I welcome the Minister back to the House and I intend to recap on some of the points I made yesterday. I did not get a chance to sum up, which was unfortunate, as the Minister was left hanging and-——
Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill 2002: Second Stage [Resumed].
Waiting for the punchline.
——waiting eagerly for the punchline when I was interrupted by the Leas-Chathaoirleach. To reiterate, the Criminal Justice Bill is important legislation. From an international viewpoint it is necessary and people demand it. Procedures must be put in place for people to feel secure. From the international viewpoint, however, the "Homeland Security" initiative in the United States has a downside for Irish expatriates living in America. We should endeavour to do whatever we can on this side of the Atlantic to help ease the strict procedures that prevent many Irish people who may have been living there for 15 years or more from coming home, whether to a funeral or a wedding.
To return to the domestic scene, I again allude to my part of the world, the north west, where there is much confusion and ambiguity. As I said yesterday, one can travel 20 miles from Letterkenny to Free Derry Corner to be confronted by a mural of the Palestinian flag. If one picks up the Irish News one reads it is possible to get £1,000 sterling in a night club, a bar or in a certain business establishment, if one is prepared to pay £250 sterling. That effectively is money laundering. The Criminal Justice Bill is seeking to counteract money laundering, so how does the legislation deal with it on a cross-Border basis? How are we prepared to work towards eliminating this type of activity?
It is operating on a large scale throughout the North at the moment. So far as I am concerned I will go on the record and say that this is money from the Northern Bank in Belfast. Whatever legislative measures are put in place, there still needs to be close co-operation with the PSNI in Northern Ireland. This legislation cannot work if we do not have direct contact and communication with the PSNI. Many people in Border areas allude to the fact that certain elements of both Nationalist and Unionist communities have come to accept criminality as a way of life on a cross-Border basis and we must examine how this can be counteracted.
As regards the confusion and ambiguity, I mentioned Nell McCafferty's article yesterday. She is a well-known Irish journalist who believes the IRA was not part of the bank robbery in Belfast. I believe that is wrong and that there are so many conflicting opinions and there is so much ambiguity and confusion in Northern Ireland that people do not know where they stand.
I will finish on a note I raised already today on the Order of Business. The onus is on politicians to show the lead on a cross-Border parliamentary basis. We have to do this because this Government allowed the DUP and Sinn Féin to take the lead in the last round of negotiations. They were given an opportunity. History will tell the tale and hindsight has 20-20 vision. They should be given the benefit of the doubt. On this side of the House, my colleague Senator Hayes has never given a certain party in the North the benefit of the doubt in its association with a paramilitary wing. The onus is on us to show the lead. We have to do so because there is no point in letting them carry on in the North. The Six Counties is so much a part of Border life and that of other parts of the Republic. The Six Counties are not an entity any more as there is too much cross-Border business and socialising. The Six Counties are a state of mind as well as a political boundary. We have to up the ante in using this legislation and in working with the PSNI through the Garda Síochána. There is no point in empty rhetoric in order to maintain an electoral mandate for any party. Cross-Border co-operation has to be improved through the cross-Border agencies. The effective measure of this Bill to counteract money laundering will not happen if gardaí do not have communication with their colleagues in the PSNI.
I welcome the Minister to the House to put through this important legislation. Events such as 11 September 2001 and the Madrid bombings left us all shocked and saddened as the full horror of a major terrorist act sank in. With the advent of global media coverage of events as they unfold, the terrorist market has widened. Not only can an atrocity now affect the terrorists' target, their victims and the wider community, but those removed by location can also be terrorised by viewing these events as they happen.
Having recovered from the initial shock of 11 September 2001, we entered a period of reflection. Traumatised by these events we asked ourselves why, what would be next and how would it end. President Bush referred to the first war of the 21st century. He vowed to rid the world of this evil. Countries lined up to offer support; some more willingly than others, some backing down from the initial offer of a carte blanche to conditional support. Western democracies were in turmoil as the scale of the task unfolded. This is a new war that has never been fought before. There is no direct enemy, no sovereign state to strike and none of the traditional conventions of war within which to work. It is a war that cannot succeed by stealth alone. It is a war in which not only the military have to partake but also politicians, economists, business people and the ordinary man in the street. In bringing forward this legislation we are playing our part.
What is a terrorist? Who are these people who kill civilians indiscriminately? Statistics show that they are mainly young males, but they have little else in common. Today's terrorists are as diverse as the nations from which they come. They can be highly educated or at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. Their goals range from the narrowly political, such as those of the IRA, to the wide-ranging, like the desire of al-Qaeda to halt the spread of western culture and promiscuity.
Sometimes different groups work together and there have been numerous summit meetings of terrorist groups. To wage a war on international terrorism requires a new set of principles for an effective strike and that means international co-operation to produce a charter to combat terrorism. I am glad we are playing our part in such a charter by enacting this legislation, which I enthusiastically welcome.
This legislation makes it incumbent on us to comply with counter-terrorism efforts against terrorist organisations and even against the states that support them. All states that carry out terrorist attacks, have attacks carried out on their behalf, or provide ideological, economic, military or operational support to terrorist organisations, must be identified and branded as sponsors of terrorism. This must include states that provide terrorists with safe havens and refuse to extradite them, as well as states that incite others to commit terrorist acts or to support terrorist activity.
Based on the above premise, the international community must declare an economic embargo on all such states and their economic interests, both private and public. A secondary boycott should be declared on states and companies that do not respect these sanctions. Terrorist organisations have infiltrated the western world. Some organisations are active and some have sleepers lying in wait for their day. In the interim they become part of the community they are about to terrorise, which could be for months or even years. The ultimate weapon is the neighbour one does not suspect as a suicide bomber.
