Criminal Justice (No. 3) Bill, 1993: Report and Final Stages.

I must remind the House that a Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, except in the case of the proposer of an amendment who may reply to discussion on the amendment. In addition, each amendment must be seconded on Report Stage.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 10 form a composite proposal and both may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:

"`Combat Drugs Fund' means a fund established under the terms of this Act for the allocation of certain monies raised under the Act to organisations or groups working to combat the medical or social effects of drugs abuse;".

This amendment proposes to establish a Combat Drugs Fund, the objective of which is to allocate moneys to organisations which assist those affected by drugs, those involved in the rehabilitation of drug users and those involved in dealing with the effects on society from the use of illegal drugs. Its objective is also to allocate moneys allowing the victims, and their families, of the users of drugs to be compensated for the effects of the drug users and the outflow of their activities on them.

Many of the drug barons have lavish lifestyles. They also have back up people who suffer much and too often die at a young age as a result of drugs abuse. This follows from the objective of these barons to involve people at a very young age in the use of drugs to finance their lifestyles.

There should be programmes developed to counteract the evil these people have perpetrated, including programmes which advise people on the necessity to avoid involvement in illegal drugs at a very young age and educational programmes to commence at an early age. These programmes should be financed from money obtained from the confiscation of the assets arising from the illegal sale, peddling and importation of drugs.

These moneys should also fund research undertaken by the State, including the establishment of a research department to ascertain why there has been a massive and spiralling increase in the use of drugs in society and what programmes can be developed to counteract this. In this respect there is a need to introduce programmes to counteract this development and it is important for society that this issue be addressed in this way: what will society be like over the next five, ten or 15 years if the present growth in the drug culture develops?

The money could also assist the victims of crimes related to drugs and the families of those affected by drugs. Often the victims, families of victims and so on are in court merely as witnesses. They are not regarded as victims. Some funding should be available to assist those who have been negatively impacted by the drug culture and the use of drugs in society. This money could be used to extend the role of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. This has been discussed over a period of six months. A great deal of concern has been expressed about the limitations of this tribunal. Its role should be extended to compensate for more than loss of property, to which it is mainly confined at the moment.

It is accepted that the Bill, which is welcome and for which we have asked for a long time, will produce large amounts of money from the proceeds of criminal activities, especially drug abuse and trafficking. This money should be used on programmes to counteract the effects of such activities. The Minister said her Department has financial difficulties in relation to this proposal but they should be overcome. The Minister and the Minister for Health should break through the bureaucracy in this area and agree on programmes to be funded by the confiscation of the proceeds from drug trafficking. The argument speaks for itself and I will welcome the Minister's comments.

I second the amendment.

While I agree with the thrust of the proposal of how the money from the proceeds of crime should be spent, I am concerned about how it is administered. Expenses will be incurred if we set up another committee to administer the amount collected from drug barons. I would prefer to see this money distributed to Departments. I welcome the concept that money should be used for preventive programmes, rehabilitation centres and counselling and therapy services. However, the establishment of another committee will require staff to administer it. There should be a streamlining of the bureaucracy involved in the use of this money. It should go to the Exchequer and a certain amount of it should be allocated to the Department of Education for counselling, rehabilitation and education programmes. Some of it should be allocated to the Department of Health for liaison with communities. I do not welcome the idea of a special fund. It would be far better to integrate the money into the expenditure of various Departments.

The thrust of the Bill has a twin approach. It seeks to deal with those who undermine society, such as drug barons, as we euphemistically call them, and money launderers, who live off the misery of others. I have no doubt that when the Bill is fully and vigorously enforced, this will be the central thrust of what the Minister and the Government want to achieve. I have some sympathy with the idea proposed by Senator Neville. Senator Ormonde does not oppose its purpose as distinct from how it will be achieved.

It is clear that there are two different sides to this. Those who abuse and undermine society are not addicts, but drug barons and money launderers. Throughout the world such people are undermining societies and economies. We see the consequences of this almost every day in the heinous crimes being committed and we all wonder what is happening to society. What is happening is that addicts have to feed their addiction and the only way in which they can do that is through the criminal channels which control supply. I would like to see the rehabilitation element being encouraged. I look on addicts as victims but they are also, unfortunately, potential violent instigators of crime.

The more that the State can take a hand in reintegrating addicts and giving them the benefit of whatever therapy is available through withdrawal programmes and so on — I am not an expert in the area — the better the basis of society. I would like to see that twin approach being pursued. It will not be enough to impose what I hope will be very significant penalties on those who have so greatly benefited from this awful trade.

We have a major challenge ahead of us to try to help the many families, particularly in deprived areas of our cities, who have, unfortunately, been caught up in this awful addiction. For that reason, I hope this effective legislation will be married to actions to try to wean these people away from drugs. This will not be achieved in a short time but will involve a continuous and very determined programme to try to limit the impact on both families and society at large.

I have a certain sympathy for what Senator Neville is saying but I see problems, as Senator Ormonde said, with its administration. From what I know of the Government's intention, I imagine it will continue to promote the programme to rehabilitate addicts.

I support this amendment.

I understand the Senator has already seconded the amendment and could have commented at that stage but I will give him the benefit of the doubt. However, for future information, when a Senator seconds an amendment he should speak at that time.

It is the duty of all elected representatives in this and the other House to do all in their power and to offer whatever assistance they see fit to deter this creeping curse which has developed and is on the rampage. Statistics prove beyond all doubt that much of the crime here is drug related.

Houses are broken into and ransacked daily and people's privacy is interfered with. I recently met people whose houses were broken into and their personal belongings thrown around. They did not want to return to or live in those houses again. While that crime is just another statistic in our escalating crime figures, the mental torture and incursion on private individuals in their own homes has added another dimension to the crime which has hit society.

Anything which can add to the resources of the State to combat and bring to justice people who are engaged in drug trafficking is to be welcomed. The onus is on the Minister and the Government to see that the money is spent in a manner which deals with the ongoing curse that has brought so much damage, crime and suffering to people across all strands of society.

I have a certain amount of sympathy with the intent behind this amendment. However, when dealing with a Bill such as this, the issue is not one of partisan politics but which system works most efficiently. This amendment involves the establishment of another committee and approaches the drug problem as if it is a singular issue which stands alone, unaffected by other aspects of society. As we know that is not the case. There is a clear link between social deprivation, unemployment, bad housing, hopelessness, sickness and mental health. In other words, it affects every Department. At present money raised in this fashion presumably goes to the Exchequer and is allocated in accordance with the demand from each Department.

