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

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

The Leader of the House has said that we are anxious to get Second Stage concluded this afternoon and my contribution will be a very brief one. I certainly will not hold it up. I have read nearly all the contributions made in another place and I have come to the conclusion that nearly everything that could be said has already been said. There is always the temptation to pick out important points already made and to develop these but, under the circumstances, that would be prolonging the passage of the Bill and the point has already been made that in repeating this it would be rather futile. I do not intend to do that. I also feel that to an extent we are dealing with somewhat complicated legislation. The Acts referred to in this Bill are the Extradition Act, 1965, the Extradition Act, 1873, the Extradition Act, 1870, the Explosive Substances Act, 1883, and the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976.

It is obvious to anybody who has perused the Dáil Official Report that the contributions made in that House, particularly those made by lawyers, were made by people with a very deep understanding of the nuances of all the legislation. My approach is the layman's approach and while the contribution from the lawyers is most important, the layman in this area has something to contribute. I have read the reports as objectively as possible. I do not think it is always possible to be completely objective, as we have our own prejudices. In so far as it is possible I have tried to be objective and I feel that the case made against passing this Bill without taking on board theprima facie amendment is very convincing. That is my conclusion. In this regard I note that of the 22 countries in the Council of Europe 18 have ratified the Convention but 11 of those 18 have entered reservations. I do not see why, in those circumstances, if it is necessary, we should not do the same. I believe it is necessary and I believe that the case has been very well made that it is necessary. The purpose of the Bill is dealt with in very great detail in the Explanatory Memorandum which was delivered with the Bill. The first small paragraph states as follows:

The purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism which was drawn up by the Council of Europe and opened for signature in 1977. The text of the Convention given in the Appendix to this Memorandum.

The first few sentences of the Appendix are as follows:

The member States of the Council of Europe, signatory hereto.

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its Members;

Aware of the growing concern caused by the increase in acts of terrorism;

Wishing to take effective measures to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts do not escape prosecution and punishment;

Convinced that extradition is a particularly effective measure for achieving this result.

Have agreed as follows:

This is followed by 16 articles included as well. I want to state quite categorically my attitude to terrorism. I am totally opposed to it. I have made it clear before that I am an out-and-out pacifist. I do not believe in causing pain or injury to any individual or indeed to any animal. I am totally against blood sports as well. Those guilty of crimes should have to pay the penalty and all those who have made the case regarding theprima facie amendment have also taken the same line; they are totally opposed to terrorism and to all that it entails. I feel that those who are responsible should be brought to trial and pay the penalty.

Many people feel that this Bill is part and parcel of an ongoing package related to the Anglo-Irish agreement. That is the reality and I believe that the Irish Government may be moving faster than is necessary. I am concerned about our citizens, and those who have taken the same line have the same concern. I know that they have been denied a fair trial in the UK in many instances in the past, and in Northern Ireland, and this is liable and likely to happen in the future. On 11 December the Twelve member countries of the EC unanimously condemned the administration of British justice in Northern Ireland and in 1971 the European Court of Human Rights condemned Britain for the inhuman and degrading treatment of those detained.

We have exceptional legislation on our Statute Book. Under the extra-territorial provision of the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act (No. 14), 1986, a person can be tried here for an offence committed in Britain or Northern Ireland and it is strange that advantage has not been taken to any extent of this legislation. Initially some attempt was made to deal with people under this provision but in the last few years that has been abandoned and some say that this is because of lack of evidence. Of course, if there is lack of evidence there should not be extradition. That has been emphasised already and I do not have to repeat it.

The UK Government is forcing the hand of this Government. They are not content withfestina lente, yet they are very much inclined to drag their feet and to move along very slow lines. We have a history of miscarriages of justice and I do not intend to deal with them in any detail. They have been referred to already and there is no point in overemphasis but I wish to refer to the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguire cases. In particular, I have discussed the matter of the Birmingham Six with a number of people. I have discussed it with lawyers and with people who have no training in law and all agreed that there was a serious miscarriage of justice. We all know of the policeman who was involved in the case and recently gave information which I believe would lead to the exoneration of these people. The Times, not a great friend of this country, has called for a review of the situation. Irish politicians on all sides have made representations in this regard and indeed most parliamentarians in the UK are agreed that there was a miscarriage of justice and that this case should be heard again. Yet nothing has been done and it is 13 years since they were convicted.

If these people are cleared and compensation is paid, which I am sure it must, there is no way that anybody can be compensated for taking away 13 years or more of their lives possibly the best years. This is the fear people have with regard to this Bill which might at first glance appear innocuous but which is lethal in that respect. What has happened in the past could very well be repeated in the future. The case has been well made that where Irish people are tried for serious crimes of bombing and so on in the UK, it is almost impossible to get a fair trial. I am sure 99.9 per cent of Irish people in the UK are decent law-abiding citizens, and they experience tremendous stress. When returning from the UK with a fellow councillor I saw that man being taken aside as we were about to board the plane and put under great stress through cross-questioning. Obviously he had some resemblance to an individual about whom they had information but that man was very upset about the way he was treated on that occasion and I certainly would not like to have been in his shoes.

When Irish people are tried in the UK the gutter press or the tabloids look for their pound of flesh, rightly or wrongly. It becomes a very emotive issue. In that respect I would like to refer briefly to the Gillespie Sisters and I would like to read from page 38 of the bookGirseacha in nGéibheann which was published in 1985. In chapter four under “Ár Scéal Féin” it states: Cuireadh príosún 15 bliain an duine ar an bheirt againne, Áine agus Eibhlín Nic Giolla Easpaig, ag Cúirt Chórónach Mhanachain 27 Feabhra, 1975. Comhcheilig chun buamála a cuireadh inár leith, rud a shéan muid. A very ugly conspiracy indeed,” a thug an Breitheamh Croom-Johnson uirthi ag deireadh na trialach, agus dúirt sé go raibh “a sinister and evil part” againne ann. Seachtain sular tugadh an triail chun críche bhí an réamhobair déanta go maith ag na gontacháin Shasanacha le himeartas focal mar “The Sisters in the Bomb Factory Trial” ar an Daily Mail (21 Feabhra, 1975), le gan ach ceannteideal amháin a lua. Ba ghearr to raibh “Sinister Sisters”, “Bomb Terror Sisters” agus “Sisters of Evil” curtha sa timpeall ag cosantóirí an chirt sa Cheathrú hEastát. Agus ní i Sasana amháin a bhí an obair seo ar siúl, mar ba léir ó leathanaigh an nuachtáin a thugann “Ireland's National Newspaper” air féin, páipéar a scaiptear ó Shráid na Mainistreach i mBaile Átha Cliath...

I believe and it is generally recognised that the Irish people in such circumstances come in for harder sentencing and I will quote two sentences from the page and the following one:

Níl comparáid ar bith idir fad na dtéarmaí príosunachta is gnách a ghearradh ar Éireannaigh faoin reachtaíocht seo agus na téarmaí is gnách a ghearradh ar dhaoine eile a chiontaítear i gcomhchealga i bhfad níos follasaí. Deir na húdaráis thall nach bhfuil aon "stádas speisialta" ag na príosúnaigh Éireannacha seo, ach is leor comparáid a dhéanamh idir an fad a chaitheann na daoine sin faoi ghlas agus an fad a thógann sé ar "ghnáthchoirpigh" paról a fháil lena chruthú don saol mhór nach bhfuil an scéal amhlaidh.

I think that underlines my point — the emotive issues and the harder sentences. I ask how could one get a fair trial from people hyped up in that kind of situation. I do not think it is possible.

On the last occasion in this House Senator O'Leary spoke and, as he always does, he spoke very well. I have always had the greatest respect for what Senator O'Leary says. He went into the issue of what was necessary with regard to theprima facie case. The matter which was so clearly dealt with by Senator O'Leary was, as far as I can recollect, not dealt with elsewhere. I felt that to determine whether or not there was a prima facie case in a situation of that kind it would only be necessary to have the Book of Evidence. I must acknowledge that that was my belief. Senator O'Leary pointed out that it is not only necessary to have the Book of Evidence but, in many instances it is necessary to have in the court people who made depositions and statements. I have mentioned this since to Senator O'Leary and he very kindly pointed out to me the position in that situation as it is dealt with in The Irish Criminal Process published by the Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork. I would like to quote from page 230 as follows.

Before the Justice embarks upon the preliminary examination of a case, the prosecutor must serve on the accused what is commonly called a Book of Evidence. This consists of a statement of the charges, a copy of any sworn information in writing upon which the proceedings were initiated, a list of the witnesses whom it is proposed to call at the trial, a statement of the evidence that is to be given by each of them and a list of exhibits, if any. Exhibits are documents or things which it is proposed to produce at the trial, e.g. a statement signed by the accused, plans or photographs, stolen property which has been recovered, a weapon alleged to have been used, clothing worn by the accused or his victim and submitted to scientific tests. The usual practice is to number the exhibits for convenience of reference at the trial.

A copy of the Book of Evidence must be furnished to the Court and the accused has the right to inspect all exhibits.

The Statements of Evidence will usually be based, in the case of a prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions, upon statements made or reports furnished to the police. It may often happen that further evidence becomes available after the Book of Evidence has been prepared and in such a case the prosecutor may cause to be served on the accused and furnish to the Court a further statement of the evidence of any witness who appears in the Book.

The following is the important part which I want to emphasise:

The prosecutor and the accused are each entitled to give evidence on sworn deposition, and also to require the attendance of any person (whether or not included in the list of witnesses) and to examine him by way of sworn deposition. Any person so examined may be cross-examined and re-examined on his evidence and his deposition must be taken down in writing, read over to him and signed by him and the Justice.

It seems on that evidence I must concede in that situation it would be necessary to bring into an Irish court from abroad any people who made statements.

Having conceded that, I still feel that that should not deter us from taking on board this amendment for aprima facie case. It is necessary, it must be complied with and that is the end of it; if it is necessary to see that justice is done, fair enough. If the law has to be changed in this regard then the law can be changed. That is something for the future. For the present, while conceding this very important issue raised by Senator O'Leary, I feel that that should not deter us. We should still see that there is a prima facie case on the evidence. If it is necessary from the point of view of expense, inconvenience of whatever, then let it be done. It should be done and I feel it must be done.

In short, while many people might feel that this would be rather cumbersome let us make sure that our citizens are not at risk of getting an unfair trial as has happened so often in the past. With regard to making amends for that, with regard to all the other situations where movement should be made and has not been made, with regard to the Diplock courts, the supergrass trials, rubber bullets and all those areas and many more that have been mentioned and which I am not going to repeat. I realise of course that there is a problem as to what is now regarded as a political offence and what was previously regarded as such.

As has already been very well stated, this does seem to be the end of political asylum in Europe. We do know that in the past warrants for extradition issued by the UK were defective. We know in the case of Mr. McGlinchey there was no evidence to convict. In a situation where crime has been committed the penalty should be paid by those who commit the crime. We are not opposed to that point of view. When I read the reports "in another place" I found that many of the Members had experienced the North of Ireland in various ways, including the courts system. I, too, have very close relations in the North of Ireland. I spent holidays in Warrenpoint and I know the situation pretty intimately. I have a close affiliation with the people there.

As Senator Eoin Ryan said, we are moving too fast. The unusual aspect of this Bill is that it is triggered in two ways before it comes into operation. It is unique in that respect and there is no need for that. As a sovereign country we can have reservations as have the other 11 countries. In any event it is important that we take great care that any of our citizens for whom extradition might be required would, as far as we could ensure, get a fair trial in another country.

I basically agree with a lot of what Senator Fitzsimons said. Coming from a majority background in Northern Ireland, I accept absolutely the necessity to prevent terrorism and the kind of violent acts to which this Bill refers. I realise how important this is, and I also realise how important it is to guard against the concept of a political offence being used to excuse the inexcusable. I accept the necessity for joint action internationally and joint action within Europe to prevent terrorism. In the age of hijacking, kidnapping and of removing people from one jurisdiction to another, joint action is an absolute necessity. Nevertheless, I have very serious reservations about this Bill. I note that the Government propose to accept the convention without any reservation despite the fact that some 11 other countries have put in reservations. We should think very seriously about putting in reservations.

In her introductory speech to the Second Stage of the Bill the Minister of State spoke about the heinousness and dreadfulness of the kind of offences which occur nowadays and which some people would describe as being political. I can accept that the term "a political offence" could be used by certain people to draw a veil of what might be described as "virtue", over offences which should not be committed by anyone. Perhaps, we are being too anxious about this. In judgments over the past few years, there is no doubt that the courts have substantially cut down on the definition of a political offence and the Supreme Court, in particular, have made a much narrower definition of a political offence and have held offences to be non-political — and this was particularly clear in the McGlinchey case — which might in the past have been held to be political. At present, it is much more difficult, even within our own system, for persons to rely on a sort of political immunity in extradition cases.

What disturbs me most about the Bill is the lack of necessity to make any kind ofprima facie case against the accused within this jurisdiction before extradition. The Minister of State has said rightly in her introductory speech that this has been the case since 1965 and before, and that this Bill does not change that position. Nevertheless, now is the time to think about that because what happened since 1965 under the kind of operation we have at the moment is not particularly satisfactory and the system has been shown not to be satisfactory. I have only to mention the Evelyn Glenholmes case where, having been accused of the most serious offences — it is not for me to say whether or not she was guilty of committing those offences — a complete mess was made over having her charged, extradited and so on, with, the result that the whole system set up under the present legislation fell apart. In this situation we should look for a proper presentation of some kind of prima facie case against the accused within our courts. If that had to be provided it would encourage those jurisdictions who are looking for the extradition of an Irish citizen or a person resident in Ireland, to take the thing more seriously and not send half-baked warrants, not properly executed, to the Irish courts.

Before Christmas, the Minister for Justice stated that he had been assured by the British Attorney General that this kind of thing would not happen in future and that everything would be in order. This kind of assurance would have to be regarded a little cynically as this is the Government that has been sending out senior officials to be economical with the truth in the Australian courts. We find it a bit hard to rely on an assurance by Sir Michael Havers that there will be no more, if I might put it, "havering" over extradition warrants being executed in this country. The situation since 1965 had not been satisfactory and now is our chance to introduce a more satisfactory system.

Over the past months, we have seen at the very least, doubts over what has happened in courts outside this jurisdiction. I will not go into cases in detail; I need only mention cases such as the Maguire case, the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four and, indeed, cases where supergrass evidence has been used in the courts in Northern Ireland. I am supported in doubts about these cases by no less a figure in British jurisprudence than Lord Denning who is one of the most distinguished retired judges and legal figures in the whole of British legal luminaries. He has expressed doubts about these verdicts and has quite clearly stated that he does not consider supergrass evidence to be a satisfactory way of convicting people. While we hold these kind of doubts about what will happen to people when they are extradited, we must look at extradition very carefully.

We have also the matter of the Diplock courts. This is something which apparently has been part of the negotiations over the Anglo-Irish Agreement and within the framework of the agreement. We have sought, not to replace the Diplock courts by jury courts, because we appreciate the difficulties that may arise in charging people with these kind of offences before juries and we have, through the Special Criminal Court, established a procedure whereby we have non-jury trial of these kind of offences and we have three judges to try them. But, apparently, we have been meeting a stone wall of opposition with the quite moderate proposal that the Diplock courts be replaced by three judges rather than one. While this situation continues and while we are not even succeeding in getting a three judge court without a jury, it seems to be going a little far to go all the way down the line and accepting our side of the agreement, as it were, to introduce and pass this Bill into an Act, without getting any change in the Diplock courts. This is one of the points which has been made by various speakers from the SDLP, which I feel sure Senator Rogers will draw attention to, but in this they are being quite reasonable.

It has been suggested to me that one of the objections to three judges is that you might get a situation where a majority verdict would be announced with one judge supporting innocence while the other two judges supported a finding of guilty. This is a futile objection because it is quite clear that one could readily have an arrangement whereby a judgment would be announced as being the judgment of the court rather than as a majority/minority verdict. This is, for instance, what is done here in the Supreme Court if there is a case involving the constitutionality or otherwise of legislation. Whatever kind of disagreement there may be among the five judges who try the action, the judgment is announced as the judgment of the court and unlike other cases there is no indication as to whether there was a minority judgment or not. Therefore, it is perfectly possible to deal with the three judge situation in that way.

Leaving aside altogether what may happen in Britain or Northern Ireland, other types of jurisdiction within Europe may provide even greater difficulties. It was mentioned "in another place" that there are other cases in Europe — there was the case of Mr. Flynn in Spain — where persons have been held on remand in prison for a very considerable length of time and yet when their cases came up for hearing they are found to be not guilty. Again, one looks at the position here with regard to the right of the citizen to bail and the right of the citizen not to be kept in prison on remand for months or perhaps years. Are we sure that our citizens when extradited to other countries will receive that kind of treatment? I suggest it is quite possible that they could be imprisoned for long periods of time and then find that there was no real case to be made against them. I am not asking that it be proved in this country that they are guilty. All I ask is that it be shown that there is aprima facie case against them before they are extradited to other jurisdictions, particularly when it is to a jurisdiction where the common law principle that one is innocent until proved guilty does not, in fact, apply. That is true of a number of European countries.

We might understand this a little better if we envisage the situation of this kind of arrangement being extended outside Europe. Suppose, for instance, it was proposed that we had this sort of arrangement with the régime in, say, Chile or the Soviet Union. It is easy to say that that will not happen and it is nonsense to talk about that. Nevertheless one must look at section 10 which envisages an extension of this kind of arrangement outside the European scene. However ridiculous it may seem to look at it from the point of view of extending it to a dictatorship or to some form of government we do not approve of, the principle remains the same, that what you are doing is allowing someone to be extradited out of this country without the extraditing party making any sort of case whatsoever against the person before our courts.

We protect our own citizens within our own judicial system by having the necessity for the Book of Evidence which has been so well described by Senator Fitzsimons and all the protections that exist under the 1967 Act with regard to persons who are charged with criminal offences within our own jurisdiction. Here where we have our own courts which we feel we can rely on, where we can see what the courts are doing, courts, we understand and courts whose principles we all uphold, we provide all sorts of protections for the accused person, and yet we propose to allow under this Act persons to be extradited to other countries where we do not know whether they will be given this protection or not. It is something I have very serious reservations about.

It is easy to say that the terrorist offences that are meant to be dealt with under this convention are wicked, evil and heinous offences, I would absolutely agree with that, but that is not the problem. The problem is that the person accused of the offence cannot be presumed to be guilty before he or she leaves this country. The offence may be terrible but the accused person may well be innocent. Therefore, we should not allow our rightful concern about the dreadfulness of these terrorist offencees and our rightful desire to prevent them and to deal with those who are found guilty of them to flow over into a situation where we have a lower principle of justice than we should have and where we find ourselves in the position of accepting a kind of presumption of guilt.

I do not think that to look for some kind ofprima facie case in the last effects the definition of a political offence. We can still accept a cutting down of the definition of a political offence as set out in the Bill. It does not make any difference to that particular definition and it certainly does not make any difference in trying to help to stamp out this kind of offence but it would operate as a protection for citizens, who are either Irish citizens or persons resident in this country and who are accused from outside the State of some particular offence where we do not know one way or the other whether they are guilty of that offence or not.

