Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Bill, 1986: Second Stage.

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

The Bill gives effect to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism which the Minister for Justice signed on behalf of the Government in February last. That convention has as its purpose the suppression of terrorism by the strengthening of extradition and mutual assistance arrangements between the member states of the Council of Europe. All member states of the Council of Europe have now signed the convention and it remains to be ratified only by France, Greece, Malta and this country.

The convention is not an extradition treaty. Its purpose is to strengthen existing extradition and mutual assistance arrangements between member states of the Council of Europe by limiting the scope of the political offence exception. Listening to the debate in the Dáil, one would be forgiven for thinking that this Bill was making provision for the first time for extradition to Northen Ireland, Britain and continental Europe. That, of course, is not the case. Part II of the Extradition Act, 1965, which gives effect to the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, provides the basis for our extradition arrangements with countries which are parties to that convention — that is, most of the member states of the Council of Europe.

Those arrangements have been in place since 1965. Part III of the 1965 Act provides for a different, more simplified, procedure which we operate with Northern Ireland and Britain based on the backing of warrants. Those arrangements have also been in place and have been operated since 1965. Indeed, the 1965 Act in this regard replaces, with modifications, arrangements which we have had with Britain since the foundation of the State.

Many of the views which have been expressed in the debate in the Dáil relate primarily to our law on extradition rather than to the present Bill. If valid, they would imply that the Extradition Act, 1965, was itself in important respects misconceived. I do not believe that is the case and I propose to return later to the most important issues which have been raised.

In keeping with the convention, the primary purpose of the Bill is to limit the meaning of "political offence" for the purposes of those provisions of our law governing extradition and the taking of evidence for use in criminal proceedings abroad. The Extradition Act, 1965, provides that extradition shall not be granted for an offence which is a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence. Such an exception is a common feature of extradition treaties and extradition legislation. A similar provision is to be found in the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, for example.

While the political offence exception has been a feature of extradition treaties snce the 19th century, there is no generally accepted definition of political offence. The term "political offence" has traditionally been left undefined both in extradition treaties and in domestic legislation. There is general acceptance, however, that it is a matter for the requested State to decide for itself what that expression means. There is also a wide acceptance among jurists and other experts that it is not practicable to find a formula that would constitute anything approaching a comprehensive definition of the term.

Because of the difficulty in finding an adequate and generally acceptable definition, the approach taken in the terrorism convention is to exclude certain offences from the scope of the political offence exception. That has already been done in other conventions — the 1957 Convention on Extradition excludes from its scope the taking of the life of a Head of State or a member of his family; similarly, the United Nations Convention on Genocide excludes the offence of genocide from the exception. We have followed the lead given by those conventions in the 1965 Act itself and in the Genocide Act, 1973.

The key provision of the Convention on the Supervision of Terrorism in this regard is Article 1 which is given effect to by section 3 of the Bill. Under Article 1, contracting States undertake not to regard certain specified offences — which are particularly associated with modern forms of terrorism — as being political for the purposes of requests for extradition from other contracting States. The offences in question include hijacking, attacks against diplomats, explosives offences and so on. While Article 1 is mandatory in its terms, Article 13 permits a reservation to be entered in respect of it.

The effect of such a reservation would be to preserve, subject to qualification, a State's right to refuse extradition for an offence which the requested contracting State considers to be political. The qualification is that the requested State is obliged, when evaluating the character of the offence, to take into due consideration any particular serious aspects of the offence, including the fact that it created a collective danger to the life, physical integrity or liberty of persons, that it affected persons foreign to the motives behind it, or that cruel or vicious means were used in its commission.

Reservations in accordance with this Article of the convention have been entered by nine of the 17 countries which have ratified the convention. In addition, France, which has yet to ratify the Convention, has indicated its intention of making such a reservation and I understand that Greece which has also yet to ratify the convention will do so as well.

The effect of those reservations is that the State concerned reserves the right to refuse extradition for an offence which it considers to be political having taken into due consideration the matters specified in Article 13 which I have already mentioned. The Government, however, have decided to frame the Bill on the basis that a reservation would not be entered. In arriving at that decision, the Government were of the view that the offences covered by Article 1 were so odious, and so wanton and indiscriminate in their nature, that they should not be capable of being regarded as political in any circumstances. The decision not to enter a reservation also reflects the Government's commitment to the promotion of co-operation to defeat the use of violence for political purposes, above all on our own island, and, in the area of extradition, to play its part fully in the international effort to defeat terrorism.

Section 3 of the Bill, therefore, provides that an offence of the kind covered by the section is not to be regarded as a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence for the purposes of a request for extradition from a country which is a party to the Convention. The offences which section 3 excludes from the scope of the "political offence" exception are set out in subsection (3) of that section. They are offences within the scope of the 1970 Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft or the 1971 Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation; serious offences involving an attack against the life, physical integrity or liberty of an internationally protected person; offences involving kidnapping, the taking of a hostage or serious false imprisonment; and offences involving the use of an explosive or an automatic firearm, if such use endangers persons. Attempts to commit those offences and participation as an accomplice are also covered.

In providing for these offences the Bill follows closely the language used in the Convention although, where it has been considered desirable in the interests of clarity, or necessary for greater precision, some terminology used in Irish law has been substituted for that used in the Convention and, in other cases, expressions of a general nature that are used in the Convention are defined. In this connection I would invite the attention of Senators to subsections (4) and (5) of section 3 together with the definition of "serious offence" contained in section 1.

In addition to strengthening extradition arrangements between contracting States, the Convention seeks to promote mutual assistance arrangements among contracting States. Section 3 of the Bill, therefore, following Article 8 of the Convention, provides that the offences concerned are not to be regarded as a criminal matter of a political character for the purposes of the provisions of the Extradition Acts, 1870 and 1873, governing the taking of evidence in the State for use in criminal proceedings abroad. Those provisions are the relevant provisions of our law for the purposes of mutual assistance in criminal matters.

Section 4 of the Bill is related to Article 2 of the Convention. That Article differs from Article 1 in that it is optional, not mandatory. It allows, but does not require, contracting States not to regard certain additional offences as political offences for the purposes of extradition. The offences in question are set out in subsection (2) of section 4 and comprise a serious offence, other than one to which Article 1 applies, involving an act of violence against the life, physical integrity or liberty of a person, or involving an act against property if the act created a collective danger for persons. Implicit in the section, of course, is the assumption that one is speaking of offences where the question of political motivation might be advanced by the wanted person.