I noted the Minister's response to Opposition questions in the Dáil yesterday. She made the point that any resources required to deal with law breaking, terrorism and so on will be made available to her by the Exchequer. That is the way Government should work. On the basis that drug abuse and associated crime is a multi-faceted problem, it is simply not practical to start a separate account. The same thing could be suggested for joyriding for instance. I would oppose the amendment for those reasons.

At this time it behoves us not to use extravagant language. In these difficult times, the Minister can be assured that she has the support of the Members of both Houses in the tasks and responsibilities she carries out so well and efficiently. I oppose the amendment on the basis that it is not the most efficient way of using the money taken from the people targeted by the Minister.

I appreciate Senator Magner's comments. The last number of weeks have been difficult for the Department of Justice and the Garda. I now understand why no member of any party ever volunteers to be Minister for Justice.

Has the Minister made an admission?

We had a lengthy discussion about these amendments on Committee Stage. When this suggestion was made during Committee Stage in the other House, I was quite attracted by it and like Senator Ormonde, Senator O'Kennedy and Senator Magner believed it had much merit.

I specifically raised with the Minister for Finance the question of applying the proceeds of confiscation orders directly for drug related projects. He informed me that he would be opposed to any such proposal. His view was not that he believed it lacked merit; it was similar to that of the three Government Senators. He said that, as a matter of general policy, he could not support any proposal to create a fund or other mechanism where money which accrues to the State could be expended in a way other than through the Estimates which are approved by Dáil Éireann every year.

He also pointed out that it could create difficulties from the point of view of accountability and that questions would be raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General about a departure from the Estimates' procedure. While I sympathise with the points put forward, the reality is that, in the light of the comments and views expressed by the Minister for Finance, I cannot accept them.

Part of amendment No. 10 raises a separate issue in relation to a court directing that money paid under a confiscation order be paid into court in connection with legal proceedings which a victim may have initiated and the use of such moneys to satisfy such judgment or order as the victim may obtain. That is an issue I dealt with in some detail on Committee Stage. Having considered the matter again, as I promised Senator Neville I would do, I am still firmly of the view that it is already covered in so far as it would be practicable to do so under the existing provisions of the Bill.

Senators will be aware that under the Criminal Justice Act, 1993, a court on conviction of any person of an offence may make an order requiring that person to pay compensation to any person who has suffered such injury or loss as a result of the offence. One of the particular purposes of making such a provision in the 1993 Act was to remove the need for victims to have to take civil proceedings in order to secure compensation from an offender.

Under section 10 (3) (b) of this Bill, it is provided that before a court makes a confiscation order, it has to take into account any order, including a court order, involving any payment by the defendant. This means that in assessing the amount of realisable property of a defendant, a deduction would be made in respect of a compensation order payable to a victim which had been made under the 1993 Act.

In relation to pending civil actions for compensation, section 10 (1) of the Bill provides that when considering whether to make a confiscation order, the court may take into account any information which is placed before it showing that a victim of an offence, to which the proceedings relate, has initiated or intends to institute civil proceedings against the defendant in respect of loss, injury or damages sustained in connection with the offence. That provision will ensure that the interests of parties who initiate civil proceedings against offenders are safeguarded.

In his amendment, Senator Neville proposes that we should allow the proceeds of confiscation orders to be available for the satisfaction of civil judgments obtained at any stage by victims. This would, in effect, mean that the confiscation proceeds could be tied up indefinitely because of the possibility that a claim might be made in relation to a civil action taken against the offender. In my view, this would not be a realistic course to follow and I could not accept it.

Section 10 of the present Bill already provides substantial protection from the effects of a confiscation order for compensation payments which may be due to victims of crime, whether they arise under compensation orders under the 1993 Act or from civil proceedings initiated by the victim. I consider that the provisions made in this Bill and in this particular area of the Bill go as far as is practicable. For all those reasons, I regret I am unable to accept the amendments.

I regret that the Minister is not in a position to accept the amendments. While the Opposition spokespersons agree on the sentiments and approach we wish to take, from previous experience I doubt that the Minister and the Minister for Health will have the success they may wish to achieve in allocating funds to the areas we suggest. It is important to have proper counselling, rehabilitation and education on drugs, drug trafficking and the need to avoid being involved in drugs. There should be drug centres throughout the country but the money is not available to establish those treatment centres. The proper compensation of victims would be a way to deal with this.

Despite the goodwill of the Ministers for Justice and Health, the Department of Finance will allocate the money to where the biggest pressures exist. It is unlikely that the money will find its way back to the places we suggest. The bureaucracy surrounding this area can be overcome. Under this Bill the money will be there to overcome that bureaucracy and to pay for whatever number of people are required to administer such an area.

The last day we debated this Bill I gave the example of the roads. One of the greatest contributors to the Exchequer, after VAT and income tax, is road tax, vehicle registration and petrol tax, yet that money is not finding its way back to the people who pay it, the motorists. This is not the place to debate this issue as we have debated it already. However, I just wanted to make a comparison between money paid by motorists and the condition of roads. One would expect that adequate moneys, paid by the motorist in taxation, would find its way back to ensure that we have proper county roads.

The same thing is going to happen in this case. The goodwill is there that money confiscated from the proceeds of drug trafficking should make its way back into counselling, rehabilitating and assisting victims and their families. However, that is not going to happen unless we, the legislators, enshrine it in legislation. This is why we moved the amendment. It is not that the Minister does not wish to do this, but when the proposal goes back to Finance the pressures will come on and the area we are discussing will be way down the line. When the time comes the money will go into the Exchequer for general distribution.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 11; Níl, 20.

  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Henry, Mary.
  • Naughten, Liam.
  • Neville, Daniel.
  • Norris, David.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Ross, Shane P.N.

Níl

  • Bohan, Eddie.
  • Byrne, Seán.
  • Cashin, Bill.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Farrell, Willie.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Tom.
  • Kelly, Mary.
  • Lydon, Don.
  • Magner, Pat.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • O'Brien, Francis.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Townsend, Jim.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Wright, G.V.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Belton and Cosgrave; Níl, Senators Magner and Mullooly.
Amendment declared lost.