I support in every way the ending of terrorism and I support in every way international co-operation on the ending of terrorism but I am deeply concerned that we should not do this or attempt to do it by creating situations of possible injustice to individuals because the whole virtue of the democratic system and the system of justice under which we have been proud to operate and which Western Europe would hold to be extremely important is that we should not justify bad means by good ends. We tend to accuse other types of countries of simply making accusations against citizens, of not giving them a chance to demonstrate their innocence and of not allowing them to know what case is being made against them. That is very important and I do not wish to see this country or, indeed, Western Europe sliding into a situation of possible injustice to individuals in order to attain the good end of cutting down on terrorist offences and co-operating in order to prevent this kind of offence.

I would like, first of all, to make it clear that I am totally in agreement with the principles underlying the Bill before the House. Most commonsense people would accept the need to strenthen the laws in order to deal with the ever-increasing incidence of international terrorism and, indeed, to protect the innocent victims and representatives of Government who, of necessity, have to be in other countries or travel around the world; in other words, to protect the whole democratic process. There is a very urgent need for legislation to deal with this recent phenomena in international affairs.

However, having accepted that, I have as have Senator McGuinness and other Senators, reservations about the Bill. My reservations are based, perhaps predictably, on my concern about the extradition to Northern Ireland or indeed to Britain of people who have been alleged to commit offences in Northern Ireland or in Britain. My reservations are based on my worry as to whether these people would get a fair trial either in Britain or in Northern Ireland. I note the other countries have entered reservations in passing this legislation and I wonder why in our case it is not feasible for the Government to do the same. I tried to follow the debate in the other House but I was not convinced by the response of the Minister for Justice, particularly on theprima facie aspect. I was not convinced by his arguments.

Before going on, I want to say a few words about the whole issue of extradition in the context of the Anglo-Irish situation and particularly in relation to Northern Ireland. It is an extremely contentious and emotive issue, particularly in Northern Ireland because our community is so divided. Unfortunately in Northern Ireland people have always tended to see things very much in terms of black and white and in simplistic terms. It makes the issue even more difficult for people like us who are so anxious to rid this country, north and south, of the type of terrorism we have witnessed over the past two decades. It makes it difficult for us to discuss this issue without being accused — particularly by those from the unionist tradition — of supporting the terrorist. Nevertheless, that does not excuse us or allow us to slide out from our obligations of dealing with the issue in as logical and reasonable a manner as we can.

From the Catholic nationalists point of view in Northern Ireland, extradition has always been an emotive issue. Their views have, naturally, been very much coloured by their historic view of Northern Ireland, by their view of the system which has been loaded against nationalists, a system, which they have seen as oppressing them and as being unfair to them in every way. Their view therefore, has been understandably very much opposed to any possibility of extradition from this jurisdiction to Northern Ireland or Britain.

One particular view of Northern nationalists — and indeed all nationalists in Ireland — has changed greatly in recent years. The traditional idea one had many years ago of the so-called freedom fighters as being people who were almost admired by Irish nationalists, or at least about whom there was a certain amount of ambivalence, that view has been totally eroded over the past two decades. The vast majority of nationalists in Northern Ireland see those people now for what they are. One sees clearly the contradictions in their stance; for instance, the contradiction of someone who cries for a fair, just and open trial for themselves and for their associates and, at the same time, is prepared to carry out such atrocities as we have seen as recently as last week in Craigavon. There was an attempted murder of an elected representative justified by the following quote "on the basis of bigoted and sectarian utterances against nationalists". That was the basis on which those people saw fit to try to execute — as they would see it — an elected member of the community in which I live — a member with whom I totally disagree but whose right to say what he wants to say I would support, unless he was in breach of the law of incitement; then I would object and ask the Courts to deal with it.

The fact that people, calling themselves fighters for Irish freedom, ask for a fair trial for themselves, while holding the view that it is perfectly all right to shoot someone dead on the basis that he has uttered bigoted and sectarian remarks against the nationalist community, is a contradiction which even in terms of what has been going on in Northern Ireland is quite mind-boggling. Therefore, the view of the freedom fighter in the old hazy romantic Irish view of it, is very much past history and no longer has any support within the nationalist community because they have seen these people for what they are. There is little sympathy for the person who tries to define a crime as a political crime and who attempts to get away with it on the basis that is is possible to do so since the 1965 Act, because a political crime was not defined and because even the most heinous atrocities were carried out in the so-called name of Irish freedom. It is recognised that they are atrocities against fellow-Irishmen.

Among nationalists, there is very grave concern about the nature and the type of justice within the Northern Ireland and the British courts and the concern now, particularly in view of the events of the last ten years is that Irish citizens would not get a fair trial in these jurisdictions. We have seen, particularly in Britain, Irish citizens — in the case of the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six and the Gillespie sisters who are neighbours of mine in Gweedore, — did not get a fair trial in the British jurisdiction. The reason they did not get a fair trial is because of the, perhaps understandable, emotive state of British public opinion at that time, but nevertheless a state of public emotion which was unforgivably accepted by the courts and led to a situation where Irish citizens did not get justice in the British courts.

Before I go on to deal with other aspects of the Northern Ireland courts I think I ought to mention that I am aware of the perception of the Northern Prot estant of the issue of extradition. It is unfortunate that Senator John Robb has not been able to come here today. I know he was anxious to put down his views because he is concerned about this particular aspect of the Bill. I understand how Northern Protestants feel but it is particularly regrettable that their political leaders have chosen to propagandise to such an extent on this issue — and indeed on every other issue — that they have, in effect, misled them into certain conclusions which are neither true nor logical. For instance, the Northern Protestant would equate the failure to extradite on the part of the Irish Government with support for terrorism.

Any normal reasonable person looking dispassionately at the present situation could not come to the conclusion that the Irish Government are not as taken as are the British Government, indeed as we all are, to rid ourselves of this terror in our midst and to put an end to the horrific atrocities we have seen over the years. Perhaps it is understandable that ordinary Northern Protestants feel the way they do when you think of the propaganda which they hear daily from their so-called political leaders and the type of remark that has been made by learned judges. I referred to this in the Seanad in 1984 on the occasion of the Robinson trial in Belfast when the judge went so far as to congratulate an RUC man who was on trial on his marksmanship in a shoot-to-kill episode. It is difficult not to sympathise with Northern Protestants and not to understand their state of mind when you see learned judges from their own tradition and senior political figures encouraging them to think in that way.

We, and most sensible people, are aware that there is co-operation between the security forces North and South in an attempt to stamp out terrorism and that that co-operation has been stepped up under the Anglo-Irish Agreement. That is a good thing, particularly if it is successful. I do not think that anyone in this House or any constitutional nationalist in Ireland would want to see a situation which makes it easy for terrorists to run across the Border and escape because of the lack of co-operation between the Governments. Having said all that, we cannot allow the fact that we would be concerned about the effect on Northern Protestants and on their perception of things to be our main consideration when the priority must be the protection of the rights of Irish citizens. I know that is a difficult problem to establish particularly in the present complex times.

People have spoken here about mistrust of the courts in the North and so on, but it is interesting that before the present troubles began — and many lawyers on the nationalist side whom I have spoken to recently agree with me on this — there was a certain confidence in the courts. There was no confidence in the security forces but nationalists had some confidence in the courts previous to the last 15 years. The Diplock Commission was set up to look at legal procedures dealing with terrorist activites and in 1972 that commission reported and it stated that the judiciary had, nevertheless, managed to retain a reputation for impartiality which rose above the divisive conflict which had affected so many other functions of Government in the province and the course of law and the procedures that they used had in general held the respect and trust of all except the extremists of both factions.

What follows in the report is of crucial importance because what has happened in the years since is very relative to this. The Diplock report stated that they regarded it as of paramount importance that the criminal courts of law, the judges and the resident magistrates who presided in them should continue to retain that respect and trust throughout the emergency and after the emergency had come to an end and that if anything were done which weakened that it might take generations to rebuild it.

We must regret that is what has happened since Diplock. That report came out in 1972 and in the intervening years between 1972 and the present year we have seen a steady erosion of confidence in the judicial system in Northern Ireland which has been due to a number of things. Perhaps more than anything it has been due to the fact that a number of British Governments attempted to deal with the Northern problem by military might and eventually by putting the courts into the front line against the terrorists, which of course was an horrendous mistake in any system because you cannot deal with a political problem except by political means. Perhaps I ought to add here that most of us are very pleased that eventually the British Government saw the light and that problem is now being dealt with under the Anglo-Irish Agreement, as it should be dealt with, through the political process.

Over the past 16 years that extent of confidence which both sections had in the courts at that stage has been eroded, particularly on the nationalist side. That has been due to a number of factors. The Diplock courts were set up as a result of the commission; the no jury courts heard cases very often on the basis of confessions obtained under duress in places like Gough Barracks and Castlereagh, and convictions were upheld on the basis of those confessions alone. We then had the supergrass system which compounded the problem because not alone did a non jury court sit on those cases with one case-hardened judge very often, but that judge accepted the evidence of supergrasses, people who were totally discredited because of their own character as indeed in some cases the judges accepted, and convictions were upheld on the basis of their evidence. This furthere discredited the whole system of justice in Northern Ireland.

I have mentioned the cases in England which have received a great deal of publicity and which most people across the board and from all parties, North, South and in Britain, would accept were miscarriages of justice. People have been put away for a long number of years. Nationalists and people like myself asked ourselves whether if Annie Maguire had been arrested in this jurisdiction she would have been extradited to England; and, particularly if there was a requirement ofprima facie whether she would have been saved from the injustice which she has been subjected to. Those considerations are of the utmost importance.

Let me point out another problem which concerns me, the problem of the lengthy remands in the North. In scheduled offences now I understand that the average period of remand is two years. By any standards two years on remand and perhaps not being convicted after that in the case of the North is equivalent to a four year sentence served without being found guilty of anything. I would be concerned that people extradited from this jurisdiction to the North might find themselves serving long periods on remand without even coming to trial. Perhaps the case of the longest remand in Northern Ireland was one of Thomas Power who was almost four years on remand, held on the basis of evidence of three supergrasses. First there was a supergrass called Grimley. When no conviction was possible Mr. Power was rearrested. He was tried on the evidence of another supergrass, McGrady, and subsequently on the evidence of another supergrass, Kirkpatrick, but eventually he was freed. In the meantime he had spent four years on remand. It is important that all those considerations be looked at in the light of this Bill. No Irish citizen should be extradited to a jurisdiction where there is a very grave question mark over the whole administration of justice, where he may be interned for a number of years and then released because a conviction has not been possible.

I would like to think that the Minister would reconsider theprima facie aspect and perhaps agree to enter a reservation but if he finds it impossible to do that, would it be possible for someone arrested here and whose extradition to the North is sought to opt for trial here under the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act rather than be extradited? If the authorities in the North have enough evidence to establish a prima facie case, that is all right but if someone feels that he is not going to get a fair trial in the North, would it be possible for him to opt for trial here according to the extra-territorial provision of the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act? Perhaps that might be a way out.

I would like to mention the problem of the perception of Northern Protestants which I have already sympathised with. We ought to be aware that there is a very deliberate attempt by the Northern political leaders at the moment to mislead Northern Protestants. I want to give one example which is germane to what we are discussing. At a meeting of Craigavon council three nights ago — a meeting which took place some days after the attempted murder of one of our colleagues in the chamber — the SDLP members of the council attempted to put forward a motion which unequivocally and unreservedly condemned the attempted murder and made the plea that there should be no retaliation and that the community should recognise that these people were intent on stirring up further strikes and bringing about retaliation. Perhaps this House will find it difficult to believe this but the Unionist majority on Craigavon council refused us the right to express our views in the council about that atrocity. There were two Sinn Féin members there who I am quite certain had no intention of expressing any such condemnation. Not only were we refused the right to put our motion but when the Unionists put forward a motion condemning what had happened they had two speakers, one from the DUP and one from the Official Unionists. They then insisted that the question be put. That was in order to prevent the SDLP from expressing their horror and adding their voice to the condemnation within the council which is the only elected body available to us within that area. This emphasises the very important fact that there are many people among the Unionist leadership who are not only not listening to what we are saying and not trying to understand what the Irish Government and many of us are trying to do but who are deliberately trying to mislead their people to ensure that their people will not hear the right end of the story, will not be aware that we are not to be linked with Sinn Féin and that we are as opposed to Sinn Féin as is anybody else in Northern Ireland. Perhaps the perception of Northern Protestants of the extradition issue and of all that the Irish Government are trying to do in the Anglo-Irish area will be changed over the years as the Anglo-Irish Agreement is continued and as they see it is not harming them.

Because extradition is such a highly emotive matter and is seen by Northern Protestants as something which is a statement of intent by the Irish Government, it would be wrong to be reluctant to enter reservations in regard to this Bill. I do not think that at the end of the day it will make a great difference. The Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, can be used and ought to be used. I hope the Minister will reply to that and to the possibility of that option being allowed for people whose extradition is sought in the Republic.

It has been mentioned by previous speakers in this House and perhaps in the other House that there was not originally aprima facie clause in the Extradition Act, 1965, that there was just reference to political offence. In 1965, as I have already mentioned, there was a certain degree of confidence in the Northern courts, a confidence which no longer exists. It would be more important in light of recent events to have the prima facie reservation now than it would have been in 1965. Now that we are discussing the Bill and are about to have legislation this would be a very good time to make that reservation. I note that most, if not all, of those in this jurisdiction, in this House and in the other House who have expressed reservations about the Bill are very determinedly opposed to terrorism as we are opposed to the atrocities which are carried out by the INLA and the IRA as well as by other terrorist organisations. I specify the IRA and the INLA in particular because they purport to do it in the name of Irish Republicanism which is an insult to all of us. The reservations are expressed on a serious basis of concern about the protection of Irish citizens which must be a priority with the Irish Government.

The Minister mentioned that we are different from other countries because other countries would be seeking extradition of nationals who are not nationals of the country from which the extradition was sought, that in other words, if the French Government were looking for someone from England, it would not always be an English citizen or a British citizen, it would probably be a Frenchman. He has pointed out that on the other hand in the case of Ireland, in practically every case the person whose extradition was sought, whether it be from Britain or from the North, would almost inevitably be an Irish citizen and that that means that theprima facie clause, if it were introduced, would apply in all cases. I accept that but would make the point that most of us in Northern Ireland are Irish citizens and have the right to be Irish citizens. We are Irish citizens who would very much depend on an Irish Government to protect our rights. Again that is one of the reasons behind the Anglo-Irish Agreement — the protection of the rights of Irish citizens in the North.

I do not accept the argument about delays because although it would lead to delays and perhaps to a certain amount of encumbrance it would be justified by the need to protect Irish citizens. I appeal to the Minister to reconsider his attitude on this and in particular to look at the possibility of opting for trial under the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act for people whose extradition was sought.

Here we go again: Seanad Éireann is being asked to bail out this pathetic Coalition Government in relation to international commitments which they have made, supposedly on behalf of the Irish people but their unauthorised procedures were in contravention of the Constitution. That is basically what we are talking about. We are confronted with the scenario of a Government once again belatedly paying respect to the constitutional rights of the Irish people, coming back to Seanad and Dáil Éireann for the necessary ratification, having already committed this country to international agreements and then having failed in their attempt to implement them.

This type of political strategy is both ignorant and disrespectful, to say the least. It places the country at serious risk of embarrassment at international level. Worse still, it is an insult to the people of this land for whom the Constitution was placed in position to protect their invaluable rights. Seanad Éireann is being asked to approve this, three years and four months after the signing of the Treaty by Mr. Peter Sutherland, the then Attorney General, and two years after its ratification by Mr. Peter Barry, Minister for Foreign Affairs, because of the bungling and incompetence of a Coalition Government and of their Ministers for Justice and for Foreign Affairs. Basically, that is the bottom line as far as the country is concerned.

The Treaty, despite the super public relations, fanfares and biased comment by highly specialised reporters, who are not here today in the Seanad, was not, in Irish law, worth the paper it was written on. The ink was not long dry on the signatures when the courts struck it down on the grounds that it was unconstitutional because the Coalition failed to seek the necessary approval of Dáil and Seanad Éireann in accordance with Article 29 of the Constitution. This debacle has been extremely embarrassing to the Government; there is yet another example of failure through the mishandling of extradition.

Extradition is based on the joint principles that it is in the interests of all civilised communities that an offender should not be allowed to escape justice by reason only of crossing national frontiers and that States should assist one another in bringing such fugitives to justice. Extradition is an essential part of the criminal justice process. As in any democratic judicial system, it is also essential that the due process of law is accompanied by adequate safeguards for that individual.

To provide judicial safeguards for our citizens, we may have to consider introducing, in appropriate cases, a requirement that the extraditing State should produce sufficient evidence to show that there is aprima facie case for requiring the person concerned to stand trial on charges set out in the extradition warrant. Let me refer to the case of Shannon. For practically five years he was held in prison in Northern Ireland on remand and then set free — a very cruel mishap. Our citizens cannot be sent for trial before our own courts unless the prosecution can establish, in the first instance, a prima facie case in the District Court.

If the service of the Book of Evidence which discloses aprima facie case is a prerequisite to a person being required to stand trial here on a criminal charge, it is not unduly onerous to require State to provide the Irish court, which is being asked to send a citizen out of the jurisdiction to face trial, with a Book of Evidence disclosing a prima facie case. This is a procedure which would be well worth considering. It is one which is consistent with the administration of justice and which would attract greater public confidence in the extradition process which has been undermined by the bungling of the Government in a number of cases. At the same time, it would strengthen the process under which wanted criminals are brought to trial.

The process of extradition is one of the most sensitive acts in which a Government can be involved. It involves the surrendering by the State, under the extradition treaty or agreement, of persons wanted in another country for prosecution or punishment. Accordingly, there is a heavy onus on those directly concerned with the arrangements for the extradition to ensure that great attention is given to the detailed requirements for extradition, both in preparation of treaties and agreements and in their execution. The ordinary citizen must be able to have every confidence that the due process of law will be fully recognised and strictly adhered to in relation to any individual case of extradition. There can be no shortcuts or political expediency in the extradition process. It must be carried out in accordance with the due process of law and the principles of constitutional justice.

Fortunately, in this country, the courts with their constitutional independence have zealously guarded the citizen's rights in relation to extradition. However, the record of this Coalition Government in the area of extradition has been slipshod and most careless. They have not applied the necessary high standards to ensure the continuing smooth operation of the extradition process. In the McGlinchey case last year, the Government decided not to pursue charges in this jurisdiction, despite the law-breaking of that individual throughout the length and breadth of this country and the embarrassment that he created to most of our police force. The Government, through the Attorney General, Mr. Sutherland, adopted a very high political profile in ensuring that the extradition of McGlinchey was rushed through the courts here, even though he was not a party to the proceedings. In due course, McGlinchey was returned to stand trial here and is now serving sentence here. The State declined to accept an order of the High Court adjourning the application of McGlinchey's extradition in order to allow his lawyers to place certain legal and constitutional arguments before the court. Instead, this order was appealed and the Supreme Court was required to sit on 17 March, St. Patrick's Day, so that McGlinchey could be dispatched across the Border with unseemly haste, without due consideration being given by the State to the serious charges which should have been brought against him here first. That is for ever an indictment of the Government.

I will not go into the Glenholmes fiasco. We all saw it around the streets of this city — a disgrace, the Trimbole case and the O'Shea case. Every one of them was a fiasco in the eyes of the international public. This today may prove, at a later stage, to be invalid though I hope not because this nation has taken enough embarrassment. No other state can be sure that this Government are capable of negotiating and validly implementing any of their agreements because they cannot be relied on to comply with their domestic legal and constitutional requirements. Not for the first time the Government appear not to know what their domestic legal requirements are. One may ask if we can trust the Government's judgment on the constitutionality of the proposed Single European Act. This is a valid point in an argument of today. Ireland's image internationally is undoubtedly damaged. Yet again there is a lack of attention on the part of the Government to essential detail. They live on the hype of public relations, of getting their own individual Ministers across the nation on every type and shape of publicity which would try to endear them to the public. The Government are on staggering knees. We do not know whether they will continue in office for hours, days or weeks. We listened to Senator Michael D. Higgins on Monday. He said they could not last 48 hours. The Minister for Foreign Affairs said they might make it to 28 January.