It is not only these terrorists we should fear but all mutually supporting groups and organisations. They may have different goals and objectives but they have a common bond, which is to inflict terror in order to achieve their aims. Terrorist organisations breed off each other and that is their strength. No single organisation could survive without the finance, the weaponry, the technology and the training. They all help each other and that is what makes them the force they are. Greed among business people allows them make financial investments, or buy the equipment or expertise they require. There is often a degree of tolerance by society in accepting their cause as just, turning a blind eye, or supporting them in a tacit way. American citizens give great financial support to the IRA. Are they willing to give it up? Are they willing to address the support given to terrorist organisations by their own people ?
It is necessary to address the wrongs in our society that lead to the formation of terrorist organisations. We have to look at the causes behind them. Some are as a result of previous wars, some are due to religious differences and some are due to poverty and famine. We have to ask what we can do to address these wrongs. When President Bush states he will whip terrorism, he is being naive or political, or both. At best, he will destroy some terrorists, which may be a necessary consequence of 11 September 2001.
Terrorism is supported by a root network and while terrorism might be evil, the same cannot be said of this root network. This network consists of people who live with oppression, repression, poverty, hunger, despair and hopelessness. These are people desperate to survive. Hatred feeds the network of terrorism. We must address this side of the issue as well. It is also the case that some people play on these emotions to stir up feelings of hatred for their own personal gain, be it financial or ideological. They are the silent terrorists; the ones who use others and their issues for their own ends.
Recent events in our own country have resulted in the removal of the mask from some of our own terrorists. This is a mask that we have tolerated for far too long in an effort to bring peace to this island. We in Ireland have to ask ourselves many questions in this regard. Decommissioning and criminality are no longer an issue for the vast majority of the Irish people. It is no longer a grey area. If Sinn Féin representatives wish to become real democrats, they must face up to the responsibilities that go hand in glove with democracy. That includes decommissioning terrorist weaponry now, which does not mean selling it to a sister terrorist organisation but destroying it or handing it over to the authorities. The IRA must not only disarm, it must disband.
Are we willing to put our foot down now or will we continue a hypocritical rhetoric where one foot is at either side of the fence? There can be no further dilution of our democratic values. There can no longer be a tolerance of Sinn Féin's à la carte version of democracy and a two tier interpretation of what is and is not a criminal offence. The questions our political leaders and every citizen must ask themselves are: “Were the murders of Jean McConville and Jerry McCabe criminal acts? Was the Northern Bank robbery a criminal offence?” When we answer these questions, first, to ourselves and, second, as a society, we can fully remove the mask from Sinn Féin representatives and look them in the eye. The members of Sinn Féin have answered these questions; we know where they stand. We must reflect carefully on their responses as we proceed in enacting and supporting the legislation before the House today.
Yesterday, Deputy Ó Caoláin said he is against criminality in all its forms. That is great but there is one big problem. The language sounds right and appears to be the same language I am speaking but there are two completely different meanings. That is the problem this country has had for the last number of years. The language the members of Sinn Féin, the Irish people and the Government speak sounds the same but does not mean the same thing. The Sinn Féin definition of criminality and the citizen's definition of criminality are two vastly different interpretations. It is time we confronted this.
Unlike other people, I welcome recent events. I have been of the opinion for a number of months that in an effort to achieve a great prize we have allowed a dilution of our democratic values. We took our eye off the ball. It is time there was some straight talking. I commend the Taoiseach on his performance in the Dáil yesterday. He looked Sinn Féin Members in the eye, their mask removed, and said what had to be said in plain English. I compliment the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on his performance in recent months and on his insistence on drawing a line on the issue of criminality.
Some people accuse me of taking the easy option for continually criticising Sinn Féin and for not having the political vision of something bigger. I have a political vision. I love this State; I am a citizen of the State, as are my children, and I know the type of State I want it to be. I know the democracy I want. For that reason I will continue to address this issue until everyone is speaking a common language.
On a previous occasion in this House I asked Sinn Féin to convince me and people who share my views that its members are serious about democracy and, most important, the responsibilities of democracy. When Sinn Féin members recognise and support the institutions of this State, like any law abiding citizen, they will be accepting their democratic responsibility. However, when Sinn Féin Members of these Houses publicly state that they would not encourage their supporters to talk to representatives of the institutions of this State if they had evidence or information about a criminal act, what type of responsibility is that? That I not the State in which I wish to live.
We came close to witnessing one of the greatest con jobs on the Irish people. It was a great seduction. I thank those who held the line and stood up in the face of this threat to our democracy. Of course, we must continue to talk but we should be firm when talking. I also advocate a time for reflection. Some hard words have been spoken and they need to be taken on board. However, when we continue to talk, we must try to find a common language — not a language that sounds the same but one which has the same meaning. That is the key to advancing this process. There must be trust and sincerity.
If Sinn Féin members come forward with a sincere, honest and up front approach to the future negotiations on Northern Ireland, the process will advance. They will be met with equal sincerity by both Governments and it will be possible to move the process forward to the resolution the people on this island want. However, there has been an awakening of the Irish people in recent weeks. They are saying they will go so far but no further. In that regard, the State has been done a service.
The legislation before the House is necessary. We should not fear it. Passing this legislation is, unfortunately, the price we must pay for the terrorism that grips the world today. There must be co-operation. We must break the chains of co-operation between terrorist organisations. That is their economy, it is what they live on. While some might be concerned about people's liberties and so forth, the security of the State, its people and of the world must be the primary objective when putting forward legislation such as this. I welcome the Bill and I compliment the Minister and his officials on its preparation.