The Government intend to take the option which the Convention allows in relation to those offences but with a qualification. Section 4, therefore, instead of excluding these offences completely from the ambit of the political offence exception, provides that an Article 2 offence is not to be regarded as political where the court or the Minister, as appropriate, having given due consideration to any particularly serious aspects of the offence concerned, is of opinion that the offence cannot properly be regarded as political. The section provides that, when the character of the offence is being evaluated, due consideration must be given to certain specified aspects of the offence, namely, that it created a collective danger to the life, physical integrity or liberty of persons, or affected persons foreign to the motives behind it, or that cruel or vicious means were used in its commission. The Government have decided to give effect to Article 2 of the Convention in this way because, while they were anxious to give as full effect as possible to the Convention, they are not convinced that the exclusion of the full range of offences coming within the scope of Article 2 would be warranted in all circumstances.

Article 8 of the Convention also creates an obligation to provide assistance in relation to criminal proceedings instituted abroad in respect of an offence coming within the scope of Article 2. Section 4 makes the necessary provision in this regard.

There is one final matter I should mention in regard to section 4. The references to the Minister for Justice in section 4 (1) do not give any new power to the Minister but simply have the effect of restricting the powers vested in him by the 1965 Act.

Under Article 6 of the Convention a contracting State is also required to establish jurisdiction over Article 1 offences in circumstances where a suspected offender is present in its territory and it does not extradite him following a request for extradition from a contracting State whose jurisdiction is based on a rule of jurisdiction existing equally in the law of the requested State. Under Article 7, if a contracting State refuses extradition for an Article 1 offence, it is required to submit the case to its competent authorities for prosecution. In this way the Convention takes account of the possibility that extradition might be refused for a valid legal reason other than that the offence was political. Section 5 provides for the establishment of extra-territorial jurisdiction over the offences in question as necessary.

Certain restrictions are placed by section 6 of the Bill on the taking of proceedings in respect of section 5 offences. These are partly intended to reflect the fact that under the Convention the obligation to establish extra-territorial jurisdiction is confined to cases where a request for extradition has been received and refused.

These four sections thus constitute the core of the Bill and give effect to the Convention. I would like, however, to mention briefly some of the remaining provisions of the Bill. Sections 8 and 9 incorporate into Part III of the 1965 Act a possible ground of refusal of extradition that is allowed for by Article 5 of the Convention on Terrorism and that is already provided for in Part II of the 1965 Act at section 11 (2). Henceforth it will be possible for extradition to be refused under that Part of the Act if there are substantial grounds for believing that the warrant under which the person is sought was issued for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion or that the person's position would be prejudiced for any of these reasons.

Section 10 of the Bill confers a power to apply the provisions of the Act to non-convention countries with which an extradition agreement is in force. Such an extension, however, will require a prior affirmative resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas. That reflects the fact that issues which do not arise in relation to Convention countries might arise if the Bill were to be applied to other countries. Section 7 of the Bill, which is the result of an amendment proposed by Deputies O'Malley and Harney and accepted by the Minister for Justice on Report Stage in Dáil Éireann, amends section 4 of the 1965 Act. The effect of section 7 is to require a prior affirmative resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas in the case of orders proposed to be made by the Government under section 4 of the 1965 Act.

It will be clear from what I have already said in relation to sections 3 and 4 that they do not make exhaustive provision for the delimitation of the political offence exception. Section 11, therefore, provides that nothing in the Bill will prevent a determination being made that an offence is not a political offence in circumstances or by reason of considerations other that those referred to in section 3 and 4.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, the debate in Dáil Éireann on this Bill was concentrated as much on matters of general application to our extradition law as on provisions of the Bill itself. The issue of whether we should insist on the establishment of a prima facie case in our courts before a person would be liable for extradition is an issue which goes to the provisions of the 1965 Act rather than to this Bill. Similarly the issue of whether we should refuse to extradite our own nationals or whether restrictions should be placed on the extradition of our nationals are issues which go back to the 1965 Act rather than this Bill. This Bill proposes simply to limit the scope of the political offence exception for the purposes of extradition and provides for related matters. In so far as the debate up to now has focused on issues unrelated to the Bill, it would, I think, be appropriate for me to say something about those issues which have been raised.

The suggestion which has attracted the most attention, I believe, is that the Bill should contain a requirement that a prima facie case be established in our courts before a person would be liable for extradition. In some cases the suggestion was that such a requirement would apply only where the person sought was an Irish citizen.

The Dáil decided yesterday that provision of this kind should not be made in the Bill. That, I firmly believe was the right decision. To introduce such a requirement now would be a retrograde step involving a return to a practice which, in relation to countries other than the United Kingdom, we dispensed with in 1965 when we acceded to the 1957 European Convention on Extradition. To require that a prima facie case is to be made out in the requested country would be out of keeping with European extradition norms and it is not provided for in the 1957 Convention. That is why our arrangements under the 1965 Act with the other parties to that Convention do not provide for such a requirement. The establishment of a prima facie case has never been a feature of the backing of warrants arrangements which we have operated with Britain since the establishment of the State. That is why the 1965 Act does not contain such a requirement in relation to Northern Ireland or Britain. I am forced to ask, therefore, whether those people who now insist that the establishment of a prima facie case is a matter of critical importance are also saying that the 1965 Act is so fundamentally flawed and misconceived in this regard.

The 1965 Act was not misconceived. There are good policy reasons for not requiring the production of prima facie evidence in extradition cases. Such a requirement is a serious obstacle to extradition and is now recognised internationally as such. It is a requirement which until 1965 was shared by all the common law countries. In dispensing with it in 1965, this country took a lead among those countries. Since then, there has been an emerging trend among major common law countries away from the requirement. Within the past few years Australia has removed the requirement in its extradition arrangements with many countries. The British Government have recently published legislation which will enable them to dispense with the requirement in its extradition arrangements. Britain has never, of course, applied the requirement in its arrangements with this country. The British Government has signalled their intention to become a party to the European Convention on Extradition and that legislation is a necessary prior condition of their doing so.