The Senator is not correct in his reference to what I said.

I am interpreting what people told me because I did not actually hear what you said. You might tell us exactly today when the election will be. The point I want to make——

Is it relevant to the Bill?

It is very relevant to the Bill because this Bill is being introduced by a Government who are staggering out of existence. That is unquestionable.

I am staggered by the speech of the Senator.

You may or you may not be Senator Ryan and it is the least of my worries whether you are.

I thought that.

There is no doubt that Ireland is made to look as though it is difficult to negotiate with because this Coalition Government do not understand the limits of their powers and consequently are likely to bungle the arrangements again by not laying all international agreements before the Houses of the Oireachtas as directed by the Constitution. The Government blatantly flout the Constitution and undermine parliamentary democracy. I listened to Senator Rogers speak on this very important issue so far as she and her party are concerned. She was very much idir eatarthu concerning her position regarding extradition. This is a major change from the time the Deputy Leader of her party was in this House some years ago, and when motions in his name and on many issues, were before the House. I recall particularly one concerning extradition. I am referring, of course, to former Senator Mallon.

I do not think the people of this nation want us to sign the extradition of people into the Diplock courts situation, a system where supergrass trials are still a daily occurrence. I do not think we as a people trust a legal system which has given us the Birmingham Six situation. I do not think the Irish people at this time want extradition to Great Britain. We have evidence to support our belief that the legal system there does not provide justice to Irish people as Irish people understand justice. That is a very fair comment at the beginning of 1987. I say that because this Government in this Bill changed their minds regarding the date of execution of the Bill. Why was there a postponement of the date to the end of December 1987 when the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Foreign Affairs knew in their hearts that the month of January would not pass without this Government falling? Would the Minister explain why there was an extension of time, why was there a change midstream from the first half of 1987 to the last day of the year? That bears down the most important point that some of the people in Government do not trust the British system. A compromise was reached and we were almost in a bungling situation again.

This is probably one of the last Acts that will be passed in this House. I am not a fortune teller but occasionally I read the national newspapers and listen to the national radio and television. Any person who does not think there is an election in hand is only fooling himself. It is for that reason that I make these comments. I do not think this nation, at the low ebb at which it finds itself now, can tolerate any further embarrassment internationally.

I shall be very brief because I know there are other Members who wish to speak. I would like to make a few points concerning the Bill before us. I agree with those who have said it is regrettable that a Bill of such tremendous significance legally, both nationally and internationally, should be considered by the Seanad in these circumstances, some of which we have no control over. I would have liked a longer and more deliberate consideration of the Bill.

With regard to the Bill and the justifications offered for it in the other House, once again a point I made a few weeks ago concerning the openness of our international relations to public scrutiny, both of a public and parliamentary kind, is raised here. From time to time since the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement there has been what one might call some official statements but many other statements which are speculative as to what is the precise content of the political process being facilitated by the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I would have preferred that procedures existed which would enable us to have far clearer and more open knowledge as to what is taking place. I am offering this comment not out of any naivety but because of the commitment to the principle of openness as to what is being done in their name by Irish citizens. I can sense the irritation that some speakers who have what one might call a rather simple unqualified suspicion of British attitudes might have towards a Bill of this kind. However I do not think that one needs to fall into any crude categories of that kind to express certain distrust for the commitment to the reform of the legal process in Northern Ireland.

In 1986 I took the opportunity of visiting Northern Ireland and sitting in the public gallery and watching some of the procedures that were taking place. I must confess to having been quite appalled at the charade to which the process of justice had been reduced. If this is so I feel that we should come to the nub of the speeches made by many speakers previously that the arguments that have been set out for the requirement of aprima facie case have been almost unanswerable. Certainly they have not been answered successfully in the debate which took place in the other House. Indeed in his speech, Deputy O'Malley discussed the protections that might be offered to an Irish citizen and the possibility of implementing provisions which might protect Irish citizens. He draws a distinction between the protections that would be offered to Irish citizens and the protections which would be offered to those who might have taken refuge in this country from other countries. I quote from column 2,700 of the Official Report of the Dáil of 20 December, 1986:

While this may mean that the position of a foreign-national, fugitive offender who comes to Ireland will be different from that of an Irish citizen in respect of whom an extradition request is made, it seems that most people here would differentiate in the degree of protection which they are willing to offer to a foreigner who has fled to this country and, on the other hand, to a citizen of this country whose extradition is sought by a foreign country. It seems that there are many other good grounds on which such differentiation can be made and that popular sentiment in this country would not only tolerate but support such differentiation.

I have described Deputy O'Malley's speech as one of the more thoughtful to be made in the debate in the other House but I do not subscribe in any unqualified way to this distinction he is making.

Indeed in the debate about terrorism I must confess to the gravest reservations in regard to the representatives of Turkey, for example. I have had the opportunity of visiting that particular signatory to the European Convention and of seeing what prevailed there by way of legal process, prison conditions or any procedures, for example, the return of Turkish citizens to Turkey for trial in the most appalling circumstances. This leads me to doubt the use of the word "terrorism" by so many nations. In the first one-third of his speech, Deputy O'Malley went to painstaking length to establish the principle — and I think it is unfortunate that one has to go to such length in Ireland to do this — that to express concern about the procedures of extradition is in no way to condone any of the actions, or any of the organisations, or any of the individuals who have been responsible for murder and barbarous crimes against both person and property particularly in the northern part of this island. But I do think that we are both entitled and obligated to exercise the greatest care in defining the circumstances for the implementation of extradition. I would be concerned about the protections that are available to our own citizens and about the lengths to which we should go to satisfy ourselves in relation to the circumstances as they impinge on them. But I would go much farther than that and say that as "human rights" has become a term of abuse in international discourse so also has the word "terrorism".

We may be, as indeed so many speakers of the House were, very anxious to extend the definition of terrorism but it has been extended by many countries to include all kinds of actions, some of which are ones of elementary political dissent. In that regard if you want to exercise a kind of moral accountability as to the circumstances in which you make a judgment in relation to any individual who is required by another jurisdiction one is entitled to see it in place with some certainly before the implementation of the legislation. If we say that there will be no consequences or effects from this measure for 12 months, that we will have an opportunity in that time to satisfy ourselves as to the improvements that might have been made about the very deficient procedures that exist in Northern Ireland for the trial of defendants for alleged offences. I wonder what justification there is for such trust and I wonder, too, what are the implications of placing such trust in terms of it being a precedent?

We are changing something that is fundamental at legal level and which relates to questions of freedom and rights in anticipation of a political set of circumstances which may or may not come to fruition. How are we to know what circumstance will prevail? How are we to know whether the reforming impulse of the procedures particularly in relation to Northern Ireland will be reversed or stifled or whether they will gather pace or momentum? As someone who is a non lawyer and really concerned to see as much accountability and openness both in the quality of law and the form of law and also in its application it seems to me a bad principle; certainly as a legislator it is a principle which I am not in the least happy with.

The point at which I began is a very important one. It has been intimated to me, for example, in discussions with some people that there is an expected action, something which it is understood we would be willing to do as part of a process which involves both Britain and Ireland. With the greatest respect to those who are in charge of this process I believe they have no mandate from us to operate independent of both Houses of Parliament. I said this in relation to foreign policy in general and my views were not shared or supported by a majority of this House. That was disappointing in so many other ways.

Every day I meet people in the street and in different fora who ask me for explanations as to positions taken on foreign policy by Ireland and I am not always able to answer them. When I was a Member of the other House I frequently put down Parliamentary Questions to discover the thinking and reasoning behind particular positions taken not impugning the integrity for a second of the people involved. This is a distinction which Senator Dooge and I addressed when he described the attitude I had as one of organised distrust and he suggested that the principle he defended was one of delegated responsibility. Be that as it may, the standing behind both of us is our obligation as legislators to ensure that all procedures both in the drafting, forming and execution of law are open and accountable to the citizens in whose name we legislate.

For that reason, and I am not being in the least coy about this because I am one of the people who is profoundly depressed whenever I hear statements about the unfinished Irish job of independence being uttered in this House or in the other House, without sufficient care. I visit Northern Ireland quite frequently and I know the distress that is frequently created by people who make unthinking statements of an unqualified kind about unification. The year 1986 ended with my being convinced of how little the citizens of the Irish Republic cared about insisting on a set of constitutional arrangements in relation to marriage which are offensive not only to a minority but to nearly half the population of the South, not to speak of the North. Such inflexible, irredentist minds have little to offer often in a debate of these issues.

But one must overcome this crude fundamentalist narrowness and always bear in mind that when we are speaking about amending the law in this regard we will probably find ourselves addressing more often than not individuals rather than categories of people. It is in that regard, in so far as the personal guarantees available to citizens and to non-citizens who have taken refuge here are very important, that I think there is great merit in the body of thinking and the weight of thinking that has developed both in the Irish Parliament and through the Irish courts and in the quality of Irish law, and that we should be able to draw on that to make such evaluative judgments as are necessary.

In relation to the argument being used against that, there is always the problem of construction. Should we, for example, accept the necessary minimal conditions that are represented in the arguments that have been made so far? It has been suggested that we would appear to be dragging our feet and we would appear to be cancelling or eroding the principle of extradition of people who are guilty of heinous crimes. I think one has to live with that but one cannot be blinded by it because in the end it is not the construction of appearances that matters but the existence of principles that can defend essential basic rights. Equally, if that is taken to extremes and we appear to be constructing a shield behind which people who have committed horrific crimes can shelter, that would be a very bad day for the Irish people. Nevertheless, the concerns that have been made are in fact genuine and very real. I am not convinced — and I will listen with interest to the reply in this regard — of the timescale involved. Why could not concessions be made in relation to the question of conditions? I have added my question about the absence of transparency in relation to the procedures that are involved. I would have a stronger view than that about the question of the conduct of international relations. I said a few weeks ago that it was a matter of choice between foreign policy and diplomacy. I think that when diplomacy ceases to be transparent on issues of great importance and often involve bilateral exchanges they can descend into a series of huckster relationships which are accountable to very few people. I object to that. I have continually been appalled by the way in which a sense of urgency and special circumstances are always adduced to justify changes in the application of law.

The public relations scheme is nearly finished.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Higgins to continue without interruption.

I like listening to the views of my friend Senator Killilea from time to time but you are quite right to ask him to restrain himself. He heard my views about Turkey with great restraint on his part.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I appreciate that.

I do not readSocialist International.

Finally, the suggestion was made in the other House, I think by the Minister of State, Deputy George Birmingham and I quote

...those who want the incorporation of aprima facie evidence requirement in our Bill are talking about an English legal principle which is now being abandoned by the English themselves after being abandoned by the rest of Europe, including Ireland, 30 years ago.

It is this kind of statement that fills me with something close to anger because there is a suggestion in it that that are some kind of backward-looking conservative ancient fuddy-duddies who keep going on about these principles when fashionable Europe has gone on to allow and accept new conditions. That is quite unworthy. The fact is that some of the most long-winded and loudest statements that have been made about this convention and its discussions have been made from countries that have been notorious in the breach of human rights and in the breach of procedures. I am a member of an international organisation located in Switzerland, the Committee for the Defence of Refugees and Immigrants. That organisation has been monitoring the changed circumstances of refugees and immigrants in different countries in Europe, and in an enormous number of countries the conditions for the most vulnerable people have deteriorated quite systematically.

In some countries due to racism which has been revived, in other countries entirely because of the resurrection of extreme forms of right-wing politics which have facilitated the abuse of the procedures of the State and the procedures of law in being directed against both citizens and non-citizens from different countries, regimes of varying degrees of excess in their negation of proper procedures in law have been speaking about the importance of extradition. There are dramatic examples here in Ireland. I am not interested in setting up Ireland as a safe haven for people who have committed murder or heinous crimes against the community. In fact I find it particularly abject form of violence to commit actions like that and then claim the protection of ideals which certainly could never justify such actions. It is necessary to say all that because unfortunately in the last ten years in the Republic to say that one was interested in there being a proper form of law and in the law being practised properly in this regard and in respect of rights has frequently been misconstrued as support for people who believe in the politics of violence. It is far from so.

I would like to add my voice to those who have expressed reservations and opposition to the reality that this Bill is being introduced in anticipation of a set of circumstances, particularly political developments, over which we have very little scrutiny. I think it will get worse. Everything I said in the course of the debate on the Single European Act has come to pass. In the course of my speech on that occasion I said that I believed the constitutionality of that Bill should have been addressed before it went to the President. One has to accept that what is suggested is some kind of expertise in these matters which is above the understanding of ordinary individuals. In that sense I strongly differ from Deputy O'Malley in the other House speaking about the force of popular sentiment. We have to protect the law very often from popular sentiment. Popular sentiment can be crude and unthinking and ill-informed in relation to a number of matters.

Certainly condemnations of violence should be made more often. It is not because I side with those who want to make capital out of this — to revive what has been a very barren approach towards the Northern Ireland problem — but because I am concerned that once again something is being facilitated which is closed rather than accountable and also because at the end of the day the procedures for the defence of the individual are more necessary now than ever before. The circumstances of the structure of the State have changed in recent years. In the case of Northern Ireland one is dealing with accepting some legal procedures in a political system in which the State has lost legitimacy — at least the legitimacy of a considerable proportion of its population. One can argue as to whether it can recover that or forge a new legitimacy and also as to the shape that that would take. All over Europe there is evidence of an increased tendency to regard the State as an instrument of a political viewpoint that need not always be the most democratic, humane or progressive. It is for these reasons that I would like to join with those who have expressed concern.

I would like to welcome this Bill as an overdue move in the suppression of terrorism internationally. It is helpful to look at the background to the introduction of this Bill before the objections to it and the emotions which are very common in relation to extradition are raised in this House. It is not that long ago that the issue of extradition — and we are talking in this Bill about extradition to Northern Ireland and Great Britain more than anything else and it is the only relevant part of the Bill — was raised in this House not by Senator Mallon or Senator Killilea but by me. It was about five years ago. When I raised it then it is worth noting that the motion to introduce extradition was opposed by all political parties in this House. It is a matter of some congratulation to the Government to have taken this step which I recognise to be a courageous and a politically difficult step to take. At that time it was so difficult it was voted down by the three political parties in this House and was only supported by a handful of Independents.

While I welcome this Bill, I feel that it is possibly a little bit too late to have the effect it might have had several years ago. I say this because events have moved so fast — and predictably they move very fast in relation to the Northern Ireland situation — that the effect of this now will not have the effect of opinion in Northern Ireland as it would have had some years ago. The reason this is being introduced is because it is part of the Anglo-Irish process. It is not, I suggest a totally spontaneous move on the part of an independent Government. It is a move which is conditional upon certain other things happening. It is a move which is not being taken just because it is right in itself.

I believe that the sort of extradition that is proposed — in other words, the limit in this Bill on the scope of political offences — is correct in itself. It should not be introduced under pressure, under coersion or as part of an agreement. It should have been introduced several years ago because it was right in itself, because it is a practical and necessary move in suppressing and curtailing terrorism in this country. The background to this is that people have appeared in our courts pleading certain murders, certain offences and scheduled offences which are named in this Bill and have walked free from those courts pleading that these offences were political. That was recognised as being unacceptable but the problem was not solved up to the time this Bill came to the Seanad and it will not be solved until this Bill is signed.

While many on the Opposition side of the House continuously suggest that the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act is an alternative solution it has patently, for reasons which are argued about, not worked because prosecutions under that still rest in single figures and offences of this sort probably run into hundreds. Therefore, I believe this is one solution which we have an obligation to put into effect. We have an obligation to public opinion here and in Northern Ireland. Whether it is part of the Anglo-Irish process or not, it is right that it should be introduced.

This is a very emotive subject on both sides in Northern Ireland — and one has to talk about both sides. I listened very carefully to Senator Roger's speech. Those of us who are in favour of this Bill understand fully the objections which she raised and understand fully the problems which Catholics in Northern Ireland have in regard to the courts, the security forces and the RUC. Nevertheless, while they should feel free to criticise the security forces — they are not without blemish as we know — it should also be said that the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in the past year and a half, have had to fulfil a rather different role from that which they had to fulfil in the past. Although figures are not available the Royal Ulster Constabulary is undoubtedly over 90 per cent Protestant. It is full of people whose background is anti-republican and anti-southern Irish. They have found themselves defending a situation which is completely against the tradition in which they were brought up and for that they deserve credit and praise. Under the Anglo-Irish Agreement they have had to defend a situation which they do not find naturally very easy. It would help — and I say this because Senator Rogers is in the House — if we got a positive response from the SDLP to the Foreign Minister's call to Catholics to join the RUC in Northern Ireland because it is no good for the SDLP to take intransigent positions.

It is important that those on all sides should start taking steps forward, offering the hand of friendship and offering progress to others. The first step would be to recognise the difficult role which the RUC have had in the past few years. We should not put so much emphasis on criticism. We should not highlight continuously the Stalker affair. While that is very alarming in itself, I would prefer to see highlighted the fact that RUC homes have been burned, that RUC families have been threatened and that the RUC recently have had to defend people against Protestant mobs and against their own traditions, against those things which they believe in. It would be a welcome gesture if instead of criticising them continuously it was suggested that Catholics should also join the RUC and not boycott it in the future.

There is a certain amount of double-talk and double-think about extradition which still exists. When extradition was suggested in this House some years ago the defence by the Government of the day — and it was a Fianna Fáil Government — was that it could not be introduced because it was contrary to international law. That, at the time, was an extremely convenient camouflage. Because it was against international law there was absolutely nothing the Government could do about it under Article 29 of our Constitution. Since that time the Constitution has been reinterpreted by the judges and that defence, which was a convenient camouflage, has been removed. What has happened since then is that certain specific objections to this Bill have been produced as what are probably a final line of defence. The specific objections are mainly that we should not extradite our own nationals and that aprima facie case should be proved first. These are only lines of defence from those who instinctively do not like the idea of extradition. Senator Killilea in his speech said he did not think the people of this country wanted extradition to Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That is fair enough. It is honest. It is what Senator Killilea feels and it is what lots of people in this country feel. They do not like extradition and they do not think the people want it. It is very reasonable that they should say that, but it is utterly wrong that red herrings in the form of specific detailed objections to this Bill should be introduced in order to oppose it. It would be easier if Fianna Fáil came clean on this and opposed it because they do not like it instead of shilly-shallying around and putting forward specific objections when they have an instinctive dislike of extradition.

I do not understand the objection to extraditing our own nationals. Refusing to extradite our own nationals presumably under our laws, excludes us extraditing North of Ireland people to Northern Ireland because they are our nationals. While this Bill is being introduced principally and almost totally to suppress and curtail terrorism in Northern Ireland it would be absurd to introduce it if we are not going to extradite anybody from any of the 32 counties to Northern Ireland. It would mean that the Bill would not be effective at all. I do not understand why our citizens, if they commit an offence, should get any preference over citizens from another country. I gather that the Fianna Fáil leader was quoted at the weekend as saying that he would ensure that our nationals were not extradited to Northern Ireland. That is a pity because it means, in effect, that the Opposition are in some way saying that it is all right for Irish nationals to commit certain offences but it is not all right for foreigners to commit the same offences. That is double-think and it is utterly and totally wrong.

