Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Bill, 1996: Second Stage.

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

I thank the House, or those who were here at 2 p.m., for allowing the short suspension. My parliamentary party meeting went on until exactly 2 p.m. and the Acting Leader allowed a 15 minute break out of generosity, courtesy and humanity so that I could have a cup of tea before coming into the House. The level of activity yesterday meant I went from 3 p.m. until midnight without so much as a cup of tea. I apologise to Senator Dardis. I understand his need to be here to discuss this serious issue but, now and again, we should look out for each other with a little humanity.

The Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Bill forms a key part of the comprehensive range of anti-crime measures which the Government is taking and represents one of the strongest anti-crime pieces of legislation ever brought before this or the other House by any Government. The Government believes that these measures, with the appropriate safeguards which have been included in the Bill, are a necessary and proportionate response to the grave threat posed to the community by the activities of drug traffickers whose lack of respect for the lives of individuals is only too apparent. This Government is determined to do all in its power to thwart these evil people and their deadly trade.

The measures contained in the Bill will increase the powers of detention in relation to persons suspected of drug trafficking offences to provide for a maximum period of detention of up to seven days, with the intervention of the court after the first 48 hours has elapsed; it will allow for the detention of persons arrested for such an offence where it is suspected they have concealed drugs in their persons — so-called "stuffers and swallowers"— in places of detention specified by the Minister; allow Customs officers to be present at, and participate in, the questioning of suspects detained by the Garda in relation to drug trafficking offences; permit a court to draw inferences from the failure of an accused in a drug trafficking case to mention, during Garda questioning, some fact which he or she subsequently relies on in his or her defence which could reasonably have been expected to be mentioned; allow members of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of superintendent to issue search warrants in drug trafficking cases where the warrant is urgently required and permit members of the Garda, whether they are in uniform, to enter and inspect places where a public dancing licence is in force for the purposes of the prevention or detection of a drug trafficking offence.

The nature of drug criminality has become all too apparent in recent times. Great efforts are made by those involved in it to frustrate measures to defeat it and I am convinced that to comprehensively tackle drug trafficking we must provide the legislative framework set out in the Bill which enables the Garda to take effective action. Because of the large profits to be made through this vile trade in drugs, those who engage in it are constantly evolving new ways to evade detection. The international nature of the trade is also well documented. Primarily for these reasons I consider it essential that the Garda be given the power to detain suspected drug traffickers for the purposes of enabling them to properly investigate suspected drug trafficking and reduce the possibility that suspected drug traffickers could frustrate those efforts.

I have provided in section 2 for a power of detention of up to seven days in cases of suspected drug trafficking. This represents a significant change but, as I said, it is justified provided it also contains specific and substantial safeguards in terms of the procedures under which it will operate — and it does contain such safeguards. To that end, the Bill provides that the detention permitted under section 2 will effectively be kept under regular review by breaking up the seven days into five separate stages. At the beginning of each of these stages the person authorising the detention is required to be satisfied that the detention is justified.

It is, of course, the case that the courts here would be unlikely to hold as constitutionally sound a provision which purports to allow seven day detention unless appropriate safeguards are included. Furthermore, there is a need to have regard to our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. As a party to that convention we must keep under review the jurisprudence which emerges in relation to it.

It is especially as a result of that jurisprudence that we have concluded an essential safeguard which must be included in the legislation is that a person detained under section 2 for lengthy periods must be brought before a court during his or her period of detention. There is a significant corpus of jurisprudence under the convention to the effect that failure to bring a person who is the subject of a lengthy period of detention before a judicial authority is contrary to the convention. I stress that the advice I have received is that it would be contrary to the convention if we applied for anex parte hearing when someone was detained for lengthy periods.

The basis for this is found in Article 5 of the convention. Article 5 (1) states: "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person." However, deprivation of liberty is justified, according to Article 5 (1) (c), in cases of "the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so". Article 5 (3) states that everyone so arrested or detained shall be brought promptly before a judge.

Having regard to the relevant case law concerning Article 5, it would appear that an arrested person must be physically brought before the court and must be given an opportunity to be heard. The advice available to me is that to do so at the expiration of 48 hours after the arrest would not amount to a contravention of Article 5 (3). At that time the prosecution authority would have to be in a position to establish to the satisfaction of a judge, in relation to a person held on suspicion of having committed an offence, that there was a reasonable suspicion of the person having committed the specified offence and that reasonable grounds existed for the continuance of that suspicion.

The main purpose of Article 5 (3), in relation to Article 5 (1) (c), is to afford to individuals deprived of their liberty a special guarantee, namely a procedure of a judicial nature designed to ensure that no one should be arbitrarily deprived of his or her liberty and to ensure that any arrest or detention will be kept as short as possible. Article 5 (3) implicitly stipulates that the detention must not exceed a reasonable time. The reasonableness of the grounds on which the detention is permitted becomes central to any consideration of whether Article 5 (3) is being observed.

The European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights have defined the powers and qualities required of a judicial officer to comply with the provisions of Article 5. These are that there should be complete independence when performing in the judicial capacity, that the detainee should be present at the hearing and have the right to make representations, that all the circumstances for and against release should be reviewed and that there should be the power to order immediate release where continued detention is no longer justified.

Having regard to the European Convention and the jurisprudence which has built up in respect of Article 5, the approach which is being taken in the Bill is that a person arrested under section 2 must be brought before a judge after 48 hours. Even though the investigation will remain under Garda control, the involvement of the court at various stages of the investigation should satisfy the requirements of Article 5 in the context which I have outlined.

I believe that the provisions in section 2 for the involvement of a judge after 48 hours, together with the requirement that the detained person be brought before the court, will be seen as conforming not only with our obligations under the European convention but also the constitutional imperatives which arise in this area.

Under section 2 there will be an initial period of detention of up to six hours, which may be extended for a further period of up to 18 hours and subsequently for a further period of up to 24 hours on the direction of a chief superintendent, who must have, on each occasion that an extension is granted, reasonable grounds for believing that the further period of detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence. Any periods of detention after this first 48 hours will involve the intervention of the courts so that a detained person must be brought before the court on the hearing of each application for his or her further detention and will be given the opportunity to make submissions or call evidence on his or her behalf.

The court, if satisfied that the detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence, and that the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously, may extend the period of detention for up to a further 72 hours and for a final period of up to a further 48 hours. The garda who makes the application, who must be of the rank of at least chief superintendent, must at the time of each application to court have reasonable grounds for believing that the further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence.

If the judge decides to issue a warrant for the further detention of a person he or she may at the same time order that the person be brought before the court again at any time or times during the specified period of detention. If the judge is not satisfied at that time that the detention is justified he or she shall order the immediate release of the person. This is just one of the safeguards which is provided for in the Bill.

A further safeguard in section 2 requires the Garda to immediately release a person when there are no longer reasonable grounds for believing that his or her detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence, unless the person is to be charged and brought before a court as soon as may be in respect of such a charge.

I believe that the involvement of the courts, taken together with the other safeguards contained in the Bill, should allay any fears that the detention provisions are excessive or open to abuse. The proposals represent a measured response to the unacceptable threat posed by these so-called drug barons.

I have gone into detail on these safeguards because, even since the Bill was announced and we started to debate it, the debate has returned to a sense, by the same people in the media and elsewhere, that the Bill is going too far. In saying this, they have not fully recognised the seriousness of the crimes we are attempting to tackle, nor have they recognised that, since it was available back in 1976-77, many safeguards have now been built into the rights of people who are being questioned in custody by the gardaí. Fears are on the basis of what the regime was then, not the regime that exists now.

I wish to make this clear to those who have come full circle from a position they held four or five days ago that somehow I am not taking cognisance of the dangers to our criminal law. That is not the case. This is a considered, studied Bill, one for which I was criticised for taking my time in preparing. This is not a sudden reaction to a problem; it is a considered response and one which is appropriate.

I mentioned earlier that those involved in the trade of illegal drugs are constantly evolving new ways to try to avoid detection, including the concealing of drugs within one's body — the problem known as "stuffers and swallowers". To provide for the detention of suspected stuffers or swallowers there is provision in the Bill for the making of regulations by the Minister for Justice to prescribe a special detention facility where such persons may be detained. Such a place would be especially equipped to deal with cases of bodily concealment. I do not have to go into the details.

In view of the fact that section 2 represents a major change to our present law it is right that I go into detail. It is important for everyone to appreciate and understand the reasons which are to do with the EU Convention on Human Rights. I have rejected amendments in the other House, and I will have to do the same here if anybody puts them down in respect of this aspect. I cannot allow and agree for anex parte application to the courts for further detention because the appearance of the person being questioned in the court is not just for the sake of having him there; it gives the judge the opportunity to see the mental and perhaps physical state of the person at the same time as forming an opinion as to whether extra time is required for questioning.

Section 3 amends sections 2 and 4 of the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence) Act, 1990, which deal, respectively, with the taking of bodily samples and the destruction of records and samples. The effect of the section will be to allow for the taking of bodily samples in the case of a person detained under the Bill. These powers are essential for the full and proper investigation of alleged drug trafficking offences. Without them it is possible for somebody to refuse to give those samples, as they are being advised daily by solicitors and barristers to say and do nothing, including the giving of blood, to avoid the possibility of forensic science and testing linking them to any crime. I have, therefore, built into the Bill the power to take bodily samples in the case of a person detained under the Bill.

Section 4 deals with rearrest. It generally prohibits the rearrest for the same suspected offence — or an offence which should have been reasonably suspected at the time — of a person previously detained under section 2 and who has been released without being charged. Rearrest will only be permitted on the authority of a judge and only in cases where new information has come to the knowledge of the Garda Síochána since the person's release. Furthermore, the judge when authorising a rearrest may also order that the person be brought before a court on arrest or at any other time for the purposes of satisfying himself or herself that the detention is justified. If the judge is not satisfied that the detention is justified then the person will be released.

Recognising the implications arising from seven day detentions, especially in the context of rearrest, section 4 provides for a very significant change in the procedures which follow detention on foot of a rearrest. There is provision for the intervention of the court at an earlier stage than is the case under section 2. Thus under section 4, the rearrested person may be detained initially for up to six hours, which can be extended by up to 18 hours on the authority of a chief superintendent, totalling 24 hours. Thereafter the detention period may be extended for periods up to 24 hours, 72 hours and 48 hours only on the authority of a judge, following procedures identical to those in section 2. It is clear why we must build in these safeguards, lest an attempt be made to get somebody for a second period of seven days without the proper checks.

Furthermore, if a person is rearrested on the authority of a judge for an offence which is not a drug trafficking offence, then that person will be dealt with, not under the provisions of this Bill but under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. Section 4 also makes it clear that where a person has been arrested under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, or detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, and is released without charge, that person cannot be arrested again under section 2 of the Bill for the same offence or for an offence which he or she was, or ought reasonably to have been, suspected of having committed.

Here again, the legislation contains appropriate safeguards. However, the gardaí will not be prevented from rearresting a person without a warrant for the purposes of immediately charging that person with an offence. If, after three or four days, they have enough evidence on a person but let him go, they can rearrest him provided they are about to make a charge in connection with him.

Section 5 applies various provisions of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, to persons detained under section 2, so that, for example, when there are no longer reasonable grounds for suspecting a detained person of having committed any offence he or she must be released. It also covers such matters as the provision of medical attention, access to a solicitor and the destruction of records where a detained person is not prosecuted or where he or she is acquitted.

Hand in hand with these extra powers which the Bill gives the gardaí is the need for close co-operation between the Garda and the Customs Service. With this in mind it is proposed that increased powers be given to Customs officers in relation to questioning of persons detained on suspicion of importing drugs. To this end section 6 of the Bill provides that regulations may be made for the attendance of, and participation by, an officer of Customs and Excise in the questioning of a person detained under section 2 of the Bill or under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, where the offence is one related to drug trafficking. It also provides, importantly, that where officers of customs and excise are invited to participate in such questioning, they will be subject to the same conditions as apply to gardaí under the regulations made under the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, for the treatment of detained persons.

Section 7 was inserted on Report Stage in the Dáil and arose out of a commitment I made to look at the need to restrict the right to silence in drug trafficking cases. Under our criminal law the general rule is that a person is not required to answer any questions in connection with an offence of which he or she is suspected. However, it would not be correct to say that there is an unqualified right to silence — this is something that has been repeatedly said by many media and other commentators.

The general rule — which is in line with a general constitutional protection against self-incrimination — is subject to a number of statutory exceptions, and the most recent of these were included in the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. Sections 18 and 19 of that Act allow a court or jury to draw inferences from an accused's failure or refusal in the course of Garda questioning to account for certain matters; marks on his or her person or clothing or presence in the vicinity of a crime. These inferences cannot be drawn unless the accused was told in ordinary language what the effect of failing or refusing to provide the relevant information might be.

While inferences can be treated as amounting to corroboration of other evidence, the Act specifically provides that they cannot alone form the basis of a conviction. No Government has ever suggested that silence could be used as the only way in which a conviction can be brought about. It has always been accompanied by the need to have other evidence to convict somebody. I do not believe this State would ever see a time when somebody who remains silent would immediately be convicted because they are not giving an account of why they were somewhere. This is not something I would consider.