A requirement related to Irish citizenship would be a requirement directed against Northern Ireland and Britain. The backing of warrants arrangements under Part III of the 1965 Act are meant to be a simplified procedure intended to reflect the close ties which exist between this country, Northern Ireland and Britain. The situation which obtains as between this State and Northern Ireland is unique in Europe in terms of the number of persons in one jurisdiction who are citizens of the other. That applies particularly in the context of Northern Ireland but, given the nature of our citizenship laws, its application in the wider British context should not be underestimated either. The backing of warrants arrangements also reflects the geographical proximity of the two countries, the social and economic ties, as well as the special travel arrangements that exist between us, and, of course, the close similarity and historical connection between our legal systems. To introduce a requirement that a prima facie case be established in our courts before extradition could be granted to Northern Ireland or Britain would serve to impede legitimate and proper requests for the return of wanted persons. It would also amount to a public and unambigous declaration both to the people of Northern Ireland and the people of Britain that we were abandoning the Anglo-Irish Agreement and all that it means for all of us.

Having said that, I must accept — and the Government accepts — that the various suggestions which have been made are intended to address some genuinely held concerns about extradition. One concern throughout the debate that has taken place on our accession to the Terrorism Convention has been that the Bill might facilitate a development of extradition merely for questioning in the context of extradition to Northern Ireland and Britain. The Government had addressed this concern before the Bill was published and arrangements were agreed with the British Government whereby no warrant to be sent to this jurisdiction will, in future, be sent here for execution unless the case has first been examined at a high legal level to verify that there is, in the opinion of the prosecution authority concerned, sufficient evidence of a kind admissible in court on which to base a charge. The British Government have stated that in respect of accused persons the only purpose of the backing of warrants procedure is to enable persons to be brought before the courts and that a warrant for the return of a person will be sought only where the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, or the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, is satisfied that there is a clear probability of a prosecution founded on a sufficiency of admissible evidence.

Those arrangements in themselves represent an important safeguard. They reflect the understanding that is shared by the two Governments that an extradition request implies a clear expectation that court proceedings will normally follow. The reason I say "normally" here is because there may be very exceptional occasions when they should not or could not be proceeded with.

The Minister for Justice announced in the Dáil on Tuesday that the British authorities have now also agreed to an addition to this arrangement. In all cases where a warrant has been sent to this jurisdiction for backing, the British Attorney General will send to our Attorney General, through the diplomatic channel, a confirmatory note to the effect that he — the British Attorney General — has satisfied himself that the relevant prosecuting authorities have complied with the arrangements which I have just described. That confirmatory note will serve as additional reassurance that these arrangements have been complied with in each case. Parallel arrangements will be put in place in Scotland under the direction of the Lord Advocate.

The new administrative arrangements, now further strengthened in this way, will, in my view, provide safeguards that ought to be accepted by any reasonable observer as being entirely adequate, and in saying this I would stress that I am not suggesting that abuses have occurred. These new arrangements will come into operation in the very near future — in some areas almost immediately and elsewhere very shortly.

The Government propose that, before the Bill comes into operation, sufficient time should be allowed so that those arrangements can be seen to be working in practice. For that reason, section 13 of the Bill, which deals with its commencement, was amended on Committee Stage in the Dáil to provide that the commencement date referred to in that section would be 1 December 1987 instead of 1 June 1987.

Before concluding, I would like to say a few further words about section 13. That section now provides that the Act shall come into operation on 1 December 1987 unless before that date resolutions to the contrary are passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas. It will also be open to both Houses to pass resolutions that the Act should come into operation on a specified date earlier or later than 1 December 1987. In that event the Minister for Justice will be required to make an order bringing the Act into operation on the date specified in the resolutions.

That provision reflects the fact that at the time the Hillsborough Agreement was signed, ratification of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism was set against the background of progress in relation to a number of matters covered by the Anglo-Irish Agreement. These matters were public confidence in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland, relations between the security forces and the minority community there and security co-operation.

Progress has been made under these headings. Legislation passed in Westminster last January will allow a greater number of offences previously tried by a judge alone to go for trial by jury. The Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill, which received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday, provides new safeguards regarding the emergency powers of the police and army, including a test of reasonable grounds of suspicion for the exercise of powers of arrest; it introduces increased rights for suspects in police custody; shifts the onus of proof in bail cases from the defence to the prosecution; and restates the conditions for the admissibility of confessions in scheduled cases. Measures have also been taken to reduce delays between arrest and trial, which will mean that persons will spend less time in custody on remand. Finally, certain court decisions, taken in conjunction with a statement of policy by the British Attorney General, appear to have greatly diminished the likelihood of cases being brought on so-called "supergrass" evidence without corroboration, especially against a large number of defendants.

Some of the changes I mentioned are still in course of implementation. Both Governments believe that further progress needs to be made on relations between the security forces and the minority community, on security co-operation and on the administration of justice, and they will continue to work towards that end.

This commencement provision has been carefully constructed to enable a further vital step to be taken towards ratification of the convention, while providing a mechanism whereby the Houses of the Oireachtas will be able to express their view again in the light of further developments.

Passage of this Bill would be a very important earnest of our intent to proceed to ratification of the terrorism convention against the background of progress on other issues mentioned in the Hillsborough communique.

I want to emphasise again that the Government are not creating a direct link between this legislation and any individual reform in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland. It is designed to give an opportunity to the Dáil and Seanad to review the introduction of the legislation in the light of progress overall in relation to the administration of justice in Northern Ireland, relations between the security forces and the minority community and security co-operation between the two Governments.

I therefore commend the Bill to the House.

I would like to say, first of all, that we will be supporting this Bill at this stage, although we are gravely concerned at the intransigence of the Minister in his attitude to amendments in the other House. We support the proposal to give effect to the European Convention on the Supression of Terrorism. Terrorism is something which, of course, has always existed. Sometimes one feels that it is something that has only been invented or emerged in recent years. It is worthwhile remembering that it is something that has always been there. It is one of the methods that was used by the European powers over the centuries to colonise most of the world. It was used in this country by one of those powers. I say this not to open old wounds but to draw attention to the fact that some of those countries which are most sanctimonious about terrorism at present are countries which in their day practised terrorism all over the world in subjugating the territories into which they moved.

Terrorism has become extremely prevalent in recent years. The effects of it have been dramatic and there is no doubt that measures must be taken to deal with it so far as it is possible to do so. We, as a member of the Council of Europe, must support this convention and support the effort to implement it and give it effect. In ordinary circumstances this would be no problem; it would be a Bill to be dealt with merely from the point of view of the legal niceties which are in it. It would be a Committee Stage Bill when we would possibly be putting down amendments to deal with smaller points and legal matters. Unfortunately in Ireland the situation is not quite that simple. The Minister of State said in her speech that there is nothing new in the Bill in regard to extradition, that extradition has been here for many years, that we operate at present under the provisions of the 1965 Act. It is quite true that we do operate under that Act. That Act has been there for some considerable time. Events have changed since that Act was enacted. A lot of things have happened, in Northern Ireland and in the UK, which warrant us having another look at that Act. The Bill before us provides for several amendments to that Act. It provides the opportunity to look at the provisions of that Act which may not, any longer, be appropriate to present day circumstances. That is something which we must consider. Certainly we have had extradition up to now. The Act is being amended and perhaps not altogether in the way which is appropriate in present circumstances.