The second and far more telling objection offered is that aprima facie case should be produced against those who are to be extradited. I find this convincing in some ways, in that it appeals to the obvious sense of justice which one has about those who are to be sent to another jurisdiction. However, this would be a major obstruction to the curtailment of terrorism. It might have the effect of giving someone two trials for the same offence. I do not believe, that in this context, we are going to have trumped up extradition warrants produced down here. It is necessary for very practical reasons that a prima facie case does not have to be offered in the case of extradition. It is not an international convention that prima facie cases should be offered in this way. That was dispensed with in the 1965 Extradition Act and Great Britain has no such requirement for extradition of its citizens to Ireland. It has been dispensed with also in several other countries recently.

The final, very topical and relevant objections to this Bill are the celebrated cases in Britain at the moment which are causing so much controversy. These were debated in this House just before Christmas. While I subscribe to the view that there was a miscarriage of justice in several cases, I do not subscribe to the view that just because this happened we should oppose and scrap this Bill without producing any substitute. Because it has happened once does not necessarily mean it will happen again. Anybody who opposes this Bill does not believe, in the case of the Birmingham Six, that there would not have been aprima facie case anyway at that time. There is no argument about the conviction at the time. The argument is about the new forensic evidence and the evidence which has changed since. While these are tragedies they cannot be produced as arguments against extraditing in the future.

Apparently, this Bill will not be introduced until 1 December 1987. I regret that. This is not a particularly good thing. It appears to be negotiating, piece by piece, using the Bill as a lever, and not introducing it because it is right in itself.

The world media has rightly highlighted many acts of terrorism of one form or another. Reports of hijacking, kidnapping and bombing of public and private places are extremely common. All over the world we have had cruel deeds, the maiming and killing of almost certainly innocent people. These are all deeds we abhor. Barbarity cannot be justified and must be stamped out by every means at our disposal. Extradition of a terrorist from one jurisdiction to another is seen as being a necessary part of this process. That being so, every aspect of extradition ought to be carefully examined.

The Bill passed through Dáil Éireann with great haste. Indeed it was almost certainly the last legislation to be passed by the 24th Dáil. The operative date of this legislation is December 1987. Originally, it was to be 1 June 1987. I share Senator Ross's view that this Bill has been introduced as a result of pressure from elsewhere as distinct from being from the heart of the Government. It has to be and is seen to be linked with the Anglo-Irish Agreement. There is general belief that there is some form ofquid pro quo whereby the Irish and British Governments enact and sign this Bill and sign their names to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. It is presumed that the operative date is almost 12 months away and that it is that far away so as to give the British an opportunity to mend their ways, as it were; that by then we will be satisfied regarding the administration of justice in Northern Ireland and in Britain and that if and when we extradite Irish nationals to Northern Ireland and Britain the climate will be correct and the administration of justice will have improved. Knowing the record of the British as I do I must confess that I do not share this optimism.

I say this because for many historical reasons this has proven to be not the case. Indeed, anyone who has looked at the Northern Ireland troubles since 1969 cannot contemplate that within less than 12 months everything will change in the judicial system there. Ireland as a nation has changed very little. Given that we know what has happened to Irish citizens in the past and given the record of the past regarding the treatment of Irish nationals by the courts of Northern Ireland and Britain we are expecting an awful lot.

The cases of the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and Annie Maguire are well documented. These groups were convicted by the British gutter press long before their cases were heard in court. It was all part of an anti-Irish attitude. Yet, it is Englishmen who have now proved that these groups are innocent. The most eminent men in England, be they be journalists, members of Parliament or members of the House of Lords and be they people such as Robert Kee, not forgetting of course the European Parliament, agree that in some way or other, some or all of these groups were framed and that confessions were secured in a most dubious manner. All agree that these people now in jail should never, in fact, have been in jail. We would all share the view that their immediate release is long overdue. In this regard, I pay tribute to Deputy David Andrews for his solid belief, tenacity and courage in pursuing these cases at a time when perhaps it was not popular to do so.

Theprima facie rule which has been referred to many times in this debate is obviously a concern for me and, indeed, for many others. So far as I am concerned extradition without prima facie evidence is not on. Indeed, had this Bill, as it is now before us, been in force at the time of the arrest of Annie Maguire, the Birmingham Six and the Guilford Four and had they been extradited, as events now unfold it would be true to say that it would be quite embarrassing for whoever had been in Government at that time to have extradited those people in the knowledge of what we now know regarding those cases.

Many people have made their views known, particularly as this Bill affects Irish citizens. Without referring the case to the District Court it is wrong, unfair and unreasonable that we should send our citizens into a jurisdiction over which we have no control or where the law is totally different from Irish law. It should be basic to any extradition move that aprima facie case be established. What I understand to be a prima facie case is that the State must establish that there is a case to be met and to establish a prima facie case is, as I said and stress, basic to any extradition move. Obviously, it should be basic to any move for the operation of this extradition Bill.

Like so many other Senators, I am totally opposed to all extreme organisations. I and my party reject violence. The Government or others might suggest that because we are not fully happy with this Bill we support violence, let me say that nothing could be further from the truth. It is interesting to recall that a former colleague of ours in this House, Séamus Mallon, is on record as saying that his party are opposed to extradition from the Republic to the North for scheduled offences. He has made it clear that he was restating his party's stand. He says that the use of extradition bestows legitimacy on the process of law in the North, a process which is fundamentally unjust. That, I think, says it all.

Naturally, those opposed to the SDLP have attacked Mr. Mallon and his party for making those public statements but who is in a better position than they to judge the situation? To my mind there are no better judges available to comment on this very important matter than people such as Séamus Mallon, Senator Bríd Rogers and her collegues.

I stress that I do not support terrorism or extreme organisations. I am not happy with this Bill and I feel quite strongly that until such time as we see an end to the Diplock courts, to non-jury trial courts, to the supergrass system, and to such inhuman treatment of prisoners as the strip searches and so on that are carried out in Armagh Women's Prison this Bill should not be proceeded with. I took a note of what Senator Ross said in regard to the Birmingham Six. He said because it happened once it will not happen again. I would remind Senator Ross that the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Britain operates 90 per cent against the Irish. That is the kind of climate we are talking about. Certainly that is the kind of climate I would not like to send Irish nationals to. As I said, the list of injustices is endless and I believe that in this situation this Bill should not be proceeded with.

It is well known that some of the most concerned people in the world, the great humanitarians, have pronounced their view on British justice towards Irish men and women. Our Government should not be asking the House to pass this Bill. We should be telling the British to put their house in order as it affects this nation, to remedy the glaring injustices and that we will then talk about extradition.

I have a number of things to say on this issue, some that I knew about a long time ago and others on which I dug up information in the last number of hours. Before I go into detail, we should calm down a little about what is called terrorism, as if it were something different and new that humanity had invented in the last 20 years, and our obsession with suppressing it.

Very few countries have suppressed what they call terrorism by security methods alone, I deeply resent the catchall use of the term "terrorism" and the fact that nobody has succeeded in defining it. Terrorism effectively for most governments is the use of force by people they disapprove of against people they approve of or disapprove less of. For instance, I have no problem in categorising the Bader Meinhof in Germany as terrorists or in categorising the Red Brigade as terrorists of a kind. However one wonders why groups such as those can get their hands on sophisticated weapons, explosives and devices to enable them to do many of the things they do. The world is awash with armaments looking for a home because of the appalling pace of innovation, of improvement — if I can use that word in the context of the arms race — in the whole area of armaments. The world is awash with armaments, available to anybody who wants to use them. We cannot ignore a connection between the obscenity of a world with a huge surplus of armanents beyond what any military forces could need, with a rate of replacement of armaments, of improvements and innovation which is well in excess of anything that any army could need and the extension of "illegitimate" violence in both western society and around the world.

If you have easy targets to classify as terrorists, such as the Bader Meinhof and the Red Brigade, then you have to remember that the Palestine Liberation Organisation are also categorised as a terrorist organisation by some people but others see them as the representatives of an oppressed people. The acceptability of an organisation which can at one stage in a country's foreign policy be seen as a terrorist organisation suddenly, as the balance of whether you want to call it opportunity, in sight or understanding shifts, can move from being a terrorist organisation to an acceptable organisation. For example, I regard the African National Congress as the nearest thing to an legitimate government that South Africa has but the United States Government, until recently, insisted — as did the British Government — on keeping them at a considerable remove because of alleged disapproval of violence and the South African Government unequivocally and unashamedly describe them as a terrorist organisation.

Terrorists are not simply defined because they use violence. It has to do with whether they are using violence in a way which coincides with your foreign policy, with your view of the world and your objective of what needs to be done. Our view, for instance, on terrorism in the Middle East has been affected by the increasing leverage that perhaps the Arab world had in western economic affairs and simplistic views that we would have had 15 or 20 years ago about the use of force or about who were the terrorists or who were the good guys in the Middle East have changed quite dramatically and for the better.

The sad ritual we had to go through at the beginning of today's session ought to raise questions about who the terrorists are in the Middle East or if the terror is confined to one side. We must remember who in the Middle East murdered an Irish soldier and murdered a number of Irish soldiers indirectly.

Similarly, we have had this evolution of the African National Congress. If there are terrorists in South Africa, for instance, they are the people who masquerade as the army of South Africa because they impose the will of a minority on a majority. If anyone were to be called a legitimate army, it would be the army which has the allegiance of the majority of the people, namely, the armed wing of the African National Congress, but for many people this group are terrorists.

In Central America a terrorist force are funded by the largest democracy in the world, which has been involved in the murder of civilians and of voluntary workers and in burning down villages and destroying food, but this group is not regarded as a terrorist organisation. It is regarded as a group of freedom fighters; you have two countries which have diplomatic relations, one the most powerful in the world and one arguably the least powerful and you have the most powerful funding to the tune of $100 million a year armed force against the powerless. Yet, we in this country have not been prepared to describe that activity as terrorism. I have profound reservations about the use of violence.

Would the Senator complete the picture and discuss Afghanistan?

The Minister falls into my trap because I am in the minority among Members of this House and the other House who went to the bother of travelling to the Soviet Embassy to tell the Soviet Ambassador what I thought of their invasion of Afghanistan, which is more than anybody else in this country who talks about Afghanistan ever bothered to do, because I care about Afghanistan. I care about Solidarity in Poland and I have told the Soviet Ambassador what I think of that.

Would it not be proper to put those views on the record?

They are on the record. The Minister can read what I said; I do not have to put it on the record every time. I was about to say — and I have said it frequently in this House — that I disapprove of the use of violence. I would not use violence myself. But governments, for instance, all over western Europe which regard nuclear terror as an acceptable instrument of international defence are not in a position to strike moral poses about terrorism. The threat to humanity posed by terrorism is a pinprick by comparison with the nuclear threat. Let us not pretend anymore that western governments are retaining nuclear weapons to counterbalance an alleged threat from the east because the eastern threat to abolish nuclear weapons completely, which was offered in Reykjavik, has been rejected by the west because they need nuclear weapons to balance conventional forces in Europe. Let us put an end to this nonsence that it is all about balance. We have weapons. We think we can use them effectively and nuclear weapons, which are the greatest weapons of terrorism in the world, are now part of the arsenal of western Europe and are acceptable as such, irrespective of what the other side have. That is not in any way to forgive anything the other side has done but for international statesmen to strike moral poses about violence is offensive to any sort of position. Violence is an acceptable part of international activities and has been since the history of man developed. It is a question of when it is acceptable, how it is acceptable and to whom it is acceptable. Look left and look right in this House. You can see portraits of Robert Emmett and Lord Edward FitzGerald, both of whom were prepared to use violence, neither of whom chose to consult the people about whether they used violence and both of whom are heroes in this country. If we strike poses about the use of violence — and we should strike a position about the use of violence to resolve conflict — then it should be a position which is comprehensive and which is not selective, depending on our particular point of view.

I was about to say when the Minister interrupted me that one of the most impressive things about the United Nations' involvement in Lebanon surfaced in the tragic consequences of the murder of the Irish soldier last week, and that was that it was suggested that the standing orders of the United Nations forces not to use force might have to be reconsidered. We have in one sentence a very impressive underlining of the effectiveness of a peacekeeping force who are prepared and are under orders to use peaceful methods to implement that peacekeeping mandate. They have weapons but their orders are not to use them and that is an extraordinarily impressive testimony considering what has been achieved in terms of civilian life. The man who was murdered last week was a victim of the determination of that force to use non-violent means to implement their mandate in southern Lebanon.

When I say that we need to be careful about easy striking of poses about violence I am not for one second justifying violence but simply saying that those of us who accept that there are circumstances under which societies are entitled to defend themselves and to use even aggressive force to repel, for instance, in the case of the Falklands what was seen by many people as an illegal and dangerous act by the Argentinian Government, cannot suddenly say in the next breath that violence is always wrong. Quite manifestly it is not. Violence is always wrong if it is always wrong, and clearly it is not. Therefore if we are to become involved in arguments about terrorism then we must talk in deeper terms about it. If we claim that violence can be used to defend a state, to defend one's person, to defend one's sovereignty and a number of things like that, then there is the question of whether the only violence that can be used is that of a lawful government. If that arises then it emerges that the establishment in a country may use violence; those who are opposed to them may not. So the South African Government are entitled to keep an army and spend a fortune on it and to use whatever force it needs but those who oppose them are not, whereas in Central America the Government are not entitled to keep an army because they are accused of excessive military expenditure, and those who oppose them are so entitled.

That brings me to the point that there are realities about violence in the world which besmirch the reputation of most countries, the United States activities in Vietnam for instance and the appalling nonsense of President Reagan regarding "Rambo" as one of the best films that was ever made, a film which distinguished itself by glorifying excessive violence against people who happened to have a different colour and therefore could be treated as subhuman. For the leader of what is described euphemistically as the free world to glorify such an appalling offence to human sensitivity, human life and anything that might be claimed as art does not say much for the depth of that man's conviction that violence is always wrong. The appalling excesses of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan — and just in case the Minister is worried this was in my notes before I said anything — equally destroy the name of a country that claims to stand for revolutionary socialism and for peace and justice and various other things. I could go on for ever. Remember that the British Army were involved in giving military advice and assistance to the oppressive regime that fortunately has lately been removed from Uganda and had to be removed by violence. I am very slow to say that what was done in Uganda to get rid of an appalling and oppressive regime was either terrorism or wrong. Who was right in Uganda? Was there a legitimate army who were entitled to use force of not?

As a Christian I say that one of the most difficult and painful decisions that a Christian has to take is whether there are circumstances under which violence can be justified and can be used without in the process destroying the Christian heart of a Christian. It is an extremely difficult issue. You cannot get rid of it either by denouncing terrorism or by giving people a uniform and telling them that because they have a uniform they must accept orders and can now ignore their conscience. Neither alternative is acceptable. It will always rest on the conscience of an individual making a choice, and that is far more difficult than talking simplistic nonsense about the use of force.

In case I be accused of avoiding it, let me say that the local issue of terrorism centres on the activities particularly of the IRA. I think the IRA are wrong, that all of what they do is immoral and politically stupid, but I do not accept that you can categorise or characterise the activities of the IRA as terrorism in the way that some of the activities in Western Germany or Italy are categorised, because there is no disputing the fact that the IRA have the support of a substantial body of people within Northern Ireland. We have spent 20 years trying to persuade ourselves that that is not true and when they finally test that support at the ballot box we spend three weeks of an election telling people, that "votes for Sinn Féin are votes for violence so please do not vote for Sinn Féin". Then when Sinn Féin get a substantial vote we spend the next six months trying to say that votes for Sinn Féin were not votes for violence, they were votes for something else. I have no doubt that a substantial proportion of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland support in principle the activities of the Provisional IRA. I think they are wrong, that they should not do so, and that many of the things that were done in my name and in the name of the Irish Republic by the IRA are appalling, but it is too simple to categorise that as some sort of mindless terrorism. That is to besmirch the consciences of that 30 to 40 per cent of Northern Catholics who give a reasonable amount of support to that organisation. It suggests that we have moral high ground from which we can look down on those people. I do not think we have. We have not their experiences, their history or their sense of frustration and alienation — God forgive me, I swore I would never again use the word "alienation" about Northern Ireland because it is worn out. However, the truth is that Northern Ireland's alienation could have gone on for ever. It was when Northern Ireland's alienation took the form of support for physical violence that it became a problem. Similarly the massive alienation of a quarter of a million unemployed people here can go on until they perhaps take some similar action.

The final thing to be said about the IRA in Northern Ireland is that we can strike moral positions about many of the appalling atrocities that they perpetrate and we are right in as far as we go when we think about murdering people in front of their children, murdering people under any circumstances, murdering members of the security forces whether they are armed or not, but there is no such thing as a moral war. Ask anybody who has been involved in war whether they were on the good guys' side or the bad guys' side. Morality goes out the window the first time you are under fire. You do not worry any more about whether there will be civilian casualties from what you are doing or whether the innocent will be killed with the guilty or anything like that. You are there defending yourself, and however appalling the atrocities that were committed by the Provisional IRA they are not worse than many that have been committed by what we would call legitimate armies in for instance, Vietnam by the United States, EI Salvador, Afghanistan, and all over Eastern Europe in the fifties in the name of whatever good cause was acceptable to that army at that time. Therefore, there is not just a simple definition which is terrorism and a simple definition which is something else. The use of force in resolutions of conflict is a problem both for Governments and for those who perhaps are working for change. That is why in this whole area of suppression of terrorism, because we categorise it too simply we can pretend that many of these issues will go away.

Therefore if we are prepared to identify a certain number of offences as this Bill does, and if we are prepared to suggest that those offences are going to be excluded from our traditional protection on the basis of political offences, then one has an obligation in that context to be sure that the people whom we are now prepared to extradite even if they plead political causes will be treated with standards of justice which are similar to our own. We have an obligation to ensure that people will be given trial with the sort of speed that we would presume to be the par in this country.

We have to presume that these people will have the same sort of legal support in terms of legal advice and legal aid that they would have in this country. We will also have to ensure, because I do not believe it is possible to get a fair trial in a country which is not a democracy, that these countries are democracies similar to our own.

In that context if we are to talk about the philosophical basis for this, it is interesting to read the list of signatories to the 1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. All those countries are, of course, models — I say that genuinely — of parliamentary democracy, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hellenic Republic, the Government of Ireland, The Government of Luxembourg, the Italian Republic, etc. The Government of the Turkish Republic also signed the 1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. That country not only signed the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism but it has ratified it. According to the Minister in the Dáil on 4 December the convention has now been signed by all 21 members and it remains to be ratified by only France, Greece, Malta and Ireland. Turkey is an acceptable signatory to the European Convention on Terrorism. We have made no exceptions.

Let me quote from the 1985 report of Amnesty International on this model of democracy with whom we are prepared to envisage an extradition arrangement. If we do not have an extradition treaty — I could not confirm this with Turkey — we are prepared to extradite people out of this country on the basis of offences committed in another country against Turkey on the grounds that these are terrorist offences. According to the 1985 report of Amnesty International there are several hundred prisoners of conscience in Turkey. There is continuous widespread and systematic use of torture in Turkey. There is widespread ill-treat-ment of prisoners in Turkey. There are serious questions about the fairness of trials before military courts in Turkey. There is inadequate access to lawyers in Turkey and there is an absence of any ability to consult with a lawyer in privacy in Turkey. That country is a signatory to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. We are prepared to participate in a convention which reckons that that imitation democracy, with that scale of suppression of human rights, is on a par with the free democracies of Europe. That is because we have tried to pretend that this thing called terrorism is different. I think there is a difference between using political violence in the context of a country which tortures on a grand scale and which ill-treats prisoners on a grand scale and the use of political violence in a free democracy like Britain, France or this country, and that is not to say that any of these countries are perfect.