Government amendment No. 2 is consequential on amendments Nos. 3 and 4. Senator Neville's amendment to amendments Nos. 3 and 4 are related. Amendment No. 9 is related to amendment No. 2 and amendment No. 6 is related to amendments Nos. 3 and 4. Amendments Nos. 7 and 11 are consequential on amendments Nos. 3 and 4 and amendment No. 12 is consequential on amendment No. 2. Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12 and the amendments to amendments Nos. 3 and 4 may be discussed together.

Government amendment No. 2:
In page 11, to delete lines 17 and 18, and substitute the following:
"(f) proceedings for an offence are concluded —
(i) when the defendant is acquitted on all counts;
(ii) if he is convicted on one or more counts, but no application for a confiscation order is made against him or the court decides not to make a confiscation order in his case; or.
(iii) if a confiscation order is made against him in connection with those proceedings, when the order is satisfied,
(g) an application under section 7 or 11 of this Act is concluded —
(i) if the court decides not to make a confiscation order against the defendant, when it makes that decision; or
(ii) if a confiscation order is made against the defendant as a result of that application, when the order is satisfied,
(h) an application under section 8 or 14 of this Act is concluded —
(i) if the court decides not to vary the confiscation order in question, when it makes that decision; or
(ii) if the court varies the confiscation order as a result of the application, when the order is satisfied,
(i) a confiscation order is satisfied when no amount is due under it,".

The purpose of these amendments is to supplement and strengthen the confiscation provisions of the Bill in so far as they apply to drug trafficking. The main amendments are amendments Nos. 3 and 4 and the other amendments deal with various matters which follow on from those. Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 comprise two new sections which will be included in the Bill in relation to the making of confiscation orders against persons convicted of drug trafficking.

The first of these proposed sections, section 7, provides a procedure whereby the DPP can request a court, which has previously determined that a person who was convicted of drug trafficking but who has not benefited from trafficking, to reassess that determination where the DPP provides new evidence which was not considered by the court when it made its original determination. If the court is satisfied on the basis of the new evidence submitted by the DPP that the defendant did benefit from drug trafficking, it will be required to assess that benefit and to make a confiscation order for the appropriate amount. It should be noted that payments received by the defendant after the date on which the court originally concluded that he or she had received no drugs benefit can be taken into account by the court under the section, but the DPP will not be entitled to rely on the assumptions provided for in section 5 in relation to such payments.

The second of the new sections is provided for in amendment No. 4. It enables the DPP to apply to a court, which has made a confiscation order against a person convicted of drug trafficking on the basis that that person received a certain amount of benefit from trafficking, to revise the confiscation order by reference to additional information provided by the DPP, which satisfies the court that the person's benefit from drug trafficking was under-estimated when the confiscation order was made. As in the case of proposed section 7, the court will be entitled to have regard to payments received by the defendant since the earlier determination of his or her proceeds was made, but the section 5 assumptions will not apply in that regard.

As already mentioned, official amendments Nos. 2, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12 are consequential on amendments Nos. 3 and 4. They are concerned with changes which are required in the light of the insertion of proposed new sections 7 and 8 in the Bill. Senator Neville has proposed amendments to official amendments Nos. 3 and 4 to extend from six to ten years a period within which it would be open to the DPP to ask a court under proposed section 7 to reassess an earlier decision not to make a confiscation order or to increase the amount of an existing confiscation order under proposed section 8. I appreciate the thinking behind these amendments and I share Senator Neville's concern that persons who engage in drug trafficking should be deprived of the profits of their deadly business. If I had my way, there would be no time limit on the operation of proposed new sections 7 and 8. However, I have been advised that it is necessary to do this in the context of any constitutional challenge which might be made against the provisions of the Bill.

The net question which must be determined is what limitation period should be provided in relation to proposed new sections 7 and 8. In that regard, I should mention that the period of six years, which I have proposed, was decided on after extensive consultation and with particular reference to the possibility that the constitutionality of those provisions might be an issue after the Bill for example, in relation to the period for which it will be presumed that all income was the proceeds of drug trafficking.

I have consulted the Attorney General on the amendments put forward by Senator Neville. He has informed me that in terms of protecting proposed sections 7 and 8 from being held to be repugnant to the Constitution, it would be prudent not to go beyond six years in allowing the DPP to make an application under those provisions. In the light of the advice I received from the Attorney General in this matter, I regret I cannot accept the amendments proposed by Senator Neville.

I welcome the Minister's amendments because they will strengthen the confiscation provisions of the Bill in relation to drug trafficking. The related amendments facilitate the DPP to reopen a case where further evidence suggests that proceeds were not identified by previous calculations of the amount accrued or where moneys came into the ownership of the convicted person after the determination of the amount which should have been confiscated. Everything possible must be done to stop the drug barons benefiting from their illegal gains. Such people are experienced in concealing moneys obtained through illegal trafficking and money laundering. It is important that the court has powers to reassess the benefits of drug dealing when new evidence is produced. I welcome the Bill. I tabled these amendments to further strengthen the Bill by giving more time to the authorities, the Department and the DPP to deprive drug traffickers of the money from their illegal dealings.

I was interested in the Minister's comments about six or ten years. As the Minister said, and I agree with her, everyone would like the State to have the power to confiscate moneys which come into the possession of drug traffickers. Not only would this deprive them of their ill-gotten gains, but it would also be a deterrent to drug trafficking. The more effectively this is applied, the less attractive it will be for people to become involved in this area.

The period should be extended to ten years. I will not discuss the difficulties which the DPP has experienced in relation to the Constitution and the constitutionality of other Bills. Ten years is an appropriate time and it strengthens the Bill. It would not be unconstitutional to go beyond six years. We could choose any number of years, but I believe ten years is reasonable to prevent people from benefiting from their illegal gains. One is likely to obtain more information and a higher level of assets will be confiscated in the early, rather than the later, years after a conviction. Drug traffickers can hide or launder money and if they are sentenced to ten or 15 years, they may wait until the end of their sentencing period to repossess their money. We should have a maximum amount of time to confiscate these gains and ten years is a reasonable period. Originally, no time was allowed, but we would now like an indefinite time limit.

I compliment the Minister. I listened to her report and I am satisfied she has studied this matter in great depth and that she is aware of the loopholes. She has consulted with the Attorney General about the six year period and she knows it is an acceptable time limit. I accept that she knows what is involved. I am also happy there is a reassessment procedure in relation to payments. I accept the Government amendment and the six year time span.

