciplinary hearing. I do not know what the present disciplinary procedure is in this regard, but the Minister might like to give us some information on that.

Exceptional procedure must exist which would enable matters to be considered at a disciplinary level even though an acquittal on a charge related to the same incident has been returned in a court case. Is that not precisely the same as what would happen in any other job? If you go back to the case of a woman working in Roches Stores, if she is acquitted of assaulting a person that does not mean that she cannot be dismissed from her job. There are procedures under the Employment Appeals Tribunal to make sure that power would not be wrongly used. If it is wrongly used a person should be entitled to have their job back.

It is not true to say that, where a person has been acquitted of a criminal action in respect of a series of events, no disciplinary procedure applies in everyday business. That is not the way it operates. In the vast majority of cases where there is an acquittal it is unlikely that a breach of discipline can be proved or sustained against a member, but there could be circumstances in which a breach of discipline would be capable of being shown against a member even though it may not have amounted to a criminal offence. Very often people are charged with the wrong criminal offence. I may have decided to charge a person with murder when it should be manslaughter. They charge them with one offence instead of another. In those circumstances the person is acquitted. That does not mean that the person has not done anything.

Similarly, I do not think it should mean that a member of the Garda Síochána should be totally incapable of being disciplined in respect of a series of events which led to his acquittal. That should be the normal situation. The Minister should allow for flexibility even if it is a flexibility which is guarded by many different procedures which must be gone though before the matter can be looked at again. But it is important that the possibility should continue to exist.

Reference has also been made to the Fourth Schedule to the Bill which deals with disciplinary matters for the purpose of the public making complaints against members of the Garda Síochána. It is right to say that discourtesy, neglect of duty, falsehood, prevarication, abuse of authority, corrupt or improper practice, misuse of money, intoxication, discreditable conduct, accessory to conduct specified in the Schedule, that is, conniving at or knowingly being an accessory to such conduct, are disciplinary offences. That does not cover the full range of disciplinary offences in the force. For example, it does not cover the possibility of members being involved in work outside their duty which is incompatible with their duties as members of the Garda Síochána.

If a member of the public from now on comes across that and makes a complaint it would appear that the complaint would be automatically excluded. It would be considered in the first instance by one of the various filtering processes which are necessary before the matter would come through. It would have to be decided whether it was an admissible complaint. The complaints board chief executive would have to decide whether it is an admissible offence. If it is not in the Schedule, then it is not an admissible offence. In other words it is proposed that a member of the public will not be allowed to complain in respect of a member of the Garda Síochána who is doing a job which is incompatible with being a member of the Garda Síochána. I am not suggesting that I know any garda who is doing this. If a member of the Garda Síochána was acting as a bouncer in a nightclub that would be quite incompatible with membership of the Garda Síochána. If a member of the public saw that and was offended by it and if under the Bill he makes a complaint, is it true to say that that complaint would be considered not to be an admissible complaint? I wonder if that is true. If it is true, is it right?

There is another point that Members will be aware of and that is the question that members of the Garda are correctly discouraged in my view from displaying political favours or displaying too close an affinity with any political party. The Garda Síochána Discipline Regulations, 1971 cover the various points I am making. Under No. 15 on page 31 of that statutory instrument it says: "Prohibited spare time activities — identify actively or publicly with a political party."

Does that mean that it this is not in the Schedule and if somebody wants to make a complaint against members of the Garda Síochána that they have been closely identified with members of a political party, that that is not a proper complaint for the public to make against the Garda under this procedure? Of course, I understand somebody internally may make the complaint. Of course, the Garda Síochána Discipline Regulations, 1971, or whatever will take their place from time to time, will cover that. As regards a member of the public making the complaint it would appear to me that it is not an admissible matter. In those circumstances that seems to be a rather strange decision. Something like that is obviously a matter for public concern — it is not an internal matter; it is not like filling in the station book incorrectly which is obviously an internal matter to be covered by internal disciplinary regulations. I am not talking about those things. It is not like not turning up for duty on time, which again is an internal disciplinary matter and which of course is covered by the regulations. This is a public matter. If I, as a member of the public want to complain about a member of the Garda, that he or she is engaging too openly, actively or publicly in the affairs of a political party, is that going to be ruled an inadmissible complaint? If it is, it is incorrect and is not appropriate.

There are other things like unauthorised entering of a licensed premises, that is to say, without good and sufficient cause while on duty or while off duty, but wearing uniform entering a premises in respect of which the statutory licence or permit has been granted in relation to intoxicating liquor, betting or gaming. There are things like that which obviously have some relevance but I am sure that, on the question of engaging for reward or otherwise in an activity like, for example, being a bouncer in a night club or becoming publicly identified with a political party the Minister will give me the thrust of his view is with regard to allegations of that type. I am sure we will be able to apply that to the various other possibilities which exist in respect of potential breaches of the Garda Síochána Discipline Regulations, 1971 and which are public in nature, but which are not specifically dealt with in the Schedule which again, was added during the course of the Dáil debate.

I noticed that during the Dáil debate certain additions and changes were made with regard to the number of people who shall form part of the board and the number of people who may form part of the tribunal. They are matters which I would like to take the opportunity to discuss with the Minister on Committee Stage. It appears to me that, as initiated, this Bill incorporated into the Bill itself references to the regulations. Any matter which is a breach of the regulations appears to me to be an admissible matter. The regulations — and these are the regulations of 1971 — have been taken out of the Bill and substituted by a Schedule 4 which contains only a portion of those regulations. There are a lot of internal regulations with which I do not think the members of the public have a legitimate cause of complaint. But there are other things. The trouble with including anything in the Schedule is that you are leaving things out, and there are things left out there. I notice there has been a significant change in the legislation during the course of its passage through the other House which includes the fact that the disciplinary regulations are no longer considered essential parts of the procedures.