What makes consideration of this Bill very difficult is the situation which exists in Northern Ireland and in the UK and the age old relationship between our two countries. It would be quite unrealistic to ignore this situation. It would be quite unrealistic to pretend that we can approve of this Bill as most other countries throughout Europe could do. Most other countries do not have the same unique problem that we have between this country and the United Kingdom.

It would be quite irresponsible to overlook the adverse effect which this Bill could have on the citizens of this country and on people of Irish background. It is not merely citizens who might be affected, it is people who live in the UK, who live in the North or elsewhere but have an Irish background and for that very reason are subject to undue risk because of this Bill. A unique situation exists as between the two countries and we must address it. We must see whether the Bill is appropriate.

The political situation in Northern Ireland and the violence which has taken place there has given rise to a number of developments and events in recent years which highlight the difficult problem we face in passing this Bill. We can have regard, for instance, to the Diplock courts and to the evidence of the super-grasses. Nobody can accept that the trials which have taken place in the courts are normal or fair. Yet, by passing this Bill without any safeguards, we are taking the risk of sending people to Northern Ireland, to be tried in courts which are clearly unfair and clearly are not the kind of courts we would want any of our citizens to come before, charged with serious crime.

We have the situation which is emerging in the past week in a very definate way in which eight senior members of the RUC are likely to be prosecuted on the recommendation of a senior United Kingdom police officer, for offences ranging from murder to perversion of the course of justice. Yet, when a junior member of the RUC was prosecuted for his part in these events, not only was he acquitted but a Northern Ireland judge commended one of the officer's for the part he played in these events. Again, can any of us feel happy about sending a citizen of the Republic to Northern Ireland to be tried by a judge who has these views of events of that kind.

We have the sordid position of the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguires, which was the subject of a motion in this House today: a motion which very cautiously referred to the serious doubts and misgivings which have arisen in regard to the convictions of the people concerned. In non-diplomatic language, it means that all of these people were convicted on evidence which falls far short of what would be adequate for any fair and objective court. The belief, backed by cogent argument and facts, is that they were convicted because they were Irish people and because the events in the United Kingdom at the time gave rise to extreme anti-Irish feelings. I can understand and even sympathise with, the feelings in the United Kingdom at the time but I deplore the fact that, as a result of these feelings, injustice appears to have resulted in regard to these people. We are speaking of a situation in which something similar could arise again. We could again have events in the UK. We could again have a request for the extradition of people, to be tried by British courts at a time of high feeling and we could have conviction on evidence which was entirely inadequate.

Having regard to the facts of life in relation to justice in the UK as applied to Irish people in circumstances such as this, it is quite inexplicable that the Minister should introduce this Bill without any safeguards, without any provisions to protect Irish people whose extradition to the United Kingdom is sought. There is no reason for confidence that there will not be a repetition of what I have just mentioned. There is no reason to be assured that persons extradited to the United Kingdom would not be subject to the same kind of trials as those that took place in regard to Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four — trials which ended in conviction on the same totally inadequate evidence.

I am asking the Minister to face up to a situation which is quite different from that which was envisaged by those who drafted the Convention on terrorism and the Convention on extradition. I suggest that the Minister should look at it, not as it was looked at by those who drafted the Convention in Strasbourg but as it exists at present, and as seen not from Strasbourg but from Dublin and as seen in particular by the people of the North. It is an entirely different picture. There are entirely different considerations involved and it should be looked at in a different way. If there is a difference, and if the Conventions are not entirely appropriate to conditions in Ireland at present, then there must be some provisions to reflect this difference, there must be some effort to protect Irish people who may be at risk because of this Bill and because of the different situation which exists in these countries compared with the remainder of Europe.

An effort must be made. I have no doubt that if the effort was made, some provisions could be brought in to deal with the matter. There is the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976, which provides for a trial in this country of acts committed outside the country. Some kind of approach such as provided by that Act might be helpful. An effort was made in the other House to insist on a prima facie case being made before extradition took place. At first I think the Minister said it was not possible but when I read the Minister's speech here today it is not so much that it is not possible as it would be out of keeping with the norm in such matters. I am not sure how important that is. It is particularly interesting to note that the United Kingdom have insisted on having a prima facie case made before they extradite. They have said they are going to change that but of course we do not know whether they will. In any event, all we would be doing in insisting on a prima facie case would be something which is out of keeping with the norm. I have already made the point that we do not have the norm in this country, that what exists here is not the norm. Consequently, it would not be surprising if we should make some slight changes in our approach to extradition which would be outside the norm because we do not have normal circumstances in this country.

Sections 7 and 8 refer to Article 3 of the convention on extradition which states:

...extradition shall not be granted if the offence in respect of which it is requested is regarded by the requested party as a political offence or is an offence connected with a political offence. The same rule shall apply if the requested party has substantial grounds for believing that a request for extradition for an ordinary criminal offence has been made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion, or, that the person's position may be prejudiced for any of these reasons.

It is not very far-fetched to say that in relation to the trials dealt with in the motion here today the position of the persons concerned was very definitely prejudiced because of their race, religion and nationality. Perhaps this is a way in which we could deal with this situation in the future. That article of the Extradition Convention has been amended slightly but it is still there and it could be used. If this is not possible I suggest that there must be other methods by which we could protect our people in the very abnormal situation which exists in this country. I refer to Article 6 of the Convention which says that a contracting party shall have the right to refuse extradition of its nationals. The Minister said that in the particular circumstances of this country and the fact that most of the people whose extradition is sought would be nationals this would undermine the whole policy of extradition. There is some merit in that argument. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances it could be availed of.

There is also Article 22 of the Extradition Convention which states: "Except where this Convention otherwise provides, the procedure with regard to extraditior and provisional arrest shall be governed solely by the law of the requested party." That is a very bald article, so bald and simple that I am not sure what is intended by it or what could be read into it. It appears that if we provide by our law that certain precautions should be taken before extradition, we are quite entitled to do so.