The Minister's proposal is new in criminal law. If such a proposal was made in respect of any other type of offence — I doubt the Minister would make such a proposal — we would be concerned that it could breach the bounds of liberty in that there must finality to prosecution, which is normally determined by conviction. Once conviction is registered, it is the end of the process. Given the Minister's approach here, I understand that remains her position. I support — as I am sure all sides of the House do — this exceptional position, which is, one might say, a breach with established procedures in criminal law.

If after a conviction, evidence becomes available to the DPP through the Garda Síochána or otherwise and it emerges that the level of criminal benefit to the drug trafficker, drug baron or money launderer is more than was presented to the court at the time of the original order, then it is right that the court, on application, should be able to make a fresh determination as to whether the defendant benefited from drug trafficking — that is important because it may have concluded originally that he or she did not — and under section 4 to determine the amount to be recovered from him or her in the light of the new evidence.

Because this is targeted to deal with this virulent form of contagion in our society, namely, drug trafficking or elicit trading in drugs, I enthusiastically support this proposal. Having said that, I know I will not be called on to support such proposals where one determines that a conviction or otherwise is not the end of the story because that is the case in normal law. The Minister was right to point this out in regard to Senator Neville's proposal which stated that there should be a ten year period within which to review by way of an additional confiscation order or otherwise.

Given Senator Neville's reaction, he accepts there is a risk - even in offences of this kind — that those involved in this illicit trafficking could say, there must be some degree of finality. I am not aware of a situation where ten years is included as a reasonable limit for any type criminal proceedings. The Minister rightly pointed out that, on the advice of the Attorney General, ten years would stretch it too far. It would not be the job of the court to say the Minister should have said three or six years if it was struck down. If this happened, it would all be struck down and we would have no provision to deal with offences of this kind. I support the Minister's reasons for not accepting Senator Neville's otherwise worthy idea.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 3:
In page 13, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:
"7. —(1) This section applies where an application has previously been made to a court under section 4 of this Act and the court has determined that the defendant has not benefited from drug trafficking.
(2) If the Director of Public Prosecutions has evidence —
(a) which was not considered by the court in making the determination referred to in subsection (1) of this section, but
(b) which the Director of Public Prosecutions believes would have led the court to determine that the defendant had benefited from drug trafficking if it had been considered by the court, he may make, or cause to be made, an application to the court for it to consider that evidence.
(3) If, having considered the evidence, the court is satisfied that it would have determined that the defendant had benefited from drug trafficking if that evidence had been available to it, the court —
(a) shall —
(i) make a fresh determination of whether the defendant benefited from drug trafficking; and (ii) make a determination under section 4 (4) of this Act of the amount to be recovered by virtue of that section; and
(b) may make a confiscation order under section 4 (4) of this Act.
(4) In considering an application under this section the court may take into account any payment or other reward received by the defendant on or after the determination referred to in subsection (1) of this section, but only if the Director of Public Prosecutions shows that it was received by the defendant in connection with drug trafficking carried on by the defendant or another on or before that date.
(5) In considering any evidence under this section which relates to any payments or reward to which subsection (4) of this section applies, the court shall not make the assumptions which would otherwise be required by section 5 of this Act.
(6) No application shall be entertained by the court under this section if it is made after the end of the period of six years beginning with the date on which the defendant was convicted.".

I move amendment to amendment No. 3:

In the second line of subsection (6), to delete "six" and substitute "ten".

Amendment to amendment No. 3 put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 3 agreed to.
Government amendment No. 4:
In page 13, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:
"8. — (1) This section applies where a court has made a determination under section 4 (4) of this Act of the amount to be recovered in a particular case by virtue of that section referred to in this section as `the current determination'.
(2) Where the Director of Public Prosecutions is of the opinion that the real value of the defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking was greater than their assessed value, the Director of Public Prosecutions may make, or cause to be made, an application to the court for the evidence on which he has formed his opinion to be considered by the court.
(3) In subsection (2) of this section —
`assessed value' means the value of the defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking as assessed by the court under section 6 (1) of this Act; and
`real value' means the value of the defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking which took place —
(a) in the period by reference to which the current determination was made;
or
(b) in any earlier period.
(4) If, having considered the evidence, the court is satisfied that the real value of the defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking is greater than their assessed value (whether because the real value was higher at the time of the current determination than was thought or because the value of the proceeds in question has subsequently increased), the court shall make a fresh determination under section 4 (4) of this Act of the amount to be recovered by virtue of that section.
(5) Any determination under section 4 (4) of this Act by virtue of this section shall be by reference to the amount that might be realised at the time when the determination is made.
(6) For any determination under section 4 (4) of this Act by virtue of this section, section 5 (5) of this Act shall not apply in relation to any of the defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking taken into account in respect of the current determination.
(7) In relation to any such determination —
(a) section 3 (2) of this Act shall have effect as if for `a confiscation order is made against the defendant' there were substituted `of the determination';
(b) sections 3 (8), 8 (4) (a) and 10 (4) of this Act shall have effect as if for `confiscation order' there were substituted `determination'; and
(c) section 6 (2) of this Act shall have effect as if for `confiscation order is made' there were substituted `determination is made'.
(8) The court may take into account any payment or other reward received by the defendant on or after the date of the current determination, but only if the Director of Public Prosecutions shows that it was received by the defendant in connection with drug trafficking carried on by the defendant or another on or before that date.
(9) In considering any evidence under this section which relates to any payment or reward to which subsection (8) of this section applies, the court shall not make the assumptions which would otherwise be required by section 5 of this Act.
(10) If, as a result of making the fresh determination required by subsection (4) of this section, the amount to be recovered exceeds the amount set by the current determination, the court may substitute for the amount to be recovered under the confiscation order which was made by reference to the current determination such greater amount as it thinks just in all circumstances of the case.
(11) No application shall be entertained by the court under this section if it is made after the end of the period of six years beginning with the date on which the defendant was convicted.".

I move amendment to amendment No. 4:

In the second line of subsection (11), to delete "six" and substitute "ten".

Amendment to amendment No. 4 put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 4 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 13, line 19, to delete "on indictment".

I propose to delete the words "on indictment" from section 7 which deals with confiscation orders. I propose that summary offences be also dealt on the basis of the section. In circumstances where cases are brought before the District Court the same provisions should apply. I do not see any justification for restricting this section to persons convicted on indictment only. I made this clear on Committee Stage and this argument still holds. There is a range of drug pushers involved in drug trafficking, from the multi-millionaires to those who might be described as drug pushers the people who push drugs on the streets. The full range of sanctions should be available to all courts, regardless of the level at which the drug pusher operates. The assets of those who gain at a low level in comparison to drug barons should also be confiscated.