Section 7 represents a further modification of the right to silence. The Government has concluded that if a person detained on a suspected drug trafficking charge fails or refuses to mention some fact that he subsequently relies on in his or her defence, he or she should run the risk that a court or jury will draw an inference adverse to him or her. The effect of this provision will be that the judge will be able to tell the jury that it may make an inference adverse to the accused from the late explanation if it would be appropriate to do so. It is important to stress that an adverse inference is only possible if the accused remains silent during questioning and he or she then puts forward at trial, as part of his or her defence, some explanation that he or she could reasonably have been expected to have given to the Garda.

As with the provisions in the 1984 Act there is no question of an accused being convicted on the basis of an inference alone. The inference may be treated as, or as capable of amounting to, corroboration of any evidence in relation to which the failure is material. However, an accused shall not be convicted of an offence solely on an inference drawn from such failure. Furthermore, an accused must be told in ordinary language when being questioned, charged or informed what the effect of such failure might be, that is, he must be cautioned about remaining silent. The new section, therefore, represents a necessary and further curtailment of the right to silence and, in the Government's view, it is warranted by the nature of the problem it addresses.

The fight against the drugs menace is not easy and it is essential that we, as legislators, give the Garda all the necessary powers to respond to existing realities. The nature of the menace often requires quick action by the Garda and this is why I am providing in section 8 for the amendment of section 26 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977, to confer power on members of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of superintendent to issue search warrants in circumstances where particular urgency arises and where this is necessary for the investigation of a drug trafficking offence. Since such warrants will issue in circumstances of particular urgency, they will cease to have effect after 24 hours.

Section 9 will insert an additional section — section 13A — in the Public Dance Halls Act, 1935, dealing with the right of access by gardaí to dance halls where a public dancing licence is in force for the purpose of preventing or detecting a drug trafficking offence. The purpose of this section is to deal with a particular problem in the law as it relates to Garda powers of entry to premises where a public dance hall licence is in force. At present, section 13 of the Public Dance Halls Act, 1935, gives a power of entry to such venues to any member of the Garda Síochána in uniform in order to carry out any inspection, examination and inquiry as he or she thinks proper.

In the context of the investigation of drug related offences, the requirement that the gardaí must be in uniform is unhelpful to efforts to obtain evidence of drug dealing in dance halls. The phrase "dance hall" used in the Act refers to clubs, discos and other modern terms used to describe such venues. The proposed amendment, the addition of a new section 13A in the Public Dance Halls Act, will give the power of entry to gardaí regardless of whether they are in uniform — they can enter in plain clothes — for the purpose of investigating drug trafficking offences. Given that the penalty for obstruction or attempted obstruction of a garda acting under powers conferred by section 13 is only £5, there is provision for a penalty of up to £1,000 on conviction for obstructing or attempting to obstruct a garda acting under the new section.

Some confusion arose in the other House when I mentioned that aspect. One Deputy thought it was the only offence of which somebody might be convicted under the new section. However, it relates to offences such a bouncer stopping a member of the Garda Síochána in plain clothes whom they recognise entering the premises. Once gardaí get inside, other offences come into play, such as allowing premises to be used for a particular purpose or regarding people who are peddling drugs on the premises. The section relates to a member of the public or staff of the dance hall who tries to stop somebody whom they know is a member of the Garda entering the premises.

Section 11 is an important section in that it limits the period of operation of sections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to 12 months from the date of commencement unless a resolution is passed by each House of the Oireachtas resolving that a section or sections shall continue to operate. The section also provides that the Minister for Justice will prepare a report on the operation of the sections and have it laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas. This will give the House an opportunity to debate the effectiveness of the sections prior to agreeing to their renewal.

I am sure everyone appreciates why it is necessary to give the powers proposed in the Bill to those charged with the investigation and detection of crime. We must do everything in our power to isolate and remove the malignancy which those who trade in illegal drugs bring to our society. I accept the powers contained in the Bill are, by any standards, harsh and draconian. However, I hope it will be understood that they are necessary and that any fears that they might be abused in any way will be allayed by the emphasis put on providing safeguards, such as those in relation to extending periods of detention, against such abuse.

I commend the Bill to the House. It was passed by the other House and I hope the Seanad will also approve it. All Oireachtas Members should examine the package announced yesterday and consider the many measures of a structural nature which the Government has put in place since it took office. The criminal justice system was neglected by successive Governments in that it was allowed to become overloaded and necessary changes were not made. I reject criticisms which might arise in the House or elsewhere that this is the only Government response to crime. The Government has made successive responses since taking office and it will continue to do so. Measures will be considered and carefully drafted. They will not be knee jerk reactions and they will take into account the varying views of members of the Government and Opposition.

The package announced by the Government yesterday and its programme over the last 18 months will yield the desired results. It includes an examination of the Garda Síochána, how the Force does its business and how it must be modernised to ensure it is effective against present day crime. These issues require the co-operation of Members of the Oireachtas, the public and members of the Garda Síochána, many of whom are expressing frustration. The public is also expressing frustration about the Garda. If these issues are not openly discussed they will fester and cause problems in the system.

I am glad to be in the House again; I have almost earned honorary membership at this stage because I have been here so often recently. I thank Senators for what I hope will be a constructive and supportive debate.

On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, I thank the Minister for coming to the House. I am sure there are many other pressing demands on her time. It will be a thorough and constructive debate and I assure her there will be no time wasting or waffling. She will agree a national consensus is emerging regarding the need for legislation to assist the officers of law enforcement, including gardaí and Customs and Excise personnel, in dealing with drug trafficking. As Deputy O'Donoghue said in the other House, this side will support the legislation and be positive. This side welcomes the Bill, but I enter a caveat regarding two sections.

As the Minister said, it is harsh legislation and I hope it will not be on the Statute Book forever. We all want a country which does not have the scourge of drug traffickers. Nobody wants a country where people in the inner cities and rural areas are destroyed by those who peddle drugs. We all want a country where we can live free of the fear which the atrocious behaviour of recent weeks has engendered. I make that point cautiously.

I will not dwell on one negative aspect because I want to be as positive as possible, but this side is disappointed about the length of time it took to introduce the Bill. The Government took office in early 1995 and I understand the Minister presented the Bill on 6 February 1996. It is now July 1996 so, effectively it took 18 months for the legislation to reach the House. However, I will not dwell on that point because we have a Bill now and we will try to get as good a Bill as we can through this House.

I agree with many of the Minister's comments. It is absolutely essential in the investigation of drug trafficking that the Garda Síochána has the power and ability to cross-examine suspected drug traffickers for a period of up to seven days in a legal way subject to the Garda custody regulations, which are a very important framework for all Garda investigations. As envisaged by this Bill, this is a power that will have to be subject to judicial control and discretion for the last five days of its use. Deputy John O'Donoghue, who has done a tremendous job in the other House, questioned the problems that will be encountered by members of the Garda Síochána when they come before the courts for that extra period of five days. There may be a worry that the Garda will be revealing their hand and that they may be obstructed in achieving the very end that this Bill seeks. I will not say a lot about that. However, I ask the Minister, in the present positive spirit, that when this Bill comes to Committee Stage this will be very closely examined.

I take the Minster's point about the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Convention on Human Rights is very important, but drug traffickers and the murderers of Detective Garda Gerry McCabe and Veronica Guerin are not concerned by it. No instrument, even an international one, is sacrosanct because if the European Convention on Human Rights was to be used by drug traffickers as a shield against the questioning of the Garda then it should be examined. That would have to be by international renegotiation and I agree with the Minister that there is no question of any part of this Bill being in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights. Everything put into law here must conform to our solemn international obligations, which I consistently argued when we discussed the Refugee Bill: that the primary source of international law on that issue was the Geneva Convention of 1951. Again, I do not advocate any unilateral change or abrogation in relation to our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sometimes it is said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. In many ways one of the most important sections of the Bill is section 11. It creates a safety mechanism, a review mechanism so that the Oireachtas can review the operation of this Bill on a 12 monthly basis. That is terribly important. One thing we do not want and that I will never espouse is the do-gooder or liberal argument in criminal justice. We have had too much of that and the balance must be redressed a little the other way, but nobody wants to see our entire criminal justice system overturned or negated by a small group of dedicated drug traffickers and professional organised criminals. We want a criminal justice system that respects human rights, maintains the right to silence and the burden of proof. But there are extraordinary circumstances and occasions, and the state of crime today in Ireland is such an extraordinary occasion, when sometimes society must move to protect itself. Society, through this Bill, is moving in one small but vitally important area to protect itself. Because of that, the Fianna Fáil Party will support this Bill. The 12 monthly review is absolutely important.

This Bill is welcome and essential but it is by no means the entire solution. It Bill gives very specific and necessary powers and because of that we will support it. Over a whole range of areas there will have to be legislative reforms and new proposals. In this regard I thank the Minister and the Government for the positive way they have accepted the spirit of the Fianna Fáil Organised Crime (Restraint and Disposal of Illicit Assets) Bill, 1996. I echo the words of our party leader when he said to the Taoiseach in the Dáil last week, "either, Taoiseach, it is your Bill or it is our Bill, but let us have a Bill." That is the spirit that the nation will compel us to act in. The people who laid wreaths outside the gates of Leinster House would not thank anybody in this Chamber for making any political points on the drug situation and organised crime in Dublin and the rest of the country. That is why we are prepared to accept this Bill in as positive a way as we can.

Besides section 2 and the powers of detention, I absolutely agree with the spirit of section 3, which relates to bodily samples. I agree with the inferences from the failure of the accused to mention particular facts — the partial abolition of the right to silence. As the Minister has said, it only relates to the issue of corroboration. It cannot be used on its own to secure a conviction. As I understand the Bill, once a person is charged, the right to silence will remain in force. Perhaps the Minister could clarify that on Second Stage but I understand that once a person is charged, the right to silence will remain as heretofore. Subject to that, abolishing the right to silence in this limited way is absolutely correct because the public cannot understand why a person who is accused of drug trafficking cannot say in simple language, "I am not involved in this activity. I earn my living like a normal person and here is the way I earn my living." or "Here is what I was doing last night." As has been said in other jurisdictions, it is only people with things to fear who fear the abolition of the right to silence.

Of course, the right to silence does not exist in other areas. If the Revenue Commissioners decide to audit the Minister or me, we have no right to silence. I cannot tell the Revenue Commissioners I do not particularly want to speak to them. I have to explain every single penny I earn. When we have the special debate — and I hope that this House will also participate in it — on July 26, people will want to know how and why people who have large assets, which they can barely explain, have not been forced to explain exactly how those assets arose. The real challenge for the Minister and the Government will be to create legal mechanisms and statutory agencies which will put these people under the microscope and which will go after them in a positive and proactive way.

For too long now we have had the feeling that these people's assets are only examined when they come to the attention of the authorities. That must now change. The authorities must turn the searchlight on these people and ask them to explain themselves. The people do not want to read in the newspapers about how criminals with nicknames are swanning around and that nobody is investigating their affairs. The Minister now knows, if she did not already know it, that the people will not tolerate it any longer. The people want more than legislation. The people want action, results and convictions, because we all know that these drug traffickers are out there. Many of them are not behind bars and the people want them behind bars. As long as this is the case, people will be unhappy with us as legislators and frustrated by those involved in law enforcement.

My colleague, Deputy O'Donoghue, put section 6 of the Bill under the spotlight in the other House. There seems to be a problem regarding who is the first to question suspected drug traffickers. In many cases a member of the Customs service is the first person to interview or examine these people. As I understand this legislation, there is no provision for a Customs officer to engage in a rigorous cross questioning of suspected drug traffickers without the presence of a garda. If that is the case, should it remain so, or should customs officers have a more proactive role and greater statutory powers?

I did not expect provision for a drugs enforcement agency in this Bill but provision could have been made for it and not to do so is an omission.

The Senator's party has a long record of rejecting a national drugs enforcement agency.

I called for a national drugs enforcement agency last year and the Minister said that it was not appropriate. Deputy O'Donoghue has also called for a national drugs enforcement agency. It may well be correct to say that provision of such an agency was not party policy but, as in the Minister's case, policies can evolve and circumstances can change. I ask the Minister to seriously think about the need for a national drugs enforcement agency which would have powers similar to those available to the police enforcement authorities in the United States.

The United States has very well developed laws against drugs and organised crime. Even if the Minister does not support the creation of a national drugs enforcement agency — I will make a prediction here today that her policy on a national drugs enforcement agency may well change before the term of this Government expires — I ask her to instruct her officials to undertake a close examination of the racketeering laws in the United States if they have not already done so. To my knowledge they are the most complex, highly developed laws to combat organised crime to be found anywhere. I have said on several occasions that where good, constructive, hard hitting legislation in relation to crime and drug trafficking is brought before this House, it will receive a warm welcome. Fianna Fáil has to some extent been leading the debate in the other House on the crime issue.

This is known as a Pauline conversion.

The Minister has the Senator on her side. She should not provoke him.

There is a suspicion abroad that whatever her own feelings on the topic, the Minister's partners in Government do not appear to have been as committed to the fight against crime and law and order as is Fine Gael.