I consider that giving the disciplinary body the right to require the retirement or resignation of a member as an alternative to dismissal is quite good and quite positive, and is something which has my support. I notice in addition that in regard to the reference which I made to the circumstances where a member can be called on to give an explanation, the notification of the applicability of that section must be given in writing to the member. It fascinates me that it is considered appropriate, and I do consider it appropriate that it is required to give notice in writing to a member of the force who is under an investigation like that in those circumstances. But any kind of similar obligation which was proposed to be inserted in the Criminal Justice Act for the benefit of the ordinary, decent people, was resisted strenuously. From time to time people are accused of offences which in some cases they commit and in some cases do not. Any such suggestion that they should be given in writing the substance of what was being insisted upon and the reason it was operating and the source of the authority was resisted strenuously. It appears to me that we are correctly protecting the people who in my opinion do not need the protection to the same extent as the general public.

I note that there is considerable resistance to the idea that six months is the appropriate length of time in which a complaint can be made. I think it is quite short. The appropriate time is six months under the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act: the normal time for the laying of a complaint is six months, if my memory serves me right. But for all serious indictable offences there is no time limit at all. One can be told of a complaint against one very long after the actual offence is alleged to have been committed. That is only right and proper. The six months is about right, and I would support the Minister in that. I do not support that association who are vigorously campaigning to have that reduced to what I consider to be a ridiculous 28 days.

That is basically what I want to say about the Bill. The idea is excellent, the idea of extending in statutory form the complaints procedure which at present seems to be operated on a fairly secret basis as far as the general public is concerned, to a basis where at least anybody who has a Ph.D in law will understand it: presumably the rest of the people can pay people to explain to them what it is all about. At least it is available, and the theory of it is available. No doubt explanatory memoranda of all kinds will be got out for the information of the general public. That is a good idea. Unfortunately, the procedure which has probably been imposed on the Minister by the growth of the disciplinary procedures in the past, together with the additional complaints boards and appeal boards and others conspire to create other situations. In my view, as regards most complaints the position is going to be quite unworkable. It is just not going to deliver the goods.

Finally, the reason we need a Garda Complaints Bill and the reason we must make it easy for people to make complaints against the Garda, confident in the knowledge that they will be properly assessed, is not only to give redress to people who are badly treated by members of the Garda Síochána, but also to restore confidence, or to maintain confidence, in the members of the Garda Síochána and the way in which they act and, by so doing, to make a contribution towards the elimination, prevention or developing of the alienation to which Senator Ryan referred.

The alienation between members of the Force and the general public is the most dangerous development in the field of police matters I have come across during my lifetime. The alienation about which I spoke during the debate on the Criminal Justice Act is something which it is most essential should not be allowed to develop in this part of the country to the same extent as in other parts of the country. The existence of a complaints procedure which will permit complaints to be dealt with speedily and to be done in a way which is considered fair by the general public and by the person making the complaint and the members of the Garda Síochána, is an ideal which will help to increase the status of the members of the force — something to which I am committed — as being truly the representatives of justice in Ireland and not just the representatives of law and order.

I know the House is anxious to have the Second Stage debate concluded as soon as possible and my contribution will be brief. I will be confining myself to general observations on the Bill. I welcome it as the other Members have done. It is necessary to have a properly structured method of dealing with complaints. It is conceded on all sides of the House that, by and large, this Bill meets the requirements of Members.

I attempted to get the views of gardaí some considerable time ago on this Bill. I got a written promise of some help in this regard, but it never materialised. I was disappointed to some extent because on nearly all the legislation that goes through this House, we receive representations from people with vested interests. That is a good thing and in no sense improper provided that we retain our critical faculties. I would have liked to have had some personal meetings with gardaí to discuss the matter.

Like other Members of the House I want to pay tribute to the gardaí because they are a very fine body of men and women. This might be attributed partly to the strict recruitment procedures where only the best are selected. This is proper. On a few occasions when I made representations with regard to young men who had passed the entrance examination I discovered that these names are left for a number of years on a register. Some of them are never called. Over 1,000 are left. It is a pity that such a large number is left on the list and that many people are disappointed. It should be kept closer to the exact numbers required.

I have never known of any instance where a garda committed what I would regard as a serious or any discretion. In my experience as a peace commissioner I have come into contact with gardaí more often than other people. I recall a few years back a special court where a young married man was deported because of an alleged crime in Scotland. I remember coming out of the court late at night and this young man and his wife and family were downstairs and when the gardaí were taking him away his little girl cried: "Daddy don't leave me." That still upsets me. About a week later I called to the station to inquire about the case and to say that, if I had known it was going to be so traumatic, I would not have been inclined to take part. The gardaí produced the file and showed me a letter from that man thanking them for the civility and courtesy extended to him.

Also on one occasion 30 years ago I was a witness in a murder trial in Green Street courthouse because I gave a lift to a young man and on that occasion I saw nothing but kindness extended. My experience is that the gardaí are compassionate and kind. There are exceptions but that is the general experience.