Most other countries have entered reservations and exceptions in regard to these conventions. It should not be beyond the limit of our ability and ingenuity to frame some provisions which would protect Irish people from the prejudices and inconsistencies of British justice. I can understand the desire of the Minister to make a contribution to the negotiations under the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I supported that Agreement when it was introduced in this House and I still support it. It is not a final solution to the problem of Northern Ireland and it must be admitted that the results to date are very disappointing but it is a step in the right direction and I am glad to support it in as far as that is possible. To accept extradition to the United Kingdom on the basis of this Bill without any safeguards for the people of this country, without any safeguards for the risks they might run by being extradited is for me too high a price to pay for progress under the agreement.

The Minister said that Fianna Fáil are against terrorism "but". In other words, we are only paying lip service to the efforts to deal with terrorism. When we read this Bill and when we consider the risks to Irish people we can say in reply to that that the Minister is concerned with the protection of Irish citizens "but". He is concerned with it but he is willing to take the risk, to pay the price. I think the price is too high. I would like to reiterate the support of Fianna Fáil for the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. We definitely wish to support that. We would have no hesitation in supporting it if there were not unusual circumstances which have not been dealt with by the Minister. I find it impossible to understand the blind spot which the Minister has in relation to the dangers presented by this Bill to our people. I hope that we may be able to help him to see the light on Committee Stage.

I rise on behalf of Fine Gael to speak on the Second Stage of this Bill. I would like to assure the Minister of our full support in putting forward this legislation at this time. The content of the Bill as outlined by the Minister on Second Stage is instructive. Of particular importance is the Minister's assertion that it is not an extradition treaty, that it does not propose to strengthen the existing extradition procedure; that it is an administrative rather than a fundamental reform of the extradition law. The Minister's outlining of the basis for our present extradition legislation being the Extradition Act, 1965 is an important reminder to the House that the Government are having sand thrown in their eyes about this Bill. This Bill is being used not only to discuss the merits or otherwise of giving effect to the European Convention on the Supression of Terrorism but as an opportunity to review the 1965 Act. There is nothing wrong with that. The Second Stage of a Bill such as this is an appropriate place in which to assess whether the scope of the Bill is wide enough.

What surprises me is the extent of the publicly expressed desire of the Opposition to amend the Bill. I will not make reference to where it was done because it may not be appropriate but their publicly expressed desire went far beyond the Title of the Bill. I cannot understand, if this Bill is read a Second Time in this House, in view of the decisions which have been made, that it can be used as a vehicle to fundamentally change the Extradition Act, 1965. I fail to understand how that attempt could succeed because the Bill is in itself a limited Bill and the Long Title clearly defines what it is. It is an Act to give effect to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism done at Strasbourg on 27 day of January, 1977 and to amend and extend the Extradition Act, 1965. It is the last part of the Title — the amending and the extending of the Extradition Act, 1965 — which is apparently used as a vehicle to fundamentally reform the 1965 Act in a way which seems to go far beyond the original intention of this legislation.

Irrespective of whether it is sensible or not, the main impact of the public controversy about this Bill has focused around the question of whether or not a prima facie case is a proper pre-condition for the operation of extradition and I intend to deal with that later in my speech. I would like to make a passing reference to the meaning of “a political offence” because in order to understand where the main Opposition party find themselves, it is important to comprehend what has been happening to the definition of a political offence over the years. It is incontrovertible that there has been a fundamental change in the interpretation which our approach put on the meaning of a political offence. It is undeniable that offences are now categorised as not being political offences that, prior to a number of recent decisions of the Supreme Court, would indeed have been assumed to have been political offences.

I was present in the Supreme Court to hear judge after judge in that court reaffirm that offences committed by the INLA and, by implication, by the Provisional IRA could under almost no circumstances be considered political offences. The rationale of their judgment appeared to be quite clearly that these people were bent on destroying this State and that their actions as a result of that automatically brought them outside the definition of a political offence. There was a very fundamental change in practice which was given physical expression by the extradition of a Mr. McGlinchey to the Six Counties. At that time there was a certain political controversy over whether Mr. McGlinchey should or should not face trial in this portion of the country in respect of offences which it was alleged he had committed within this jurisdiction and whether that trial should take place in advance of his extradition to the North of Ireland. In point of fact he was so extradited.

I would like to remind everybody what happened to Mr. McGlinchey. Mr. McGlinchey was convicted in the North of Ireland and on appeal he was released and he was found not guilty of the offence with which he was charged. Leaving aside for the moment the question of any miscarriage of justice which may have happened on the mainland of Britain, surely this is a very positive sign of the administration of justice in the North of Ireland. Nobody could pretend that this particular Mr. McGlinchey was unknown or did not have a high public profile but notwithstanding that fact he was ultimately acquitted of offences and as a result of that my confidence in the system of justice in the North of Ireland was considerably enhanced.

Similarly, the question of what has become known as the supergrass trials further confirms my view that, taken as a whole, the judicial system in the North of Ireland is good. Of course it is quite true that mistakes are made; mistakes are made everywhere. It is quite true that some of the judges may be prejudiced but judges are prejudiced everywhere. If the supergrass system is so offensive — and I may say that as far as I am concerned I would consider it offensive if it is not in accordance with proper principles of jurisprudence, but only in so far as it is not in accordance with such principles — then it can be said that in the vast majority of cases that have come to my attention, on appeal many of these cases have not been set aside. That is the reality.

I do not share the apparent belief of Senator Eoin Ryan that the Diplock courts are themselves unfair courts. Of course I agree with him, they are not normal courts. I would think they would be far better if they were modelled on our Special Criminal Courts but I am not willing to say that in any individual cases they are fair or they are unfair. Like all human institutions, it is possible they will make mistakes but the supergrass trials and the McGlinchey case are indications of the measure of judicial independence which exists in the North of Ireland and the determination of the Judiciary up there to uphold that principle.

As regards the question of senior officers in the RUC being charged with certain offences, I would have seriously to question whether senior officers in our Garda force would, under any circumstances, be charged with serious offences. It is possible — and of course I listened with interest to what the other people have had to say here — that the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four and the other people to whom reference have been made are not guilty of the offences and it is probably even more possible and more likely that the basis on which they were convicted was inadequate. If that is so, I expect the United Kingdom authorities to take the appropriate action in that regard and I support the motion which was proposed in this House.