The Senator is being ridiculous. Our drugs document was launched yesterday.

It took the Labour Party four years to produce it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator Mulcahy without interruption, please. Other Senators will have the chance to make their own contributions later.

There is a warm welcome for this Bill, subject to some qualifications, as I indicated. Fianna Fáil will support this Bill as it will all legislation which this Government, however belatedly, brings forward on the law and order question, because we are determined to remain in the forefront of the fight against crime in this country.

I welcome this very important Bill. Such a Bill has often been requested in this House. No subject has been discussed as often in the past three or four years as the concern of this House for the developing drugs situation. This situation did not develop overnight but worsened steadily over a number of years until it reached its present totally unacceptable level. The situation has been unacceptable for some time.

The whole area of the misuse of drugs and the outflow from it is a great threat to society. It has created a Mafia type criminal element here which we thought would never occur in Ireland. When we spoke about the Mafia or the days of Al Capone in Chicago, we did not think that we would see such a situation developing in Ireland. Misuse of drugs and the money that is to be made by it has created this situation which must be resolved. This Bill is one instrument which will and should be effectively used to handle the situation. Misuse of drugs is destroying the lives and the quality of life of too many of our young people.

While the problem is more pronounced in urban areas, the growth of Ecstasy has meant that it is now a country wide problem and must be seen and tackled as such. It is causing an increase in robberies and muggings because addicts require money to feed their habit. There has been a growth in the level of violence which accompanies the type of crimes committed years ago when there was no question of attacks on the person. Life has become very cheap. The approach by criminals towards the person has changed dramatically in the past ten years. People who use the proceeds of crime to feed their drug habits have no regard whatsoever for the life or bodily integrity of others. We can only hope to effectively control the drug problem because it has become internationalised. If we can do so, I believe the level of crime will be dramatically reduced.

Much of the crime that occurs in cities, such as attacks on the person, burglaries and incidents of handbag snatching, is drug related. This is a major problem with many offshoots, and it is having a dramatic effect on our prison population. Many prisoners are incarcerated because they committed offences to feed their habits. Unfortunately, many of those who deal in drugs are not caught and the people who use drugs and commit crime to feed their habits are often the ones who end up in prison. Drug peddlers and drug barons — I prefer to call them drug criminals or master criminals — get away scot free because they cannot be apprehended. This Bill is designed to deal with such individuals and ensure that the Garda Síochána is given increased powers to bring them to justice. It is also designed to change the judicial system which is not effective in its current form.

I accept Senator Mulcahy's statement that we must be concerned about human rights and ensure that we honour the European Convention on Human Rights. However, we must be concerned about everyone's human rights. The most important of these is the right to life, which is under serious attack from the very problem the Bill seeks to address. Recent events have highlighted the basic right to life. We must ensure that we discuss all life and we must not be ambivalent towards any type of crime in our society. Those responsible for the murder of Detective Garda McCabe are just as guilty and accountable as the individuals who killed Veronica Guerin.

It is not an exaggeration to describe the assassinations of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe and Veronica Guerin as an attack on democracy. These acts represent a fundamental attack on the basis of our democracy — the gardaí who protect us and the members of the journalistic profession who are key functionaries in ensuring that democracy survives and works. There was widespread shock following these two dreadful deeds. Many people believe that the rule of the gun has taken over in certain areas and in certain subsections of the population. A dozen assassinations have taken place during the past 18 months and the victims, for the most part, were involved in the criminal underworld.

The killing of a person, regardless of their identity or the business in which they are involved, must never be accepted. The law of the land and the criminal justice system must be in a position to ensure that society is protected. Acts of vigilantism and battles between rival drug gangs are as much of a threat to society as any murder or assassination because they demean life itself. The prosecution service recognises that it is almost impossible to bring the drug master criminals to justice under existing legislation and procedures. We fervently wish that those who murdered Detective Garda McCabe and Veronica Guerin will be made accountable for their crimes, however strongly the odds are stacked against such an eventuality. The measures introduced in the Bill will play an important part — but only a part — in ensuring that the gardaí are better equipped to attack the problem of drug trafficking in the future.

I welcome this Bill. It contains a number of measures to tackle the current situation. I also welcome the fact that there will be a strengthening of the powers relating to detention of persons suspected of a drug trafficking offence. The Bill provides for a maximum detention of up to seven days, with the intervention of the court when the first 48 hours have elapsed. The Minister comprehensively outlined the safeguards inherent in the Bill which are designed to ensure that people's civil and human rights are protected while in custody. I am convinced that these safeguards will overcome the concerns expressed about the human rights aspect of this legislation. People who speak about human rights must remember the individuals who died in the past 12 months at the hands of those that the Bill is designed to tackle.

Everyone is concerned about human rights. However, it is also a point of concern that it is necessary to introduce harsh laws to ensure the very existence of our society. I welcome the fact that the Bill allows for the detention of persons arrested for drug trafficking offences, where it is suspected that they have concealed drugs on their persons, in a place of detention specified by the Minister. It is important that the Bill permits customs officers to be present at and participate in the questioning of suspects detained by the Garda Síochána in relation to drug offences. On many occasions this House discussed Members' concerns about co-operation between the various bodies involved in trying to control drug trafficking — the Garda Síochána, customs officers and the Revenue Commissioners. I am glad that many of the difficulties which exist in this regard have been overcome and that the legislation builds on that co-operation.

In the past, Members debated at length their views on the right to silence. Those debates occurred when it was unpopular to state that a court should be able to take inference, and only take inference, from a person's refusal to account for themselves or answer a reasonable question. That situation does not affect the criminal. If an ordinary person commits an offence and is arrested, they will answer any questions posed by the Garda. However, a hardened criminal or drug master criminal will enter a Garda station for questioning and stare at the wall. They are psychologically trained to ignore any questions and nothing can be done about it.

As Senator Mulcahy stated, attention has been drawn to the fact that there is not an absolute right to silence in this country. People are obliged to account to the Revenue Commissioners in respect of their business dealings and cannot refuse to provide a urine sample to the Garda Síochána if suspected of drunk driving. They cannot use the right to silence. An inference can be drawn from a refusal to co-operate with the Garda regarding a blood or urine test for drunk driving and the person involved can be convicted on that basis. There is not an absolute right in this regard and I am glad this is being extended to the area of drug trafficking.

I welcome the fact that the Bill allows members of the Garda Síochána, not below the rank of superintendent, to issue search warrants in drug trafficking cases where a warrant is genuinely required. I always thought it ridiculous that a garda could not enter a disco where it was suspected that drugs were being trafficked. We are aware of the establishments in Limerick and Dublin where it is suspected that Ecstasy is being sold. Under current legislation, a garda must wear a uniform when entering such places. I welcome the fact that members of the Garda Síochána, whether in uniform or not will be able to enter and to inspect places where a public dancing licence is in force for the purpose of the prevention or detection of drug trafficking.

Drug criminals are apt and efficient at frustrating measures to bring them to justice. We need a legislative framework to allow the Garda to tackle the problem. The power in the Bill to detain drug traffickers for seven days as well as the other provisions are a necessary response given the present situation. They provide the Garda with measures to deal with the drug problem. Those involved in the drug trade are apt at devising ways to avoid detection. The provision involving a judge in the extension of the period of detention beyond 48 hours and the fact that a court hearing must take place shows that we conform to our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. It will also ensure that constitutional difficulties do not arise.

On several occasions we discussed the need to ensure co-operation between the Garda and the customs in the fight against illegal drug trading. I am pleased the Bill provides for the presence of a customs officer when questioning takes place. We know too well that drugs are a terrible menace to society. It is essential that the Garda have the powers to deal effectively with the situation.

When dealing with the escalating crime problem, we must ensure we address the long-term effects of crime. We should not rely exclusively on law and order responses. This Bill is not the solution. The demand for drugs must be tackled with education and treatment. Not only does the Minister for Justice have a strong role to play, so too does the Minister for Health, who has initiated measures to assist addicts to come off their habit. We should educate people at an early age about the damage which drugs cause, how they can destroy their quality of life and how difficult it is to adjust when they come off them at the age of 30 or 35, if they are still alive — and many people do wish to come off drugs.

Children of tender years in the community will, because of today's neglect, become tomorrow's criminals. As a society, we must find ways to help them before they, like many thousands before them, turn their anger on their fellow citizens. It will be too late when the law and order system intervenes. We all have a responsibility for the type of society we have built. We must look at the elements in that society which cause crime to see what we can do.

We must take the necessary action to address the elements which lead to the type of crime we are witnessing today. That means starting well before today's child becomes tomorrow's threat to society. It includes voluntary as well as official help and intervention. The law and order system, however efficient, cannot meet the challenge on its own. We must all endeavour to assist drug addicts with their problem, which is essential. If we are to address any problems, we must first objectively and dispassionately look at the facts.

There is a problem, but we must look at the statistics. Some have said it is out of control, but I do not believe it is. However, the problem could go out of control, but today's measures will improve the situation. There has been a specific problem in Dublin for some time which has not been as evident elsewhere. The heroin problem was particular to Dublin but it has moved to other cities. However, areas outside Dublin have a problem with Ecstasy. There is a hint of tolerance for Ecstasy and we must educate people to ensure it does not take hold. Ecstasy is an extremely dangerous drug and its full effects are not known. It can also lead to other drug taking.

I welcome the proposals announced by the Minister yesterday evening to tackle the situation. Her range of proposals include the appointment of extra gardaí, the use of civilians and a review of the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the Garda. She announced a number of other crime prevention measures, including an increase in the number of youth diversion projects, the strengthening of the juvenile liaison officer scheme and the development of prisons, which was being investigated but she now has money to build.

Over the past number of months we have started to establish a proper criminal justice system, although much work needs to be done. The criminal justice system has been neglected by many Governments over the past 17 years. We only need to look at the neglect of court buildings which reflect neglect not only of the building, but of the system. I am glad the Minister has looked at a proper court service and the introduction of the recommendations of the Denham Committee.

I have lived a sheltered life in which I had no experience of drugs until seven weeks ago when I got a telephone call from the late Veronica Guerin, whom I did not know. I am not sure if she wished to consider changing from the role of journalism in which she had been involved in recent years but she telephoned me to say she and her editor had agreed that she should undertake a task, that is, to find somebody to whom she could be a shadow for a few weeks. The objective was to see how somebody who wears a couple of hats organises their life.

She chose me and she came into my life six weeks ago. For three weeks she was my shadow. Members may remember her sitting in the Visitor's Gallery six weeks ago, although some may not have recognised her. I spent three weeks with a shadow. She came with me when doing the various tasks I must do in the Seanad and in my own work. I got to know Veronica Guerin well and I learned from her. I learned about her strong commitment to what she had undertaken — what I would call her crusade against the dealers in death. She was dedicated to doing what she could to eradicate from our lives the system we have spoken about today and, as Senator Neville competently outlined, what drugs are doing to our society. It was clear that her anger and frustration gave her the single minded determination to do something about it. She undertook her crusade against the criminals, thugs and dealers in death with a sense of humour and fun. It was clear she could handle both parts of her life. She was committed to doing what needed to be done in the only way she could. She was clearly frustrated at the lack of action by others and the Oireachtas holds a great deal of responsibility in that regard.

Let us consider what we have not done in the area of criminal justice. We have not been willing to tackle the problem in the same way we have tackled other problems. Senator Neville spoke about the right to silence of somebody who is believed to have drunk too much and is behind the wheel of a car. We passed laws in that area which we were not willing to pass in the criminal justice area. When we got upset at the thought that somebody could deprive the State of tax revenue we gave the Revenue Commissioners the right to invade our homes. Only last week we passed the Competition (Amendment) Bill. In that Bill we as much as say that if a company is found guilty of an offence we will assume that the officers of that company are also guilty, but they may prove themselves innocent.

We can pass laws when we feel strongly about unfair competition or drunk driving or tax revenue. The Finance Act, 1992, gave the Revenue Commissioners strong powers. We also gave the Customs authorities strong powers when we believed the State was being deprived of its correct income. However, we were not willing to give the same powers to those who were fighting crime.

This Bill takes a step in that direction. The Bill that is to be introduced on 25 July will be a further step. It is clear those steps are a reaction to the deaths of Detective McCabe and Veronica Guerin. If that is the case, they will not have given their lives in vain. I learned about anger and frustration when I heard about the drug dealers, criminals, bullies and thugs from Veronica's reports. Her death created the same anger and frustration in the rest of the nation. The emotions the nation has felt since her death this day last week have galvanised us to do something about it. I welcome the fact that we have been galvanised into taking action.

This is not a definitive Bill which marks the end of the road, but it is a step in that direction. We are saying to the nation: "We will not allow these people to change our way of life, we will demand something better and go back to the rule of law in steps that will enable us to maintain our democracy". In doing so we, who have been given the honour of legislating for this nation, will be able to say we responded to that honour by taking these steps, which we were unwilling to take in recent years. If that is so, Graham's wife and Cathal's mother will not have given her life in vain. Six year old Cathal will look back in years to come and know that the mother he knew and loved was somebody who not only achieved a great deal in her lifetime but achieved even more with her death.