As nobody has seconded the amendment, it falls.

Government amendment No. 6:
In page 14, lines 9 and 10, to delete "section 4 or section 7" and substitute "section 4, 7, 8, or 9,".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 7:
In page 15, line 30, to delete "section 4 or section 7" and substitute "section 4, 7, 8 or 9,".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 8:
In page 17, between lines 36 and 37, to insert the following:
". —(1) This section applies where —
(a) the High Court has made a confiscation order by virtue of section 11 (4) of this Act, and
(b) the defendant has ceased to be an absconder.
(2) If, on an application by the defendant or the Director of Public Prosecutions in respect of the confiscation order, the High Court is satisfied that —
(a) the value of the defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking or his benefit as mentioned in section 7 (4) of this Act in the period by reference to which the determination in question was made (`the original value'), or
(b) the amount that might have been realised at the time the confiscation order was made,
was less than the amount ordered to be paid under the confiscation order, the court —
(i) may make a fresh determination of the value of the defendant's proceeds or benefit under section 4 of this Act in the case of drug trafficking and under section 7 of this Act in the case of an offence other than a drug trafficking offence, and
(ii) may, if it considers it just in all the circumstances, vary the amount to be recovered under the confiscation order.
(3) For any determination under section 4 of this Act by virtue of this section, section 5 (5) shall not apply in relation to any of the defendant's proceeds of drug trafficking taken into account in determining the original value.
(4) Where the court varies a confiscation order under this section it may, on an application by a person who held property which was realisable property, order compensation to be paid to the applicant if —
(a) it is satisfied that the applicant has suffered loss as a result of the making of the confiscation order; and
(b) having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the court considers it to be appropriate.
(5) The amount of compensation to be paid under this section shall be such as the court considers just in all the circumstances of the case.
(6) No application shall be entertained by the court under this section if it is made after the end of the period of six years beginning with the date on which the confiscation order was made.".

The purpose of this amendment is to enable the defendant or the DPP to apply to the High Court to vary a confiscation order made against an absconder by virtue of section 11 (4) where the absconder has returned and the court is satisfied that the amount of his or her benefit was overestimated when the confiscation order was made or that his or her assets are not sufficient to satisfy the order. A similar provision for the variation of confiscation orders is already included in the Bill in section 13 in relation to confiscation orders where an absconder is not involved.

In the other House, amendments were made to the Bill to tighten up on the position in relation to those who abscond and in the context of reviewing the overall effect of these changes, I believe a separate provision along these lines in relation to the cases of those who abscond is warranted. In this context, provision is also being made for the payment of compensation where the High Court varies a confiscation order made by virtue of section 11 (4). Compensation will be payable to a person who suffered loss as a result of the making of the order.

The amendment in the name of Senator Neville proposes to amend my amendment to provide that the period within which it would be open to the defendant or the DPP to seek a variation in the amount of a confiscation order made by virtue of section 11 (4) should be increased from six to ten years from the date of the making of the confiscation order. I considered this additional amendment and I cannot accept it.

The main difficulty I have with that amendment relates to the fact that what is at issue here is the reduction in the amount an absconder could be required to pay in respect of a confiscation order. In that context, it must be borne in mind that the effect of my amendment would be to enable the High Court to reduce, but not to increase, the financial liability of a person who has attempted to frustrate the interest of justice by absconding before their trial is completed. The question of increasing the amount of a confiscation order is a completely separate issue which is dealt with under other provisions of the Bill and in other amendments I have proposed to it.

For my part, I believe that a period of six years is sufficient to allow a defendant against whom a confiscation order has been made under section 11 (4) to return to this country and to apply in an appropriate case for a variation downwards of the confiscation order. In the circumstances I regret that I cannot accept the proposed amendment to my amendment.

Acting Chairman

Senator Neville, you may move the amendment to amendment No. 8, but I remind you that your amendment to amendment No. 8 will fall if you do not have a seconder.

I was introducing the amendment to amendment No. 8 on the basis of consistency. If we were to increase the length of a confiscation order, it would be consistent that a confiscation order could also be reduced on the basis of the previous amendments. As the previous amendments fell, it would not be consistent to specify a period of ten years in one area and six in another. I agree with the Minister in this regard; to be fair there should be a period of time after which a confiscation order could be reviewed downwards. I was increasing the amount of time to complement the other amendments I proposed. This was not my highest priority; the Minister will appreciate that the other two amendments would be much higher on my list of priorities. I welcome the Minister's amendments on the basis that they strengthen the Bill with regard to those who abscond, to ensure that the spirit and detail of the Bill apply consistently in this area.

I welcome these amendments on the basis of what the Minister has outlined to us. I have only one query and the answer may be in the Bill, although I have not been able to identify it. What precisely is the definition of an "absconder" in the circumstances? The term is not in the definition section; perhaps the terms "absconder" and "to abscond" are known to the law. I am anxious to ensure that there is no doubt whatsoever in the purpose and effect of the legislation. The new section — and that is effectively what it is — applies where the High Court has made a confiscation order and the defendant has ceased to be an absconder. I want to be sure that its meaning and purpose will be absolutely clear.

I understand that the word "absconder" has not been defined in the Bill. It is referred to in section 11 (4) where it says "the High Court may exercise the powers of a court under this Act to make a confiscation order against the defendant if satisfied that the defendant has absconded".

I also understand from my advisers that "absconder" is a word that would be known to the courts under other legal proceedings that are already part of our legislation. As to an exact legal definition of "absconder", we do not have one.

Acting Chairman

The amendment to amendment No. 8 has fallen as it was not seconded.