Turkey, I think, was a democracy in 1977, it was turned over to a military government in 1980 and went back to a facade of civilian rule in 1983. Amnesty International have now confirmed that the most recent information is that all these things that were reported in their 1985 annual report are still widespread in Turkey, and yet that country is a signatory to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. In fact, it has ratified it. We have conceded to that country the right to be treated as an equal in terms of the suppression of terrorism. That suggests to me that we have not really thought out our values nearly as well as we should.

I do not know whether we have an extradition treaty with Turkey but I suspect there must be some countries in the Council of Europe which have extradition arrangements with Turkey. If not, I find it hard to believe that Turkey would be allowed to sign and to ratify this treaty. Even if there were no extradition arrangements, if any of these offences were carried out in another country of the convention and if they were carried out against a citizen of Turkey or against a Turkish embassy, we would extradite an Irish citizen to another country on the grounds that this was a terrorist offence against something to do with Turkey.

I am not justifying the use of violence against Turkey. I am saying we have walked ourselves into a quagmire where we have not established that the credentials of participants in this convention must be above reproach. It seems that would be a necessary precondition for anything like this, that all the participating countries should have impeccable standards in their own countries. We have singularly failed on that issue because of the presence of Turkey as a signatory in this convention. Turkey is currently prosecuting a Turkish trade unionist because he had the guts or the foolishness, depending on your perspective, to criticise the Turkish regime when he was here in Dublin. He is now being prosecuted in his own country for defaming the State abroad. That is one of the countries with whom we prepare to talk about extradition and about the suppression of terrorism. There were very interesting methods between 1980 and 1983 of suppressing terrorism in Turkey, similar to some of the excesses of the RUC.

Apart from my objection in principle on the basis that the whole issue is insufficiently thought out and highly moralistic in a very dubious fashion, the Bill seems to stretch far beyond what could even be reasonably expected. I refer in particular to section 4 (2) (a) (i) (II) which applies to any serious offence involving an act against property if the act created a collective danger for persons. Section 4 (2) (a) (ii) refers to any offence of attempting to commit any of the foregoing offences. Paragraph (b) of that subsection states: "References in this section to an offence include references to participation as an accomplice of a person who commits the offence". It is conceivable to extradite somebody because they are accused of being an accomplice to a person who attempted to commit an offence which was an act against property where the act committed created a collective danger for persons. That is extraordinarily broad-ranging. One could argue that if I decide to batter on the door of the British Embassy to argue with them that that is a collective danger against persons. It is extraordinarily wide-ranging. I do not have the same faith in the capacity of courts to be careful about these things. I know Nicky Kelly too well to be too enthusiastic about the capacity of courts to be dispassionate when they have to make judgments between the individual and some of the activities of security forces.

Section 11 which is a saving clause states that nothing in this Act shall prevent an offence from being regarded as not being a political offence or as an offence connected with a political offence. It is not sufficient to simply add a list of offences which are not regarded as political offences. We want to make sure that if the courts want to go further they can do so. I find many things about this whole business difficult to reconcile. The commitment to proper standards of justice, to proper standards of the rights of the accused, to proper standards of legal aid, would have been far more easily accepted if people had been prepared to take a stand about the presence of one signatory on that list which has none of those standards and none of those precedents.

As far as this Bill applies specifically to extradition to Northern Ireland, I want to say unequivocally that as of now and for the immediate future I cannot see a justification for extraditing people to Northern Ireland for any offence. I do not trust either the security forces in Northern Ireland or the Judiciary in Northern Ireland to give people anything that could be regarded, even by a liberal stretch of the imagination, as a fair trial. The injustice that exists in Northern Ireland towards the minority is deeply rooted; it is showing very few signs of being alleviated and it still runs deeply through large sections of the unionist community.

I am particularly intrigued by the decision to use rates paid by all sections of the community to fund campaigns against the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which is rejected presumably by one section of the community. I am intrigued by the extraordinary decisions of the housing executives to coerce people to cease to campaign for equality of treatment in employment. According to Senator Ross I should not talk about the Stalker affair, the idea that the police force in any part of democratic Europe would ever get involved in decisions to deliberately shoot to kill suspected terrorists is something that appals me. The suggestion that this was not a number of individual low-ranking officers acting on their own — a little maverick group — but that this whole thing ran through to the highest levels of the RUC raises very serious questions. The congratulatory remarks of Lord Justice Gibson when certain RUC men were found not guilty of murder are equally offensive.

There can be all sorts of things said about what the IRA have done wrong and what the IRA should not have done and I agree with all of those things. However, that is not the same thing as saying that without the IRA you would have a model society in Northern Ireland. Without the IRA you would not have a model society; you would have a society with a minority against whom various forms of institutionalised discrimination would still continue. You might have had a gloss of equality in a number of areas, but there is no evidence that a political willingness to accept the principle of equality of treatment under the law yet exists among the leadership of the unionist community. It is only when a principle of equality of treatment under the law is accepted in Northern Ireland that you can talk about recognising the courts in that jurisdiction as having the capacity to administer justice impartially and fairly.

The tradition of British justice is something we all take some example from, but we must examine that tradition in the light of what happened in Birmingham to the Birmingham people and to the people who were accused of the Guildford bombing and in the light of a file that I have, which is full of the apparent deliberate institutionalised harassment of some of these prisoners even after they were convicted. I mention in particular the case of Paul Hill who has spent the best part of three years in effective solitary confinement and who has been moved around prisons at a most appalling rate and has been treated in a most dreadful fashion. Let us not forget that these people did try to appeal and had their appeals rejected by Lord Denning. It is not as if these were just accidents. There is a serious question to be raised, in the event of a serious terrorist attack, if Irish people are suspected and are arrested, whether those Irish people (a) would be treated properly by the police and (b) would be treated properly in the courts. They are legitimate concerns that are epitomised and crystallised in the experiences of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, but they are not necessarily confined to those people.

We are dealing with a problem of attitudes to a race by English people and British people generally. It is not simply a question of two unfortunate exceptions. Ask the multiple thousands of Irish people who have been held up in ports and at various other points of entry for less than 12 hours and, therefore, are not technically arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act but can spend up to 12 hours in police custody what it feels like to be Irish in Britain today. You have to raise serious questions in the present circumstances as to whether Irish people should be extradited to Britain. Fianna Fáil's concern about prisoners in Northern Ireland and in Britain would ring a lot more true to me if they had been prepared to stick their necks out a little bit when Nicky Kelly was, in my view, the victim of a gross injustice in the Special Criminal Court, but we will forgive them that.

My view on this Bill has moved from being one where I accepted in principle that the Bill had some merit and I would have felt that at the very least we could have excluded the courts in Northern Ireland from its provisions, to a different position because of the extraordinary range of governments — Turkey being the extreme in terms of repression in injustice, torture, etc. — that are apparently acceptable under this convention and the lack of guarantees for the future, particularly the provision to extend it to other countries, where we have no guarantee that standards will be a precondition. If Turkey is currently acceptable, there is no guarantee that other countries, with equally dubious standards of internal human rights, will not be acceptable. Because of its application and implications for Irish citizens being extradited to Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, I have shifted from a position of being opposed to sections of the Bill to a position where I do not think the Bill is a proper or an appropriate way to deal with terrorism. Therefore, I am opposed to it.

The Bill before us here today is a Bill which has caused almost as much controversy as the Bill which was passed here before Christmas, the Bill dealing with the Single European Act. There is absolutely no doubt but that many people throughout the country are very worried that if this Bill is enforced people are going to be taken out of this jurisdiction into other jurisdiction in which they will not have the proper protection which the laws of this jurisdiction would grant them. In the matter of the courts in Ireland and what happens people in them, I am not going to get into an argument with Senator Ryan in regard to the Kelly case. The kiss of death which his forgiveness might give us, I will equally ignore.

The Bill which is being proposed here today entitled Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Bill, 1986, is not, in fact, a Bill being brought in to enforce legislation which would give more protection to Irish citizens from the savagery of international terrorism, or to ensure that people from other jurisdictions would not be able to make Ireland a haven for terrorists or to make Ireland a place from which other atrocities could be carried out against targets outside Ireland.

We have always supported measures which are set up to deal with the huge international scourge of terrorism and, indeed, Ireland fully supported the European Convention on Extradition in 1957, legislation which Great Britain has not herself yet signed because of the clause in that legislation which insists on the principle of the necessity to have aprima facie case proved before having the extradition validated.

In his Second Stage speech, the Minister said that in practical terms what we are enacting here is legislation which deals with issues which are entirely related to extradition to Northern Ireland or, to a much lesser extent, to Britain and even in relation to the latter the cases involved are almost all likely to be related to the problems in Northern Ireland and involve Irish people. The reasons given for the introduction of this Bill were that Europe suffered greatly throughout part of 1985 and the whole of 1986 from acts of terror and that throughout Europe it was suggested there would have to be a convention which would allow for people to be extradited from places where they might have gone as a haven to escape from the justice of the country in which the act was perpetrated.

The emphasis on the suppression of terrorism came from the United States, a country which has been involved in more terrorist acts than any other country in the world, I would suggest. When the emphasis was placed on the need to eliminate terrorism in Europe, the United States had a very able and willing partner in Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain. Of course, they blamed Libya as the major country from which terrorism came initially. When they found out that Libya was not to blame, Syria became the bad boy. Right throughout the time in which they were claiming to be trying to eliminate terrorism, they were involved in acts which were going to create more terror. The supply of arms to Iran was reprehensible and the fact that one of America's greatest allies in the Middle East, Israel, was involved is no surprise to anybody. The lies throughout 1986 in terms of what was happening are coming out daily. I am sure we have not heard the last of them.

Terrorism has been the scourge of the seventies and eighties. State terrorism has played as much a part in what has happened as individual acts of terrorism. There is no doubt that sometimes acts which are perpetrated by individuals who are fighting a cause, who are looking for freedom, who are looking for a statehood for themselves are often called terrorist acts. Of course they are not terrorist acts if they are perpetrated against illegal regimes and if they are perpetrated by people who have a legitimate right to citizenship on land which has been taken from them either by force or by way of United Nations Conventions. We have to be very careful when looking at this Bill to ensure that we know what we are talking about. The Minister laid down the parameters of the Bill when he said that in practical terms we are speaking only about Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

In his Second Stage speech the Minister suggested that to have Irish citizens exempted from this legislation would be impractical as our citizenship laws are very wide by international standards. Apart from the fact, as the Minister said, that nearly everybody in Northern Ireland is an Irish citizen, numerous thousands of people in Britain who are of Irish descent are also Irish citizens. The Minister said that to exclude Irish citizens in our situation is tantamount to saying that we will not extradite at all. The Minister is quite wrong in his assertion that all Irish citizens should not have the full protection of Irish law while living in Ireland. That is a concept which I could not agree with. We are proud that so many people living in Northern Ireland and Britain want to hold on to their Irish citizenship and we are not slow on other occasions to claim them fully as our own. I do not believe we should pass legislation drafted, as the Minister says, to facilitate extradition to Northern Ireland and Britain, without providing at least that evidence be produced which would prove aprima facie case against the person against whom the extradition warrant was sought. There was a time when the counts of Britain and Northern Ireland were felt to be beyond reproach. People felt that the famous principles of justice and fair play would be available in these courts and also so far as the British Parliament was concerned. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as was emphasised very well by Senator Rogers when she mentioned that up to about ten years ago the courts in Northern Ireland were accepted by the nationalist community as being reasonable. This attitude has changed utterly in the meantime. There is no doubt that Irish citizens, if they are extradited from the South, will not get fair play in the North of Ireland. The introduction of this Bill increases the risk of miscarriages of justice against Irish citizens before British courts. We must ensure that the judicial process, in so far as it is initiated in Ireland, contains adequate safeguards and limitations to protect our citizens from abuse or injustice in any other jurisdiction.

Irish citizens have been subjected to brutality and illegal acts in Britain. We can see the effects of these illegal acts in the cases of the Birmingham Six, the Maguire family and in many other instances. It is important to have the case of the Birmingham Six included as an instance of the kind of injustice to which Irish citizens might be subjected if this Extradition Bill goes through. In 1975 Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Gerard Hunter, William Power, Richard McIl-kenny and John Walker were convicted of causing the Birmingham bombings. They were sentenced to life imprisonment. Despite constant protestations of their innocence and representations on their behalf from Cardinal Ó Fiach, leading Church figures in Ireland, a number of British MPs, and an all-party group from here led by Deputy David Andrews and despite the fact that the forensic evidence in this case has been totally discredited these people are still in jail. A recent ITV programme showed beyond any doubt that these people are innocent and that they were framed and set up because at the time the police in Birmingham needed to have some sort of fall guys. They found their fall guys and unfortunately these people have been in jail since 1975. They have not been allowed the right to appeal. I was surprised to read in one of our Irish newspapers yesterday that Lord Denning is considered to be the leading specialist on justice in Britain. As judge he gave the following reasons for refusing permission to allow the men to take a civil action. He said:

If the six men win, it will mean that the police were guilty of perjury... violence and threats, that the confessions were involuntary and were improperly admitted and that the convictions were erroneous. The Home Secretary would have to recommend that they be pardoned or remit the case to the Court of Appeal. This is such an appalling vista that any sensible person in the land would say: It cannot be right that these actions go any further. They should be struck out...

This was a judgment of expediency at the expense of law and justice. There is no doubt that the reason the then Judge Denning was promoted after that to the House of Lords was because of the attitude he took. Basically he was saying that it did not make any difference whether these people were guilty or innocent: he would not let down the British judicial system, the British courts system or the British police.

We have seen over the past number of months that the evidence given by the so-called forensic expert Dr. Skuse who is not asked to give forensic evidence in any court case in Britain at present was faulty. It is interesting to note that when a British Conservative MP was trying to get some evidence recently to support the case being made regarding the Greiss test the Department of Justice said a mistake had been made between .1 per cent and 1 per cent in the natural cellulose content in the test. Of course, they also said they could not contact Dr. Skuse, that he was not available, that his reports and notes could not be found. His notes were found and it was proved that it was a .1 per cent and not a 1 per cent test he used. The Birmingham Six did not want a pardon. They wanted to have their case brought to court so that the evidence under which they were sentenced could be discredited. It has been discredited. We are ensuring, through this Bill, that people such as those involved in that unfortunate case and other cases can be extradited to Great Britain to a judicial system which has been totally discredited.

If this legislation is to be passed and is to go on to the Statute Book there must be ample protection within it for our citizens. The principal changes we wish to see in this Bill is a protection whereby no citizen of Ireland shall be extradited pursuant to the provisions of this Bill or the Extradition Act, 1965, unless the provisions of section 2(2) of this Bill have been satisfied and that no order for the extradition of an Irish citizen shall be made unless the District Court is satisfied, on the evidence before it, that there is a sufficient case which would warrant the sending forward for trial of that person as if the offence alleged were an indicatable offence and had been committed within the State.

There is another element in this Bill which gives rise to a number of conflicts. The situation is that if some country, other than Britain, seeks the extradition of someone from here they must undertake not to charge them with any offence except the one for which the extradition has been sought. Why should Britain not give the same undertaking every other country gives in this regard? Why should there be special laws between Ireland and Britain? Even though we are close neighbours and have much contact I do not see why in law Great Britain should have any other special concessions given to it which we are not prepared to give to any other country.

There is also the requirement that under no circumstances could anyone be extradited if that person had been tried and convicted in his absence. We must ensure that the Government afford to Irish citizens, whom they are willing to hand over to foreign jurisdictions, the maximum protection of the law. Ireland does not intend to become a haven for terrorists or criminals and the writing into our legislation of aprima facie rule will not lead us into being such a haven.

The State terrorism which we have seen Irish citizens subjected to in Britain must be curbed. We must ensure that we protect our citizens as much as possible from being subjected to the brutality and illegal acts of the British legal system. There are many civilised countries which will not extradite unless theprima facie evidence has been examined and upheld. Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and The Netherlands will not extradite their own nationals in any event. If we are going to allow the extradition of our own nationals why should they not have the minimal protection within the law that prima facie evidence will allow.

There are quite a number of countries which will not extradite until after the consideration of whether an offence is political. They will take the convention on terrorism into account but will ultimately make up their own minds whether to extradite. In effect, they are keeping the political offence in mind and will take the convention into account but, having done that, they will make up their own minds as to whether they should extradite. Aprima facie requirement would give Irish citizens the same rights in relation to being extradited for a trial abroad that they would have if they were tried at home. The legislation as proposed will allow Irish citizens to be handed over to jurisdictions where they can be held legally in custody not for weeks or months but for years without trial. This was emphasised by Senator Rogers when she said that the minimum length that people are being held in custody on remand in the North is two years. They can be held not for months but for years without trial in circumstances which would not even merit their detention on bail here for more than a week.

In a contribution from the Minister on the question ofprima facie evidence, he said that amendments put forward form a very clear pattern and he said if they were accepted it is clear they would deliberately move away from European norms, making extradition more difficult in practical terms. He said that perhaps even more importantly, they would, if accepted, amount to a public and unambiguous declaration to the people of Northern Ireland and Britain that we were abandoning the Anglo-Irish Agreement and all that it means for us. From the Minister's mouth we have an admission that this Bill is not about extradition in the broad context of the European Convention on Terrorism but rather within the narrower confines of Anglo-Irish co-operation under the Anglo-Irish Agreement and that basically if we build in the prima facie requirements of this legislation that the agreement would be wrecked.

I, and many other people, are extremely worried that the rights of Irish citizens are going to be sacrificed on the altar of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and that the need to conform to the intentions of this agreement will have priority over the rights of individual Irish citizens. Everyone in this State acknowledges that a huge number of atrocities are been carried out ostensibly in the name of Irish people. We agree that action must be taken to curb the activities of terrorists and murderers but we cannot agree to have a flawed Bill put on our Statute Book and expect that it will help in any way to curb the activities of terrorists.

We are proceeding with undue haste to put this Bill on our Statute Book. This measure should have been referred to an all-party committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas before being presented here as a Bill. The Bill will not come into effect for some months, even if it passes through this House in the next few days. I wonder if it would be possible to have agreement sought from the British Government that the Diplock courts be eliminated and that we would press that this Bill will not be enacted unless the Diplock courts are abolished. The British Government, it has been said, are considering the abolition of the Diplock courts but there is no sign that they are going to be eliminated and unless they are I do not think that anybody in this country should allow anybody to be extradited to the North of Ireland.

We should press that this Bill should not be enacted unless the Diplock courts are abolished. We cannot take on trust that after the passage of this Bill there will be a change of attitude on the British side and that Irish citizens will be fairly treated under the British legal system. After the passage of this Bill it is possible that Irish citizens will be extradited to a jurisdiction withoutprima facie evidence offered and then find that they will be held in custody for many months before being brought to trial.

The question of extradition in the context of the supergrass system is something else we have to take into account when we decide what way to vote on this legislation. The supergrass system has been proved to be totally discredited and unless it is eliminated we should not allow anybody to be extradited on the evidence of a supergrass. However, because in the case of this Bill there is not going to be a book of evidence produced it will be possible that supergrass evidence could be used against extradited people. Since there is not even a necessity to have aprima facie case identified to the Irish judicial system, we do not know where the evidence on which the extradition might be based comes from. It could very well come from a supergrass or it could be concocted by somebody who wanted to bring a person over the Border ostensibly because of involvement in one crime and then charge him with another.