It galls me to have to begin my contribution with the remarks made earlier by Senator Mulcahy but it is essential that they be addressed once and for all. He constantly suggests that the Labour Party is not supportive of these and other measures to tackle crime in our society. That is nothing short of nonsense and demonstrates appalling ignorance on the part of the Senator.

It must be remembered that when people seek the short-sighted approach of introducing new laws and increasing Garda numbers and claim that will solve the problem, the Labour Party historically looked at the broader issues and the causes of crime. In dealing with the problem in a comprehensive rather than a superficial manner, it deserved to be applauded rather than criticised. Far from being soft on crime we are most supportive of these measures. I believe our parliamentary party meetings have discussed the issue of crime and drug abuse on as many occasions as Fianna Fáil.

It galls me to have to listen to the Senator crackling like a broken record about the Labour Party when history shows that Fianna Fáil set up the State and was in power for the majority of years since the foundation of the State. To dare to pass the buck for what we are currently tackling in our society to those who are in Government is beyond comprehension. The Senator's party and its Ministers for Justice presided over escalating crime for many years. It is appallingly galling to have to listen to the Senator's comments. I hope this will be the end of the matter because it is shortsighted and not helpful to deal with this as a party political issue.

The Labour Party established a subcommittee on drugs which was chaired by Deputy Roisín Shortall, who received personal attacks for her strong action on the drugs issue. The opening paragraph of its report,The Drugs Menace and Organised Crime, states:

The drugs epidemic is a crisis facing Ireland. It demands a crisis response. The rapid growth of organised crime in Ireland also demands that we be prepared to fight fire with fire, and to do it without undermining our democratic traditions. Organised crime in Ireland is represented by a group of sociopathic, vicious and ruthless individuals. Fortunately, it is still a relatively small group that can be tackled effectively with the right set of measures and sufficient determination. The interaction between organised crime and drugs is a major threat. We are not dealing with small time pushers or a small scale problem. The base from which we must start is that the corruption of young people through hard drugs is the key to a lucrative business for the people involved in that trade. We know they are prepared to stop at nothing. Our response must be as determined, but it must also be measured and accountable.

The Labour Party policy on tackling the drugs problem in our society shows that we are dealing with it in a more comprehensive fashion than many parties have done in the past. We can be justly proud of that.

I welcome the Bill; it is long overdue. We can cry all we like about giving extra powers to the Garda but it is time to specify them and to itemise what is and is not available at present. The Labour/Fianna Fáil Government introduced powers under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994. I often wonder if it is being used. In my experience as a solicitor I have only come across one charge relating to public order and that was in dubious circumstances. At times, it is shortsighted and superficial to say that we need new laws without using those we already have.

Be that as it may, it was clearly a problem for the Garda. While it knew the people involved in drug dealing, its hands were tied. These people are not ordinary; they are hardened criminals who know the law better than many of us. They are prepared to adopt an uncooperative approach upon arrest or charge with the Garda. For that reason, I welcome the main provision in this Bill which allows for the detention of an individual for up to seven days, with the added precaution that this individual must be brought before a judge of the District or Circuit Court after 48 hours for the holding to be extended on a phased basis up to the maximum seven day detention.

Senator Mulcahy raised a genuine query with regard to the possibility of the Garda being forced to reveal its hand in making its case to the judge to extend the detention period. How will that be handled? On the other hand, I am concerned that the judge will assume the Garda is doing all in its power to put the evidence together and will inevitably and invariably extend the period. Therefore, when we examine this Bill in a year's time, as it proposes, statistically the detention period will often be the maximum period. Be that as it may, time is required to gather the evidence needed to deal with these people, as long as the right safeguards are in place. I have a query on the right to rearrest. I am not clear on the circumstances in which that might be used and its practicalities. It may lead to either 14 days or 21 days detention without charge.

We have been quick to call for a reform of our bail laws; the Minster for Justice will be putting the matter before the people in November. However, the basic tenet of our law is that an individual is innocent until proven guilty and one's right to liberty is valued and protected under our Constitution. It is on that basis that we must balance the need to tackle these criminals and gangsters with the right of ordinary individuals to go about their business. We must be careful that the laws we introduce are balanced with some monitoring that will ensure these new powers and rights are not open to abuse. Most people are in favour of granting extra powers. However, with power comes responsibility and the requirement that we balance what we do in our society.

Certain provisions in the Bill are welcome. I especially welcome section 9. I regularly attended the dance halls referred to in this legislation before I came to politics and I saw much of what I suspected to be drug taking and pushing there. When gardaí entered the premises, not only were the bar shutters pulled down but anybody selling drugs rapidly cleared off into the crowd. Now the obvious presence of two uniformed gardaí would not facilitate in detecting or catching anybody in the act. The fact that this Bill allows the Garda to enter these premises in civilian clothing is crucial in detecting these people, and that is one of the aims of this legislation.

Section 6 allows Customs and Excise officers to attend the interviews of those arrested of being suspected drug dealers. It is one thing to provide for this in legislation, but how will it work? I would like a response from the Minister. It is only recently that this Government succeeded in getting the Garda, the Revenue Commissioners and the Customs and Excise to work together. A co-ordinated approach is obviously vital but co-operation to date has not been what it should. I also welcome the provision allowing for the taking of bodily samples from a suspect.

With regard to the detention provisions, on what grounds is access being provided for a solicitor and a medical attendant? Is it under the normal code or are there restrictions in this Bill? I ask the Minister to respond to that too.

I also have a query about the provision which gives the superintendent the right to issue search warrants for a period of 24 hours. Will that become the norm or only in certain circumstances? I know there were difficulties in issuing search warrants, but are we going to the other extreme? We should balance everything and not respond with a knee jerk reaction.

On that basis, I welcome the reviewing provision encompassed in section 11. This allows Members of the Oireachtas to review the progress and action taken under this legislation in a year's time. We need to have an ongoing monitoring procedure to see how the Garda and the Revenue Commissioners deal with these new powers, examine what more can be done and see how effectively we have tackled our escalating drugs and crime problem.

The Minister has addressed many areas to our satisfaction. Too many gardaí are doing clerical duties; I welcome the Minister's announcement last night to provide an additional 220 civilians to do this work. We need to look at how we regulate the Garda. It is not just a matter of providing additional numbers and asking them to get on with it. We must look at their efficiency, will and ability to co-ordinate and do what needs to be done. An overall monitoring body would be welcome.

I also welcome what has been done in education. There is a great demand in our society for drugs and until we tackle that, we will be dealing with the end result rather than the source of the problem. The Minister for Education has run a successful programme in secondary schools over the last two years and she said she may have to introduce it to primary schools; sad though that is, it is deemed necessary at this point.

That is a long-term measure. The medium-term measure is to deal with drug addicts, who commit 70 to 80 per cent of our crime and make up 60 per cent of the inmates of Mountjoy. If we are to deal with them in a proper manner, we must see if we can provide community centres which would organise methadone and other treatments which would be required. Until we address this problem we will be banging our heads against a brick wall.

One issue which has not been mentioned is galling to me. Many community workers are doing good work and, to a large extent, it was residents' associations who forced the Garda and other authorities to take certain action. However, many of the community organisers who advocate a vigilante approach, etc., are a front for the Provisionals. That must be recognised. We should not simply throw money into the community if it may get into the wrong hands. In my experience near the Border certain elements in the IRA who brought in drugs are the most vociferous in leading the action against drugs. That callous, cold-hearted, double approach must be spoken about and tackled because it should not go unnoticed.

We must also consider the role of local authorities. Vast housing estates around the country suffer this problem, particularly in Dublin and other cities. Local authorities have the power to evict those guilty of drug dealing offences but that power is not used. Each local authority should be required to put in place a housing estate management scheme. Where it is known that drug dealing is openly carried on in a housing estate, the local authority should not give drug pushers and dealers safe houses within those estates at taxpayers' expense. We must also consider imposing a barring order to remove a drug pusher from the family home and the estate. That would be an effective measure.

I welcome the Minister's announcement of prison places. We cannot continue to introduce laws which will lead to increased numbers being arrested and detained without providing more places. I note there will be a new remand prison at Wheatfield, in response to what many people saw as an ongoing overcrowding problem in Mountjoy and a consequent mixture of convicted and remand prisoners. The overall package is excellent but I would sound a note of caution. When dealing with the result of crime and the supply of drugs, we must examine how we will tackle the demand for them in the long term.

This is not a party political issue and, despite Senator Gallagher's request, I will not applaud the Labour Party's work on this legislation or its approach to the problem over the last few years.

We introduced it.

Labour introduced what?

Our Government introduced this legislation.

Labour is leading the Government?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Could we hear Senator McGennis' contribution without interruption, please?

Despite provocation, I did not interrupt Senator Gallagher's point scoring.

It was in response to point scoring by Senator Mulcahy.

The scourge of drug abuse has reached such levels that the public does not want to hear political point scoring from any party, whether by Senator Gallagher or any other Member of either House.

Tell Senator Mulcahy that.

We all stand accused — politicians of all parties have been in Government during the last 20 years and all have failed. I include Labour in that, which has been in Government for the majority of the last 14 years.

Fianna Fáil is included also, as it has been in Government for most of the history of the State.

Stop throwing bouquets at yourselves and acknowledge your shortcomings.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator McGennis should address her contribution through the Chair.

My apologies, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. It is difficult to take because the public is not interested in hearing any political party pretending to have done more than it has or suggesting that, had it been in power 20 years ago — as in fact it was — it would have done more.

There is public outrage and the time is now overdue for an all party approach to tackle crime, especially drug-related crime. We reached that point last night in the Dáil with the Government's acceptance of a Fianna Fáil Bill on drugs. Perhaps a maturity is creeping into Irish political life, affecting politicians of both Houses, which did not exist before.

I welcome this Bill and Fianna Fáil will support it but it will only be as strong as the resources given to the gardaí, not simply the powers they will receive. I was amused to hear Senator Gallagher say the gardaí were not using the powers they already have, with specific reference to the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act. If she had spoken to gardaí about that Act——

——she would know that there was nowhere to put youths who have been moved along under that legislation.

That is not the problem.

If she spoke to them about serious drug offences she would know that if the powers were strong enough there would be no need to introduce this harsh legislation, as the Minister described it. However, we all agree that it is needed.

The powers in this legislation will only come into play after lengthy periods of surveillance and detection of drug trafficking and hard graft by the gardaí. There is need for a specialised drug unit in every district. The gardaí have been faced with many problems in this work. It has been documented that they have been involved in lengthy surveillance and detection work, staking out known drug traffickers and barons for months on end only to be told that overtime was being cut back and they had to abandon the operation. In some cases, gardaí continued this surveillance at their own expense and in their own time but we should not rely on their goodwill.

If they are involved in surveillance work they need support and the necessary resources. This harsh legislation will help them to secure convictions subsequently, but they will not be able to secure convictions until they have gathered the evidence necessary to bring the criminals to court. I have had reports from gardaí about inadequate and faulty communications equipment — radios and walkie talkies which did not work when they were on the point of entering a premises. Whatever about legal powers, the gardaí do not have communications resources.

There is disharmony among the rank and file members of the Garda. The problems which have resulted in there being two representative organisations have not yet been resolved. There is a strong feeling among gardaí that their superiors are almost guaranteed promotion if they are within budget as distinct from delivering policing results. The Minister of Justice must indicate to the management in the Garda that times have changed.

I am aware of instances when gardaí have been sent out with their notebooks and told to return from duty with a certain number of summonses. That would pass for adequate Garda work as far as management was concerned. The Minister must inform the senior management of the Garda that if it requires lengthy detection work to get at the real criminals, sending gardaí out to check car tax is no longer enough. On behalf of the members of the Force I ask the Minister to inform the Garda management that being within budget will not guarantee promotion. Unless inroads into serious crime can be made, there should be no guarantee of promotion.

The increase in the powers of detention to a seven day period is welcome. Senator Neville discussed the nature of some of the criminals who will be held for up to 24 hours but will fix their eyes on a spot on the wall and say nothing. Is it hoped that during the seven day period, while investigations are taking place, these people will crack? These people have been referred to as "hard men", although, to be fair, some media commentators have described them as absolute cowards. However, the media have given them ridiculous names, such as the "Monk", and we should not use them.

These are the kind of people who called to Veronica Guerin's house and shot her as a warning, who telephoned her and threatened to kidnap and abuse her son and who, finally, shot her dead while she was sitting defenceless in her car because they were afraid of what she might write about them. Are they the kind of people who would crack during seven days' detention? Perhaps they are because they are the ultimate cowards. However, I have a suspicion they will demand the presence of their solicitors and will say nothing. I welcome the provision and I hope it produces the desired results.

The Minister said the Bill will allow for the detention of persons arrested for drug trafficking offences where it is suspected they have concealed drugs in their persons — the so-called "stuffers and swallowers". This provision will be a boon to the Garda. In some flats and houses fires are kept alight day and night so that drugs can be burned if the Garda arrive at the premises. Hopefully, other elements of the legislation will address that problem. Drugs are often imported in a body cavity and suspects may not be held long enough for nature to take its course. Those who swallow drugs are difficult to deal with; it is matter of delicate detail. This is a welcome provision. Swallowing drugs has been a way of evading the law.