It was not moved.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 9:
In page 19, to delete lines 4 and 5, and substitute the following:
(c) the confiscation order has not been satisfied,".
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.
Government amendment No. 11:
In page 20, to delete lines 7 to 51 and substitute the following:
"19. —(1) The powers conferred on the High Court by section 20 of this Act shall be exercisable where —
(a) (i) proceedings have been instituted in the State against the defendant for an offence which is a drug trafficking offence or an indictable offence other than a drug trafficking offence or an application has been made in respect of the defendant under section 7, 8, 11 or 14 of this Act,
(ii) the proceedings or the application have not or has not been concluded, and
(iii) either a confiscation order has been made or it appears to the court that there are reasonable grounds for thinking that a confiscation order may be made in the proceedings or that in the case of an application under section 7, 8, 11 or 14 of this Act the court will be satisfied, as the case may be, as mentioned in section 7 (3), 8 (4), 11 (2), 11 (4) or 14 (2) of this Act,
or
(b) (i) the court is satisfied that proceedings are to be instituted against a person in respect of an offence which is a drug trafficking offence or an offence in respect of which a confiscation order might be made under section 9 of this Act or that an application of a kind mentioned in subsection 1 (a) (i) of this section is to be made in respect of a person, and
(ii) it appears to the court that a confiscation order may be made in connection with the offence or that a court will be satisfied as mentioned in subsection 1 (a) (iii) of this section.
(2) For the purposes of section 20 of this Act, at any time when those powers are exercisable before proceedings have been instituted —
(a) references in this Act to the defendant shall be construed as references to the person referred to in subsection (1) (b) (i) of this section, and
(b) references in this Act to realisable property shall be construed as if, immediately before that time, proceedings had been instituted against the person referred to in subsection (1) (b) (i) of this section for an offence which is a drug trafficking offence or an offence in respect of which a confiscation order might be made under section 9 of this Act.
(3) Where the court has made an order under section 20 of this Act by virtue of subsection (1) (b) of this section, the court shall discharge the order if proceedings in respect of the offence are not instituted or the relevant application is not made within such time as the court considers reasonable.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 12:
In page 23, lines 35 and 36, to delete "section 11 or 14 of this Act and has not been concluded, or" and substitute "the defendant under section 7, 8, 11 or 14 of this Act and has not been concluded, or".
Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Government amendment No. 13. Amendments Nos. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 form a composite proposal and all may be discussed together.

Government amendment No. 13:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
"PART VI
Drug Trafficking Money Imported or Exported in Cash
34. —(1) A member of the Garda Síochána or an officer of customs and excise may seize and, in accordance with this section, detain any cash which is being imported into or exported from the State if its amount is not less than the prescribed sum and he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that it directly or indirectly represents any person's proceeds of, or is intended by any person for use in, drug trafficking.
(2) Cash seized by virtue of this section shall not be detained for more than forty-eight hours unless its detention beyond forty-eight hours is authorised by an order made by a judge of the District Court and no such order shall be made unless the judge is satisfied —
(a) that there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion mentioned in subsection (1) of this section, and
(b) that detention of the cash beyond forty-eight hours is justified while its origin or derivation is further investigated or consideration is given to the institution (whether in the State or elsewhere) of criminal proceedings against any person for an offence with which the cash is connected.
(3) Any order under subsection (2) of this section shall authorise the continued detention of the cash to which it relates for such period, not exceeding three months beginning with the date of the order, as may be specified in the order, and a judge of the District Court, if satisfied as to the matters mentioned in that subsection, may thereafter from time to time by order authorise the further detention of the cash but so that —
(a) no period of detention specified in such an order, shall exceed three months beginning with the date of the order; and
(b) the total period of detention shall not exceed two years from the date of the order under subsection (2) of this section.
(4) Any application for an order under subsection (2) or (3) of this section may be made by a member of the Garda Síochána or an officer of customs and excise.
(5) At any time while cash is detained by virtue of the foregoing provisions of this section a judge of the District Court may direct its release if satisfied —
(a) on an application made by the person from whom it was seized or a person by or on whose behalf it was being imported or exported, that there are no, or are no longer, any such grounds for its detention as are mentioned in subsection (2) of this section, or
(b) on an application made by any other person, that detention of the cash is not for that or any other reason justified.
(6) If at a time when any cash is being detained by virtue of the foregoing provisions of this section —
(a) an application for its forfeiture is made under section 35 of this Act; or
(b) proceedings are instituted (whether in the State or elsewhere) against any person for an offence with which the cash is connected, the cash shall not be released until any proceedings pursuant to the application or, as the case may be, the proceedings for that offence have been concluded.".

The main purpose of these amendments is to make provision for the seizure of cash related to drug trafficking which is being imported into or exported from the State. As Senators will be aware, large amounts of cash are generated by drug trafficking and supplies of illegal drugs are frequently purchased in cash. As a result, consignments of money which are derived from or intended for use in trafficking are moved across international borders and with the removal of exchange controls in this country, our authorities are not in a position to seize those consignments where they are detected. I believe that this is a situation that needs to be addressed, and that is what is proposed in the amendments.

The amendments comprise eight sections, proposed new sections 34 to 41 which will form a new Part VI of the Bill. Proposed new section 34 provides for the detention and seizure by a garda or customs officer of cash which is being imported into or exported from the State provided the amount is not less than a certain amount to be prescribed under proposed section 40, and the garda or customs officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is derived from or intended for use in drug trafficking.

An order from the District Court will be required to enable the cash to be detained beyond 48 hours. An order for continued detention of the cash may be made by that court for a period of up to three months and further such orders may be made for a total period of two years. A person from whom the cash was seized will be entitled to apply for its release to a District Judge. The cash will not be released if its forfeiture is being sought under section 35 or proceedings are being taken against a person for an offence connected with the cash.

Proposed new section 35 allows a Circuit Court Judge to order the forfeiture of cash held under section 34 if satisfied on an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions while the cash is still detained that it represents drug trafficking proceeds or was intended for use in trafficking. The civil standard of proof will apply in respect of an application under this section.

Proposed section 36 provides for appeals to the High Court against forfeiture orders made under section 35. The civil standard of proof will also apply in respect of these appeals. Proposed section 37 requires cash detained for more than 48 hours to be placed in an interest bearing account, and the interest will be added to the cash upon its forfeiture or release.

Proposed section 38 provides for the giving of notice of orders made by a District Judge authorising the continuing detention of cash under section 34 (2) and for procedural matters. Proposed section 39 contains definitions for the purposes of the new Part VI. Proposed section 40 sets out a procedure for prescribing the amount of cash in relation to which the power of seizure under section 34 will apply. Proposed section 41 provides in standard form for the disposal of money for forfeited under section 35.

As I have indicated, there is a need to ensure that appropriate action can be taken to deal with the importation or exportation of cash which is connected with drug trafficking. I believe that the measures which are provided for in these amendments can play a very important part in enabling the garda and the customs officer to deal with this problem.