The McGlinchey case has been properly mentioned here today. On that occasion we had the undue haste in which McGlinchey was sent over the Border, ostensibly to stand trial for the murder of a postmistress but, of course, it was not for that reason he was sent over the Border. Apparently, he was wanted for many other alleged crimes but after spending a year in custody it was found there was no evidence against him in the case for which he was brought over. I am afraid that if this legislation is passed we will have more and more of that type of problem. There is a great need for reform of the British legal system and this reform must be implemented before we can agree to this draconian legislation being enacted at the request of the British Government. I would also suggest that we are changing legislation governing extradition particularly for political offences and we are not putting in place safeguards to guard against miscarriages of justice and against the sending of citizens to a police State or to a legal system that is not above suspicion.

I cannot understand why it is necessary to rush through this legislation. It was rushed through the Dáil before Christmas and now it is being rushed through here this evening. We made an agreement with the Leader of the House that we would not take our Private Members' motion this evening but rather would allow the debate on this legislation to carry through until it is finished. That is not because we do not want to speak about the condition of the roads which are in a terrible state because of the lack of moneys necessary for their repair. The weather is so bad this evening that we do not want to keep the staff here until 11 or 12 o'clock tonight and then find that they cannot get home. We feel that this Bill should not be before us. We do not think it is going to do anything to protect us against the scourge of international terrorism and we are afraid that the passing of this Bill will place in jeopardy the freedom of quite a number of people. In regard to Private Members' time this evening in a few weeks time we will find that the roads have deteriorated even further due to the extreme weather conditions.

This Bill is a flawed piece of legislation and it will be interesting to see if it will stand up to the examination of lawyers once it has passed through this House. There is a volume of opinion which suggests that this Bill might be considered to be unconstitutional and it may be that it will be challenged once passed by this House. Again, we are absolutely opposed to the passage of the Bill and unless there is a provision regardingprima facie evidence we will be voting against the legislation.

I regret that it has taken so long for the question of extradition for what has been characterised as a political offence to be considered and legislated on by the Oireachtas. In fact, the Oireachtas has not examined this issue since the passage of the Extradition Act, 1965, so that for the past 20 or more years any developments that have taken place have not been developments which have been considered and acted upon by the Legislature in defining and shaping our policy, our approach and legal framework on that basis. That is to be regretted because it is primarily an issue for politicians and we cannot be proud of the fact that successive Governments have declined to embark on the difficulty, but none the less important, issues which arise in addressing the scope of what constitutes a political offence.

Having said that, I also regret that the context in which we are now doing this is a political one in the sense that it is part of the agreement or undertaking given at the time of the signing of the Hillsborough Agreement. I would much prefer if we were addressing the issue of extradition on its merits. It is regrettable that, for a number of reasons, we are doing it in the narrow political context. It makes what we are doing much less significant for the majority community in Northern Ireland. It brings an element of motivation into the introduction of this legislation which takes from the importance of framing the legislation primarily for our own reasons and in relation to any countries to which the legislation extends. This is regrettable. It may be because there is such a political dimension to this technical legal issue that it is inevitable that no matter when the matter was considered by the Oireachtas it would have to be done at least in some measure in a broadly political context.

The last time the matter was considered seriously, though not in the Oireachtas, was at the time of the Sunningdale Agreement. Again as part of that agreement a body was established to examine the whole question of extradition. That was in 1974 when the Law Enforcement Commission was established by the two Governments who had participated in the Sunningdale Agreement. The Governments appointed four members each, making a total membership of the Law Enforcement Commission of eight. The Irish members were distinguished legal members. Two of them at the time were members of the Supreme Court, a third member shortly afterwards became a member of the High Court and the fourth member was a distinguished senior official in the Department of Justice. The Commission considered extradition as one possible option to resolve the problem which was acknowledged, which was the problem of crimes of violence committed by a person in one part of this country who then fled to the other part. There was a division along nationality lines, so to speak, in the commission because of four south of Ireland members of the commission divided and agreed on the approach which they made part of their contribution to the report in expressing the view as follows:

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

That report of the Law Enforcement Commission contained differing views and in particular contained that view of the four Irish members closing the door to a possible development in extradition law at the time — certainly they recommended that the door be closed.

When the report of the Law Enforcement Commission was first published I was one of the very few people in this part of the country who expressed criticism of the report. I recall writing at least one letter which was published by the media at the time and I also spoke on the issue and criticised the approach to extradition adopted by the Irish members because it did not seem to me at the time and certainly has not seemed to me subsequently that there was a clear principle of international law forbidding the non-extradition of political offenders as a legal obligation, a mandatory obligation forbidding extradition for political offences. That view was expressed by other academic writers at the time, mainly commentators writing from Britain, which I suppose carries less force.

The focus of the criticism was on the phrasing of Article 29.3 of the Constitution which refers to the fact that Ireland accepts the principles of international law rather than rules of international law and that these are regarded as being — again I think it is the Irish text which makes it clear — in a dtreoir as a guide to Ireland in its relations with other States.

I was interested in reading the debate in the other House on this Bill to see that Deputy John Kelly expressed criticism of the report of the Law Enforcement Commission. I cannot remember, but I think I would have remembered if he had criticised it at the time. It would have been a significant criticism if he had voiced it at the time.

It was a pity that there was not a healthy debate on the question. Even though the members of the Law Enforcement Commission were distinguished and even though collectively they must carry a lot of weight that report closed the door on developments at a legislative level for the period until the courts had developed the law in a manner to which I will refer briefly and paved the way for the bringing forward of this Bill to enable Ireland to ratify the European Convention on Terrorism. Following publication of the report of the Law Enforcement Commission the prevailing view in Government was that Ireland could not either sign or ratify the European Convention on Terrorism which was open for signature, as I recall, in 1977 and came into operation on the basis of adequate signatures in December 1978. Ireland incurred considerable attention and criticism for being, as it appeared, unable to sign or to take steps to ratify the convention. Yet it was never a matter which was the subject of a political discussion leading to a proposal for legislative change in the Oireachtas.

This is interesting because one of the issues in relation to the whole subject was the absence of a definition of what constituted a political offence. There was no definition of that. This was a very legitimate reason for it being a matter that should have had the attention of the Oireachtas before this Bill was introduced in the latter part of last year. What happened in effect was that Ireland passed the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act of 1976. Indeed that Bill was referred to in the Supreme Court which ruled that it was constitutional. That Act as it became went some way in a rather unwieldy procedure to meeting part of the recommendations of the Law Enforcement Commission. Ireland, therefore, did not participate at the European level in the debate which was taking place in the context of the Council of Europe on seeking to define, in the sense of narrowing the scope of what could be relied upon as a defence, in putting forward the characterisation of the offence, that it was a political offence or connected with a political offence.

The only evolution in our law occurred in the context of cases before our courts. It is worth very briefly referring to how that occurred because the way in which the courts developed the law in this area has been subject to very interesting criticism. In particular the Supreme Court has been accused of over stepping its proper jurisdiction in the matter. It is worth looking at the context in which the Supreme Court addressed the issue and considered and interpreted the relevant law. The Supreme Court, in a case in 1970 which involved Seán Bourke who had been wanted by the United Kingdom in connection with the escape from prison of the spy, George Blake, allowed the defence of a political offence. The High Court had directed Seán Bourke's release under section 50 of the Extradition Act of 1965 on the grounds that his offence of assisting in the escape of George Blake from prison was connected with a political offence. This was upheld by the Supreme Court on appeal.

However, there were some early indications in the early eighties of reservations held by the Supreme Court on what might be encompassed in that very broad term — in a sense undefined term —"political offence". In the case ofHanlon v. Fleming the judgement of the Supreme Court — an unreported judgement — was delivered on 5 October 1981. The extradition of Hanlon to the United Kingdom had been sought because he was wanted for various offences of handling stolen goods and those stolen goods included some electronic detonators and explosives. Hanlon had argued before the High Court that he was involved with the IRA and that the proceeds of various robberies in England were transferred to the IRA and that he had been involved in that. However, it was found and this was the decision of the High Court that there was no proof that the plaintiff had failed to establish his link in effect with the IRA and the High Court declined to accept that there was a political colour to the offences for which Hanlon was sought. He appealed to the Supreme Court and his appeal was unsuccessful. In the course of the appeal the Supreme Court referred to the question — and this is the relevant point — of the scope of political offence in following terms and I quote:

Even if it had been found as a fact that the explosive material referred to in the charge specified in the warrant had been intended for transmission to the IRA, it would not necessarily follow that the accused would be exempt from extradition on the ground that the charged offence is a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence. There has been no decision of this court on such a point. It must be left open for an appropriate case.

There was an indication that the Supreme Court left open the question of the scope of a political offence. It was not defined in the sense of being specified in detail and in substance by the legislature.

The next relevant case in that chain of cases is the McGlinchey case. The circumstances of that case are well known to Members of the House and I do not need to go into it in any detail. He had relied also on section 50 of the Extradition Act of 1965 because he claimed that at the time he was active in the Provisional IRA and that what he had done was done in the context of being a political offence or was connected with a political offence.

The wording of the relevant passage of the Supreme Court indicates a willingness on the court's part, which it has continued in subsequent cases, to look behind the formula of a claim of political offence and look to, in effect, the merits of the nature of that claim. The Supreme Court stated in the relevant passage from the McGlinchey case as follows:

The excusingper se of murder, and, of offences involving violence and the infliction of human suffering, done by, or at the behest of, self-ordained arbiters, is the very antithesis of the ordinance of Christianity and civilisation and of the basic requirements of political activity. Under the Act the onus of establishing that the offence in question is either a political offence or one connected with a political offence, as a reason for not handing over a person sought on a warrant properly endorsed under Part III is upon the person who seeks asylum in our jurisdiction. In my view this plaintiff has singularly failed to discharge that onus.

I would dismiss this appeal by the plaintiff against the order of the High Court dismissing this claim to be exempt from delivery pursuant to the warrant.

That was the approach adopted by the then Chief Justice O'Higgins in delivering the judgement in which the other members of the court concurred. It is interesting to look at the degree of criticism that was made of that judgment as having been an overreaching or over stepping by the Supreme Court of its proper function, that it had, in effect, sought to legislate, that it had sought to exceed its powers. All of those criticisms were made both shortly afterwards and in some measure in both Houses of the Oireachtas since then.

It is very interesting because what happened in fact was that the Oirechtas did not do its job. The legislation was very open. If legislation is open and lacks definition then of course the courts, in performing their function of interpreting and applying the law, will and must fulfil a greater role. That is a weakness in a system, not a strength. It is a weakness that is a political responsibility of those of us who are concerned about the system.

The Supreme Court developed its case law further in the Shannon case and also in the Quinn case on this subject. I am sure that this substantially paved the way for the present Government to feel confident on constitutional legal grounds that they could bring forward a Bill to ratify the European Convention on Terrorism.

It is in the context of that kind of development that I return to the particular event which led to the Government undertaking to introduce legislation, namely, the undertaking given by the Taoiseach at the time of the signing of the Hillsborough Agreement. This is regrettable because it does narrow the subject into being part of aquid pro quo arrangement. It brings it very sharply into that particular ongoing dialogue between our two islands. It would have been better if we had done it because it was the right thing to do, if we had done it on its merits, and if we had decided to introduce legislation for that reason and because of the legal developments which had removed the impact, anyway, of the report of the Law Enforcement Commission which was a prevailing view, posing serious constitutional and legal questions about the possibility of acceding to and raifying the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism.

I am not naive on the subject. A sensitive issue of this kind can not be discussed in the abstract. It is inevitable that political concerns would be there but it diminishes to some extent the integrity and worth of what is being done to tie it in in aquid pro quo way. It may have coloured the approach in the Bill; this worries me a bit more and I hope we will have an opportunity on Committee Stage to discuss this in more detail. Because it was part of an undertaking given at the signing of the Hillsborough Agreement. I am concerned as to whether that had a bearing on the approach which is adopted in the Bill. Having come very late to accepting both the appropriateness of and, indeed, the necessity to bring our law into line with other European countries by ratifying the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, we have decided to do it in a way which goes further than the majority of countries. We have come later to the decision at a political level to accept and accede to the provisions of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism but having done that, we are prepared in the terms of this Bill to do it in a much more open-ended and therefore, much less qualified and restricted way than other countries have been prepared to do. That was made clear by the Minister in his Second Stage contribution in the other House in discussing the approach and manner of ratification by those countries who have ratified. In the Official Report of 4 December, 1986, Vol. 370, No. 7, column 1370 the Minister stated:

Of the 17 countries which have ratified the convention, nine have entered reservations in accordance with Article 13 — Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition, France, which has yet to ratify the convention, indicated its intention of making a reservation under Article 13 at the time of signature.

These reservations for the most part simply say, in one form of words or another, 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. For completeness, I might add that two other countries, Germany and Portugal, have entered other reservations — that is to say, reservations unrelated to Article 13, the German one being concerned with a situation in West Berlin. Six countries — Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom — have ratified the convention without entering a reservation.

The Government decided to frame the Bill on the basis that a reservation would not be entered under Article 13. The effect of section 3, therefore, is that none of the offences covered by Article 1 of the convention is to be regarded in any circumstances as a political offence for the purposes of a request for extradition from any country which is a party to the convention. I emphasise again a point I made earlier, namely that this provision would apply only in relation to other jurisdictions within the Council of Europe, unless the Dáil and Seanad at a later stage agree to its extension to some other specified country or countries.

The Government decided not to provide for a reservation because of their commitment to the promotion of co-operation to defeat the use of violence for political purposes.

It must concern us on Committee Stage, whether because of the context in which the commitment to sign and ratify the European Convention was given — the context of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement — there is a political desire to do it in a particular manner for political reasons, that that is the way that would be both attractive and acceptable to the British Government, that would be a substantialquid pro quo on political discussions between the two countries. I hope it is very clear from what I have said that I am unequivocally in favour of us ratifying the European Convention but I am seriously concerned about the shape of our approach to ratification, whether we should be concern to think again about the possibility of entering some of the reservation which was considered in detail on Committee Stage in the other House. I am talking about some limited modification of the prima facie rule.

I am sure we can discuss this in more detail on Committee Stage. I am aware of our position as a signatory of the European Convention on Extradition and I am aware that in our practice in relation to other countries we have not applied aprima facie rule. In the context of a substantial change in our extradition law of coming to grips with the technicalities and legal difficulties involved in narrowing substantially what amounts either to a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence, we should weigh very carefully not to please anybody in the context of a political arrangement, but in a legal context, of what is the proper basis on which to frame our approach to extradition.

I do not want to deal with this at length on Second Stage. I would prefer to do it on Committee Stage. At this stage, I am of the view that we should seriously consider in the context of extradition of our own citizens formulating someprima facie requirement. I am aware of the parameters of the debate on that. I am aware of the difficulties of having the kind of prima facie requirement which we have for trial of our citizens in our own jurisdiction on serious offences, namely, the preliminary examination before the District Court. It is not possible to have a copy of that in exact terms nor is it possible to have the scope of that guarantee. What we appear to have — and I am sure the Minister will comment on this in his reply — is a private assurance that where extradition that would come within the parameters of this Bill, would be sought by the United Kingdom, there will be a communication from the British Attorney General to the Irish Attorney General confirming that the matter has been examined and that the British Attorney General is satisfied there is a serious case to answer.

I am not entirely sure what weight to place on that kind of assurance as between two administrations. I would say that about an assurance given by any Minister at any given time, not in a personal way, and not in a way of doubting the good faith. It is a question of how we want to legislate. I would prefer that there was something in the Bill, that it was not a question of relying on an exchange of letters or an exchange of understandings or whatever the basis of the assurance which the Minister got and conveyed in the course of the debate in the other House on this issue. I would like to be sure that it was in the legislation and in a manner that could be clearly ascertained by and visible to successive Governments of whatever shape or hue in both countries, to commentators and others.

I have just one other point to make on the political context in which this Bill has been brought forward and is going through its passage in both Houses. In the course of the discussion of the Bill in the other House, the Minister came forward with an amendment substituting the date of December 1987 for June 1987 as being the date the Bill would come into effect unless there was a resolution of the Oireachtas ordering either sooner or later, as I understand it, and that is being done in order to monitor certain changes which are either already being implemented or would be implemented in relation to the administration of justice in Northern Ireland.

This flows from the kind of context in which the Bill has been promoted and I have already regretted that that is the context. On the other hand — and I am sure this would be very strongly felt particularly by nationalists in Northern Ireland — it is very difficult at times to make progress without leverage and this is a most legitimate and effective leverage in seeking to ensure that changes in relation to the administration of justice are, in fact, hurried into effect and do have the practical consequences on the ground that are being sought. Once that kind of leverage is exerted and once it is relied upon in that political sense then it does seem that it is perfectly valid to extend in the sense of to bring within the scope of that whole debate about when the Bill itself will be brought into force the very serious issues that have arisen in relation to the cases where convictions were obtained in 1975 in Britain and which were the subject of appeal but where very serious and strong grounds for questioning the validity of those convictions have subsequently emerged.

I am referring, as all Senators who contributed have, to the cases involving the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and those involved with Annie Maguire who apart from the one who has unfortunately died have been now released having served their sentences but who equally claim that the case in which they were involved was a gross miscarriage of justice and that they should not have been convicted. The Minister has already made the point in the Dáil, and I am sure he will make the point in this House, that those cases did not involve extradition. They did not. Therefore, they are not in that sense strictly relevant to a Bill relating to extradition, but once you enter into political considerations of that kind you are talking about a development of trust and confidence between admininstrations and that confidence is broader than a matter of the immediate detail in relation to extradition procedure. It is a matter of a confidence that where there are very strong and cogent grounds for believing there was a serious miscarriage of justice this will be dealt with and will be the subject, as has been called for, of a reference back to the court of appeal for which there is provision under British law.

I presume that no matter when a Bill in relation to extradition came before the Oireachtas there would be at least some issues which would be raised and criticisms would be made of the lack of progress or responsiveness of the authorities to an allegation of a miscarriage of justice. Like a number of other Members of this House and, indeed, Members of the other House I have been following these cases closely but not for as long as a number of other commentators, particularly, I have to say, MPs at Westminster and journalists in Britain. It is an interesting strength of the system there that a great deal of the early ground work on these three cases was, in fact, done in Britain. It was supported by politicians in the North and politicians here, particularly when the earlier examination of the issues had already gone a certain distance, but basically, it was the solicitors on it, British MPs and Gerry Fitt who soldiered on for a sufficient length of time to create a climate of awareness that there appeared to be a miscarriage of justice which has led to the high profile of these cases over the last three years and the fact that they are now part of our consciousness. As a country there is a very deep awareness of the serious basis on which it is contended that there was a miscarriage of justice in all three cases. However, there has not been a response from the British Government to match the investigation and openness of the broader system in coming to terms with the fact that there may have been a miscarriage of justice. The investigative work done, the eliciting of new material and new forensic evidence in relation to the Birmingham Six or the following up on the details of the cases has not been matched with an early or speedy response from the British Government. Because of the political context in which we now are and because of the fact that the Government have made this Bill one which will not come into effect unless certain things happen, it is, I would submit, both legitimate and relevant to include in the catalogue these three cases where, as I say, there is a very strong basis for alleging a miscarriage of justice.