During the development of the new definition of political offences by a series of Supreme Court decisions over the last few years, did the principal Opposition party at any stage say that they disagreed with that? I have to suggest that they did not and that they indicated by their silence that this development was acceptable to them. I do not think what we are proposing to do here under the European Convention on Suppression of Terrorism, in so far as it relates to the position between ourselves and the North of Ireland and ourselves and Britain, brings us any further than the Supreme Court had already brought us. In bringing us there, they did it in the political silence and acquiesence of the main political Opposition and, indeed, quite a number of other recent recruits to that side of interpretative jurisprudence. I am referring to the Progressive Democrats Party.

It is then fair to say that the whole question of this prima facie argument which I will deal with, in so far as it relates between Ireland and Britain and the Republic of Ireland and the North of Ireland, is in fact attempting to change completely the relationship. There was absolutely no request to change that relationship prior to the introduction by the Government of this Extradition Bill. There seemed to be no political agitation from the Progressive Democrats or Fianna Fáil or anybody else in those constitutional parties for changes in this regard. I doubt very much that in those circumstances we could take very seriously their belief that all of a sudden, simultaneously with the production of this legislation which is to do with the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, they became converted to the fact that their 1965 Extradition Act should be fundamentally changed in so far as it relates to the situation between Ireland and Britain.

It is a bit disingenuous of Senator Eoin Ryan to say that in the United Kingdom there is a necessity for a prima facie case. That is not right with regard to the relationship between Britain and Ireland. It may be right between Britain and everybody else, but let them look after that. It is not right with regard to the relationship between Britain and Ireland. There is no requirement and there has not been a requirement, for prima facie evidence. I am confident that our courts will continue to uphold their independence in their own unique way by ensuring that the procedures laid down by law are strictly adhered to by the United Kingdom, whatever those procedures may be. If the United Kingdom have made a mess of a number of extradition matters by not executing the warrants in a proper fashion, our courts are perfectly right to refuse to back those warrants.

I must examine the question of prima facie evidence. It has never applied between Ireland and Britain. Why should it apply now? We are not saying it should apply with regard to terrorism but that it should apply with regard to everything. The suggestion is that it should apply if somebody is charged with burglary — the “ordinary, decent criminal” as he will be known. The suggestion is that you have to establish what they call a prima facie case. We have a system in this country for establishing prima facie cases in criminal matters: it is the preliminary examination which is a necessary part of the criminal process. I have no particular expertise whatsoever in criminal law. Anybody who would employ me as a criminal lawyer would be guilty of gross irresponsibility.

I refer to the Irish Criminal Process, an excellent book to which I referred previously in this House. It is a joint production of Edward F. Ryan and Philip P. Magee. On page 229 and the following pages they set out quite clearly what is the procedure for establishing a prima facie case in this jurisdiction. The preliminary examination is the form in which it operates. In practice in many cases, a book of evidence is presented and that is the end of the matter. The criminal acknowledges that there is a prima facie case against him, or acknowledges that people would swear what is in the book of evidence and is returned for trial. That does not have to apply and it is made quite clear in the Irish Criminal Process book. On page 237 it says under a heading of The Taking of Evidence Upon Deposition:

As has already been stated, either the prosecution or the defence at a preliminary examination may require a witness to attend and be cross-examined, and be examined, cross-examined and re-examined by way of sworn deposition. Permission of the district justice is not required where this section is invoked by either the prosecution or the defence.

Any criminal lawyer worth his salt, if there was a case in the United Kingdom or a case anywhere else in Europe where a person from this country, whether he be a citizen or not, was being sent abroad, would insist on all the evidence or sufficient evidence being presented to establish a prima facie case and would insist on cross-examination.

When you think of the complications that would arise from that procedure you will understand why prima facie evidence is not the norm. If somebody was to be extradited for robbing a bank in Central London and happened to be in Ireland, it would be necessary for all the customers in the bank who were giving evidence that they observed this person in operation, to be transported to Ireland, to be examined and cross-examined. It would be necessary for a representative of the bank to prove that they owned the money and they had given the person no permission to take it. It would be necessary for all the police officers who had investigated the matter in so far as it related to any statement which the person might have made to attend and be examined and cross-examined. What is the possibility in a large case of being able to assemble outside the jurisdiction of the country where the crime is alleged to have taken place all these people to examine and to cross-examine them and then to repeat that process in the United Kingdom not once but twice — at the prelimary stage and at the final trial stage.

It is a recipe for having no extradition at all. The reality is that where prima facie evidence exists as a requirement, extradition does not follow. I understand that there has been a prima facie requirement between the United Kingdom and Spain and as a result of that Spaniards living in England have not over a period of time been extradited.

To say that in general the law of extradition should have prima facie requirement is to completely turn the 1965 Act upside down because that is what the amendments are saying. They are saying that there should be a prima facie requirement for all countries. To apply it directly to Britain and Northern Ireland and to nowhere else is to change from a situation where our extradition arrangements between Ireland and Britain were the closest with any country in the world to a position where they would be the most restrictive in respect of any country within Europe and to do that on the basis that we fail to have confidence in the way in which the law is administered in Britain and Northern Ireland is to fly in the face of what our experience has been.

To anybody who thinks what I am saying about Britain is incorrect I would put one question: would you prefer to be extradited? Would you think you would have a better chance of getting off if you were extradited on an offence to France or to the United Kingdom? I know where I think I would have a better chance of getting off, and it is not France.

Any time a person is charged with any offence it is possible that he will be found guilty wrongly but I do not impute and I have never imputed to the British authorities bad faith, and that is what we are doing. We are imputing to them bad faith. The only conclusion I can come to is that the political opportunism of the main Opposition party coincided with an enormously ineffective briefing which the leader of the Progressive Democrats received and the combination was such as to give them false temporary hope of terminating the life of this Government in advance of the Christmas Recess. I am not willing to judge the merits or demerits of our extradition law on whether this Government should or should not call a general election.

For that reason, and also because I subscribe to the modern reality that political exceptions are being continually and increasingly used to excuse the most barbarous of crimes in a situation where criminal activity for profit is often inexorably tied up with criminal activity for political reasons, I think there is an inseparable link between the terrorism — forget our own problems altogether for a moment — of the Bader Meinhoff group or any one of the groups that are presently in vogue in France and actual financial gain for their participants. There is a link there which cannot be ignored. To extend or permit the extension of the definition of political offences is, as far as I am concerned, not acceptable.

The extension of political offences, or the exception of political offences, should, of course, relate to non-violent political activity. I do not accept that blowing up any person in the North of Ireland, whether that person is a citizen of the United Kingdom, with or without additional citizenship of this country, or the blowing up a soldier, an RUC person, a UDF person or anybody, is justified by the circumstances in which we find ourselves in this island.