The Bill will allow for Customs officers to be present and to participate in the questioning of suspects detained by the Garda in relation to drugs trafficking offences. The Oireachtas has been critical of the level of co-operation between the Customs service and the Garda and there have been numerous calls for a co-ordinated approach from the two agencies. However, I am not aware of a call for Customs officers to be present at or to participate in the Garda questioning. I do not understand the need for it because, if any evidence or statements are required they could be provided in writing. Perhaps the Minister would explain the need for this provision.

The Minister referred to the need for this legislation because of the enormous profits to be made from the vile trade in drugs. How have those who made huge profits over many years been able to get away with it? There have been very few prosecutions, although I am aware the Revenue Commissioners have been threatened. I was recently contacted by a constituent who had returned from England and went to the labour exchange to sign on. She did not wish to sign on for a long period because she was confident she would be able to find employment. She returned from England because of the traumatic effects of the Canary Wharf bombing. One of the officials in the labour exchange asked her to show them how much money she had in her pocket and she produced £20. Reference was made earlier to the right to silence. This woman was asked to show how much money she had on her person.

One of these gangland figures referred to in the newspapers lived in my constituency for many years in a local authority house and was unemployed. I have seen pictures of his mansion in Enfield, County Meath. A neighbour of this man who had nine children did a window cleaning round to supplement his income. His dole payment was stopped and he had to repay arrears. The man who is quoted in the newspapers as saying he did not kill Veronica Guerin but who lives in a mansion near Enfield never received a call from the social welfare officials. The Garda called on a number of occasions but were unsuccessful in securing a drugs conviction against him although they knew he was involved. The people who make the large profits are easily identified, yet they seem to have been untouchable. However, the ordinary people seem to be very amenable to the questions put to them in the labour exchanges. They are the first to be tackled by the State.

The extension of the period of detention may lead to space problems. In my local Garda station in Blanchardstown they do not have room to swing a cat. They will not have room to hold anybody who is suspected of drug trafficking. Many people in the suburbs of Dublin could be arrested in the morning under the powers of this Bill, but there is a need to put resources into upgrading stations. That is due to happen in Blanchardstown. You will find a similar position in all Garda stations, perhaps in rural stations even more than urban ones. There may be a lack of space and that would present a problem.

The Minister is being careful. While these are harsh measures, a person's rights are being protected and I know the reason for that. I do not know if the general public want or are looking for the reassurance that somebody whom the Garda feel genuinely is guilty of drug trafficking offences need their rights upheld.

I support Senator Mulcahy and Senator Gallagher. Gardaí who have to go to court to have the period of detention extended to seven days may in fact show their hand slightly because they have to have reasonable suspicion of the person concerned committing an offence and that it is considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so. Those powers exist in regard to bail. If it is felt that the person concerned may commit another offence or flee the country, the Garda can request that bail should not be granted. In the majority of cases judges grant bail even if the Garda put those reasons forward for not granting bail. I am concerned about how strong the legislation is and what kind of case the Garda need to make before a judge in order to get the period of detention extended to seven days.

The Minister referred to the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights and the fact that she is ensuring that these new powers are not open to abuse. To date there have been few cases of the Garda Síochána abusing their powers. There was a case thrown out last week which suggested that was the case, but that was a rare case. The Minister will agree that there is a perception among the public that the law is on the side of the criminal and the victims of crime are forgotten. I do not know why the Minister has to — and I use the term advisedly — labour the point of protecting the rights of those who are taken into custody and having their period of detention extended. We on this side of the House will support the Minister if liberties people decide to get on a bandwagon and try to derail this legislation.

Section 3 of the Bill deals with bodily samples and the destruction of records and samples. Perhaps that would cover drug traffickers who throw illegal substances into the fires in their homes. This State has more powers under Road Traffic Acts than it has in murder cases. Under a Fianna Fáil/Labour Act, we have the right to take urine and blood samples and to follow somebody into their home, if we suspect that they have been involved in cases such as drunk driving and hit and run. We have fewer powers in dealing with someone who has committed murder and until this Bill the Garda had more restricted powers in dealing with drug trafficking. I welcome that part of the Bill and regard it as a positive move.

I am not totally with the Minister on section 4, which deals with rearrest. Is the Minister trying to reassure us that somebody will not be released after seven days detention and brought back in on a whim? I do not think that is likely to happen. I would have faith in the Garda Síochána that it would do its job correctly.

Again, I do not understand Garda and customs service participation in the questioning of a detained person, but I have laboured that point.

I referred to the unqualified right to silence with regard to the extended period of detention. The Minister has changed that slightly and it was mentioned by other speakers that nobody has an unqualified right to silence. Has there been any case in the last five or six years where a judge has drawn an inference from somebody remaining silent? I am not completelyau fait with the amendment in this legislation. Say I am detained for seven days and say nothing but in court at a later stage I say the reason I am not guilty is because I was with Senator Gallagher attending a Labour Party launch of a document on drug abuse. I do not know if removing the right to silence is a huge improvement in the position. People who do not break the law believe that if you are asked a question and do not respond to it, you have something to hide. That is a common perception. It may be right; it may be wrong. That is how the ordinary public who do not break the law see the abuse of the right to silence.

There is always the risk of somebody weak and vulnerable being entrapped, but these are not the kind of people who go to the Four Courts and smile or sneer through proceedings. Gardaí are reasonably intelligent people. They know the difference between somebody who will genuinely land themselves in trouble by saying something, as distinct from somebody whom they have had under surveillance or about whom they have reasonable suspicion of being involved in a crime. The qualified right to silence does not alter it significantly. The kind of people we are hoping to lock up as a result of this legislation will not be stupid enough to come up with the kind of scenario I mentioned in relation to Senator Gallagher and myself. There is a need to re-examine the right to silence, perhaps in the context of constitutional change or in relation to the bail laws as well. That particular aspect of the legislation is weak.

I know of a specific case in Dublin where plainclothes gardaí had been watching a particular premises, which has since been closed down. On the night they gained entry to the premises with a warrant, one of the gardaí was obstructed by a bouncer on the door. I do not know if it was a result of that raid, but the premises were later closed. The garda who was obstructed on the way in subsequently found himself, as they say in the force, "writing". There was a complaint lodged by the bouncer that the garda had used abusive language towards him as he tried to find out why they were seeking to gain access to the premises. He made a complaint to the Garda Síochána Complaints Board. The garda was writing for months back and forth to explain why he had told this individual to get out of his way. The words he used were probably stronger than that, but he demanded that the person who was obstructing them should get out of the way. It was simply a time wasting tactic. The Minister referred to it. That is what members of the Garda Síochána must face when trying to do their work in this city, so I welcome that change. Praise and congratulations are due to the Minister for raising the fine from £5 to £1,000. She has made it clear that that is not the end of it as there are other sanctions which would then be imposed.

When the Minister for Health was in the House discussing the problems of drug abuse the emphasis was on drug treatment. I, among others, said that we need to take the profit out of drugs and lock up the guilty. This Bill goes some way towards doing that, and I hope the other points I made about giving resources to the Garda will also be matched.

Can the Minister confirm that £20 million of the money for the Wheatfield Prison will form part of the 1998 Estimates? Perhaps it will not come on stream as fast as we thought.

I welcome and support the Bill.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill and, indeed, on the overall problem facing society in city and country in so far as these drug gangsters are concerned.

The problem is that a demand exists for what they are selling and it provides for the continuation and intensification of their efforts. When one reads in the newspaper yesterday that Dublin is carved up by the drug barons — they should not be called barons; I should call them gangsters — it is not any wonder that this is taking place. The background to this is that both Houses of the Oireachtas passed provisions in the Finance Bill, 1993, to introduce a tax amnesty, about which I had serious doubts at the time. It allowed these gangsters to declare some of their finances by paying a certain amount of tax to the State and, low and behold, receive a tax certificate to that effect. How effective will the proposals for the seizing of assets be on the basis of the enactment of that legislation since some, if not all, of these gangsters availed of it?

The previous speaker referred to a person who was living in a corporation house in her constituency who now happens to live close to my home. He bought a house in poor condition on a small portion of land a few years ago and started to renovate it. Then he disappeared for a year, presumably he was locked up at the time. He has spent somewhere in the region of over £2 million on this property in the last two years by purchasing other property and doing it up. I wonder whether such people will not be able to claim a clean sheet as a result of their receipt from the Revenue Commissioners in the tax amnesty. I call on the Minister for Justice and the Government to ask for an explanation as to where such persons — I am sure this is only one of them — received funds for these developments.

I was told the other night at a function about another particular gentlemen who has many bodyguards around the place. He has a helicopter landing pad on top of his house so that he can get away in the event that somebody comes in search of him. These are the type of people with whom we are dealing.

It is also interesting to note that when I inquired from some of the locals about the history of the gangster in Enfield, County Meath, I was told that while he was extremely dangerous and nobody was prepared to trust him, they felt his wife was ten times more dangerous than he. Therefore, we are not just dealing with gentlemen in this particular game but with families who will spare no life, regardless of what life it is. When one considers what this Italian gentleman was prepared to do to his own family only two weeks ago, it shows the type of people with whom we are dealing.

The Minister has been working on this matter for some time, even though the impression is afoot that nothing has been done in this area and no real effort was being made. Some speakers in this and the other House are of the opinion that this whole problem started on 14 December 1994, when it is true to say that the killings started in the last 18 months on the basis of many of these gangsters legitimising money through the amnesty and deciding they would take their share of this city in whatever way they could.

This year is known as the year of the murders.

The Senator can explain his particular position in connection with the amnesty. If he does not like what I am saying, he can make up his own mind on the issue and explain it to the people he represents.

If the Senator wants to make snide remarks, he will get them right back.

Acting Chairman

Senator Farrelly without interruption.

I welcome the fact that the Minister's package proposes appointing an additional 200 civilians to deal with work in Garda stations across the country. Does the House know how many Ministers for Justice promised to address that matter? Former Ministers for Justice Deputy Ray Burke, former Deputy Pádraig Flynn and Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn all promised that they would provide civilians to release a substantial number of gardaí from other duties but nothing was ever done about it. I am delighted that the Minister has decided that this will happen. They were talking about it for eight years but the proposal is before us today and it will happen.

I welcome the fact that extra gardaí will be appointed. I would like to think, as I said last week, that the Garda Síochána, as the team representing the politicians and the Minister, will pull together and work as a team to get at the root of the real problem. A previous speaker mentioned the fact that there were two Garda representative organisations and said nothing had been done about them. It is easy to throw the buck over to the Minister and ask her to solve the team's problem. What is wrong with the head and the sub-heads of the team that there are so many problems within the organisation dividing it into such a state? How successful can the team be if it is going in two, three and four different directions? As I appealed to them last week, I appeal to them today: in the interest of the people they represent, the protection of the State and its people, it is only right and proper to ask them to bury the hatchet, to solve their problems and to let us take on the gangsters who are trying to take over the State in many areas. In other words, while Rome is burning and many people do not seem to be doing their jobs, these people are being allowed to take over.

I welcome the bringing together of members of the Garda, Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Welfare. At last there will be cooperation in this area. Senator McGennis referred to the questions asked by social welfare officers of individuals who seem to be able to receive payments without a word being said; that is the case not only in her constituency but right across the country. We all have encountered such cases, as I am sure the Minister has.

I also welcome the fact that for the first time in 26 years there will be a review of the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the Garda Síochána. I had the opportunity while in New York last March to visit two people who are very involved in dealing with drug related crime in New York. They informed me in no uncertain terms that they made little progress until they were given powers to seize the assets of these criminals. They also pointed out to me, as I informed the Minister, it was important that the Force itself was effective and efficient and for reviews to take place on a regular basis, in other words, the organisation should be reviewed and helped to deal with the demands of what is happening today rather than what happened 26 years ago.

I welcome the other proposed crime prevention measures, such as increasing the number of youth division projects, strengthening the juvenile liaison officer schemes, the establishment of crime councils and special Garda vehicles for surveillance. It is true that the telecommunications network needs to be improved. However, I would hate to think that anyone would point the finger and say this problem was the fault of the Minister of the day. It is up to the management of the organisation which has almost 11,000 members to continue to look for funding to improve these areas if they are inadequate to deal with the menace of these gangsters.

The proposed 400 extra prison places for remand prisoners, on top of the other 270 prison places which have already been approved this year, is a very welcome development. There was a radical need to change the courts system and increase the number of judges if we are to be successful. I welcome the fact the President of the High Court will ensure extra sittings take place so that cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.

I am sure the referendum on reform of the bail laws will be passed by a huge majority. That is to be welcomed and should take place as soon as possible. I was interested to hear the statement yesterday by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties which advised politicians not to rush into enacting legislation which might go over the top. When people are prepared to go to war, it is only right and proper for those in authority to enact legislation which will ensure those implementing the law also have the powers to go to war. I do not think we should be too worried about the protection of the civil liberties of those we are trying to take off the streets. The civil liberties of Garda Jerry McCabe and Veronica Guerin were not considered by these gangsters. There is a need to set aside the soft approach of some people to whom politicians have perhaps listened too much over the last ten years and as a result of which we have a mounting problem.