I may seem to be arguing against myself and I may seem to be applying a kind of strange logic in saying that, because I have already expressed the view, which is my primary view, that I would prefer if we were doing what we are doing in approaching and devising an extradition Bill on its merits without any qualifications whatsoever. I am not responsible for the context in which we are looking at this Extradition Bill. It is quite obviously a very political context and I simply say that I cannot see any reason to draw a distinction between the kinds of reforms in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland, which the Government are insisting upon as being necessary before the Bill would be brought into effect or are so framing the manner in which the Bill would become operative and have extended the time scale for that to December of this year, and the other matters which relate to serious questions about the response of the judicial and political system in Britain to serious and well founded allegations of miscarriages of justice.

As I say, they relate substantially to the question of whether there is confidence in justice being done, whether there is confidence that the procedures will be applied in a manner which would be authoritative and simply, as I say, the use of political leverage where all other means of seeking to persuade have failed. It becomes quite a crude weapon at that level. I am sorry that the subject is in that arena but it is and, if so, I see no reason not to make it clear in regard to the approach and time scale within which these three cases are to be considered by the Home Secretary in Britain, given that the Taoiseach told the Dáil in November 1985 that he expected an imminent decision on the Birmingham Six case. A year later, in November 1986, there had not been any decision taken. The latest understanding we have is that the matter will be considered by the Home Secretary before the end of this month. The exact nature of that consideration has not been made clear.

That was a comment in relation to the political context. I hope this House will have a full opportunity to examine what is of importance in relation to the long term impact of this Bill. The basic question I have already posed, that is, is it appropriate for us to be in the minority of countries which have not found it necessary to enter a reservation as provided for in Article 13? Is that the right way to proceed? Are we satisfied, not just in our relations with Britain, but in our relations with other countries, as Senator Ryan mentioned in relation to countries like, for example, Turkey, that we have no reservation under Article 13? It is extremely important that we have a very full examination of this. The arguments that have already been put have not been satisfactorily answered. It is, however, better to await a Committee Stage debate on the basis of the sections or proposed amendments to the sections rather than try to open it up at this stage.

I am conscious, like other Senators, of the climate and conditions under which we debate this Bill. It is regrettable that a Bill of the technicality, complexity and importance of this Bill is being debated in this House under constraints as was the case also in the other House. It is perhaps inevitable. Clearly the Government are anxious that the Bill be finalised but it was debated by the Dáil in the final week of the session before Christmas. It is being debated in this House also under some constraints. This makes it more difficult for Members of the House to be confident that we are in a position to consider with sufficient care the particular issues involved. I hope we will have a full opportunity to do this on Committee Stage because the Oireachtas having waited far too long to address the issue of the narrowing of what constitutes the defence of reliance on a political offence may be in danger at this stage of doing it in a manner which is too open-ended. I am not convinced that the Bill is defective in a serious way but I am not persuaded that it cannot be improved by an appropriately worded amendment.

I rise to speak on this Bill largely because nobody from the Fine Gael group has offered to speak this afternoon. I want to make it quite clear that the reason for that fact is not that the members of Fine Gael do not support this Bill, do not have views, that they do not indeed appreciate the difficulties to which Senator Robinson has referred. Because of the fact that constraints are being imposed on Members it was thought proper that time should be given, particularly to members of the Opposition. Consequently, if the constraint is to fall, it should fall more heavily on members on the Government side of the House than on members on the Opposition side.

We seem to have a lag time of almost a decade between international agreement on extradition and legislative action in this country. We passed an Extradition Bill in 1965 that implemented an international convention of 1957, a lapse of eight years. We are now, in the early days of 1987, giving effect to a convention which was agreed in the early days of 1976, so that the lag has stretched to 11 years.

In order to judge what has been done in this Bill we have to look at it against quite a varied background. Many Members have taken the background of the present anxieties in regard to the operation of justice in the United Kingdom in regard to recent cases. There are other parts of the background, quite different parts and equally important, to a consideration of this Bill. I would like to draw attention to some of these and to ask the House to look at this Bill in its entirety.

The Bill is in essence the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. I would recommend to Members that they should not only consider that particular convention but also the context of that convention which is very well represented in the explanatory report on the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism which was issued by the Council of Europe in 1979. This report sets out quite clearly what is less clear on the face of the Bill, the purpose of this convention and, therefore, the purpose of the Bill. In paragraph 11 the report starts off by stating quite clearly:

The purpose of the convention is to assist in the suppression of terrorism by complementing and, where necessary, modifying existing extradition and mutual assistance arrangements conducted between member states of the Council of Europe.

This is a very important aspect. Of course we must look at this Bill particularly in the context of Anglo-Irish relations, but what we are doing in this Bill we are doing inside a European context, in this case not just the Europe of the 12 but indeed the Europe of 21.

In coming to a conclusion about the principle and details of this Bill we must remember that fact. Indeed paragraph 12 of the explanatory report goes on to underline that by saying:

It was felt that the climate of mutual confidence among the like-minded member States of the Council of Europe, their democratic nature, their respect for human rights... justify opening the possibility and in certain cases, imposing an obligation to disregard, for the purpose of extradition, the political nature of particularly odious crimes.

That is what was done in 1976 by the convention; that is what is being done by this Bill. One of the reasons action was taken by the Council of Europe and one of the reasons we are following up this somewhat tardily is that so many of these crimes of a terrorist nature — hijacking kidnapping, the use of explosive and firearms — now have an international and a cross-Border character. We must also consider, and Senator Robinson touched on this point, that the fact that we are implementing our signature to this convention many years after other countries means that we are doing it at a different time and the context is continually changing over time. The fact that we are taking certain action today which is somewhat different from what was taken by a country that signed and ratified seven or eight years ago is clearly an action in a different context and under different circumstances.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the attitude of all countries towards the question of extradition of their own nationals is something that has evolved with time. It is only natural that because we are so late, because we are a decade late in ratification, that our view should be a particularly liberal one. Nevertheless, we must examine carefully the question as to whether we should not enter reservations in this regard and the arguments as to why they should be entered has been well put during the course of this debate. We want to be careful about this. This is not a one-sided business. If we enter a reservation in regard to the question of extradition for certain offences, either a total or a partial reservation, we do a number of things. First, in effect we make every extradition a political decision rather than a judicial decision. It then becomes a matter that in regard to every application for extradition there has to be a political decision rather than a judicial decision. I think that has its dangers which to my mind outweigh the proposals of the Government that we should ratify without reservation.

There is another disadvantage too, namely, that any reservation is reciprocal in nature. We tend to think in regard to violence on this island in terms of the extradition of people from the South of Ireland to the North to answer for crimes of terrorism in the North. We already have had paramilitary loyalist violence in the city of Dublin. Please God it will not be repeated, but who can guarantee that it will not be repeated? If we make a reservation which prevents the extradition of our nationals to Northern Ireland, those who are using violence in our name in Northern Ireland, then we give up the right to seek the extradition of any paramilitary of the loyalist persuasion against whom we have evidence in regard to acts of violence done within our own State. That is a disadvantage that should be taken into account in this regard. The entering of reservation is not a simple thing and it is not an absolute thing. This is something that must be kept in mind.

Another point which exercised many Senators in the debate was the question ofprima facie evidence. The term “prima facie” is interesting, at first sight. At first sight there is a strong argument for insisting on prima facie evidence but it is a rebuttable case. I must confess to a change of mind myself. I was in this House when the 1965 Bill went through and in the 1965 Extradition Bill we in this country deliberately omitted this requirement. In fact, for once we were in the lead. For once we were not lagging ten years behind the times; for once we were in the lead in passing an Extradition Bill which did not call for prima facie evidence. Many countries since our passage of that Act over 20 years ago have taken the same position and the great bastion of legal conservatism, Great Britain, is now apprently going to follow that course. Here, again, we are concerned with the question of a change over time.

I think the position is, as it were, that there is aprima facie case for insisting on prima facie evidence but it is not a conclusive case. It is a case that has to be seriously considered and a question to be argued. Having had strong doubts when this House discussed extradition in 1965 and weak doubts when we discussed it in 1982, I now find myself in agreement with what is being proposed in regard to this Bill. In regard to the question of a prima facie case and the question in regard to reservations there are, of course, disadvantages. There may even be risks in regard to what the Minister is proposing to us but on balance what he is proposing is the correct course.

I would like to quote again from the explanatory report in regard to the question of reservation. This given us the clear thinking of the Council of Europe at that time. I quote paragraph 23:

Although the convention is clearly aimed at not taking into consideration the political character of the offence for the purposes of extradition, it does recognise that a Contracting State might be impeded, e.g. for legal or constitutional reasons, from fully accepting the obligations arising from Article 1.

The situation in this country is that too many of us have the lingering opinion that there is a constitutional objection to what is being done. For many years that was the opinion, and as Senator Robinson has said, some of our very distinguished lawyers misled us for too long on this particular point. I have a vague suspicion that those very distinguished lawyers showed their human nature by being influenced by political and natural patriotic considerations in what they said in that regard. I mean no disrespect to them; I am saying that they were human. The constitutional impediment which appeared to exist was our adherence to the general principles of international law. The general principles of international law, whether they are taken as binding or whether they are taken as a guidance, as Senator Robinson said, are not immutable. The norms of international law and the norms of behaviour have changed with time and will continue to change with time.

In regard to the question of legal obstacles there do not appear to be any legal obstacles because this House is entitled in passing this Bill to remove any legal impediments that exist. Are there political objections to carrying out what is in this Bill? There is no claim in this Bill that extradition is the best means of confronting terrorism in Ireland. Indeed in many ways what the Minister is proposing here is second best because we cannot for the moment get any better. I am of the opinion that there would be little need for this, apart from the question of the mutuality of European co-operation which we should have anyway since that would be a much more effective way of dealing with terrorism, if we could persuade the British in regard to the question of all Ireland mixed courts. This is something which from the point of view of the suppression of terrorism and from the point of view of gaining a respect from all communities for, the decision of courts would go much further.

I do not think the problem this Bill is dealing with is a very large problem. I disagree quite sharply with Senator Ross on this point. Senator Ross said the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976, procedure was defective because the number of cases was a matter of single figures whereas here we are dealing with the question of hundreds of people. I do not believe that hundreds of people will be extradited to Northern Ireland as a result of the passage of this Bill. I do not believe that there are hundreds of people in this State against whom there is sufficient evidence available in Northern Ireland to justify this procedure. Here we are dealing with something which will be of benefit to us in regard to the question of the suppression of terrorism in any part of this island but I do not think we should claim too much for that.

The real difficulty with extradition is always the same. We must ensure in any extradition legislation, in any extradition procedures, that what is occurring is extradition for trial, not extradition for questioning and not extradition for trial for some alternative offence. We have to make sure it is extradition for a fair trial. It is unfortunate that we are discussing this Bill at a time when there are three notable cases in which the operation of British justice appears to have been defective. Certainly the re-examination of that question by the British administration has been unduly tardy. It is unfortunate that this matter has not been resolved before we deal with this Bill. We also have the experience over the past few years of defective warrants and the administrative procedures of which the Minister has talked, where warrants must be reviewed at a high level. This fact must be certified by the Attorney General in regard to the backing of warrants from the United Kingdom. That is certainly the very least that can be done.

Senator Robinson said that in a way it is unfortunate that this has arisen in the context of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I do not think an undertaking to have such a confirmation from the Attorney General would have been possible without the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Here is a case where we should take advantage of the existence of that agreement. There was a somewhat vague suggestion — I am sure unintentional — in Senator McGuinness's speech that Sir Michael Havers, the British Attorney General, never got anything right. That is a little unfair to him. She also seemed to think that Lord Denning never got anything wrong. I think that is equally an exaggeration.

I would like to stress once again that there is the double nature of this Bill. There is the question mark over the administration of justice in Northern Ireland which makes the 12 months suspension of this Bill entirely proper. We must indeed hope for a very substantial improvement within the 12 month period. There is also the wider European aspect. Again I would like to quote from the Explanatory Report of the convention on which this Bill is based. Paragraph 29 reads:

The obligation which Contracting States undertake by adhering to the Convention are closely linked with the special climate of mutual confidence among the Members of the Council of the Europe which is based on their collective recognition of the rule of law and the protection of human rights...

It is a matter for regret that there are members in the Council of Europe in whom we do not have great confidence in regard to the question of human rights. It is better that they should be members of the Council of Europe. I think we will not endanger ourselves unduly by supporting the principle of mutuality.

There is the final point of whether we should make an exception in regard to our own nationals. It was pointed out to us that the French are unwilling to extradite their own nationals. How typical of the French because, of course, to many of the French, no Frenchman can ever do anything wrong. I do not think that is a headline for us to follow. I was somewhat disappointed that Senator Robinson seemed to indicate in her speech that there should be an insistence onprima facie evidence for our own nationals. Why only for our own nationals? We are talking here about heinous crime——

In regard to our international commitments.

The impression was given and it was an unfortuante one. However, I am glad that by mentioning it, it can be removed. In regard to terrorism — hijacking, kidnapping and murder — this is something deplorable and heinous. In particular it is heinous when murder is done in the name of principles which we all hold dear and when it is done in the name of the country which we all claim as our own and claim as a democratic State. Senator Rogers said earlier that it is an insult to us all when the name of Ireland is used in this way: it is making us all accomplices to this particular terror. I am unimpressed by this argument. If there are flaws in this procedure or if there is any danger of an injustice in what is in this extradition Bill, then let us ensure that there is justice for everyone who comes before our courts, whether they are our own nationals, residents or no matter who they are. Let us be careful in regard to that. Let us not make distinctions in saying which suggest that if it is done in the name of Ireland it is all right. That unfortunately is the doctrine which has led to much of the present misery in Northern Ireland.

I want to thank the Members of the House for the way in which they have approached the discussion on this Bill and particularly for the fact that, even though the debate has ranged over questions that are far wider than this Bill itself, that has been done in a way that shows that the House supports the central intention of this Bill and the central purpose of the Bill, which is to restrict the scope of the political offence exception in extradition cases where the offence involves an act of violence against a person, or an act against property which creates a collective danger for persons.

I would have wished, in a way, that Senator Dooge's contribution could have been my reply to the debate. He has said a great many of the things I would have liked to say. He has an enormous advantage which I cannot claim in that he has the live memory of a participant in the debate that led up to the 1965 Act and has been an observer of what has happened since then. The House should pay particular attention to what Senator Dooge said in that regard and particularly to the evolution that has happened in both what is claimed to be political activity and in the approach of our Judiciary to the interpretation of constitutional provisions in that period.

I would also like to say, without appearing in any way partisan, that I am particularly thankful to Senator Dooge for the fact that he stressed one of the key aspects of this Bill which should not be lost sight of in the debate but which has, in fact, both in this House and in the other House remained very much submerged. That is the simple fact that extradition or the backing of warrants procedure is a two-way process. It is not a one-way street. It is not a system under which people are moved only from one jurisdiction to another. It is a system, an agreement, a set of rules under which people are transferred between different jurisdictions to answer charges for crimes which it is alleged they committed in those jurisdictions. That is very important and I intend to come back to it at a later stage in my remarks.

The limited intentions of the Bill were recognised in a number of contributions in the House, most noticeably by Senator Ferris and Senator O'Leary. What we are proposing to do here is to enshrine in our legislation the principle that political motivation alone is not a sufficient defence against extradition in the case of persons accused of what are — I think the whole House accepts this — particularly reprehensible crimes, that is, as the Bill sets out clearly, crimes involving the use of automatic weapons and explosives so as to endanger persons; the hijacking of aircraft; the taking of hostages and other similarly vicious crimes. We are talking of criminal acts which almost all reasonable people would not regard as being in any way a proper part of political activity. That is the central core of what this Bill is about.

As legislators, we are fulfilling a particularly important duty at this time by saying very clearly in this legislation that people who are wanted in other States for prosecution for crimes of that kind will not be able to evade justice in our jurisdiction by pleading a political motivation for their acts. We are also helping to ensure that we will be able, when the need arises, to seek the extradition from other convention countries of persons who may be wanted here for terrorist-type offences.

I very much welcome the expression by Senator Eoin Ryan and many other participants in the debate in this House of their support for the international effort to combat terrorism and for the discharge of our international obligations in this connection by the ratification of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. I do not for a moment concur with the reservations expresed by Senator Eoin Ryan as to the way in which the convention is implemented by the Bill that is now before the House.

It would be appropriate for me at this point to echo the sentiments expressed by Senator Daly about the nature of terrorist crime which we have experienced on this island in recent years. We have seen in very many cases murderous attacks — some successful, others not — on defenceless people. It has included bombings which have killed and maimed people. On every occasion these atrocities have rightly attracted widespread condemnation, but they call for more than that. They call for a vigorous and an appropriate response to ensure that the perpetrators of these acts do not evade the process of justice.

This Bill, as indeed Senator Dooge has pointed out, is only one element of a response to that, but it is nonetheless important. As Senator Dooge has rightly said, this Bill is not — nor is it represented to be — the complete answer to terrorism in this island. It is only one part of our response to it. It is perhaps even less than that. It is nothing more than a refinement of one part of our existing response to the particular tragic situation we face.

In expressing continuing support for the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Senator Eoin Ryan stated that to accept extradition to the United Kingdom on the basis set out in this Bill without any safeguards was too high a price to pay for progress under the agreement. I must repeat here in relation to that suggestion that this Bill does not constitute the basis of any new arrangements for extradition from this country to Northern Ireland or to Britain. Provision already exists in our laws for extradition to those jurisdictions. Simplified arrangements for the return of persons between this jurisdiction and Britain based on a backing of warrants procedure have existed since this State was founded. The present arrangements are to be found in Part III of the Extradition Act of 1965.

Nor is it true to say that those arrangements contain no safeguards for persons whose return to Britain is sought from this jurisdiction. The 1965 Act provides a number of important safeguards for such persons and those safeguards will, of course, remain in place. The return of a person will continue to be prohibited where the offence for which the person is sought does not correspond to an offence under our law punishable by a period of imprisonment of at least six months. Similarly, the return of a person for a military offence or a revenue offence will continue to be punishable and, apart from any other consideration, a person whose return is sought under these arrangements will continue to be able to contest the validity of the warrant under which his return is sought. There is no interference with any of those parts of the arrangements that have been in operation since 1965. Those arrangements replace — in a modified form — arrangements which have been in operation since the foundation of this State.

The Bill will provide a new safeguard in our extradition arrangements with Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Sections 8 and 9 will introduce into Part III of the 1965 Act a possible new ground of refusal of extradition which is already provided for in Part II of the Act but which we decided in our wisdom not to include in Part II in 1965.

Under these new provisions 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 those reasons.

As well as those statutory safeguards, I again invite the attention of Senators to the new administrative arrangements which have been agreed with the British Government regarding the operation of the backing of warrants procedure. These arrangements have already been outlined in some detail in the opening statement by the Minister of State at my Department. Briefly, they will mean that a warrant for the return of a person will be sent to this jurisdiction 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. In addition to that, the British Attorney General will send to our Attorney General a confirmatory note to the effect that he is satisfied that the relevant prosecution authorities have complied with these arrangements in relation to each offence to which the warrant relates.

Apart from introducing the new statutory safeguard I have mentioned, the only effect the Bill will have on our existing extradition arrangements with Northern Ireland and Britain will be to limit the meaning of "political offence" to exclude certain particularly odious offences for the purposes of those provisions of Part III of the 1965 Act which prohibit the return of persons to those jurisdictions for an offence which is a political offence or an offence connected with a political offence.