I support the growing and developing interpretations of the Supreme Court in this area. I support this Bill in so far as it gives expression on a wider forum and in a wider way to that emerging consensus because removed of its political opportunism this Bill will ultimately achieve political consensus within this jurisdiction.

I did not notice any of the alternative administrations saying they were going to repeal this legislation if they got back to power. If they really believed what they were saying, that is what they would promise. There is more to this than merely an examination of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. For that reason and for the other reasons I mentioned I support the legislation and warmly welcome it.

The Minister in her opening statement put her finger on what, in fact, is perceived throughout the length and breadth of the country as being an Extradition Bill. We can only blame ourselves for that. The name of the Bill is Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Bill, 1986. All the criticisms I have heard about this Bill have come from people in the knowledge and belief that somehow, for the first time, this Government are bringing in an extradition Bill which will enable people to be extradited from here to other countries. I was delighted that the Minister, in her opening remarks, confirmed that the Bill is no such thing. This Bill removes from the area of "political offence" offences which are carried out by bombing and machine guns, and enacted against particular types of people, whether ambassadors or anybody else in that category. Any fair thinking person in this country would accept that crimes of that magnitude could not be considered, no matter what their political beliefs as being in any way remotely related to a political offence.

Senator O'Leary has outlined in detail how it could not be perceived to be a political offence because that kind of crime which is being, sadly, committed nowadays in so many other countries as well as our own is a crime against humanity. The sooner we can achieve some convention between ourselves and our partners, both in Europe and Britain, to remove this anomaly, the better. We can then come to grips with that kind of a problem. It has been a source of surprise to me to see some of the votes by some people whom I know very well in the other House. They believe the same things that I have believed in this whole area of terrorism as we understand it. Nobody condones the kind of acts of terrorism that have been carried out throughout the whole country and, indeed, in Britain. It has been referred today in a previous Private Members' motion. Obviously innocent people were detained after a whole spate of terrorist acts on the basis that they were Irish and in some way suspicious. The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs rightly said that the two should not be linked together and that what we are doing with regard to the Birmingham Six and others is in a different category. We are making our own progress with the British Government in that regard. The people convicted of those crimes were never extradited, which is a very important aspect to remember. Perhaps this should stand in its own right as being a convention that we can sign with our partners to ensure that people cannot claim political exemption for dastardly acts which are committed quite often and which are used as an excuse to prevent people from being extradited.

Of course, we have been condemned by Unionists. We have been condemned by Mr. Paisley and other very vocal people in the North of Ireland for not having had regularised legislation in which we could legally and formally extradite people in the past. Successive Governments, including this Government at one stage, considered it was unconstitutional for us to extradite people. Our interpretation of the Constitution convinced us that this was the case. Suddenly the Supreme Court made what I consider to be a very courageous decision when they considered a particular case that was before them, the McGlinchey case, in December 1982.

In considering that case, the court decided that notwithstanding the political motivation that was claimed by McGlinchey at that time, modern terrorist violence is often the antithesis of what could be regarded as political and laid down the test of a political offence as being whether the particular circumstances showed that the person charged was at the relevant time engaged either directly or indirectly in what reasonably civilised people would regard as a political activity. That was a courageous decision of the Supreme Court. We suddenly discovered that the courts were making decisions that the Legislature had failed to make and had been unable to make because our interpretation of the Constitution in the area of political offences was confined.

Senator O'Leary went on to explain what happened to Mr. McGlinchey. The courts restored the confidence of many people in this country when they decided that when the man was first found guilty and then on appeal found innocent, that there was justice at its highest. It was seen to be an action in a jurisdiction about which a lot of people, myself included, have had reservations in the past. That was the beginning. It was also proof that an administration about which we had had reservations could in regard to a public figure make a conscious decision, and probably a fair decision, that the man was innocent and was to be released. That must remove all our suspicions that if a request comes for an extradition for anybody in particular, we can comply in the confidence that they will get a proper trial in whichever jurisdiction to which they are extradited.

Other cases have happened in the meantime such as the case of Shannon in 1984 and the case of Quinn, which was a crime of violence against the person. The Supreme Court in that case took a different approach.

It is excellent to see the independence and the supremacy of the courts in relation to their interpretation of the Constitution. It is refreshing. There are some decisions of recent days that would worry some people, but it is refreshing that there is this general open approach now to looking at all Acts and laws that are passed and at the Constitution itself.

It is appropriate that crimes, such as the Minister has outlined, the hi-jacking of aeroplanes, kidnapping and hostage taking, which have a detrimental effect on human life and on families, should never be allowed to be used as what we would term political offences. It is interesting also to note that the passing of this convention on terrorism does not put an end to what would be termed a political exemption as between member states and the Council of Europe. There will still be the catch phrase that there would be exemptions in genuine political exemption cases. It is a matter for the defendant to prove that his action was of a political nature. This is the advantage of this Bill. At least it defines what political offences are. It removes them from the realm of terrorism. There are countries throughout the world in which they can sometimes almost justify terrorism as a political act when there is not a democratic process of parliament to which they can turn. I do not think that anybody would suggest for a moment, where we have democratically elected Governments, both in this country and in Britain, that jointly and in co-operation with one another these two countries which want to maintain friendly relations cannot enact laws that will be for the betterment of humanity as a whole.

I welcome the fact that there is an escape clause for the bringing into being of the Act. The Minister was originally suggesting a date in June. He has put in an amendment to push that back to December to ensure that whatever changes are required between the two governments under the Anglo-Irish Agreement would be in place to ensure that any worries we may have in this area could be dispelled. The Leader of the Alliance Party last night condemned the Government as in some way going soft on this legislation. I have a lot of respect for the present and past Leaders of the Alliance Party. They have, at times, made a minority view known, but it was certainly a view that needed to be expressed. They have expressed it forcibly and have never received any appreciation at the ballot box for doing so. I would just remind the present Leader of the Alliance Party that it is not just the Government that will be postponing the introduction of this legislation, it will be the Houses of the Oireachtas. The date is flexible. It can be brought forward or postponed further, if either of the two Houses of the Oireachtas, by resolution, so decide. It removes from the Government the responsibility of the dates. I just want to put on record that that is my interpretation of this date.