The overriding factor in this legislation and the fight against these gangsters is the effectiveness of seizing their assets. I hope the Minister will take on board the fact that if those assets are seized forthwith and their owners have to prove to the State and the Revenue Commissioners that they built their mansions and bought their properties with legitimate money, within 12 months millions of pounds could come into the State's coffers from the sale of those assets. That is the only positive way to hurt these gangsters who are hurting our children.

I look forward to the total package of legislation which will be finalised on 26 July. Mistakes have been made. All parties have been in Government, some for much longer than others.

Is the Senator starting that again? It is a year since that Bill was cleared by the Government and we are only seeing it today.

The Senator was there for seven years.

It was cleared a year ago.

In case the Senator has forgotten, he was a Minister from 1987 until November 1992.

The Senator should read the first line of the memorandum.

Acting Chairman

Senator Farrelly, without interruption.

It was approved 12 months ago.

Acting Chairman

Senator Farrelly, without interruption; I ask you to confine your remarks to the Bill.

It is a legitimate political point.

The truth hurts. It is not my fault if the Senator has suffered a loss of memory and is not prepared to accept that he was in Government for a number of those years, but it is my job to point it out, as you, Sir, do very effectively on many occasions.

As I said, I welcome these measures and I look forward to the positive support which the Opposition stated it will give. I hope we will never again have to introduce legislation which gives these gangsters a free hand to spend their ill-gotten gains, as happened in the past when some Senators were in Government.

I appreciate that the Minister attended the House today to introduce Second Stage of this Bill. All of us, especially those of us who are parents or who have contact with young people, are very aware of the increasing use of drugs and the dangers imposed by the drugs threat to the future safety and health of our children.

Drug trafficking and drug dealing is a very complex issue. There are no instant solutions, but there is a great sense of urgency that these issues be addressed. A number of weeks ago we discussed a health package proposed by the Minister for Health, Deputy Noonan. I said then that we needed to address this issue with a greater sense of urgency and the events of the past couple of weeks have reinforced this.

The legislation before the House is radical and my party supports it. The purpose is to deal with a unique problem in society today. The Bill proposes seven days detention for questioning without charge by the gardaí, which is a major departure in terms of the powers of the gardaí to detain people. I support the extra powers being granted. The Minister was clear when she said that there has been much concern to balance of the rights of the individuals who may be detained under the provisions of this legislation.

I welcome the provision whereby, after a person has been detained for 48 hours, a judicial process intervenes. There must be an application to the court, the court must be satisfied that the gardaí are proceeding with the investigation and the judge must make a determination on the extension of detention for a further period. This is important. The legislation is balanced to ensure its constitutionality.

Unfortunately, the Minister rejected some of the amendments put down by my party in the other House, especially with regard to limiting the absolute right to silence. However, I acknowledge that she accepted one of the amendments yesterday. My party wishes to see the curtailment of the right to silence extended to other serious crimes such as murder. We hope the Government will introduce proposals to extend these measures, and that the measures in this Bill will be introduced in respect of other crimes. I propose to put down amendments on Committee Stage that were not accepted by the Government but which my party believes to be necessary, especially because of the crisis in society today.

We also put down amendments in the other House to ensure certain safeguards and to introduce video recordings of interviewees. This was proposed by us not just as a safeguard from a civil liberties point of view but also as a safeguard which would be of benefit to the Garda. Many people taken into custody today will allege they have been abused while being questioned. It would be in everybody's interest — the gardaí, the public and the person detained — that there be an independent reference, such as a video recording. It is regrettable that the Government voted down the list of safeguards proposed by my party in the other House.

Drugs are a great menace to society. They have caused much damage and destroyed many lives and communities. The drugs menace is not merely a law and order issue. It cannot be dealt with solely by the Minister for Justice. There is a role to be played by the Department of Health and the Department of Education. Many of us have talked about the concerns of the civil liberties lobby, but we have reached the stage where we need to talk about the civil liberties and rights of the victims of these drug barons, the so called "untouchables" and "godfathers" who appear to have garnered the resources through their dealings in crime and drugs to ensure that they can procure for themselves the very best legal, financial and every other kind of advice to ensure that they remain untouchable. This is unacceptable. None of us is too concerned about the civil liberties of these individuals because they are well able to ensure, through their ill-gotten gains, that they are well protected.

The legislation is finely balanced. It is important that the regulations governing the treatment of persons while in custody for such long periods are fully explained. They must be clearly set out and understood by everybody, including the gardaí, the authorities and the person in custody.

I welcome the Minister's advice that section 5 covers such matters as the provision of medical attention and access to a solicitor. This is important. Many of the people detained under the legislation will probably be drug addicts or in the process of withdrawing from drugs. A person suffering withdrawal symptoms is likely to confess to anything. It is important, therefore, that adequate facilities, including medical attention, be available.

There should be independent verification, such as the video recording of interviewees. In recent weeks there have been accusations against the Garda Síochána; the number of complaints has been increasing. Many of those taken into custody file complaints as a matter of course. This can cause great concern and stress to gardaí. It would reassure them and the public if such verification was available.

I also welcome the provision that the legislation will be subject to review after it has been in place for 12 months. Many of those who talk about civil liberties on the radio and in the media refer to the heavy gang and the gardaí acting outside their powers. However, we know the gardaí and we know what they are doing. If a tiny minority were to step beyond their powers, they would still be within our control but, unfortunately, the gangsters involved in crime have been able to remain outside the control of legislators, the courts and the system. They appear to have been allowed to freely pursue their lives of crime and the destruction of so many people. In this Bill the Minister has finely balance the civil liberties of people, while at the same time extending the powers of the gardaí which they believe they need. We will have an opportunity to review the legislation in 12 months when changes can be made.

I welcome the proposed changes in section 9 to the Public Dance Halls Act, 1935, which will enable gardaí who are not in uniform to enter premises. Much of drug taking and distribution take place at dances, raves, etc. Today the Minister said that such gardaí would be covered under the 1935 Act. It is important that plain clothes detectives can enter these premises. Under section 13 of the 1935 Act, the fine is only £5, and in this Bill provision is made for a penalty of up to £1,000 on conviction for obstructing or attempting to obstruct gardaí acting under the new section. However, a fine of £1,000 is very small, given that contract killings are carried out for £5,000. They will try to obstruct the Garda entering the premises and delay them while the drugs being distributed are disposed of. The sum of £1,000 is petty cash to these godfathers and perhaps it should be increased. They have men on the doors of dance halls and they would pay a fine of £1,000 if they could dispose of the drugs on the premises. The figure of £1,000 is a huge improvement on £5 but the drug barons have unlimited resources at their disposal.

The Minister of State, Deputy Burton, dealt with the debate in other House yesterday. In her reply she stated that the Progressive Democrats' response to this issue appeared to be just in terms of law and order. However, I have raised this area with the Minister for Justice on many occasions. I also raised it with the Minister for Health and the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy O'Shea. He heard me state many times that drugs are not just a law and order issue. Huge problems exist for drug addicts in terms of treatment facilities. I spoke at length on this aspect on 16 May when the Minister for Health introduced measures to tackle the drugs problem from a health point of view.

As the Progressive Democrats spokesperson on health, I put down parliamentary questions in Deputy O'Donnell's name in the other House and on each of those occasions the treatment of drug addicts, including those in prison, was raised. The Progressive Democrats priority question on the last occasion health questions were taken in the other House related to the measures contained in the package announced by the Minister the previous day. The Progressive Democrats have been active on the health aspect of the problem and in terms of proposing measures for treating drug addicts in prison and trying to prevent people turning to drugs. This involves empowering people in communities, but not just in deprived areas because everybody accepts the drugs problem is not a class issue. All children, whether they live in Dublin or rural Ireland, are exposed to the drugs culture and we ignore this problem at our peril. I accept the health issues do not come under the control of the Minister for Justice but I have raised them with the Minister for Health and the Minister of State, Deputy O'Shea.

The Minister for Justice is responsible for Mountjoy Prison and I have constantly urged her to consider spending the £35,000 it costs to keep a prisoner in the jail on treatment programmes. I have visited the women's prison and a large proportion of the young women in jail are drug addicts. When they come out of jail they return to the crime which put them in Mountjoy in the first place to feed their habits.

There is no easy answer to this very difficult problem and I realise these young women, and men, are returning to a lifestyle and culture where drugs are freely available. A huge number are unemployed and many of them leave school at an early age. Many factors, such as low self-esteem, contribute to the complex issue, but I hope people do not think the Progressive Democrats only support tough law and order measures. Many areas need to examine this issue and I acknowledge the Government is considering other ways of addressing the problem. I would appreciate it if the Minister relayed to his Government colleagues that the Progressive Democrats are not just a one issue party.

The main drug about which people are concerned is heroin but, in the main, it is only a problem in major cities. There is a major drug problem in rural Ireland; no town or village is unaffected by drugs. All children are exposed to the drugs culture and the measures in the Bill, which will try to address the problem, will benefit to entire country. The greatest concern in rural areas is the increasing use of Ecstasy. Many people believe this is only available at raves in cities, but many young people in towns throughout the country attend discos at weekends and they go to pubs. It is frightening that Ecstasy is so freely available. In the last 12 months, a number of young people have died from taking Ecstasy tablets.

It is important to discuss the drugs issue and how it is affecting young people. Drugs are available in every town and village. If we can get people to understand the extent of the problem, and the fact that it does not only affect children in a particular class in society, they will accept that measures are necessary to rid ourselves of this curse. The measures introduced by the Minister are one of the ways she proposes to tackle the drugs problem and my party welcomes and supports the Bill.

I also welcome this modest but important legislation. It is a further legislative attempt to come to grips with our serious drugs problem. I was irritated by Senator Farrelly's clumsy comments, but I wish to be constructive. In common with other Fianna Fáil contributors, I support the legislation so far as it goes and we will endeavour to improve it.

I wish to raise a number of technical points to ensure Members are clear about the Bill. Section 2 states that regulations will be put in place to give effect to the provisions of the section. It would be useful to know what regulations the Minister has in mind. Will they relate to the special places of detention for persons found with drugs in their possession or on their person? Are they a general set of regulations? How far will the regulations extend and when will they be available? Despite the best wishes of the Houses in terms of putting through legislation, it sometimes takes a long time before the detail of the regulations are put in place. I ask the Minister to clarify what the regulations will contain, how soon they will be available and to what extent will they cover the wider issues. Perhaps they just apply to the section itself.

I raise this point because section 11 states the legislation must be brought back to the Oireachtas within a year. We may well find ourselves in a situation where the regulations may not be completed before it is time to annul these sections of the legislation. I would like some indication from the Minister in his reply as to the necessity to put such a strict time limit on the duration of the special sections of the legislation which it is intended to repeal within a year. We may well find that we have to repeal the legislation before the regulations have come into force.

The legislation is welcome as far as it goes. Its introduction was signalled about this time last year and a Government decision was taken to expedite it as part of the package announced at the time. This was confirmed in the explanatory memorandum circulated with the Bill. There does not seem to be any sense of urgency in the Department of Justice about getting this legislation on the Statute Book as quickly as the situation warrants. Everyone here knows about the very serious crisis in relation to misuse of drugs and crime facing the country at present; we have raised it on numerous occasions in this House. Thousands of people are being exploited by those who have made it their sole profession to get involved in what is for a very limited number of people a very lucrative, if illegal, business. Any legislation the Government can introduce here will have our full support if it is designed to come to grips with the problem of this limited number of highly organised and sophisticated gangsters who are holding the streets to ransom.

I want to put on the record my appreciation of the Minister for Health and the Ministers of State at the Department of Health who recently sent a very useful document to all Members setting out the position in relation to the misuse of drugs from the point of view of the Minister, Deputy Noonan, and the Ministers of State, Deputy Currie and Deputy O'Shea. It is a very useful document, but it acknowledges that the Department still does not know the extent of the heroin problem in Ireland. It is relying on statistics available in 1994 which gave a figure of about 3,000 heroin addicts. How can we legitimately deal with a crisis if we are not familiar with the full extent of it? The Department of Health or any other Department involved must first do whatever is necessary to identify precisely the nature and extent of the problem. That is the first prerequisite when trying to deal with this problem, the side effects of which is the gangsterism stalking our streets at present.

We must keep in mind that those making money from this are selling drugs in the full view of our television service. RTE showed a programme recently in which their cameras showed the sale of drugs in the public street in the Dolphin's Barn area. The Government and the Minister for Health by their own admission, according to this document which we received a few days ago, are still not aware of the full extent of the problem. They are relying on research which is underway to identify precisely the size of the problem at present. If the Government does not have the full facts, how can it deal with the problem effectively?

The second fact apparent from this document is that the Government does not have sufficient methadone treatments and other services which would enable this problem to be dealt with, even for the limited numbers allowed for in the document. It is vitally important that the Government in shaping and enforcing this legislation also puts in place the necessary finances and resources to enable the expansion of the treatment services and the development of a response to those who are suffering at present so as to avoid an escalation in the numbers addicted, leading to a greater crisis regardless of what legislation we pass to deal with it. This is a very frightening thought; this is a very challenging time.