What Senator Eoin Ryan appears to be suggesting is that because we are limiting the scope of the political offence exception in this way, we should also fundamentally change the basis of our extradition arrangements with Northern Ireland and Britain. In particular, he seems to be saying that we should insist on aprima facie case being established in our courts before a person would be liable for extradition. This would run counter to the essential purpose of the Bill which is to improve the prospect of extradition. To introduce a prima facie requirement would be a very substantial step in the other direction. The Government could not accept that it would be appropriate to take such a step. To introduce such a requirement now in relation to Northern Ireland and Britain would be invidious given that the Anglo-Irish Agreement is in operation, an agreement which Senator Eoin Ryan says he continues to support. If his suggestion is that the requirement should be introduced only in relation to Northern Ireland and Britain, that would be doubly invidious since we would not be imposing a similar requirement on other Council of Europe countries.

To require aprima facie case would — and Senator O'Leary made this point with force in his contribution — represent a major practical obstacle to extradition. It would do so not just in cases to which this Bill applies but in all extradition cases. That is a very important consideration. During the course of this debate there has been no suggestion that there is a difficulty in relation to the other types of cases which are not covered by this Bill. I remind the House that extradition and or, in particular, for us, the backing of warrants procedures, is a two-way process. During the course of this week or early next week a constituent of mine will come before the court for an offence that is not covered by this Bill. He is coming before a court here because a British police force backed a warrant which we sent over to them. I assure you that there would be a certain degree of dismay in Ireland if it were seriously proposed that because other people felt in a particular way about our legal system the decision as to whether or not that person had a case to answer would be settled by a British court rather than by an Irish court. I have a feeling that many of the people in this House, the other House and outside who have expressed their support for a prima facie requirement, thinking of it in a one-way context, would wax equally eloquent the other way around if somebody else were to impose that kind of requirement on us. I am not saying this in a vacuum because one of the people who has been promoting the idea of a prima facie requirement has waxed very eloquently in relation to a particular treaty under which the other party has a prima facie requirement in relation to us but where we do not have a prima facie requirement in relation to that other party. I am not going to go into that but I want to make the point, and I believe this quite strongly, that many of those who have insisted most on the prima facie requirement have been thinking of the whole process of extradition and backing of warrants as a one-way process only. That is a very incomplete way of approaching these matters.

In enacting the Extradition Act, 1965, the Oireachtas dispensed with the requirement for such a case to be established in our courts before extradition would be possible to countries other than Britain. The requirement has, of course, never been a feature of our extradition arrangements with Britain. It was dispensed with in 1965 because it was recognised as an obstacle and because the Oireachtas was concerned with promoting effective international co-operation in criminal matters. The matters we are dealing with in this Bill are criminal matters. The 1965 Act was designed to enable the State to ratify the 1957 European Convention on Extradition and theprima facie requirement was rightly seen as being out of keeping with European extradition norms, as set out in that convention.

There has been much examination and discussion of the effect of aprima facie requirement. I would like to draw to the attention of the House a UK Green Paper on the subject of extradition, Command Paper 9421 published in February 1985 which deals with the matter at some length and also to the subsequent White Paper on Criminal Justice “Plans for Legislation”, Command Paper 9658 published in March 1986. I had the pleasure of completing some partial quotations for each one of those publications in the other House. It was quickly apparent when the quotations were completed that the weight of the argument was against a prima facie requirement. I make this point because whatever other virtues these publications may have, they have been produced in a system where there have been practical experience of the operation of a prima facie requirement over a long period. The treatment and examination of the effect of that requirement in those two publications is very useful particularly in the context of the type of debate we are having.

Senator Eoin Ryan suggested that Article 22 of the European Convention on Extradition might permit this country to introduce new safeguards into our law on extradition. He did not specify what safeguards he had in mind in this connection. What that Article provides is that the procedure with regard to extradition and provisional arrest and extradition shall be governed solely by the law of the requested State. That does not mean that we could now in our domestic law depart from the terms of the convention in some fundamental way while remaining a party to the convention. Theprima facie case requirement illustrates what I mean. To introduce such a requirement into our law now would be to depart in an important respect from the terms of the convention because Article 12, which governs the documents and information which a requesting party is required to produce in support of a request for extradition, does not provide for a requirement for the production of evidence that the person sought committed the offence in question. The only way in which this country could have reserved the right to require such evidence would have been by formally entering a reservation to Article 12 of the convention, in accordance with the terms of Article 26 thereof. Such a course would not be possible now — Article 26 allowed for reservations to be entered only at the time of signature or ratification of the Convention on Extradition.

It has also been suggested that it would be possible and consistent with our obligations under the Extradition Convention, to introduce aprima facie requirement provided that it was confined to cases where the person sought was an Irish citizen. That is not the case, such an approach would not be legitimate or acceptable under the Extradition Convention. I may deal later with the particular concern that Members of the House have with the question of the treatment of Irish nationals. I should say at this point that since we are dealing, for the most part, in almost all cases where we talk about extradition between this country and another if I might call it so, outward bound extradition, with people who are Irish citizens and in fact taking the kind of cases where the direction would be the other way around mentioned earlier on by Senator Dooge. We are dealing also with people who under our law are Irish citizens and who are regarded in our law as Irish citizens. If we are to say that we would in some way produce special requirements for Irish citizens or exclude Irish citizens from the terms of a Bill such as this, we would in fact virtually be saying we will have no extradition and we would, as Senator Dooge said, have to accept the mirror image of that in other countries, the inevitable consequence elsewhere that we would not be able successfully to request the extradition of their citizens to us to answer cases which we believed they should answer.

Senator McGuinness suggested that extradition in the absence of aprima facie case being made out in our courts amounted to a presumption of guilt against the person who is extradited. That, of course, is simply not the case. The extradition of a person under the 1965 Act is without prejudice to the issue of guilt or innocence of the person sought. It simply means that the person in question is made amenable to the courts of the jurisdiction where he is sought. Nor would a requirement of a prima facie case to be made out in this country change the position in that regard. Such a requirement would simply mean that the courts here would have to be satisfied that the person sought had a case to answer, not that the person was guilty. In neither case can it be properly claimed that extradition whether with or without a prima facie requirement amounts to a presumption of guilt. It is not the case that it does. There is a very big difference as Senator McGuinness knows it much better than I, between a prima facie case being made out against a person and a person being proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of an offence with which he or she is charged.

Senator Eoin Ryan and others, including Senator Robinson, linked this Bill and the Anglo-Irish Agreement in their contributions. The two, of course, are intimately linked as was made clear in the text of the Joint Communiqué issued on the occasion of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I would like to draw the attention of the House to what Senator Dooge said earlier about the evolution that has taken place over a period of time, not just the evolution in juridical thinking here, not just the evolution in the political climate, not just the evolution in the relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom but all of that complex of factors which would inevitably bear on any action we take in an area like this. Senator Robinson offered the view and, I think, it was with some disappointment, that the political climate coloured our approach to this Bill. Of course it did. The political climate colours our approach to any political act; that is quite proper and not at all remarkable that it should. I am glad to say and I think the House would join with me that there has been a positive and an accelerating evolution in the relationship between this country, Britain and the North. I hope that relationship continues to evolve and that the speed of evolution increases and its direction is one which we would wish to see. I have no doubt whatever, indeed I have every expectation, that political acts will be done in this country in years to come that will be influenced by the evolution of that climate and that should properly be influenced by the evolution of that climate and that, in addition, we will do political acts here which would be designed deliberately to facilitate a further evolution of that climate in a way that we want to see. Let us not in any way suggest that it is a criticism of this Bill to say that it is connected in some way with the Anglo-Irish Agreement because that is to take a very static view of the way we regulate our affairs and the way we regulate relations between ourselves and other jurisdictions. The decision to accede to the convention was made clear in the communiqué issued after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement against the background of the commitment entered into by the Irish and British Governments to work together to achieve early progress in relation to certain matters of mutual concern in Northern Ireland. The matters in question were public confidence in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland, relations between the security forces and the minority community in Northern Ireland and enhancing security co-operation between the two Governments. There has been progress in a number of respects on these fronts over the period since the Agreement was signed and I would like to refer to a number of specific examples related to the administration of justice in the North.

In January 1985, legislation was passed at Westminster which had the effect of allowing a significant number of offences previously tried by a judge alone in Northern Ireland to be tried before a jury. New safeguards in the emergency powers of the security forces in Northern Ireland including powers of arrest and treatment of suspects in custody are to be introduced soon. The Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill which is going through the British Parliament at present will amend these powers. Among the other reforms in this Bill are a test of reasonable suspicion in regard to arrest, new rights as regards having a relative or friend informed when a person is arrested, right of access by a suspect to a solicitor and a switch in the onus of proof in bail cases from the defence to the prosecution. The Bill also changes the conditions for the admissability of confessions in scheduled cases so as to bring them more into line with those obtaining in ordinary crime cases.

I am sure that Members of the House will have noted press reports of a series of recent Appeal Court decisions in Northern Ireland. These decisions, one after another, overturned a whole series of convictions secured on the uncorroborated evidence of individual informers. As a result of the most recent of these court decisions there is now no prisoner in Northern Ireland who is in custody solely on the basis of uncorroborated informer evidence. These court decisions together with a recent statement of policy by the British Attorney General have greatly diminished the likelihood of cases being brought again on the sole basis of so-called "supergrass" evidence without corroboration, especially against a large number of defendants.

Progress on these matters is a continuing process and some of the reforms I have mentioned are still being implemented. It must now be clear to all observers that both Governments accept at this stage that further progress must be made to secure better relations between the security forces and the minority community, to improve confidence in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland and on security co-operation. But, of course, the fact that both Governments acknowledge that more progress needs to be made in these areas does not mean we have reached agreement on the changes required to achieve that progress.

I would ask the House to bear this background in mind in relation to the commencement provision in this Bill. That provision has been very carefully drafted to enable the Oireachtas to review progress on the matters to which I have just referred before a final decision is taken on the date of implementation of this legislation. At the same time it allows a crucial step to be taken towards ratification of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, namely the exactment of this Bill. That is a very important earnest of our positive intentions in the fight against terrorism on this island and indeed in Europe. The agreement is not a one-sided process. We must play our part in bringing about peace in Ireland, North and South. Security co-operation is an essential element in the achievement of that aim.

Senator Robinson, among the other remarks she made, some of which I have already referred to, said that she disliked thequid pro quo element in this Bill but I did not hear Senator Robinson attach any importance at all to the other aspect of this Bill which is the development of our participation in the international fight against terrorism.

Senator Robinson also spoke about leverage in relation to the commencement provision and indeed it would not be rude of me, I hope, to say that Senator Robinson was inconsistent in some of the remarks she made, in that while on the one hand she objected to leverage in connection with the Anglo-Irish Agreement she urged on me the suggestion that we should try to use leverage in relation to certain other problems which she mentioned. I do not intend to pursue that, but I agree with Senator Robinson that there is a certain inconsistency in putting forward those two particular points of view. I should also say in relation to the other cases Senator Robinson mentioned that the Government have made their views known very clearly in a different context, in a different framework, and that we will continue to do so. It is proper that we should. As the House is aware our expression not just of interest but of concern in relation to those other cases started quite some time before the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The fact that the Government are proposing in this Bill to ratify the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism without entering a reservation of the kind provided for in Article 13 of the convention has been criticised by some Members of the House. Obviously the provision for a reservation of that kind was an option the Government had to consider very carefully and it would be wrong of me to convey the impression that the Government regarded this matter as being absolutely clear-cut from the outset or that we came to the conclusion, which is evident from the Bill, without a good deal of thought. Let us look at what precisely is in question. Under the provisions of the Bill, it is only the limited range of offences covered by Article 1 of the convention which are never to be regarded as political. Article 1 of the convention and section 3 of the Bill set out the offences which will never be regarded as political. To enter an Article 13 reservation in respect of Article 1 offences really amounts to saying that, at least in some cases, offences of the kind covered by Article 1 should be capable of being regarded as political. As I have indicated, that is a matter on which opinions may differ.

The Government's view is that crimes such as hijacking of aircraft, kidnapping or hostage-taking and the use of explosives or automatic firearms which endanger persons are so odious, so wanton and so indiscriminate in their nature, that they should never be capable of being regarded as political in any circumstances. I would ask Members of this House to ask themselves the question — and I think it is particularly relevant that members of the Oireachtas should ask themselves this very simple question —"would I in the pursuit of a debate on any of the issues that come before us decide to take somebody else's life because of disagreement on an argument like that"? I am not the first to ask that question because as Members of this House will be able to point out, that same question has been asked in our courts here and its very posing in our courts was part of the process and part of the evolution in thinking which led the Government to the conclusion, rightly identified both by Senators Robinson and Dooge, that our Constitution does not prevent us from deciding not to regard activities like that ever as being political activities. We also take the view that people who are wanted in other countries for prosecution for offences of that kind should not be able to resist extradition by claiming that what they did was politically motivated. Trial in the country where the offence was committed is the most appropriate and effective means of dealing with such offences as well as indeed with other offences. The fact that civil law countries have a different tradition from ours in the matter of the trial of persons for offences committed abroad, the fact that a number of other Council of Europe countries have entered an Article 13 reservation do not affect the Government's assessment of what the correct policy is for us on the question. Once again, I ask the House to bear in mind that what is decided in this respect is, in its practical application, at the moment almost exclusively linked to violence related to Northren Ireland, directly or indirectly. I do not say we should not take account also of the wider European scene — of course we should. But, if we refuse to extradite, for what ever reason our refusal is, primarily, a refusal to respond in this way in relation to Northern Ireland mainly but more broadly on this island. That is the reality and that, too, is how it will be seen by people other than ourselves who look at our actions in this matter. It has been suggested that the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, 1976 — or at least the approach it adopts — represents not just an adequate approach but an even better approach to the problems which this Bill is intended to address.

I think, therefore, that I should draw attention to the limitations of the 1976 Act — not just the difficulties that can arise in its application in cases where it applies but also the limits on its scope. The principal effect of the Act is to make it a criminal offence under our law for a person to commit in Northern Ireland certain scheduled offences which, if committed within the State, would constitute an offence here. Those offences include murder, manslaughter, arson, kidnapping and false imprisonment, explosives and firearms offences. The Act also has provision for the admission, in trials in the State, of evidence taken in Northern Ireland and for the taking of evidence in the State for use by courts in Northern Ireland trying similar offences committed in the State. In addition, the Act makes certain explosives offences committed anywhere outside the State by an Irish citizen offences under Irish law. A number of prosecutions have been instituted in the State under the Act while further cases have been instituted in Northern Ireland under the parallel Criminal Jurisdiction Act, 1975.

It will be clear from what I have just said that the 1976 Act is to a great extent limited to Northern Ireland. While it has been very useful, and while it has some — though a very limited — application to places other than Northern Ireland, its use runs into the difficulties involved in a trial in a common law jurisdiction that is not the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed. The Convention on Terrorism, which is designed to have an application over the whole of Europe was primarily intended to remove barriers to extradition because extradition is regarded by the member states of the Council of Europe — as well as by States outside that group — as the most effective way of combating terrorism. This is why, under the convention, extradition is presented as the primary response and it is only where extradition has been refused that the obligation arises to submit the case to the competent authorities for the purposes of a prosecution.

As far as the effective conduct of the prosecution is concerned, extradition to the jurisdiction in which the offence was committed has substantial advantages over the exercises of extraterritorial jurisdiction. The evidence on which the prosecution will be based will almost invariably be found in that jurisdiciton. Witnesses similarly will usually be resident there. Proceedings in some other jurisdiction, on the other hand, will require that evidence be adduced and that witnesses be present in that jurisdiction — unless provision is made, as in the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, for evidence to be taken on commission, which is not a practical proposition in the wider European context.

No two legal systems are the same and account has to be taken of differences not only in the substantive criminal law but also the law of evidence and of procedure. Even as between this State and Northern Ireland and Britain, those difficulties are substantial, despite the geographical proximity and common legal heritage. In relation to civil law jurisdictions, the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction would be even more difficult. Extradition provides a far simpler and more practical solution and one that makes for more effective international co-operation. That is why the convention and the Bill proceed on that basis.

I am aware of course that, during the preparation of the formulation on the Suppression of Terrorism Convention, the then Government sought to persuade our partners to adopt a different approach: to proceed on the basis of the principle ofaut dedere aut judicare. But at that stage the Government had little option, since the belief at the time was that there was a constitutional problem about any change being made in relation to the concept of “political offence”. It is now clear that the courts believe that the interpretation of the concept of the “political offence” should take account of changing realities.

It would be appropriate at this point if I were to say that I agree entirely with the drift of Senator Robinson's remarks when she indicated that it was her belief that it was not proper that we should have relied on the courts for so long to carry the full weight of interpretation on their shoulders without giving the courts clearer guidelines of the kind that are set out in this Bill. They are not exhaustive, and that is a point to which I will refer at another time.

Senator Rogers asked whether it would be possible for a person whose extradition was sought by the Northern authorities to opt for trial here under the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act. The short answer to the question is no. Such a course would not be possible either under the Extradition Act or under the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act. The difficulties that I have already mentioned in connection with that Act also mean that such an option would not provide a sufficient or a full response to the problems of terrorism in this jurisdiction.

I do not intend, at this stage, to give a full response to remarks made by Senator Killilea except to make the point that the cases which he mentioned and about which he waxed eloquent are all very different cases. Difficulties which he referred to, for example, in relation to the Glenholmes case, are ones which can properly be resolved and are being resolved by the kind of measures that we have taken to ensure the proper high level legal scrutiny of warrants. Some of the other cases that Senator Killilea mentioned are, in fact, ones where even had there been a requirement forprima facie evidence to be produced here there would have been extradition. That is a point that is not made often enough. It is not in itself at all a criticism or an indictment of the extradition process that there are cases where extradition is followed by an acquittal in the country were the trial takes place. We are familiar, as is the case in other jurisdictions, where commital procedures which return a person for trial are followed by an acquittal at the trial. It is not uncommon even in our jurisdiction that a case in which prima facie evidence appears to warrant a trial is followed by a trial which then results in an acquittal. I have said enough about that to indicate to the House that the selective quotation of cases rather than the examination of law and the proposals in this Bill is not the proper way of going about a debate on a subject as important as the one that is before us.

Finally, as I know we will have the opportunity of dealing in more detail with these matters on Committee Stage, I would like to ask the House to bear in mind — and I keep returning to this — the two-way nature of the extradition and the backing of warrants procedures. I would invite the House to reflect between now and Committee Stage on what answer each one of us would give if we were asked whether we accepted a procedure whereby in a case where we or our police authorities had adequate grounds of the kind that I referred to earlier on for the belief that there was someone in Northern Ireland or in Britain who had committed an atrocity here whom we wanted sent back here for trial — for example, a case where an automatic firearm or an explosive had been used in the shooting of an innocent bystander waiting for a bus to go home or the shooting dead of a number of people at Sunday Mass — that other jurisdiction would say "no, you cannot have that person for trial because we regard it as a political offence". I would not accept that. I would not be at all happy about it. Nor would I accept that we should give that kind of answer to another jurisdiction and deep down, that would be the opinion of this House. It is for that reason that I hope the House will support this Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

Now that Senators have battled their way through the snow to the House and are gathered in large numbers, and since this is the most controversial item which we are likely to dispose of in the present session, I suggest that Committee Stage be taken tomorrow.

Agreed.

Is it just the Committee Stage? Does the Leader of the House want the Bill out of the House? Are we talking about 6 o'clock tomorrow evening? I do not mind being here but we would like to get back to our constituencies.

I propose that we take Committee Stage and remaining Stages tomorrow.

Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 15 January 1987.

When is it proposed to sit again?

It is proposed to sit again tomorrow but the proposal is that in view of the weather conditions, the House should meet at 11 o'clock. In case we miscalculate the time it takes us to get here we will have that extra half hour.

Agreed.