We will be going on to Committee Stage of this Bill on 14 January. Whenever we actually pass it, the date on which it becomes law is still open to changing forward or backwards. It is important that the Houses of the Oireachtas should have this opportunity. It is unusual to legislate retrospectively, but it is also most unusual to legislate for the future. Nobody can actually be quite sure of what the situation will be in 12 months' time vis-à-vis the continuing work that, I hope, will continue with the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The changes that we are already negotiating with the British Government in the Anglo-Irish Agreement will be perceived publicly to be coming on stream and will remove some of the doubts that people might have in the area of the other administration.

I want to confine myself as much as possible on Second Stage. There will be amendments and there will be quite a lot of discussion on Committee Stage when we can deal with all the little worries that we may have about various sections and the full implementation of them. I am satisfied from the discussions I have had with people in this area that except for removing these terrorist acts out of the area of political offences, generally speaking this Bill is doing nothing more than entering into a convention with our neighbours in an area on which agreement has been reached. The Minister for Justice has entered into a covenant with them that we would initiate legislation at the end of this year. Appropriately, we put these dates on it to allow time for the completion of all the other changes and improvements in the jurisdictions in which there possibly could be applications for the extradition of particular people.

I welcome the Bill. I welcome it particularly as the Minister has defined exactly what it is. Certainly it has been misrepresented by people throughout constituencies as being a major step forward in just handing over people for every and any offence to another jurisdiction. Of course, that is untrue and it is quite annoying at times to hear that case being made. It is important also to know that there is an existing arrangement about extradition. This just tidies up the whole concept of political offences vis-à-vis extradition and a claim for extradition.

We would also hope that, from some of the applications that came through recently and which were obviously not in order and were questioned by us and by our own courts immediately, the British, who were responsible at the time, would have learned the lesson that the Irish courts are not to be taken lightly, that the Irish courts are capable of looking at a request for extradition of a particular person. There was the Glenholmes case and there were also many other instances in which the British Government suddenly realised that the courts here were capable of inspecting applications and pointed up deficiencies in particular requests that had come. That is not involved in this legislation. It was appropriate that the British Government would see that our courts and our jurisdiction carry some weight and have made some courageous decisions in recent years in this area.

For that reason, I welcome the purpose of the Bill. I do not think anybody would condone for a moment somebody who was guilty of murder and desecration getting shelter under the term "political offences" so that we would be unable to return them for trial to the country where the crime had been committed.

I support this Bill. The only complaint I have about this Bill is that it is long overdue. I have listened to speakers in both Houses on this Bill. I have heard a litany of complaints as regards the treatment of prisoners in courts and in prisons but I have not heard one word about the victims of these people.

I served with the late Billy Fox, a Member of this House, who was murdered in Monaghan. He was murdered because he came on the scene of the home of his fiancee being burned down. Because he would recognise the people that were doing it they shot him in the back 17 times. They did not have the courage to shoot him in the face. When I hear about visits to prisoners I wonder how many people visited the parents of the late Billy Fox? I wonder how many people visited his financee who was left without a husband-to-be in a short few months? When people talk about prisoners in various jails and the crimes they are charged with and the treatment they might get from the courts; how many of these people, and of these so-called political prisoners are in jail for not having bicycle lights? How many are in jail for not paying parking fines? How many of them are in jail for being caught in a pub after hours? None of these people is in jail for any of those offences. They are in jail for a murder, or an attempted murder, of defenceless people, who perhaps were people killed in front of their own children.

My saddest recollection is of a cafe that was blown up in Belfast a number of years ago. There were 300 people killed and maimed. The saddest thing I saw was two people who visited my premises in Killarney while on their honeymoon. They had been in that cafe and they were in wheelchairs and will be for the rest of their lives. How many people visited them.

I heard a public representative complain that this Bill should make provision for public representatives who would visit these prisons and that the people concerned should not suffer the loss of any visits because these visits were made by public representatives. He meant that the public representatives would go and it would not affect the number of visits by the parents or relatives. One person said that he was going to travel to England with the mother of this man who was charged and who was in prison to get an extra visit. I did not hear of anyone going to visit the people who suffered as a consequence of this man's actions. When a person is murdered it is over and done with, but the person who has been maimed has to live and everyone has to look at him suffering for the rest of his life. Most of these people are innocent.

People speak of prison hardship and say that prisoners are suffering. In my view, Portlaoise prison is a Grade A hotel that provides billiard tables, snooker tables, colour television, videos and a library. Some inmates, when they are served their meals show their thanks by throwing a bowl of boiling soup on the person serving the meal. I do not know how anybody could think that there is anything wrong in extraditing from this country anybody who has committed any of those offences, offences not only in the North of Ireland but bombings such as that of Harrod's, bombing of innocent people.

A few years ago a man was travelling south on his holidays. He went in to cash a cheque in a bank in Tramore. The bank was raided in his presence and he was shot in front of his son because he was in the way. I could instance numerous examples. No adult should need to be reminded of these things. The cost to the taxpayers of these prisoners is enormous. They are people who have tried to destroy, disrupt and overthrow the Government of Ireland. Compare them with people who have spent their lifetimes working for this country, who are dedicated to the country and building it up. Such people are asked to live on an old age pension of £40 or £45 a week. It is sad to think of the money we are spending looking after prisoners and yet we cannot find enough money to look after our own people who have served the country so well.

I do not see how anyone could complain about this Bill. Mr. McGlinchey, known as the "mad dog" was wanted in England, Ireland and Northern Ireland. When he was arrested, taken to the North and convicted in the courts there was an appeal to that court, and the man was let out, free to go back into Ireland. There cannot be anything wrong with the courts in general. There may be isolated cases. Senator Eoin Ryan spoke about what a certain judge did, commending somebody who had committed murder. One will always get that. Sometimes one will get the wrong decision. If there is a wrong decision in the courts, whether through human error or otherwise, the people have the facilities to appeal that decision. If their case is a good case they have nothing to be afraid of. I can walk down the street. Nobody is going to pull me in under the Offences Against the State Act on suspicion of having committed any political crimes because people know I just go about my business. They do not do it. That applies to every other citizen and anyone who lives his life as he should live it. Law abiding people have no fear of courts, police, jails or prisons because their use will never apply to them. The people who are complaining are the people who cause this trouble. I do not see where the rumours of complaint lie.

Senators O'Leary and Ferris have covered the situation well. Senator O'Leary mentioned many of my points but he expressed them better than I would have. I commend this Bill to the House.

It is suggested that we adjourn the debate.

We have made good progress. Other people have intimated that they want to speak on Second Stage. They are not available because we have made such good progress. I suggest we adjourn the Second Stage debate to 14 January 1987.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 5.30 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.