Extradition (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Committee and Final Stages.

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2.
Government amendment No. 1:
In page 3, paragraph(b), lines 14 and 15, to delete “or omission”.

On Report Stage in the other House, we amended section 2 (b) of the Bill in response to an important point raised by certain Opposition Deputies. This point arose at the last minute and the parliamentary draftsman had only a short time to prepare the amendment. Since Report Stage, we have had an opportunity to consider the matter in greater detail and a slight drafting inconsistency has been discovered.

Section 2 (b) of the Bill inserts a new subsection (3A) in section 3 of the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1987. In this new subsection reference is made to "the act or omission constituting the offence". As offences can, on occasion, be committed by an omission, it is standard drafting practice to include a reference to "or omission". However, section 1 (2) of the 1987 Act already provides "references in this Act to an act include references to an omission and references to the doing of an act include references to the making of an omission". As a result, there is no need for the words "or omission" to be included in subsection (3A). If it is retained, it will result in drafting inconsistencies in the 1987 Act as, for example, the definition of serious offence in section 1 of that Act refers to the act constituting the offence without any reference to the words "or omission". To avoid such drafting inconsistencies, and as the point is already covered by section 1 (2) of the 1987 Act, this amendment proposes to delete the words "or omission" from lines 14 and 15 on page 3 of the Bill.

I fully accept the Minister's explanation for the amendment. I understand this was an amendment put down by the Progressive Democrats in the other House to cover offences which are not offences in this country but which would be offences in the country seeking the extradition.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 3 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
First Schedule agreed to.
Second Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank all the Senators for their co-operation in passing the Bill. Comments on Second Stage showed that each Senator had given careful consideration to the Bill. It is important and significant legislation. It shows the commitment of this Government, and of all previous Governments, to ensure that there is extradition law on the Statute Book, that we are prepared to examine and review it on a continuing basis and, where flaws are shown to exist by the courts, that we are prepared to come into the Houses of the Oireachtas and amend the legislation. I hope the passage of this legislation will go a long way towards ensuring that those accused of terrorist offences, where the evidence stands up, will be shown publicly to be unable to escape the rigours of the law in whichever country those terrorist offences have been committed. I thank all the Members of the House for their co-operation.

I also welcome the passing of the Bill. It is tidying up the situation which developed post-1987 and especially in 1991. I commend the Minister for accepting the Fine Gael Party's amendments in the Dáil. However, even allowing for the improvements submitted to the Minister, there is no guarantee that when the courts consider this legislation they will not find flaws in it. If they do, that is their duty, their right and their role, but we will also fulfil our duty subsequently and ensure that the spirit and the wishes of both Houses regarding the application of extradition is fully accommodated, even if this means further amending legislation.

I compliment the Minister on the passage of the Bill. I am not one of those who worry much about what others think of us, but what we think of ourselves is important. There were many people in this country who were worried about loopholes in the law for crimes which they considered not to be strictly political and where, in consequence, people were not extradited. I congratulate the Minister on that aspect of the Bill and also on the drugs aspect.

I commend the Minister and welcome the passage of the Bill through the House. Senator Neville and Senator Henry remarked on the flaws which became apparent in the 1987 Act. I congratulate the Minister for her willingness to ensure that these flaws were eliminated.

I agree with Senator Henry that it is important that people feel that there is legislation in place to deal with terrorists and that they cannot walk away from serious crimes by claiming them to be political offences.

I join with my colleagues in commending the Minister. The first legislation I debated in this House in 1965 was an extradition Bill. This demonstrates the Governments' interest in this area down the years.

The Bill addresses loopholes in existing legislation, not because it is flawed but because judicial decisions and interpretations will, from time to time, demonstrate that there is scope and opportunity for closing them.

Judicial decisions may in the future come to conclusions which require attention. As legislators we have no function regarding the exercise of that judicial discretion. However, I have no doubt that the Judiciary will consider our law on this issue as being clear and emphatic. In that respect, this final stage in the progress of extradition legislation will demonstrate to all that there is no haven for terrorists in this country.

On behalf of my party I commend the Minister on the passage of the Bill. It is important that terrorism must never be seen to flout the laws of any country. The speedy passage of this legislation through both Houses and the constructive comments in the House today show that we have come a long way on this issue over many years.

I congratulate the Minister. I hope this legislation will help us, in common with all other democracies, especially in Europe, in the fight against terrorism.

Over the years legal brains have created problems for governments, legislators and the police in their fight against terrorism. We must close legislative loopholes but they cannot always be found unless people specifically look for them. We, the Government and the State, have a role to play in the fight against terrorism and today's work is another step in that direction.

Question put and agreed to.