On occasions in the past when we had an outbreak of a different type of crime, for example crime against the elderly, and on other occasions, and subsequently, when due to hard work by the gardaí, criminals were apprehended and sentenced, sometimes public representatives were asked to make representations on behalf of people apprehended, sentenced or due for sentence. In a situation like that the gardaí might resent what they would regard as interference but it is difficult for a public representative to refuse to play a part, to be a judge in effect. Overall the gardaí realise that public representatives have a duty to do and they do it to the best of their ability and, like the gardaí, with as much compassion as possible. Inconsistencies in sentencing would be another problem in this area. Maximum sentences are given under different Acts. The courts have discretion but on a number of occasions it would be hard to persuade people that there was not serious inconsistency. These things are very demoralising for the gardaí.

I admire the force. I know there are some exceptions. These exceptions are people who are very officious or overanxious to do their work. It is hard to condemn them in a situation like that. Criticism comes easy. I can see that a balance is necessary and perhaps that is something that the Garda will build up over a period. They often deal with ruthless criminals. This should not be overlooked.

It is most important that the force be contented and happy in their work. I see serious problems in many areas here with regard to premises which are unsuitable, not properly heated, not large enough and may be very old. It is an occupation where there are not great opportunities for promotion. Like other Members, I feel that there should be more opportunities for gardaí by way of the education and training necessary in their careers but also on a much broader basis including degrees and entering into third level educational areas. I am not sure about the position with regard to seminars and conferences but in this area these would be very necessary. In any profession at present it is necessary to spend almost half a day in the week reading up on new technology and new ideas. This is very true in the case of the Garda Síochána.

I agree with the other Members who feel that gardaí should not, if possible, be engaged in work outside their own duties. The pay is very important, particularly for a young man with a wife and family. All those areas are very important if we are to have a contented and happy Garda force which will in effect lead to members doing their duty more effeciently.

With so many people unemployed at the moment it should be possible to recruit more people for the Garda and the Army. The real cost to the country would not be the actual cost but the actual cost less the amount these individuals would qualify for if they were getting unemployment benefit.

I agree with the neighbourhood patrol. It was an unfortunate decision to close down the small Garda stations throughout the country. The gardaí in those stations knew the people and the surrounding areas. They knew what to watch out for. They could be credited with preventing crime much more than securing prosecutions. In bigger stations wth more gardaí involved it is much more difficult for the people to get to know the gardaí. I would have closer connections with the gardaí in my own town of Kells than other people there but I cannot say that I know any of them very well and I certainly do not know them personally.

Senator Ryan said that the Bill was too detailed and that there was an attempt to cover every contingency. In a sense I feel that he was paying what might be regarded as a left-handed compliment to the Bill. I would concur in that also.

With regard to section 4, which deals with complaints to the board, and section 3, which relates to the Garda Síochána (Complaints) Board itself, I think it is proper that the Commissioner should be represented. In addition, the ordinary member of the force, representative of the rank and file, should be included. Membership of the board has been increased from seven to nine to enable arrangements to be made to ensure that members of the board serving on the disciplinary tribunal will not have had any previous involvement in the cases coming before them. The Minister told us that he was not convinced that this was necessary but the Garda Association attach particular importance to this arrangement and they made an impressive case. I am glad, therefore, that this amendment is included.

Section 12 was another section which was included in the other House and the Minister referred to it specifically. It confines the requirement on gardaí to furnish information on matters arising in connection with the performance of official functions. Specific provision was made for prohibiting the unauthorised disclosure of confidential information by members of the complaints board or appeal board or by members of the staff. I would like to ask the Minister about the position of a garda giving evidence in court. For example, if he is questioned about another case about which he has information, will he have to divulge that in court? Perhaps it may not be strictly relevant to this Bill, but I understand that there is some concern in this regard.

On a previous occasion in this House, when we dealt with the Report No. 77 of NESC regarding the criminal justice system, policy and performance, the Minister dealt with the long term solutions to the main causes of crime. He told us that these would be solved in the areas of economic and social policy. He also referred to short term measures and stated:

For example, local authorities, town planners and health authorities could all take greater account of crime prevention as a factor in their recommendations and decisions. This is very important and something that is not properly understood. In this area local authorities have a very important role to play — for example, in housing, not alone in the actual design and lay-out of the House, but in schemes where people are taken from inner urban areas and brought to the suburbs, where they are taken out of their culture and away from their contacts. Where this involves other stresses, and there are many occasions when this happens. I have referred to them before in the House. This is an area which is not fully comprehended and taken into consideration with regard to crime, which, indeed, it should be.

I want to refer to another matter which Senator Kelleher mentioned in his contribution, and that is the failure of the authorities to support members when subjected to legal proceedings arising from the proper discharge of their duties. In theGarda News for May, 1986 this matter is dealt with on page 29, under the title “Failure to Back Members”. I believe this problem is getting bigger. I will quote this short paragraph:

The State provides legal representation for everybody involved, but the member. How can the Minister or our authorities support such a stance? This is a factor which I believe is detrimental to the morale of the Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána Complaints Bill was published on 13th June, 1985. It contained sections which effectively removed protection against self-incrimination for our members yet, there are no provisions whatsoever, to provide free legal aid for the Gardaí, or even to discourage unfounded complaints against the Gardaí, a practice very much in fashion at the present time. I put it to this conference that not only are existing claims not being paid, but it can be clearly seen from this Bill, that our authorities have no plans to pay any such legal expenses in the future.

If this is true, it is a sad situation. I would ask the Minister in his reply if he would also refer briefly to this.