I am grateful for the opportunity to comment on the Bill before us. It transposes into domestic law international obligations we have undertaken as a result of our involvement with the EU and the United Nations. The Minister has been a regular visitor to this House in recent months and I welcome his return.
I will comment later on the domestic situation, on which Senator Minihan commented. I was appalled that a terrorist act in Madrid last year could affect the result of a freely held election in Spain. That is what happened. People who are naive enough not to believe this should look at what happened in Madrid. It was clear that the Partido Popular, led by Jose Maria Aznar, was going to win a third successive victory in the elections. However, in a deliberate terrorist act, a decision was taken to explode bombs in Madrid. This directly affected an election result in a liberal democracy. This took place in a country that is a two hour flight away. If it can happen so easily in Madrid, it can happen in London, France and in Ireland.
We must be conscious that free people can, in a weak moment, decide to change their government as a response to a terrorist act. Listening to the ridiculous commentary at the time, one would have believed that those responsible for the bombing were Jose Maria Aznar and his party. As Senator Minihan said, terrorist organisations, because of new technology and the lack of national borders on such organisations, have a capacity to move seamlessly throughout the world. This is especially so under the freedoms we have worked to achieve, particularly in the European Union.
Throughout the EU because of the freedom of movement of people, we must be cognisant of our obligations under this legislation to ensure every effort is made through Europol and other organisations to harmonise work in this area to identify suspects where they become known. Ireland cannot be neutral on this issue. The State was neutral in the Second World War for an obvious reason, although the 60,000 citizens who joined the allied forces were not neutral when they took a stand against fascism and Naziism in the 1930s and 1930s. I say this on the day we remember the Holocaust. We cannot be neutral on this issue as free people in a free world.
A number of liberals have put forward the assumption that once the Middle East conflict between Palestine and Israel is resolved, the continuous threat of groups such as al-Qaeda will subside. That is utterly naive. The notion that a political settlement will be negotiated which will immediately eradicate international terrorism and address the grievances involved is nonsense. There are fanatics in the world and in this State who should only be dealt with through close co-operation between the police forces of various states.
The British Government's courting of Colonel Gadaffi of Libya, given its knowledge and ours of his support for international terrorism in this State and in Northern Ireland, is pathetic. The Blair Government stands accused. As well meaning as his Government members were in bringing him into the international community, they should hang their heads in shame given what they knew about his exporting of arms to the IRA. I was astonished at the pace of international relations between Britain and Libya given Gadaffi's support for international terrorism for many years not only in Ireland but elsewhere.
Irish Americans should cop on to themselves and acknowledge their contribution to terrorism in this State over many years. Finally the message has got through, thanks to the efforts of people such as Senator Ted Kennedy, that their fundraising to support the IRA down the years has had a dreadful impact in Northern Ireland and this State.
I agree with Senator Minihan's contribution. It is important that the Bill should come before the House today because this week we have finally managed to expose a revolutionary criminal conspiracy on the part of Sinn Féin-IRA to be at the heart of democratic life in this State. Those of us who have taken this line for many years welcome that the entire political establishment has finally woken up to this criminal threat, which comprises a party that alleges to be democratic during the day and a paramilitary organisation at night, free to do everything it wants.
There is a historical precedent in this regard. The Official IRA stated in the early 1970s that it would, once and for all, pursue its politics through the democratic course, that course being a strong socialist model. However, the criminality continued for the next two decades. Racketeering, money laundering and trips to North Korea continued. Will we fall into the same trap with another offspring of the "irregulars", namely, the IRA? The Government and the IRA have been at it ten years and the time has come for the IRA to decide what it is about because it cannot continue.
The Bill transposes international obligations into domestic law. We must think hard about this issue. We have not just got to say difficult things to the IRA; we must do hard things. Efforts must be redoubled to establish where are its arsenals and surveillance must be maintained on its members. There is a perception that because the peace process has been allowed to dominate the agenda, the Government has gone soft on them. How many recent large-scale finds of explosives have there been? As the Taoiseach correctly stated, the IRA can turn it on and off whenever its suits its agenda. There were no punishment beatings in the run up to the talks but since then, there has been a bevy of attacks on young men in Northern Ireland because it suits the IRA's agenda to terrorise and control certain communities in Northern Ireland, which it also wants to do in certain parts of Dublin. If the legislation is taken seriously, there is an obligation on the State to pursue these people and bring their apparatus to an end.
I congratulate the Minister on his performance on "Questions and Answers" recently. I was cheering him to the rafters as I watched. When Mr. McLaughlin asked the Minister whether Bobby Sands was a criminal, he did not hesitate because Mr. Sands was convicted of a crime. He was a criminal and the difference between Mr. Sands and Mrs. Jean McConville was he chose the time of his own death. Mrs. McConville and all the other victims of the IRA had no right to decide when they would die. We must be absolutely clear on this issue.
Unfortunately, in the years gone by, there was an ambivalence to terrorism in the State. For example, in the 1980s the Fianna Fáil Party was in convulsions on the issue of extradition, which is absolutely essential if international obligations are to be met to pass people from one jurisdiction to another to ensure a trial can take place. The Minister did not flinch on that programme and I appreciated that because Mr. Sands was a criminal. He died on hunger strike but it was his own choice, even though it was a terrible tragedy for him and his family. The 1,800 people murdered by the IRA had no choice but he had and he was a criminal. There must be a consistent, direct response, rather than ambivalence.
The Minister should pursue the financing of all paramilitary organisations and terrorism. Senator McHugh referred to this issue. He has evidence of money laundering in County Donegal by a paramilitary political party. It must be closed off if we are serous about this legislation. The Criminal Assets Bureau must also be employed to pursue warlords and close them down. I have received two letters from people in a town in Donegal who allege that legitimate businesses are a front for Sinn Féin-IRA to launder money and to control parts of the town. We are obliged to go after them.