I welcome this aspect of the Bill. The whole area of money laundering has been discussed at length here over the years, as have the difficulties that arise as a result of the opening of the borders in Europe and the likelihood that drug trafficking would become more prevalent throughout the European Union. We expressed our concern here prior to the opening of the borders that Ireland might become the drug trafficking centre. Having seen what happened off the coast of Cork, one would begin to worry about that situation developing.

The drug traffickers target the countries with the most liberal laws on money laundering, drug trafficking and the transportation of money. Anything we can do to close those loopholes and make it more difficult for the drug trafficker to move cash and drugs will make Ireland less attractive to the drug traffickers as a base for their work throughout Europe and beyond.

I note that the money, if confiscated, will be disposed of to the Minister for Finance. We discussed that point earlier and I will not go into it again except to say that the Minister for Finance is doing quite well out of this Bill. We had hoped the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health would do better. Anything that closes the door on drug traffickers using this country as a base is to be welcomed. Since these provisions will do that and will make it less attractive to use this country as a medium to purchase drugs or to launder money, they are to be welcomed.

Acting Chairman

I remind the House that amendments Nos. 13 to 20 may be discussed.

I am conscious of that, Sir and I wish to address that point. On Committee Stage we dealt with powers of this nature and I expressed support for new concepts, such as a civil standard of proof for the first time in criminal prosecutions because of the particularly unacceptable nature of drug trafficking and money laundering. I have no reservation in reiterating my support for such provisions and, based on what the Minister has said, I have no reservation in supporting the general purpose of what is intended in this legislation.

However, I have to express reservations with the manner — not on the part of the Minister — in which these amendments are being proposed to the House. We are entitled to better from the parliamentary draftsman, or whoever advises on amendments, than this corpus of amendments. There are seven sections here which introduce significant and appropriate amendments to our law but we are expected to adopt these seven sections holus-bolus in one corpus on Report Stage.

We are all conscious that we have a role as legislators. However, when we are discussing a major group of amendments I would like to be assured by the Minister that they do not fundamentally change the legislation. It is important that nothing we adopt on Report Stage will radically change what has already been adopted on Second and Committee Stages.

During my period as Minister I had experience of occasions when civil servants would propose this or that quick change. We all have our separate functions; Government has its function but we, as legislators, have another. One of our obligations is to consider in detail the elements of any legislative proposals and, particularly, any amendments. We have here a major bloc of amendments. I have no problem in principle with the forfeiture under the Circuit Court, the civil standard of proof or the provisions in relation to interest payments on illicit trafficking of drugs nor do I have a problem with regard to the control on the importation or exportation of money which is being laundered for illicit drug trafficking. However, I am anxious to know—I hope the Minister will be able to inform me — where these amendments fit into what we have agreed on other Stages. I admit that I did not have the opportunity of taking it all on board. Where do all the provisions on international co-operation, etc. fit in? Will what we are discussing now change in one fell swoop what we agreed on Committee Stage, albeit with our then current state of knowledge which may have been incomplete or imperfect? I know that from time to time amendments have to be introduced for urgent reasons, but I would caution the parliamentary draftsman that this should be done on a limited basis. Otherwise our function is not being properly recognised.

Acting Chairman

I would point out to the House that the grouping of amendments is the decision of the Chair. Amendments Nos. 13 to 20 form a composite proposal and may — I repeat may — be discussed together. If the House decides to discuss them individually that is not a problem. It is the Chair's decision to bring all the amendments together because they formed a composite proposal. I originally said "... from a composite proposal and all may be discussed together". If the House decides to discuss them individually that is no problem.

I take the point. We would be brave to reject the Chair's suggestion.

As Senators will recall, these amendments were proposed on Committee Stage in the Seanad. As they were introduced at a late stage on Committee Stage, I was anxious to give an opportunity to Senators, particularly to Senator Neville and to the other Opposition spokespersons, to have their advisers look at them and make sure they were happy with the proposed amendments.

They come about directly as a result of a visit I made early last year to the southwest coast in relation to complaints that were made publicly by a number of individuals of high standing in the area which related specifically to a lack of co-operation and a lack of strong laws to deal with what was perceived as drug trafficking in our waters.

As a result I asked an assistant secretary in my Department to carry out a report on the approach we take to drug abuse and the way in which we enforce the laws in relation to drug trafficking. That report — known as the O'Donnell report — only came to my attention just before the final stages of Committee Stage. Some of the recommendations in it included what is now amendments Nos. 13 to 20. It is from there that they arose.

Rather than wait for the report to be published and for me to go to Government with a report on the report and recommendations, I am taking the opportunity presented in this legislation to incorporate several of the recommendations in that report. Otherwise recommendations would have to be made to Government and would have to be agreed, and we would have to come back to the Houses of the Oireachtas again— and several months might have elapsed at that stage — to incorporate these provisions into separate legislation.

They do not interfere with the provisions of the Bill as we have discussed them. They are an addition and a strengthening, as Senator Neville said, of the Bill's existing provisions. The Garda seizes the money and the courts decide what to do with it.

Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 14:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
"35. —(1) A judge of the Circuit Court may order the forfeiture of any cash which has been seized under section 34 of this Act if satisfied, on an application made while the cash is detained under that section, that the cash directly or indirectly represents any person's proceeds of, or is intended by any person for use in, drug trafficking.
(2) Any application under this section shall be made, or caused to be made, by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
(3) The standard of proof in proceedings on an application under this section shall be that applicable to civil proceedings; and an order may be made under this section whether or not proceedings are brought against any person for an offence with which the cash in question is connected."
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 15:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
"36. —(1) This section applies where an order for the forfeiture of cash (in this section known as `the section 35 order') is made under section 35 of this Act.
(2) Any party to the proceedings in which the section 35 order is made (other than the Director of Public Prosecutions) may, before the end of the period of 30 days beginning with the date on which it is made, appeal in respect of the order to the High Court.
(3) An appeal under this section shall be by way of a rehearing.
(4) On an application made by the appellant to a judge of the Circuit Court at any time, the judge may order the release of so much of the cash to which the section 35 order relates as he considers appropriate to enable the appellant to meet his legal expenses in connection with the appeal.
(5) When hearing an appeal under this section the High Court may make such order as it considers appropriate.
(6) If it upholds the appeal, the judge may order the release of the cash, or (as the case may be) the remaining cash, together with any accrued interest.
(7) Section 35 (3) of this Act shall apply in relation to a rehearing on an appeal under this section as it applies to proceedings under section 35 of this Act.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 16:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
"37. —Cash seized under this Part of this Act and detained for more than forty-eight hours shall, unless required as evidence of an offence, be held in an interest-bearing account and the interest accruing on any such cash shall be added to that cash on its forfeiture or release."
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 17:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
"38. —(1) An order under section 34 (2) of this Act shall provide for notice to be given to persons affected by the order.
(2) Provision may be made by rules of court with respect to applications or appeals to any court under this Part of this Act, for the giving of notice of such applications or appeals to persons affected, for the joinder of such persons as parties and generally with respect to the procedure under this Part of this Act before any court.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 18:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
"39. —(1) In this Part of this Act —
`cash' includes coins and notes in any currency;
`exported' in relation to any cash, includes its being brought to any place in the State for the purpose of being exported.
(2) In section 34 of this Act `the prescribed sum' means such sum as may for the time being be prescribed for the purposes of that section by any regulations made under section 40 of this Act.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 19:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
40. —(1) The Minister may by regulations prescribe a sum for the purposes of section 34* of this Act and in determining under that section whether an amount of foreign currency is not less than the prescribed sum that amount shall be converted at the prevailing rate of exchange.
(2) Where it is proposed to make regulations under subsection (1) of this section, a draft of the regulations shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the regulations shall not be made until a resolution approving of such draft has been passed by each such House.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 20:
In page 31, between lines 31 and 32 to insert the following:
"41. —Any money representing cash which is forfeited under this Part of this Act or accrued interest thereon shall, following the payment of any expenses or remuneration that may have arisen in relation to such forfeiture, be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in accordance with the directions of the Minister for Finance.".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 21:
In page 44, line 14, to delete "of the first mentioned offence".

This is a technical drafting amendment to section 46 of the Bill. The draftsman has indicated that the words "of the first mentioned offence" which appear at the end of the section should be deleted and that is what is proposed in this amendment. It does not have any substantive effect and is solely concerned with drafting.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghlacadh leis na Seanadóirí ar gach aon taobh den Teach as ucht an chomhoibrithe a fuair mé leis an mBille seo mar is Bille teicniúil é, Bille é a bhí deacair déileáil leis, agus tá mé fíor-bhuíoch as ucht an méid ama a thug na Seanadóirí don díospóireacht a bhí againn an seo le roinnt seachtainí anuas.

I thank Senator Neville, who has been present at all Stages of the debate, and the Opposition spokespersons who were present on Committee Stage. I also thank Senator Ormonde, Senator O'Kennedy and Senator Magner for their support and co-operation. This legislation is complex and technical and all sides of the House wanted to support the toughest possible measures to deal with what all agree is the top priority in my Department. I will be happy to get the Dáil to accept these amendments, which have been proposed and accepted in this House.

I welcome the passing of this Bill through the House. It is important legislation which covers areas that have been discussed over many years— since 1989 at least — in this House, by way of Private Members' motions, during the course of other legislation going through the House or at various other times. Hopefully, the Bill will become law as soon as the amendments pass through the other House.

I appreciate Senator O'Kennedy's point regarding the delay in issuing the amendments. Difficulties did arise with them. We did not have an opportunity to look at them on the last day. I thank the Minister for giving us the opportunity to do so. We consulted with our opposite numbers in the other House. We looked at these amendments and felt they covered areas raised and discussed in the other House. We cannot deal with amendments if we get them only five to ten minutes before we discuss them. The Minister understood our predicament and I thank her for her co-operation.

I welcome the legislation and hope it will have the desired effect.

I also welcome the passing of this legislation. I too congratulate the Minister. It is tough legislation which we had to analyse in great detail. The public will respond positively to it. The Minister took note of the points made on each Stage and was concerned that all sides would be satisfied when this legislation came through the House. I again congratulate her on her good work.

I was highly critical of the fact that we did not receive the amendments referred to by Senator Neville in time for the Committee Stage debate. The Minister positively responded to this by delaying any consideration at that Stage. It was much appreciated and is worthy of the Minister and is what we have come to expect from her. I congratulate her on this Bill.

Ba mhaith liom cuidiú le mo chomh Sheanadóirí sa chomhghairdeas don Aire as ucht an Bille an-phráinneach seo a chur tríd an Dáil agus an Seanad. Tá súil agam go mbeidh toradh a shaothair ag an Aire agus againn go léir i leith na gcoireanna uafásacha seo atá ag méadú ar fud na tíre, ar fud na hEorpa agus an domhain.

I join my colleagues in congratulating the Minister for bringing this legislation through the House at a time when she has other major responsibilities to attend to. I was in Government for some time but I did not volunteer for that Department; I never would have. It is a Department where the Minister is constantly on the stage and not always with an enthusiastic or appreciative audience. That the Minister, in the midst of her other pressing functions, would devote time to steer this Bill through the House is a measure of her commitment, which we all greatly appreciate.

I am glad the Minister has satisfactorily clarified my reservation in principle to taking so many amendments together on Report Stage. I might have uttered my reservations to you, Sir, rather than the Minister, had I been aware that you were the one who——

We all learned from that; we put it into practice.

——was expediting procedures in that way. I appreciate the reasons given for doing this and was satisfied until I heard a reference to the O'Donnell report. I hope the next time anyone furnishes a report to the Minister, it will arrive before we start a debate and not when we are halfway through; that would enable us to do a better job in examining such legislation.

This measure will go a long way towards dealing with those who have almost undermined the base of our society. However, there is another job to be done. We cannot leave this in the hands of the criminals who want to keep it outside the law. The more I see the State becoming involved in trying to rehabilitate drug addicts and ensure criminals will not benefit from being in control of this illegal empire, the more convinced I am that the purpose of this legislation will be fully realised.

It is right and proper that any legislation which impinges on people's rights and liberties should be subject to the most minute scrutiny. I want to pay tribute to Senator Neville for the way he, with the Minister, has nurtured this Bill from its inception. As I said in an earlier contribution these are not partisan and political statements; we might differ on methodology as to how best to do the job, but the objectives are the same.

The House is fortunate to have somebody of the calibre of the Minister who is capable of implementing the measures contained in the Bill and wise enough to know and accept that a rapport with the public is required in dealing with crime. Such rapport is achieved by demonstrating that, as the House is aware, the job is in hand and matters are under control.

This legislation will be of immense assistance to the Minister in ensuring that crime in Ireland does not pay.

Question put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 4.20 p.m. and resumed at 6 p.m.