I agree with Senator Brendan Ryan that the Garda have great powers and necessarily so. They have a difficult job to do. I believe it is essential that where complaints are made — it is inevitable that many of them will be made — to have this structured method of dealing with the complaints. Subject to further discussion and, perhaps, amendments on Committee Stage, I also welcome the Bill.

It has been truly said in the Conroy Commision Report and I quote:

The primary function of the policeman is to maintain law and order, to protect the person and property of the general public, to befriend any person who needs help and to assist in any emergency that may arise.

It is in that context that I should like to join with the other Senators in paying public tribute to our police force, at all levels, for the excellence of the service which they have rendered down through the years, protecting the vulnerable and unprotected people from criminals, and in particular for advancing and safeguarding peace and security in our country. The standards of courage and loyalty and dedication displayed by members of the force over the past years is in keeping with the best traditions of the force.

Indeed, it is appropriate on an occasion like this that our hearts and minds should go out to the families of members of the force who have been brutally killed and injured in the course of duty.

It was a very fortunate development when, on February 9, 1922, a meeting was held in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin, presided over by General Richard Mulcahy, the purpose of which was to set up and prepare plans for the setting up of a new police force in this country. Thus, the founding fathers of this State, with I believe great foresight and vision, set up a professional, unarmed police force which was unique among its kind in Europe. The first garda was enrolled on February 20, 1922 and within a few weeks 800 gardaí were enrolled. Ever since the members of the Garda Síochána, the vast majority of them the salt of our nation, have proved themselves fair, impartial and reliable and, above all, they have displayed a sense of fair play in dealing with all our people. They have done this in spite of the fact that the changing face of crime and the problems of security and drugs have made their duties more onerous, more complex and more demanding.

The maintenance of a high morale in our police force is of prime importance, especially in a constitutional democracy like ours.

I wish to condemn, as a Member of this House, the unabated level of Garda bashing to which the members of the force have been subjected by some politicians and other such persons in recent times. Yet the vast majority of members of the force have maintained their strength, their confidence and their durability, at a time when the members are facing attacks on all sides. They have nursed their grief for their colleagues in private and with dignity.

I also believe that Garda commissioners and Ministers for Justice should stand behind the force and should be prepared to defend the force in public, where the members of the force are being unfairly and unjustly attacked. This happens in other countries. In this connection it is interesting to note that the Humberside Police Committee recently agreed to underwrite a libel action initiated by a police officer againstThe Times newspapers in the interest of what they called unfairness to the police officer.

With regard to this Garda Síochána (Complaints) Bill, the right to silence is fundamental. It should extend to any criminal or quasi-criminal investigation. The accused officer should enjoy the right of any other accused citizen to decline to give evidence which may be used in evidence against him or her. I believe this right to silence should not eliminate, of course, the duty to co-operate fully with the inquiry, but abolishing the right increases the vulnerability of members of the force to false allegations and malicious claims. For in the words of Sergeant Tom Kenny of Limerick and I quote:

Members of the force are frequently subject to complaints by persons with nefarious motives simply to frustrate investigations and to discredit the force.

The Minister for Justice should sit down again with the representative bodies in order to work out a more acceptable formula for dealing with complaints against the force. Mr. Daniel Ryan, who was President of the AGSI last year asked why should members of the force be subjected to a measure which applied to no other public servant nor, indeed, to any other person, including the criminal.

The practice of suspending members of the force on reduced pay of two thirds of basic salary is unfair and unjust. It should be urgently reviewed by the Minister, because members of the force are often suspended while awaiting the hearing of the most trivial of charges. The vast majority of these cases are thrown out by the courts. Members of the force are effectively subjected to a form of advanced punishment before the court has even heard the charges against them. Something must be done about the general question of bail. The Supreme Court decided in the O'Callaghan case of 20 years ago that bail could only be refused in the most restrictive of circumstances. The Government should either consider the holding of a referendum on this important question or should take proceedings to the Supreme Court to enable that court, 20 years on, to review the O'Callaghan case in the light of current circumstances. A similar problem to our own existed in the United States of America but, under the Crime Control Act, 1984, a judge, when deciding the question of bail, may now consider the safety of any other person or the community. I also believe that the system of compensating gardaí and dependents when gardaí are injured on duty needs to be urgently reviewed and reformed. There is a very strong case for the introduction of mandatory sentences in regard to people who carry guns and the imposition of additional sentences where they use them.

I should like to support Senators who have made the case for legal representations and free legal aid for the members of the force in respect of the operation of this proposed Bill.

In conclusion, therefore, I hope that this Bill, when passed by Dáil Éireann, will be further reviewed, refined and modified by this House so that we can have an effective, fair complaints procedure established which will safeguard the interests of both the public and the Garda.

Ní bheidh mé ach cúpla nóiméad mar tuigim go maith go bhfuil a lán ráite cheana ach ba mhaith liom mar sin féin cúpla rud a rá cé go bhfuil sé beagáinín déanach.

It is important that all of us in public life support the Garda Síochána. Very often, of late, it appears to me that according to the media most the gardaí are doing things that are wrong. It is amazing how these things come across because incidents are reported. It is grossly unfair to the Garda that this image is created by splashing certain incidents across the newspapers. The impression can be given that everybody is involved. I have absolutely no connection with the Garda; I have no relation in the force and I do not represent them. As a citizen from the Midlands, I want to express my support for them and suggest that we should stand by them. They are the people who stand by us when there is pressure.