I agree with other speakers in that we must co-operate with all agencies on the island of Ireland in terms of our efforts in these matters. One such matter was recently brought to my attention by the SDLP concerning the electoral returns office in Northern Ireland and our own public offices commission in terms of the scrutiny of expenditure by some political parties during election time.
I am very proud of this State and its parliamentary democracy. Although we are a young State, we are the fourth oldest parliamentary democracy in Europe. We did not experience fascism in the 1930s and 1940s. We held the line. Our great achievement was that by 1932 those who vigorously opposed the State were in Government. This was a great achievement on the part of Éamon de Valera and Fianna Fáil. I regard de Valera as one of the country's great patriots because he immediately closed down the Civil War and the attack against the young State, as it was at that time. We cannot ever take this for granted. We must always defend it and ensure those who have had a clear conspiracy to undermine and overthrow the State since its foundation are vigorously dealt with by the State. The vast majority who want the State to prosper and grow are allowed have that view enunciated by a free Parliament and Government. All of us have a role to play in that regard.
This is an important piece of legislation. Perhaps it would not have been contemplated but for the events of 11 September 2001, a defining moment for the world. I was in a taxi in Malaga when I heard the news. The driver told me that the Palestinians had bombed the White House. Needless to say, I was not long in getting to a television. However, terrorism did not begin on 11 September 2001, and it did not end there either. It has existed for a long time. We need only think of the horrific bombings in Bali and Madrid and the suicide bombings, which continue to plague the Middle East, to realise terrorism has not gone away. Several months ago we watched the Beslan siege with horror when schoolchildren were blown up, destroyed and shot.
The events of 11 September 2001 highlighted the challenge of international terrorism and resulted in a necessity of greater co-operation by the international community as well as action on the part of individual states. Terrorism knows no boundaries. I should be able to go on holidays to places such as Alicante without having to worry about an ETA bomb. However, that is not the case with terrorists. Increasingly they have been extending the boundaries because it has more effect. As Members of the Oireachtas, we have a duty to ensure terrorists, particularly in this country, find no comfort.
UN Security Council Resolution 1368 condemned the attacks of 11 September 2001 and called on states to work together to bring the perpetrators to justice and to redouble their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts. Resolution 1373 specified a range of measures on which states are required to take action, especially in the area of combating the financing of terrorism.
The EU has responded quickly to this challenge. The EU framework decision on combating terrorism is the result of increased co-operation at European level in this area over many years and increased commitment among member states to tackling the terrorism threat in the wake of 11 September 2001. Framework decisions are binding on member states as to the result to be achieved, but leave to national authorities the choice of form and methods and do not entail direct effect.
The EU has long been concerned about the need to improve co-operation among member states with a view to combating terrorism. Article 29 of the Maastricht Treaty specifically refers to terrorism as one of the serious forms of crime to be combated at EU level by developing common action in the fields of police and judicial co-operation and by approximating, where necessary, rules on criminal matters in member states. Terrorism was also specifically referred to in the conclusions of the European Council meeting in October 1999 and in the European Council meeting in June 2000.
Political agreement in December 2001 of a framework decision on combating terrorism was formally adopted by the Council in 2002. This represents an EU level agreement on a definition of terrorist groups and offences. The agreement of common definitions and penalties relating to terrorism in all member states will ensure there is no soft jurisdiction in the EU in which terrorists can operate.
This Bill will give effect to a number of international instruments directed at terrorism and enable us to meet commitments which the State has undertaken as part of the EU and the broader international community, including those arising from UN Security Council Resolution 1373. Simply put, this Bill will combat terrorism. It makes provision, for the first time, for terrorist offences to be defined as a separate and distinct category of offence in our law. It will ensure those who commit terrorist offences, whether based inside or outside the State, will infringe the Offences against the State Acts 1939 to 1998. The Bill creates new offences of hostage taking, terrorist bombing and offences against internationally protected persons, such as diplomats. It will ensure Ireland does all it can to make the framework as effective as possible and we stand in solidarity with our partners in the EU and the UN in working to ensure terrorists are denied both the means and opportunity to carry out further atrocities.
The last main provision of the Bill will be to give effect to the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which has been remarked on as important by Senators. It will mean, in effect, that our financial institutions will be legally required to play their part in preventing, detecting and reporting suspicious financial transactions which may relate to the financing of terrorism. This Bill will enable the courts to freeze and confiscate funds used, or allocated for use, in connection with the offence of the financing of terrorism or funds that are the proceeds of such an offence. It will extend the provisions of the Offences against the State Act relating to the property of unlawful organisations to that of terrorist groups. It will mean we have the most sophisticated procedures for identifying and tracing the financing of terrorism and for punishing those guilty of financing terrorism and receiving funds which have been used to finance terrorism.
The term "terrorist activity" is defined as offences under our law committed inside or outside the State with the intent of seriously intimidating a population, unduly compelling a government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act or seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, economic or social structures of a state or an international organisation. Such offences, for the purposes of the Bill, will include those involving violence against persons or property and related firearms and explosives offences or offences involving chemical or nuclear weapons. The Bill also covers terrorist-linked activity, including aggravated burglary and robbery, blackmail, extortion and certain forgery offences.
The term "terrorist group" is defined by reference to the EU framework decision, namely a structured group of more than two persons established over a period of time and acting in concert to commit terrorist offences.
Bills such as this are somewhat oppressive. There has been some concern in Opposition circles about the impact it will have on human rights. It has been frequently and irresponsibly suggested that it defines terrorism as any activity which unduly compels a government or an international organisation to change course. The Bill is not directed at ordinary, peaceful, democratic activity, the free expression of convictions and free political association.