From the point of view of the Minister for Justice, other Government Departments and those professionals who have to deal with this problem on a day to day basis, the present emergency needs to be tackled very seriously. Only now, unfortunately, are we seeing the first indications that this awareness has sunk home in the Cabinet. There is no doubt — I do not wish to get into party political point scoring — that the Minister for Justice outlined the seriousness of the situation and the desirability of dealing with the matter urgently to the Cabinet about a year ago, and put forward a number of proposals which were not fully endorsed by Cabinet at that time.

We have seen the tragic assassination in the last few weeks of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Limerick and that of Veronica Guerin only a week ago in Dublin. As well as that we see the list of assassinations and murders increasing almost by the day. These are mainly drug related, but in my view illegal organisations are also involved. We saw this in the case of the late Jerry McCabe.

Despite all the public discussion that has taken place, very little attention has been paid to the fact that the late Jerry McCabe, the late Veronica Guerin and 12 others were shot down with illegally held guns and ammunition. Nothing in this Bill does anything to modernise our legislation in this regard. The Garda Síochána is still working under legislation pertaining to the seizure of ammunition which goes back to around 1798. The legislation is old and antiquated. People wonder how, with all the resources of the State, we can still find areas where illegally held guns, high calibre machine guns and revolvers are in use on a daily or weekly basis.

It looks to many decent people that law and order is about to break down in this country. If law and order breaks down, anarchy begins. It would be tragic to allow a small number of people, whether involved in drug trafficking or in illegal organisations, to hold this country to ransom and to mete out their own form of justice to people who do not agree with them or who write stories which are adverse to the business they are involved in. As legislators we have an obligation to the community to respond in a positive way. We also have an obligation to back our comments with finance and to provide the necessary funds to the Minister for Justice or any other Minister who has a problem to deal with and who has to deal with it speedily and efficiently. We cannot be intimidated or terrified by people who would like to put guns to our heads to stop us doing what has to be done in the national interest.

I will make one other comment in relation to the Department of Justice, the parliamentary draftsman and those in Government. It has taken a year from the announcement of the original Government decision to put this important legislation through the Houses. If that is the case, what can we expect by way of regulations and the provision of resources and additional personnel to deal with these matters? While there may appear to be urgency on the part of the Government to deal with this situation in light of recent tragic events, genuine and responsible people will begin to question whether we are serious about this issue unless there is positive action in the near future. Members of the public will not differentiate between Members of the Labour Party, Democratic Left, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael in this regard. As far as the public is concerned, this problem is a plague on all our houses. We must adopt a responsible position and ensure that the necessary action is taken. We must also ensure that any legislation required to tackle the menace with which we are faced is provided speedily, effectively and efficiently.

Some of the provisions in this Bill, including those which permit customs officials to be present when questioning is taking place, are long overdue. Three years ago, a very respectable business person in my area leased an expensive limousine worth £50,000 to £60,000 to a person he believed was a genuine customer. He discovered that the vehicle was used in the commission of a drug related offence. The individual in question has been without the use of that asset for over three years. Why does it take three years for a case to come to court involving a person who was apprehended while committing a very serious offence and had drugs in their possession? I welcome the today's decision to provide additional judges.

It is essential that urgency is attached to dealing speedily with people who are apprehended with drugs in their possession. Such cases must be carried through as expeditiously as possible. However, it is not very expeditious if a person is apprehended, charged and released on bail and it takes three to five years for the case to come before the courts. That is not an efficient or effective way to deal with these matters. Whether the procedures for dealing with such cases are overly bureaucratic or there are delays in the presentation of books of evidence, an urgency must be attached to dealing speedily with these matters.

I fully support the provisions in the legislation which deal with the issue of warrants, etc. This represents a step in the right direction and will prove more effective. However, some the provisions will make it more cumbersome than at present for members of the Garda Síochána to obtain warrants in respect of re-arresting suspects. I welcome the provision to enable the Garda Síochána to enter dance halls and places of entertainment. This should be extended to cover major outdoor festivals because drug trafficking occurs at such events. To a large extent, drug dealers have been able to traffic their wares at these festivals and their actions have gone relatively undetected.

The public at large has a responsibility to co-operate with the Garda Síochána in this area. While politicians have rightly been on the receiving end of an amount of criticism from the media and the public in recent weeks, the public at large have their own responsibilities. I am familiar with a certain businessman who operated a very important dance hall discotheque. The drug squad was aware that drug trafficking took place on the premises each Saturday night. When undercover detectives and members of the drug squad visited the premises, the owner entered the reception area where tickets are sold and tipped off the people he knew were involved in drug trafficking so that they would not be apprehended by the gardaí. The owner informed them that the premises was staked out by the drugs squad and that they would be arrested if they were caught selling or buying of drugs. People like that should be arrested, prosecuted and have their premises confiscated.

Politicians take their share of responsibility and take necessary action to deal with this problem. However, many members of the general public have much information, know the identities of those involved in drug trafficking and are aware of what is happening in their streets, suburbs, estates, towns and villages. As Senator Honan stated, drug trafficking is no longer confined to Dublin, Cork or Limerick. This problem was experienced at festivals in County Clare last year and is becoming prevalent in small towns and villages. People throughout the country can play an equal part to ensure that we come to grips with the problem. I am not prepared to allow people in my constituency or elsewhere to wash their hands of this problem and state that the responsibility lies with the Minister for Justice, Deputy Owen, Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Democratic Left or Deputy O'Donoghue. Everyone has a responsibility, particularly people who are members of community groups that organise festivals, to co-operate with the Garda Síochána and the authorities.

We must make a last ditch effort to stamp out this conduct which is bringing the country into disrepute and putting the lives of many young people at risk by causing long-term damage to their health and that of their families. I welcome and support the legislation. We will consider it before Committee Stage to see if it can be improved. It is a modest attempt to tackle the problem of drug trafficking, but more measures, finance and Government action are required. The Opposition will give as much support as possible to the Government's efforts to come to grips with the problem. However, there is also a need for the general public and the community at large to recognise that a problem exists which will not be resolved by the Government and politicians alone. The public must play its part in finding a solution.

In supporting this legislation, I pay tribute to the Minister for Justice who has encountered difficulties in dealing with the violence which has become an everyday occurrence on our streets. There seems to be much uproar, outrage and surprise at recent events. In the not too distant past the media warned that we had gone soft on violence and the men of violence. There was a perception that people of violence should be treated with caution and that we should not upset them. It is now obvious that we should not use kid gloves when dealing with armed organisations or criminals who are prepared to bring down the State through acts of violence. To deal with the problem we must start at the beginning. As Senator Daly said, we must know what we are dealing with.

It has been said that the Government and the Minister for Justice are not fully aware of the extent of the drug problem. Did the former Minister for Finance, on the advice of the former Taoiseach, know when they introduced a tax amnesty that they were playing into the hands of drug barons? When one makes an assertion in the House that the Government and the Minister are not aware of the situation, they should look to the not too distant past when the drug barons, who are well known, were given the opportunity to launder their gains from drugs.

There can be no let up if the State is to deal with criminals and armed gangs. Any Government who has not done that, has done this country no favours. I am conscious of the reactions of politicians and parties and the PR exercises following recent events. My party has no need to engage in PR exercises. It has stood by the State since its foundation and it will continue to do so. Everybody knows that when people single out the Minister for Justice they are playing politics. By saying one does not blame the Minister, one is implying that there is something wrong with her. There is nothing wrong with the Minister or the Government.

This problem has been caused by the softly, softly approach adopted by the media and do-gooder politicians for many years. The moment of truth has arrived. As Senator Daly said, it is up to everyone to face up to this terrible challenge. The State will only survive if everyone is prepared to stand up for the gardaí and to respect order. If people are determined to be disorderly and to arm themselves with guns, how can society survive?

Politicians have said there is no need for arms decommissioning. Will they say that today? How can we deal with armed gangs and organisations and while at the same time say that decommissioning is not necessary? It is necessary because we cannot have two or three armies in a State. The State survives through its institutions. I support this legislation and I wish the Minister and the Government well. I thank the Opposition for its support. Long may we continue to support a good Minister for Justice and a good Government.

I welcome this Bill because all right thinking people realise that we must get rid of drugs and drug barons. The previous speaker said the Minister for Justice is a good Minister about which I have no doubt. However, I have doubts about some wings of the Government. When the Minister came into office there was a policy to provide more prison spaces and to build new prisons and money was provided but certain wings of the Government — the liberal wing — would not adopt that policy.

If the death of Veronica Guerin, go ndeana Dia trocaire ar a anam, has done anything, it has shaken the liberal wing out of its comfortable seclusion and has brought it into the real world. It realises once and for all that it must support the Minister and bring criminals to heel. It is all very well to talk about human and civil rights, but they must apply to everyone. What human or civil rights have innocent children in the school yard who are being given drugs to get them addicted and then involved in drug pushing? That problem must be firmly dealt with.

I am often amazed by the fact that there is hardly a teenager in the country, even in my own village of Grange, a quiet rural village, who cannot tell who is pushing drugs, what is available and at what price. Journalists can photograph pushers dealing, yet the gardaí do not seem to be able to catch them. Why? I have been told the gardaí want to catch the big dealers, the godfathers. We must remember that if the small pushers were caught, the market would dry up.

How many of today's godfathers were the Bugsy Malones of the 1970s? When Fianna Fáil was in power it decided to try to get the Bugsy Malones under control. However, the liberal agenda was popular at that time, so it did not get too far. Public opinion favoured psychiatric and medical treatment for these people. It also wanted more social and child care workers and resources. After spending billions of pounds over the past 20 years, some of the Bugsy Malones of the 1970s are today's godfathers. We did not nip the problem in the bud; we were unable to do so because we lived in a liberal society.

Some time ago I suggested that if we are to end the drug problem, we must start at the beginning. Many young people who push drugs are homeless. Instead of saying we have no place for them, we should open a unit in the Army in which they could be sent for four or five years not to punish them, but to train, educate and provide them with an outlet for their energy. What is the point of bringing in child psychologists and then sending them out into the same den of iniquity? If we are to come to grips with this problem, we must take young people out of this environment and place them in a good one in which they will be trained and educated. If we do not do so, we are whistling in the wind.

I echo what Senator Daly said about drugs being sold in discos. Many years ago if there was a dance in the local hall, there was always a garda or two on duty to maintain control. We do not see gardaí on duty at discos or dance halls today. What has gone wrong? Why are gardaí not on duty in places where young people congregate and where drugs are available? Why can we not send in undercover gardaí without the knowledge of the owners? Why can we not introduce a law to provide that if somebody is caught peddling drugs on a premises, the owner of the premises is responsible and their licence will be lost for 12 months and, for a second offence, for five years? The disco owners would soon get their act together and ensure that the peddlars did not get into their premises if their licences were in danger. This is the type of action we must take if we are serious about combating the crime problem.

I believe the gardaí, Revenue Commissioners staff and social welfare personnel are afraid of the criminals. They have every right to be afraid. We know what the criminals can do. They act in one way; there is no trial, no time to make up your mind, you might be in pain but soon it will be over because you are dead. That is the harsh reality. In Italy policemen and tax inspectors must wear balaclavas so they cannot be identified when arresting the criminals. If our gardaí are afraid of approaching the criminals that is what they will have to do. They will have to keep their identity hidden but they will have to deal with the criminals.

A few years ago this House passed a law to confiscate the assets of drug barons. To date nobody has been brought before the courts in that regard. The law was supported by all sides of the House; it seemed to be the right thing to do. What is wrong with the system that the law cannot be implemented? What is the use in the Oireachtas passing laws if they are not implemented?

There is something else I cannot understand. Veronica Guerin was abused and assaulted last September and the case has not yet come before the court. During those months Veronica was available to give direct evidence. I can guarantee that if a Member of this House was stopped for driving at ten or 15 miles over the speed limit he or she would be before a court within a month; if a Member assaulted anybody in the street, he or she would be in court within a month. Why has the Veronica Guerin case not been in court since September? Now the main witness is dead and the case can never come before the court. Surely there is something rotten with the system. Is it not time we faced reality and came up with answers? The answer is to be able to combat such situations, but we pass laws and cannot implement them.

We have always had crime problems. Forty years ago we had the Animal Gang, the teddy boys and other gangs. However, the gardaí kept them under control because there was no liberal agenda then. At that time we had Lugs Brannigan and big Pat Flynn in Sligo. There were men like them in every town and they took on the gangs and sorted them out. That was the only way to do it. The same thing would have been done in the 1970s with the Bugsy Malones but public opinion prevented it. Bear in mind too that, despite the current anger in society, there will be many protests against the new laws from representatives of the liberal agenda. However, we must be brave and pass the laws. We must also ensure that they are implemented.

The one area in which we are slipping up is the implementation of law. I appeal to the Minister to introduce legislation where undercover personnel can be sent into premises where drugs are being peddled and to provide in the same legislation that people who own and run such premises must close down for three months for a first offence and for three years for a second offence. Removing their licences would put an end to the problem. It is a simple method of dealing with it. As I said earlier, every teenager in the country can tell where there are drugs and how to get them. It is no problem.