In saying that, I am not for one minute suggesting that everybody in the Garda is up to the standard that the members themselves might like. The Garda force is made up of people, and in every organisation I know there are black sheep. People make mistakes or they are not suitable for the job they are doing. The fact that some members fall below the standards everybody expects from them should not make us regard the whole Garda force as being anything but of the highest quality and standard. I have heard attacks made on the Garda. This demoralises people who are doing much good and is to be deplored.

I welcome this complaints Bill. The gardaí cannot be above the law. The Government appointed an Ombudsman to hear complaints by the people. There is no profession about which a complaint cannot be made. While the procedure has been described as being very long and detailed some complaints may not get over the first hurdle. In the long run, we have to accept that complaints must be made.

I finish my very brief contribution by saying that many members of the Garda, when off duty, do much work in the community. It is of tremendous value that those members who are seen as the arm of the law can mix with the young people in particular, often in sporting organisations, give them an example and set them on the right road in a pleasant way. I hope the Garda Síochána will continue to live up to the very high standard they have always maintained and I hope our public statements will not do anything to detract from that high standard.

I should like to begin by thanking the House for the extremely constructive way in which the debate on this Bill has been approached. This is the first occasion on which any Government in this country, have committed themselves to putting on the Statute Book independent machinery for dealing with complaints by the public about the conduct of members of the Garda Síochána. It is quite right that we should take credit for doing this but, at the same time, we should make every possible effort to ensure that we have as wide as possible a consensus, before the enactment is made, about the form which the machinery itself should take.

There has been a very dedicated effort in this direction both in this House and in the Dáil. A measure of that effort in the Dáil can be seen in the fact that some 70 amendments were put down to the Bill and dealt with in a very thorough way. Those amendments which were dealt with and, indeed, many of the views expressed here during the course of the debate, brought out points which originated among Members of the Oireachtas, and other interested members of the public and in points put forward in discussions over quite a long period by the representative associations of the Garda Síochána.

We are trying all to get the best possible machinery for dealing with a subject which is an important one not just for members of the public but also for the members of the Garda Síochána. The aim we have all set out to achieve is to produce a complaints machinery that will have the confidence of both the public and the members of the Garda Síochána.

Senator Eoin Ryan said that if he had a criticism, it was that the Bill was too complex and, while that might be in some ways a good thing, it might deter some people from making a complaint. He gave some examples which supported that view.

Senator Durcan also spoke about the complexity of section 4 of the Bill. I agree that the Bill is extremely detailed in relation to the procedure to be followed by a person making a complaint and as to how that complaint should be processed by the chief executive, investigated and finally dealt with by the complaints board. The decision to proceed in that way arose directly from a wish to make it very clear to all concerned from the very beginning what the procedure would be, so that Members of the Oireachtas and other interested people could see just exactly what was proposed, what the powers of the board are, what safeguards are included for the public and for the gardaí who are often, as has been pointed out in this debate, at the receiving end of unjustified complaints by people who have a particular interest in making such complaints. All that requires quite an amount of detailed drafting. If we had taken the line of having a much simpler Bill, it would necessarily have been a Bill that made the procedures on all of these points much less clear than they are in the Bill before the House.

I do not think that setting out the process in detail in the Bill should deter anybody from making a complaint if he or she feels that a complaint should be made. As far as the complainant is concerned, it is simply a matter of calling to the board's offices, or calling or writing to the local Garda station, or to Garda Headquarters. Every single complaint, however, wherever and whenever it is made, will be examined by the chief executive of the board and, if it is admissible under the terms of the Bill, it will be dealt with from thereon under the supervision of the board. The complainant may not wish the matter to be handled by the board. There may and, indeed, will be cases where what is involved is a minor complaint which the complainant would prefer to see dealt with at local level by the immediate superiors of the member in question.

In the interests of certainty, however, the Bill requires that in that case the complainant should indicate in writing his wish to have the complaint dealt with locally so that there can be no ambiguity about the matter and no recriminations at a later stage. I think it is right that any complainant — and I know this is probably theoretical in a great many cases — or anybody advising any complainant should be able to look at the Act and find out what exactly is required, what steps he has to take and, even more important, what steps ensue once the complaint is made. I do not accept as a criticism the suggestion that the Bill is excessively complex.

Senator Durcan asked how the present Garda discipline regulations would operate once this Bill becomes law. At present these regulations govern the procedure for dealing with complaints against members of the force whether they come from the public or are concerned with matters of internal discipline. Under the Bill, as a general rule, all complaints from the public will be handled by the board and that is because any member of the public making a complaint is presumed to wish to have it considered by the board. If they want to have it considered by the Garda locally they must say so specifically in writing at the time the complaint is made. In that event, the complaint will be dealt with under the discipline regulations as at present. It may be dealt with informally, and I imagine that a great deal of the complaints that people would wish to leave to gardaí at local level to deal with would be suitable for informal treatment; or it could be a more serious complaint and come into the formal procedure that is provided for in these regulations.

As I have said, in the normal course complaints from the public will be processed under the provisions of the Bill, or the Act as it will then be, and the regulations will no longer apply unless the complainant requests otherwise in writing. I should remark, in passing, that the present discipline regulations will be superseded by new regulations to be worked out in consultation with three of the representative associations of the Garda. They will incorporate a number of amendments which are designed to simplify procedures and they have been welcomed by the majority of the representatives of the Garda Síochána.