The Bill does not criminalise the anti-globalisation movement because that movement seeks to reform world trade. Nor would it have had any application to the anti-apartheid movement, as has been suggested, because it campaigned for the replacement of the apartheid regime in South Africa. It upholds Article 6 of the treaty of the European Union, which has reference to the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, which are common to member states, as well as to the fundamental rights guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Sometimes a case can be made with regard to oppressive regimes where people take to arms. However, this is not what this Bill is about. The Minister took the concerns into account. The Bill means people and organisations who have recourse to serious offences involving violence, such as hijacking, explosives offences and murder, with the intention of intimidating a population, unduly compelling a government or international organisation or seriously destabilising a state or international organisation will, in keeping with that intention, be guilty of a terrorist offence instead of the offence of which they would otherwise have been guilty under our criminal law. The Bill will equip the State more fully to respond to the threat posed by national and international terrorism. It will enable the State to honour important international commitments and play its part fully as a member of the international community in the fight against terrorism.
While the Bill cannot tackle the state terrorism which exists in certain parts of the world, we must start somewhere. Though, as I said earlier, one man's terrorist may be another man's freedom fighter, terrorism is not to be confused with the actions of people rising against a repressive regime. Terrorism knows no boundaries. The terrorism we have witnessed in modern days places bombs where innocent people die. Senator Brian Hayes mentioned the number of people killed by a certain group in the North all of whom were innocent and none of whom deserved to die. There was no justification for it. In a democracy there is a way to topple a government if one does not like it and of changing the rules of certain organisations. It is the democratic way. Once we have recourse to another way which involves arms, bombings or threats, the rule of law disappears and innocent people suffer all the time.
It does not matter which organisation one considers. There are terrorist organisations all over the world like ETA, Shining Path and al-Qaeda and, in general, they act indiscriminately. They do not adopt the democratic method which is available to everybody. It is possible in this country and in most democracies to change a government if one does not like it by using democratic means including free speech and freedom of organisation without violence. The best way to combat terrorism nationally and internationally is through the establishment of democracy. Within a democracy people tend to live peacefully and adopt methods other than the violent ones the organisations in question do. The Bill does not address state violence as that is a different matter involving war and the United Nations.
It is important on days like this, especially as we remember the Holocaust, to realise how quickly things can creep up on us. We should remember the 500,000 Romany people murdered by the Nazis and the approximately 15,000 homosexuals who were killed for no other reason than their sexual orientation. Children were killed by the Nazis as were people whom they removed from psychiatric hospitals and homes for the handicapped. Today we ask ourselves how those people could be wiped out within a state. On radio this morning, I heard a Jewish person who had spent his whole life studying the Holocaust say he could not explain how one nation could have done it. It is wrong to think in remembering the Holocaust that only Germans could do it. It happened with Pol Pot and in other countries across the world including Ireland to a small extent.
Terrorism occurs when people take the law into their own hands and is often a response to a perceived threat. The best defence we have against it is the establishment of democracy and the upholding of democratic freedoms. We need laws like those set out in the Bill. The legislation is important as a step along the way. While the Bill will not stop a terrorist or prevent the actions of a madman who wants to place a bomb at a holiday resort to kill people, it means that if these people are apprehended they will be dealt with as they should be. That is what is important about the Bill and the reason I recommend it to the House.
There can be no doubt that this is a crucial Bill. The threat posed by al-Qaeda and, especially, the fundamentalist, anti-western ideology is clear for everyone to see. Attacks have been carried out in the cities of Madrid, New York, Bali, Washington and Karachi while countries which have been attacked include Kenya, Tunisia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, the Lebanon, Indonesia and the Philippines. The threat is posed by a terrorist ideology and we have our part to play in ensuring that terrorists and terrorist supporters find no safe haven in Ireland.
I am acutely aware that our legislation has to date been primarily framed with domestic terrorism in mind. The Bill is thus required to bring our legislation in line with that of our EU partners. While the Bill will bring the State up to speed with international anti-terror agreements, I am concerned that legislation which was brought before the Dáil in 2002 has only come before us in 2005. Given the dangers posed by terrorism which we know only too well, why has it taken so long to legislate for the UN conventions? What measures are to be taken to ensure the speeding up of this process in future?
I note that some Opposition parties have sought to twist the wording of the definitions, most notably "terrorist activity", to claim that peaceful demonstrators will be at risk of arrest under the legislation. These claims are wholly irresponsible as the Bill does not criminalise movements like the anti-globalisation movement nor does it intend to do so. Movements like the one referred to do not carry out highjackings, bombings or other types of terrorist activity. Fundamental rights and liberties are enshrined not only in our way of life, but in Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union. The Bill is not our version of John Ashcroft's infamous PATRIOT Act.
I raise with the Minister the ability of terrorist groups to filter and launder money through businesses and charity organisations in this jurisdiction. I would like to hear what he has to say on the matter. Fianna Fáil representatives, including Deputy Pat Carey and me, had a meeting two weeks ago with Seán Farren of the SDLP. Mr. Farren said he would meet the Minister after his meeting with us. I said I would like to raise an issue Deputy Pat Carey raised at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party about money laundering and illegal activities in his constituency. I ask the Minister why the Criminal Assets Bureau is unable to convict people if criminal activity is taking place in areas of the city. I find it extraordinary that this is happening in our society. Can the Minister explain why this occurs and why the people involved get away with it?