I read in last Sunday's newspapers about how America came to grips with this problem. Criminals were put away for up to 40 years. We should put away some of our drug barons for 30 or 40 years and no visitors should be permitted for the first three years to ensure that all contacts are broken. These people are so well equipped with electronic equipment and so forth that they can now operate comfortably from within the walls of the prisons. They can maintain their contacts and run their business from the jail. It is probably a lot easier than doing it on the outside because in jail there is no pressure from the gardaí.

We must break their contacts and connections. There is no point incarcerating them with word processors, computers and other modern facilities. I read recently that a man is blocking the work of the Four Courts with his word processor and computer. Is that the type of service we should provide for criminals? Are we sincere? There is only one computer for every three Members of this House, yet a computer can be provided for a prisoner in jail. The best of modern technology is made available. Are we soft in the head? There is something radically wrong with the system. This issue must also be examined.

In addition to the other suggestions, we must awaken the general public. Society must realise that it must help both the politicians and the Garda. People cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hound. They must decide that they want the criminals put away. Do they realise the hardship these criminals cause in families and homes? Look at the young people who are infected with AIDS. Those problems and many of the unwanted pregnancies and unmarried mothers are the result of drink and drugs. We must come to grips with those problems. One need only open the newspapers to see the photographs of the fine young girls who are dying or dead as a result of drug abuse. It is scandalous that we are not making a better effort to deal with the problem.

The fallout from drugs is so serious that I wonders where it will stop. We have heard school teachers speak about children of ten and 12 years of age coming to school with hangovers. What road are we taking when such a thing can happen? Where will we be in ten or 20 years if we do not put a stop to that now? I am reliably informed that drug pushers are going into school playgrounds and putting drugs into children's coat pockets in the school cloakrooms. They will do anything to get them hooked because, once they are hooked, they cannot escape. We must come to grips with this issue. It is a massive job and I do not envy the Minister her task in trying to deal with it.

I am delighted with the Bill. The Minister is doing her best but every one of us must play our part. However, we must be sure in our approach. Nobody should be brought into a Garda barracks without a legal adviser, a peace commissioner or some reputable person being present. They will not be there to assist the accused but as witnesses. I would not have said that a few years ago. I have experience of a case where the Garda tried to accuse a person of knocking down and killing somebody with a van when he was in his house at the time. We must be careful that we do not go too far. A judge threw out a case in Cork last week because it was blatantly unfair to the accused person. We must be fair to people who are accused of crimes. To do that, there must be a solicitor present who can hold a watching brief and can give evidence of what happens in the interrogation. Providing cameras or tape recorders is not good enough. They can be switched on or off to suit the occasion and then it is the word of the accused against that of the prosecutor. While we must have tough laws, the Minister should also ensure we are scrupulously fair. If there was a repetition of the Birmingham Six incident, our whole law and order system would be called into question. Therefore, we must be scrupulously fair. The way to do this is to have an independent witness of substance present when a suspect is being interrogated to ensure that it is above board.

We must find a way of getting people off drugs. Are the methadone treatments, etc. enough? Is there a danger, that we are only replacing one drug with another? We must find the money to set up detoxification units to get these people off drugs. It is very difficult for a person to give something up when he is addicted to it, but we must make a greater effort in this regard. I am not sure whether we can do that with methadone treatment programmes. Senator O'Toole said we should find a way of supplying these drugs through chemists. Although it is not the answer, it might help to curtail the drug barons in some way. That market might then be controlled in a better way and these barons might not have as much influence over it as they have at present.

I support this Bill and I wish the Minister luck with it. The Minister has a tough job ahead. I want to see a law that allows undercover gardaí to catch drug pushers in discos. Disco owners should have their premises closed down for three months if anybody is caught selling drugs there and three years if it happens a second time. That would act as a deterrent.

In a way I feel this Bill is a bit like the curate's egg — it is good in parts. I could not be expected to agree with all of it. My good friend and colleague, Senator Farrell, referred to the liberal agenda. I suppose I am part of that. I am certainly not at all hesitant to say that the liberal agenda was a good thing for the country. I nailed my colours to that particular mast and I continue to do so. For that reason I do not believe in a knee jerk reaction to these very serious situations with which we are now confronted. This legislation has been introduced in the aftermath of a series of appalling murders, that of a garda in County Limerick and the journalist Veronica Guerin.

This Bill has been published for almost 12 months. Second Stage was taken well before these murders.

It has been pushed forward and advanced for these reasons. Extensive reference was made by other people during the debate to these matters. There is no doubt that it is as a result of an increasing concern, which has been accelerated by these matters, that we have the Bill before us today.

May I also say, since I have been invited to make this comment, that a member of Senator Neville's party yesterday attacked the position of the Government on the basis that legislation was introduced a year ago and yet nothing was done. I have been talking in this House for about two years on——

That is not true either.

I heard him on "Morning Ireland".

That has been corrected.

The matter he raised — the question of a three pronged attack involving the Customs, the Department of Social Welfare and the Garda — was raised by myself two years ago and nothing has been done about it. A lot of the machinery is there but we do not have the kind of co-operation or the involvement of the task force that I and Deputy Gregory, who lives in the inner city and deals daily with the situation, have been seeking. There has been a certain amount of inaction. I am saying this despite the fact that I spoke in favour of the Minister the other day when she was under pressure.

I agree with some of these measures but not all of them. The Minister outlined six principal ideas in her speech. The Minister talks about increasing the powers of detention in relation to persons suspected of drug trafficking offences to provide for a maximum period of detention up to seven days, with the intervention of the court after the first 48 hours have elapsed. I have grave reservations about that.

The Minister also wants to allow for the detention of persons arrested for drug trafficking offences where it is suspected they have concealed drugs in their persons — so called "stuffers" or "swallowers"— in places of detention specified by the Minister. This may very well be necessary but one would want to know precisely the kinds of places and conditions under which they were kept. Will this involve body searches, the administering of emetics and laxatives, etc. to make them regurgitate this material? If so, will there be adequate medical supervision? We have had cases in the past where body searches have been used as intimidatory machinery by police forces and almost as a kind of torture, particularly against women. Although this may be necessary, it needs to be spelt out and we need to ensure that whatever measures are introduced are done so in a humane way.

I have no difficulty in allowing customs officers to be present at, and participate in, the questioning of suspects detained by gardaí in relation to drug trafficking offences; it seems to me to be totally appropriate. In regard to permitting a court to draw inference from the failure of an accused in a drug trafficking case to mention during Garda questioning some fact which he or she subsequently relies on in his or her defence which could have reasonably been expected to be mentioned, I suppose there is a judgment call to be made. I can certainly envision circumstances in which a clever criminal would make use of the provisions of the present law, but we must also ensure that psychologically vulnerable and intimidated people are not placed at a disadvantage.

I have no problem in allowing members of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of superintendent to issue search warrants for drug trafficking cases where the warrant is urgently required. I also agree with permitting members of the Garda, whether they are in uniform or not, to enter and inspect places where a public dancing licence is in force for the purposes of the prevention and detection of a drug trafficking offence.

However, I cannot entirely agree with Senator Farrell that if an undercover person finds drugs being sold, the licence should be automatically be suspended for three months and, on a second offence, for three years, so that the disco will close. I have practical experience, having run discotheques, and I know it is impossible to police what goes on there. I dealt with fairly mild substances. We did not allow alcohol because we did not have a licence, but I used to find an unbelievable number of Paddy bottles stuffed behind lavatories after a disco. The crowd also used to take "poppers", which raise one's heartbeat and apparently increase the sensation of dancing. They are not illegal, but I forbade them; and even though I was totally strict, I could not stop them. I agree with sentencing those who sell drugs and if there is clear evidence of connivance on the part of disco management one should certainly introduce severe penalties. However, an automatic provision that if a joint is sold on a disco premises it should be closed for three months is swingeing, draconian and completely unnecessary.

The Irish Times today states that the Minister is at last being provided with the necessary economic muscle. I welcome that; but the sums involved, large though they are, only tackle the supply end of the problem and make no effort to address the demand, which is where a radical solution must lie. The article states: “The major initiative is a £40 million prison for Wheatfield”. This is a new prison and is fine if one wants that kind of thing. More money is also being allocated to the recruitment of gardaí. However, if sums like this were spent in the north inner city to create jobs or were put into a methadone maintenance programme, the amount of crime in Dublin would be halved. The city has an enormous problem of drug-related crime, but it will not be solved by locking people in jail for comparatively short periods. Those not already addicted to heroin will become so within the prison system and when they are released they must wait for over a year to get onto a methadone maintenance programme, while they are still in the chronic position that their bodies are crying out for a fix. As they cannot even get methadone, they will return to the criminal system. It is at that level that the issue should be addressed.

There is also the atmosphere which has recently been created. The Felloni case is notorious because people were horrified that a man with such a background was allowed out on bail on a number of occasions, during which crimes were committed. According to Mr. Vincent Browne's article inThe Irish Times today:

He had been charged with drugs offences in August 1994 and granted bail. He was charged with a second drugs offence in January 1995 and again granted bail. A further drugs change was brought against him in July 1995, when he was again granted bail. He was eventually tried on all charges two weeks ago, almost two years after he was first charged.

He was imprisoned for 20 years and everyone said that was good. However, as Mr. Browne says — and this is one of the few occasions I agree with him — the point is not access to bail. If the court system was working Mr. Felloni would have been tried at the beginning and convicted. It is not working because there are an inadequate number of judges, court facilities and sittings. I am glad the Government has at last provided some financing for the system —"at last" applies not to this Government but all Governments — but it is simplistic to imagine that it is only deficiencies in the bail laws which allow people like Felloni to operate.

I have put this on the record of the House so many times it is hardly worth doing so again: we will never stop drugs until we attack the demand as well as the supply and the only way to do that is to treat it on a global level. A number of weeks ago I asked the Minister for Justice to place this on the agenda of the meetings of European Justice Ministers during our EU Presidency. Realistically, the only thing which will stop drugs is deregulation and Government control. If people want to inject themselves with certain substances they will do so and if people want to supply drugs they will do so, because there is such an immense profit. As I have said before, Singapore and other countries hang people for relatively minor drug offences but it does not deter others, because the one drug stronger than heroin is money and it will always win out. We are only tinkering until we address the real problem and, on a global basis, allow people to do precisely what they like in a clean, efficient and medically supervised way.

The most serious provision in the Bill is that for seven day detention to allow interrogation. The Minister is clearly uneasy about this and indicated she is doing everything she can to meet the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights by requiring that the person being detained should be brought before a judge at intervals. However, that in itself is not sufficient. The Law Society has made a submission on this point. Solicitors working in this area are well aware of the misery imposed by drug addiction. They are not in favour of drug barons but they are realistic and believe, as I do, that a power of detention for seven days poses a serious risk to the civil liberties of all citizens. The chairman of the Law Society's criminal law committee, Mr. McGill, said:

The introduction of seven days' detention without charge represents a serious inroad into recognised constitutional and civil liberties. The Minister has advanced no evidence to justify such a step. Solicitors believe, from practical experience, that such powers would be generally used against vulnerable drug addicts who have become the tools of major drug dealers rather than against the drug dealers themselves.

I share that fear and the president of the Bar Council has stated a similar position. The Law Society representative and the Bar Council president are responsible, professional, middle-class, educated people. Perhaps Senator Farrell would describe them as adhering to the liberal agenda, but they take a professional view.

In answer to why detention without charge is wrong, the Law Society states that, first, it reverses the fundamental freedom of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The detained person loses his liberty without any evidence being proffered against him and proved in court. Second, detention for the purpose of interrogation has been abused in the past and remains open to abuse at any time. One need only think of the many miscarriage of justice cases in this jurisdiction, such as the Nicky Kelly case, and in the United Kingdom for proof that this is so. We were invited to admire the "heavy gang" earlier in this debate but I do not, nor do I admire the wrongful convictions produced by this rough policing in the past. Third, convictions secured on the basis of interrogation are notoriously suspect as confession is often the only evidence against the accused.

In introducing the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, the Government guaranteed that a commission would be set up to inquire into these matters. It was established under Mr. Justice Frank Martin and reported in March 1990. In the six intervening years, the recommendations of the Martin report, particularly that requiring the interrogation of detained persons to be recorded audio-visually, have not been put into effect. It is astonishing that a report making such a clear recommendation exists, yet we now seek to extend the period of interrogation to seven days and no provision appears to have been made for this recommendation.

The next question is the right of access of a detained person to a solicitor. The Government should introduce access for those on legal aid, as it is empty to allow a technical right to consult a solicitor unless someone detained under these provisions has access to legal aid. We must make sure it is a real right.

As agreed on the Order of Business to have Statements on Agriculture between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. the Senator must conclude.

There must be adequate facilities for drug addicts. They are often ill and there should be proper medical facilities for them. Since preliminary proceedings in court may be reported a jury, who read reports could be seriously prejudiced. The Minister must examine this matter.

Debate adjourned.