Senator Durcan mentioned the absence from the Fourth Schedule of the specific breach of discipline now included in the Garda discipline regulations, which is the breach relating to prohibited spare time activities. There were comments on this from a number of contributors to the debate. These activities are defined under three headings. Two of them relate to political activities, either by identifying actively or publicly with a political party or behaving in relation to political matters in such a manner and in such circumstances as to give rise to reasonable apprehension among members of the public in relation to impartiality in the discharge of duties. The third category relates to engaging in any other activity which is prohibited by the commissioner as being likely to interfere with the proper discharge of duties and, again, likely to give rise to reasonable apprehension among the public in relation to the impartial discharge of duties or as being inappropriate for members of the Garda Síochána.

As can be seen from that brief description, the activities range from active or public identification with a political party to spare time activities which would be inappropriate and which would interfere with the proper discharge of duties. The best person to adjudicate on a complaint of this kind is the Commissioner, who, of course, is the chief officer of a disciplined force and ultimately is the custodian of its reputation.

The Commissioner has laid down a list of activities in addition to the specified political activities which come within this prohibition. I have to remark also that gardaí like other citizens, are perfectly entitled to their political opinions, but I cannot think of any other spare time activity that would be more likely to call their impartiality into question in the mind of the general public than, for example, canvassing for political parties during election times in civilian clothes. Senator Durcan expressed the view that that is not happening on a wide scale, and I am sure it is not. Equally, I feel that the Commissioner is the person best placed to deal with any authenticated complaint of that kind.

Senator Durcan then went on to express the hope that an investigation of a complaint under section 6 of the Bill would be carried out by some Garda investigating officer who does not have a professional relationship with the member concerned. That is a matter in relation to which the board would use the powers given to it under section 6(1)(c), which provides that the board may prescribe general principles to be observed in the appointment of investigating officers.

He also advocated the inclusion in the Bill of a provision making it a criminal offence to make a malicious complaint against a member of the Garda Síochána. One has a degree of initial sympathy with that point of view because gardaí are liable to a greater extent to have that kind of complaint made against them than any other public servants. For that reason the matter was the subject of prolonged discussions in the Garda Conciliation Council. The question, obviously, is not an easy one. As Senator Durcan pointed out, there is already a general provision in the criminal law — the Defamation Act, 1961 — making these complaints an indictable offence; but that provision has seldom, if ever, been used and what the Garda have asked for is that an offence be defined that could be disposed of summarily in the District Court.

The difficulty is — and this is where I would disagree with Senator Durcan — that there is a real possibility that the existence of such an offence would in itself act as a disincentive to people who have genuine complaints to make. It is that fear which brought me to decide against the creation of a special offence. However, I have agreed with the representative bodies of the Garda to ask the complaints board to consider whether some indication should be given to complaints of the existence of penalties for false complaints and to consider in due course, in the light of experience gained over a period of operation of the provisions before us, whether a special criminal offence might not need to be created in relation to these complaints. I have not got an entirely closed mind to that proposition but it is one that, I think, could be assessed better in the light of experience of operation of the provisions set out in the Bill. The board would be in a far better position to advise on this after some period of operation of the provisions.

Senator Durcan suggested that the six month period within which a complaint has to be made might be made extendable in certain circumstances. I am not so sure on that point. As Senator Durcan pointed out, six months has been traditionally the period provided for making a complaint in summary proceedings. I am inclined to take the view that that is long enough for anybody to make a complaint and, on the other side of the argument, the Garda are entitled to a degree of certainty in matters of this kind. It has also been suggested that the period for making a complaint should be reduced to three months with provision for extending it up to a maximum of six months in exceptional circumstances. I would think that the balance of the argument would come down in favour of a period of six months, which indeed was the conclusion to which the other House also arrived and, I think, the conclusion to which Senator O'Leary also arrived.

Senator McGonagle took up the question of the composition of the board itself and asked why there are so many lawyers on the board and on its tribunals. The position is that there will be four lawyers in all on the board of whom the chairman is one. Because two board members will sit on a tribunal who cannot previously have been involved in the case, one lawyer member must be reserved, therefore, for serving on the board, the chairman is one. Two board members will sit on a tribunal and cannot previously have been involved in the case. One lawyer member must be reserved, therefore, for serving on a tribunal and cannot take part in considering the report of the investigation and because two tribunals may need to sit at the same time, two lawyers will be concerned with that side, that is, the adjudication side of the boards work. That leaves one other lawyer member apart from the chairman. That member will be concerned with the investigation side. I do not think that in a board of nine which has to divide itself into two divisions, one for supervising investigations and the other for adjudicating on complaints, three lawyers is an excessive number. We should also bear in mind the fact that even disciplinary proceedings can result in very serious consequences for gardaí. It seems to me, therefore, right that some persons trained in legal procedures should be there to see that justice is done and that it is seen to be done. The gardaí, no less than the general public, deserve that kind of assurance. As I said, there would be one lawyer apart from the chairman concerned with investigation aspects and one serving on the disciplinary tribunal or each of the tribunals to be set up under the Bill. That seems to be the minimum number we should have to provide.

Senator McGonagle then asked if a member could insist that a complaint be dealt with formally and not disposed of informally under section 5. The answer is yes. No complaint could be disposed of under the informal procedure provided for in section 5 without the written consent of both the complainant, in the first instance, and the member concerned. That is set out clearly in section 5 (3) (b).

Senator McGonagle then went on to look at the double jeopardy provision and I think he was seeking to have it explained with a little more clarity than perhaps is sometimes possible in the language of the parliamentary draftsman. That provision is set out in Section 7 (7). Originally the concept of double jeopardy applied only in relation to criminal proceedings — a person could not be tried twice for the same offence — but it was later extended to disciplinary proceedings arising as a result of criminal proceedings.