I strongly argue that while the Bill and the international effort to counter anti-western terrorism are important, one must also tackle the root causes of the fundamentalist ideology. Tackling the threat through judicial and military avenues is insufficient to challenge and counteract this dangerous ideology. Al-Qaeda and fundamentalist terrorist groups find sympathy among disenfranchised, impoverished people who are susceptible to anti-western propaganda. In late 2001, at the Richard Dimbleby lecture, former President Clinton argued that the atrocity of 11 September 2001 was a manifestation of how abject poverty accelerates conflict and creates recruits for terrorists bent on economic and social disorder in the West. The twin towers were chosen because in the view of terrorists they were symbols of corrupt power and materialism. Terrorism flourishes in countries ruled by despots and dictators who happen to have friendly relations with the United States and the West. Relations are friendly because this helps to guarantee oil supplies.
People have been saying for the past few days that their eyes see clearly for the first time. I would like to hear more about why the United States went to Kuwait for no reason in order to prove that Bin Laden, et al, were in Iraq. Most of the people found guilty of the attack on the twin towers were from Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. I find it amazing. We will probably get excited in a number of years time over what this attack on Iraq and all the thousands of innocent Iraqi people, not to mind the thousands of innocent American soldiers, has meant.
Prime Minister Wilson was able to keep Britain out of the war in Vietnam. Senator Brian Hayes twisted the facts about Spain. The majority of Spanish people did not want to participate in the war in Iraq.
There are many people in Colombia who did not want the Senator to participate there either.
I went to Colombia on a human rights mission. I am glad I had the courage to put my head above the parapet. We need more of that here.
I do not like the current frenzy here ——
It does not suit the Senator.
The tide is turning.
—— but matters will change in a couple of months time. The politicians in the North and South have a responsibility not to leave a vacuum. One was left by the delay in elections in the North which resulted in two extremes and cut out the SDLP, which is very sad.
Britain and the United States have military bases in Saudi Arabia which is home to Islam's holiest sites. This is irritating and it is destructive to see them near Mecca and elsewhere. The people are very sensitive that the United States is reaching out and wants its bases there to protect its oil. A further irritation are the awful sanctions against Iraq, sponsored most vainly by the United States. It is estimated that 500,000 children perished in Iraq.
My heart was lifted this morning when I heard on CNN news that President Chirac of France, whom I admire, said in Davos yesterday that there must be global warfare against poverty. My heart lifted because that is the kind of talk I want to hear, a call to fight against poverty. I guarantee that fighting poverty and inequality, not only in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, will have a significant impact on support for terrorism.
I will finish by quoting former President Clinton. He stated: "We in the wealthy countries have to spread the benefits of the 21st century, and reduce the risks, so that we can make more partners and fewer terrorists in the future."
I thank Senators for their considered response to the Bill being debated over the past two days. I thank the generally supportive Senators for their comments also.
I should explain the delay with this legislation. I introduced the legislation in 2002 in the Dáil where we had a very interesting Second Stage debate which was informed by a number of criticisms made of the Bill. Those criticisms included the views of the Human Rights Commission. I found myself facing a fundamental dilemma that the Bill as introduced failed to distinguish between resistance to tyranny on the one hand and terror on the other. The dilemma I faced in a criminal law measure was how I could accommodate that distinction. This is not something that is easy to reduce to a paragraph or a number of sections, or even a Part of a Bill.
If we left it as the case that somehow it was a defence against a prosecution that the object of the terrorist act was somehow supportive of a tyranny and therefore it was no offence to commit the various acts in Ireland, we would have been left with a very strange outcome where juries would have to sit for hours on end working out the politics of whatever it might be, for example, Polisario v. Morocco or contending factions in various countries around the world. This is without resorting to the analogy used yesterday in debate about where Count von Stauffenberg would have stood with his bomb in eastern Prussia under the terms of this Bill.
It was not easy to deal with this issue and it required much debate. It required debate among the various parts of Government. The Department of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Attorney General and my Department all had to be involved. Eventually it became clear to us, not without considerable and vigorous debate, that the only mechanism we could deploy in criminal law was the Attorney General's intervention. Otherwise juries or non-jury courts would have to consider broadly political issues in deciding whether a person did or did not have a defence. Imperfect as the Attorney General's formula may seem to some, I challenge anybody to come up with a more workable one. If another had been apparent to us, we would have acted more quickly.
By the time that lengthy, philosophical and procedural debate was over, approximately 18 months had elapsed. We had to return with the legislation to the Dáil and fight for time for Committee Stage and on completion bring it to this House, which explains the delay to some extent. The delay was not due to indolence of any kind, but to the consideration of the powerful points made on Second Stage debate, coupled with outside criticisms from bodies such as the Human Rights Commission.
We have international obligations. An added complexity was that it was not open to me simply to write the legislation exactly as I would wish. Having agreed to a framework decision with a particular definition of terrorism, and even though there is latitude with the framework decision procedure, I had an international law obligation and a constitutional obligation under Irish law to implement the framework decision. That is another reason it was desirable that the Attorney General's formula should be included in this Bill. If I had tried to approach the issue from some other avenue, I could have been accused by fellow Ministers in the European Union of seeking to repudiate my obligations under the framework decision with regard to terrorism.
The Bill is as it is. There will be Committee Stage debate in this House where I intend to bring and to listen to proposals for further amendments. I indicated that one of the things I propose to do with regard to Committee Stage amendments is to deal with the question of data retention in so far as it is necessary to underpin the fight against international terrorism. It is desirable that our law on this matter should be beyond debate. It should never be a question of differing interpretations, let us say, for example, between the Data Commissioner and the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, as to what is or is not a legitimate use of the power to require telecommunications companies to keep records of communications so that they can afterwards be examined in the context of criminal investigations. The Bill is largely to do with the introduction of provisions into Irish law to extend our law in an adequate way to deal with international terrorism, as is required by various international instruments to which we are party.
In the course of the debate it was understandable that the domestic situation and the question of the use of violence in criminality for political purposes, which is really the heart of terrorism, was bound to come to the fore. I thank Senators who supported the Government's position in taking a stance for democratic values against those who would seek to dilute, pervert or distort them for their own political purposes.
I am not an avenging ideologue. I am not a person who believes in obscurantist ideology or purity of position, which abandons the necessity for politicians to compromise properly on occasions. One must be able to see the other side of the coin, to take risks and be pragmatic so as to forward the process of reconciliation by whatever means are at our disposal. Therefore, when I speak and act on the question of the rule of law, the criminal challenge to it and the use of terrorism to challenge lawful authority in Ireland, I do not do it from some kind of moral pulpit. I do so purely on the basis of what I believe is pragmatically necessary on a day-to-day basis. As I previously said in this House, it would be easy on occasions to take refuge from the challenge of politics by simply resorting to ideologically pure positions and simply washing one's hands of the difficult aspects of bringing about reconciliation on this island.
I have never taken the view that one can take refuge in absolutist positions. That said, I am equally strongly of the view that there are certain standards and thresholds below which democratic politicians cannot go and should not be asked to go. It is a matter of great import for the future of Irish democracy that there should be a clear understanding among the public that their democratically elected politicians uphold the Constitution, the authority of the State and the values and rights that subtend our Constitution and would not allow them to be swept away by anybody's political project. Therefore, I make no apology for taking a strong stance against the attempts by the Provisional movement to pervert the Irish constitutional process and the democratic process on this island and to trample down democratic values and use every means at its disposal, foul and fair, to advance its project without regard to the rights of others and to democratic values.
In particular, I make no apology for demanding that anybody who seeks to have a share in a legitimate democratic authority, the executive authority exercised under the governmental institutions on either part of this island, should abide exclusively by peaceful, democratic and lawful means, first, to further his or her political project and, second, in the manner in which he or she would exercise that executive power. Therefore, if people want to seek election to assemblies north or south of the Border or to represent themselves as people seeking a mandate, they must do so within a constitutional framework and whether it is North or South, the constitutional framework is based on constitutional values.
They are the Mitchell principles at their very least north of the Border. They are the terms of the Good Friday Agreement north of the Border and south of the Border they are the constitutional values which we all uphold here. There is no circumventing or avoiding them and there is no licence by any mark on any ballot paper in any election held under our Constitution in this Republic to damage that Constitution or to seek to change it other than through the constitutional process envisaged by it. If any Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform or other Minister or elected politician in office or otherwise lost sight of that fundamental truth, he or she would be short-changing the Irish people not simply committing a sin of omission in regard to democracy, but also doing lasting damage to our capacity to be an independent democracy which is so important to us.
There are some very basic and simple propositions. There is no room in government, North or South, for anybody under any circumstances who would countenance the use of violence or illegality for political purposes. There is no room for those who, because of their ideological convictions, cannot distinguish between what is and is not an infringement of the law. I was not trying to score some clever point when the status of Mrs. Jean McConville's killing became the subject of debate between Mitchell McLaughlin and me recently on "Questions and Answers". I am not interested in whether George Washington, Eoin MacNeill or Padraic Pearse were rebels in English law. I am not interested in fencing about political theories or ideologies or competing legitimacies. My issue is simply this — as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, if I am asked to engage in an enterprise which involved taking other people at face value, if they genuinely to this day are of the view that certain actions taken by people allied with them were not illegal and, in fact, were lawful, then I have to view them in a very different way.
The barbarity of what happened to Mrs. Jean McConville was useful as an example only because it underlined that in the current ideology and mindset of the Provisional movement such activity is legitimate. For some reason they can condemn it and say it is wrong but it is also legitimate because they believe in a legal order which authorises the use of such barbarity. Therefore, when it emerged later in another one of these encounters with a Member of the European Parliament, Mary Lou McDonald, that she was not in a position to say that the shooting of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was criminal and when I heard Mr. Gerry Adams say on the radio that no action by a Provisional volunteer which is authorised is criminal, then I have to ask myself with what kind of language I am dealing, to what agreement I am being asked to subscribe and what understanding I share with people who are trying to negotiate with the Government.
The logic of all of that, which appears to have escaped a number of people in the media, is that if it was no crime to shoot dead Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, it would be no crime to do it again. The plea of guilty in that court was another piece of fraudulence because the people involved in it believed they had done nothing wrong under criminal law. All the propaganda since to get them out of prison as prisoners of war, as they call themselves in their communications to Sinn Féin Ard-Fheiseanna and in articles in An Phoblacht, represents the true situation and carries the endorsement of those who went from the other House to pose with them for a photograph which was published in An Phoblacht. I am asked, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, to accept that none of this is criminal and people who pose as statesmen stand up in public and state that it is not criminal. When I ask them in a different context to give me a guarantee that a new dispensation will be based on the proposition that neither they nor anyone associated with them would commit crimes, I suddenly realise we are talking about two very different things. They are asking for a licence to do whatever they would do and tell me I am to abide by the laws of this State but that they are not so obliged. That is a very radical proposition and one which we cannot countenance or live with.
What is going on at the moment is of major importance. It is not just political manoeuvring or one group of politicians facing down another. Rather, it is democracy and constitutionalism in Ireland saying to those, who have in part and ambiguously and ambivalently subscribed by some process to the Good Friday Agreement, that the Agreement sticks and carries with it certain obligations on their part which cannot be departed from or diluted.
All ambiguity on this issue is now destructive. Whereas in the past it may have been the case that some constructive ambiguity was required to move people into the democratic process, all ambiguity on these fundamental principles is now destructive.