In relation to convictions the rule means that the member concerned is not to be tried again for a breach which is substantially the same as the offence, but he may nevertheless be disciplined for the breach of discipline which consists of the conduct that constituted the offence in respect of which he was convicted. That is the effect of paragraph (b) (i) of the subsection. That breach is usually called criminal conduct. There is no rehearing of the evidence given at the trial. The disciplinary tribunal will be concerned only with the fact of conviction.

The disciplinary action taken is not to take the form of punishment because the member cannot be punished twice for his transgression. The question to be considered is the member's suitability for retention in his present rank or in the force. It is to be expected that a more serious view would be taken of convictions of gardaí than of persons in other employments having regard, in particular, to their role in upholding the law. A convicted member may be proceeded against not only for criminal conduct but also for any other breach of discipline involved in the complaint which is not in substance the same as the offence of which he was convicted.

The application of the rule to acquittals is straightforward though it does not, of course, prevent disciplinary proceedings being taken for breaches which are not in substance the same. Each case has to be considered individually and I think a very brief reference to the British practice might be useful in order to elucidate the point. In the British case where guidance is given to chief officers it said that the criminal charge of assault and the disciplinary charge of unnecessary violence are the most common example of such charges being in substance the same. The guidance goes on to say that in considering whether double jeopardy operates, close attention should be paid to the similarity in the elements of the criminal charge and the possible disciplinary charge. In some cases they may not be as similar as appears at first sight. The mental element of the criminal offence may be lacking in the disciplinary offence or the conduct involved may differ. Where that is so, there is no bar to disciplinary proceedings because the two offences are not then in substance the same. I do not think I should go into more detail on that, but it shows the necessity to look at each case individually in order to assess the relationship between the elements to be taken into account in relation to the disciplinary charge and the criminal charge.

Senator McGonagle suggested that the double jeopardy rule under the Bill would apply only where a court decision has been given in favour of the garda concerned. That is not the case. It applies whether the garda is convicted or acquitted. The misunderstanding here may have arisen from the provision in section 6 (6)(b) that the board must take no further action on a complaint if the substantial issues involved have been investigated by a civil court and decided in favour of the garda in question. The double jeopardy rule is normally expressed to apply only to criminal proceedings and not to civil proceedings. If a member has been sued in civil proceedings and has to pay damages for conduct which amounts to a breach of discipline there seems to be no reason why that conduct should not be investigated and, if necessary, adjudicated on by the board and the tribunal.

Senator Kelleher criticised the provision in section 7 (9) requiring a member of the Garda Síochána in certain limited circumstances to answer questions or furnish information in relation to a complaint about that member's conduct. Substantially the same point was made by Senator Kennedy. Much of the criticism of this provision is based on the proposition that a right is being taken from gardaí which every other citizen has. It is essential that we should be clear on this. That is not the case. What is being done is no more than placing the gardaí in the same position as any other employee in the public or private sector who is asked by his or her superior to give an explanation when a complaint is made; nothing more and nothing less. That particular provision has no relevance to criminal proceedings because the provision can be used only where there is no possibility of criminal proceedings being taken against the member concerned. It applies only where purely disciplinary matters are concerned. As was pointed out when the Bill was being introduced in the House, it is a provision which I would expect would be used only rarely but it seemed right to the Government to take the opportunity presented by this measure to set out what the position should be in this respect, including the limitations on its exercise. The essential point I want to get across is that this provision puts a member of the Garda Síochána in exactly the same position as any other public servant or as any employee in a private firm who is asked to give an explanation in the event of a complaint.

Senator Kelleher takes the view that members of the board who have been involved in an investigation should not sit on a tribunal. I agree with that and the Bill provides accordingly. It was, indeed, amended on Committee Stage in the Dáil to provide that members of the board who had been involved in the investigation of a complaint would be ineligible to sit on a tribunal dealing with that complaint. The membership of the board is being increased from seven to nine members to allow for that separation of functions.

Senator Kelleher referred to the question of the six months period. I have already dealt with this. He went on to raise the matter of legal representation for gardaí at a complaints tribunal. In relation to this particular matter I have agreed to set up a group with officials of my Department and representatives of the Garda associations under a neutral chairman to decide on applications from members for free legal assistance in advance of a hearing before a tribunal or an appeal board.

Senator Lanigan gave it as his opinion that the commissioner should not be a member of the board. This particular view has been debated long and comprehensively right from the time that the measure was first proposed. Having examined all of that debate, I remain of the view that the commissioner or his representative must be a member of the complaints board and participate in the adjudication of complaints and in the determination of any disciplinary action to be taken. Maintenance of discipline is an important part of the commissioner's function and indeed of his overall operational responsibility. He is the chief disciplinary officer of the force and it is essential that any changes in the existing procedure for handling complaints should be such as not to undermine his position in this respect or weaken his command of the force. To exclude him entirely from the disciplinary process would be bound to undermine his authority and, therefore, would be bound to undermine the morale of the force. It would also tend to give rise to unnecessary friction between Garda management and the complaints board. The fact of giving the commissioner a representation on the board and the adjudication in a tribunal preserves his position to the maximum extent consistent with introducing a decisive independent voice into the complaints procedure.

Senator Brendan Ryan asked for an explanation of (8) (d) of section 6. This provides that nothing in subsection (8) shall prevent arrangements being made between the board and the commissioner for dealing with cases covered by the subsection in some other way. For example, the commissioner could disclose information of the kind that we are concerned with here — security information or other information that would place persons at risk — to the chairman of the board alone on a personal basis which it would be dangerous or risky to disclose to all of the members of the board. This is the particular reason for having this provision in the Bill.