It was suggested in one of today's newspapers that I was untruthful when I stated that the parties to the discussions with the Taoiseach had agreed that Sinn Féin should go and reflect on its situation. I reject that suggestion entirely. I recall one of the Sinn Féin interlocutors stating that if the Government persisted in its attitude, Sinn Féin would have to reflect on the situation. I recall one of the Government interlocutors saying that was one point of agreement between the parties because it was very clear that Sinn Féin would have to go and reflect on the situation. The Government is not changing its position on these fundamental matters.
There has been discussion in this House about the nature of the provisional movement and it is about time we began to talk in plain, simple ordinary language about that with which we are dealing. The Taoiseach has stated that Sinn Féin and the IRA are two sides of the same coin, which is a very good analogy because each side is not the other side but they are inextricably linked and neither side can say it is independent of the other — that is the truth of the matter. Neither can either side absolve itself by looking to its characteristics and stating that it has nothing to do with what is on the other side of the coin. The fact is that all leading provisionals subscribe to the proposition that the lawful power of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary of the First and Second Dáil are now vested in the IRA — it is what they believe. When this is put up to them on television, those naive enough not to engage in prevarication in an Armani suit — those who get caught — admit this is the truth.
This group has in the past carried out appalling atrocities. I am not saying it is the only group in Northern Ireland that has engaged in atrocities, far from it. However, it has engaged in appalling atrocities. The same intellectual activity which drove a man standing at the railway platform in Auschwitz to send people right and left into different groups for different fates was standing in a balaclava at Teebane crossroads when a group of workers was segregated into Protestant and Catholic and the former group was riddled by the Provisional IRA. On this Holocaust memorial week, this spirit is not dead. It is the same spirit which had Ratko Mladic and others separate the boys from others at Srebrenica and bring them to quarries to execute them with the same ferocity. If what happened at Teebane crossroads is not a crime in the minds of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, it is they who have a problem — not us.
Those who naively go along with the provisional agenda should think long and hard about it. It has been argued by those who write to the newspapers that I was a bit tough by stating that Sinn Féin is a Marxist party.
That is being hard on Karl Marx.
FARC is a Marxist communist group which used Provisional IRA methods and technology to herd a group of people into a church in Colombia and mortared the church destroying them. The provisional movement is the only political movement on this island — although it had some difficulty in admitting it — to keep a full-time representative in Havana, the capital of one of the last communist states in the world. The provisional movement is the only party in this country which strongly identifies with ETA and devotes pages of An Phoblacht to what is happening in the organisation. The provisional movement is the only one in this country which, when its members were elected to the European Parliament, sat down with the communist parties in the parliament and chose to do so on an internal division — it was not thrust upon them.
I do not like to advertise a newspaper, but it is worthwhile for us to look at An Phoblacht and examine the agenda which is being pushed forward by it. In last week’s edition, a whole page was devoted to an analysis of Grigor Gysi’s PDS — the former party of Walter Ulbricht and the East German communists — who are their allies in the European Parliament. Two pages of the edition were devoted to Arthur Scargill and a lengthy ideological debate on Marxism was carried over the previous two weeks, if Senators are interested.
I hope the Minister is getting a free copy. I hope he is not a subscriber.
He should photocopy it.
When I pointed out these Marxist characteristics and the deeply ingrained Marxist beliefs of leading provisionals who are still in office in a debate at Trinity College, the Sinn Féin general secretary, Robbie Smyth, said "So what?" It may be a question of "so what?" and people are entitled to be Marxists, but Irish-America should ask itself what it has in common with a party whose members swan around in Armani suits in the Irish-American clubs, piling up dollars on the one hand, while at the same time it cannot tell the truth about its relationship with FARC, the European communists and the like. I wonder why Irish-America feels in any way attracted to such a body.
In all of this we must keep our moral compass. Analogies have been drawn with history and, of course, the founding fathers of our State did things to which those who want crude analogies can point to seek some sort of blessing from historical precedent. However, I believe none of the founding fathers, be they Seán Lemass, Éamon de Valera, Michael Collins, William Cosgrave or Eoin MacNeill, would ever have taken a group of people out of a bus, separated the Protestants from the Catholics and machine-gunned the Protestants. I do not believe they would have done many of the horrific things that have been done since, nor do I believe they would have done so many underhand things. We are privileged to have a copy of the 1916 Proclamation in the lobby of Leinster House. Bringing dishonour on its aims is the one thing its signatories committed themselves against. One must remember the abject departure from the standards of the 1916 Proclamation which we have had to swallow from the provisional republican movement. It is not my imagination that Galen Weston was the subject of a kidnap attempt in order to extort money by a party that includes people who now offer themselves for political office. It is not my imagination that Tiede Herrema was kidnapped. It is not my imagination that other businessmen were kidnapped and threatened and that businessmen in Northern Ireland were taken and shot simply because of who they were. This has nothing to do with the ideology of 1916. It is radically different and inferior to it.
I see people running smuggling rackets. I saw an individual who went to the Four Courts and perjured himself to get a large sum of money from The Sunday Times because it correctly described him as the IRA chief of staff. Although he perjured himself, he was countered by several witnesses, one of whom was a former member of his movement, Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins sat in the witness box and coldly informed the jury of the true state of affairs with the chief of staff of the IRA. Later, he was found on the side of a south Armagh road close to where the plaintiff lived with his head reduced, because of the ceasefire, to an unrecognisable pulp. This happened because he told the truth, puncturing the perjuring, money-grabbing exercise of the IRA chief of staff. When I recall this event, I ask the media to remember that one man had the courage to tell the truth and a Dublin jury had the courage to fling the case out. That is a serious state of affairs.