Senator Brendan Ryan also asked about the position in relation to the report of the committee on training for the Garda Síochána. While this is not directly relevant to the subject matter of the Bill, I can inform the House that the report is under examination by myself and by my Department. I hope that some of the recommendations made in the report can be implemented in time to be applied in the case of new recruits who would be taken into the Garda Síochána from the next entry competition.

Senator O'Leary criticised the procedures in the Bill as being too long and drawn out and possibly resulting in complaints taking not months but years to process through the system. If I may make a small entomological point to Senator O'Leary: centipedes do not necessarily have a long life-span. The Senator's fears in this respect are exaggerated. If you take, first of all, the case of minor non-criminal complaints — many of those will be disposed of informally and quickly, perhaps by a letter of explanation or, where appropriate, by a letter of regret. The remainder of those minor complaints will be processed by a formal investigation which should not in cases like this take very long nor should a decision on them take very long either. The board could make up their mind quickly on the investigation report and send it to the tribunal. The tribunal's procedures may appear to be formal and legalistically structured but this is the minimum that the garda complained of can reasonably expect to be provided seeing that in many cases his future career prospects may be at stake.

If the complaint involves conduct constituting a criminal offence, this has to be investigated as any other such offence would be and the board may have to refer it to the DPP. In cases such as this, it is clear that there can be no short cuts. The garda himself or herself is entitled to be treated in a matter like this in exactly the same way as any other citizen. This may delay the disposal of the complaint but there is no way of avoiding it in this or in any other jurisdiction.

The remaining step in the procedure is that relating to appeals by members against decisions or findings against them. There is no doubt but that such a right of appeal is necessary and it may delay the final determination of a complaint. But once a tribunal has made an adjudication, the complainant will have had his complaint investigated and disposed of. In general the procedure will be no more complex or lengthy than is necessary in the interests of dealing properly and fairly with complaints both from the point of view of the complainant and of the person against whom the complaint is made. It will be a function of the board to ensure that there is no avoidable delay in investigation and adjudication and that the only delays that occur will be those required in the interests of seeing that the complaint is properly handled and investigated and that the member complained of is given justice in the same way as the complainant.

Referring to section 7 (9) Senator O'Leary suggested that it should be possible to have an initial investigation of every complaint and that the investigating officer could be given powers to require answers during that investigation with the proviso that the answers could not be used against the Garda member in any criminal proceedings. Any criminal aspects could be investigated later by a different investigating officer. He suggested that this would speed up the hearing of the complaint and be less complicated. I cannot go along with that. It would be contrary to public policy to delay the investigation of criminal offences while the disciplinary aspects of the complaint are being disposed of. The Bill proceeds on the basis that any complaint involving a criminal offence will be investigated under section 6 in the same way as any other criminal offence but subject to the supervision both of the board and of the DPP who, of course, the board must consult if they wish to give directions to the investigating officer. It is important that the DPP retain control over the investigations and that the criminal aspects must be dealt with before any remaining disciplinary aspects can come to be considered.

Senator O'Leary took, as sometimes happens, a rather more robust view than I in relation to his treatment otherwise of section 7 (9). I prefer to leave that to the record and in this particular case follow, as I often do, in the wake of Senator O'Leary but very definitely in the same direction.

He asked then about the numbers of complaints from members of the public that had been received by the Garda authorities in the period since 1983 and about the action taken as a result of those complaints. The number of complaints in each of the last three years was as follows: in 1983, 376; in 1984, 420 and in 1985, 430. As far as action taken is concerned, I will use the complaints of 1985 to illustrate the general position. There were 430 complaints in that year. A file was referred to the DPP in a total of 120 cases. Proceedings were subsequently initiated in 20 cases while the decision of the DPP is still awaited in a further 20. The DPP decided not to prosecute in the remaining 88 cases.

The Minister's entemology is better than his arithmetic. I am not sure if the arithmetic there adds up.

One hundred and twenty, minus 20, minus 20 seems to come to 80. I corrected myself. I am not like the centipede, I get the chance to correct myself. Twenty two complaints were dealt with by the Garda authorities as minor breaches under Regulation 7 of the Discipline Regulations. Formal inquiries under those regulations were held in a further 23 cases. Some of those complaints would also have been referred to the DPP as it is the commissioner's practice to refer the investigation report of any complaint which involves an allegation of criminal conduct to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

What happened to the rest?

You are down to 25.

Of the 430 we had 120 referred to the DPP. That means we had 310 that were not referred to the DPP. That is the point. The remaining 310 were dealt with by other means provided for in the procedures in force.

Senator Durcan and O'Leary, joined by Senator Fitzsimons, made some remarks about gardaí engaging in inappropriate spare time activities. I have already indicated the view I have, which is that the commissioner is the best person to adjudicate on such complaints. He is required, indeed, by the discipline regulations to draw up a list of inappropriate activities and this, of course, can be added to from time to time if he believes that there are emerging practices which should properly be classified under this heading.

The foregoing is my reaction to the various specific points made during the course of the debate. I would like again to repeat my gratitude to the House for the way in which this matter has been approached. It has been very clear that, as I said at the beginning, we all share the objective of setting in place under Statute, which is a departure in our case and, indeed, one to be welcomed, machinery that will have the confidence both of the general public and of the Garda. The balance of the remarks made during the course of this debate would indicate that overall this Bill achieves that objective. On that basis, I commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 1 July 1986.