Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998: Motion.

I move:

That Seanad Éireann resolves that sections 2 to 12, 14 and 17 of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 (No. 39 of 1998) shall continue in operation for the period of 12 months beginning on 30 June, 2008.

The resolution before the House seeks approval for the continuance in operation of those sections of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 which would otherwise cease to be in operation after 30 June next. This legislation was enacted in the aftermath of the atrocity in Omagh, the tenth anniversary of which is fast approaching. This was a dreadful act which claimed the lives of 29 innocent people and injured more than 200 others. The attack at Omagh was designed for no other purpose than to undermine the fledgling peace process. It failed completely in that aim. Ten years later, we can reflect on the great strides that have been made in normalising politics in Northern Ireland, the successful partnership in the devolved Executive and an ever closer North-South relationship.

The circumstances which surrounded the enactment of the 1998 Act were exceptional. It was thought prudent, therefore, that the continued necessity for certain sections should be reviewed at intervals by the Oireachtas. It falls to this House and to the Dáil to decide whether the present circumstances justify their continued operation. Unfortunately, I must contend that the circumstances are not such as to allow us to dispense with these measures.

To support the consideration by the Seanad of the necessity for the renewal of the relevant sections of the Act, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is required to lay a report on their operation before both Houses prior to the resolution being moved. This report, which was laid before the House on 13 June 2008, covers the period since the last such report was prepared in April 2007. The clear lesson to be drawn from the report is that the relevant sections of the 1998 Act have been of significant value to the Garda in tackling the threat from terrorism. The inevitable conclusion is that they should remain in operation for a further 12 months. The Garda authorities consider that the Act continues to be a vital legislative tool in the continuing fight against terrorism.

Although progress has been made within Northern Ireland and the Provisional IRA is committed to following the political path, there remains a real and ongoing threat from a variety of dissident republican groups. We should not be complacent or presume the success of the peace process has somehow removed this threat. There have been several attempts recently to kill members of the PSNI, including two shootings of off-duty officers in November last year and a car bomb attack in Tyrone last month. Last weekend, several PSNI officers had a lucky escape when a landmine, placed by the Continuity IRA, failed to explode fully.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the 18th report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, published on 1 May 2008, makes clear that the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA, the group styling itself "Óglaigh na hÉireann" and the INLA all remain committed to violent paramilitary action in pursuit of their ends. These groups continue to seek to acquire and manufacture weapons, to plant explosive devices and to target members of the security forces.

Lest we should assume these groups are involved in some noble cause for Irish freedom, let us not forget the terrible acts they have perpetrated, including Omagh, which gave rise to the necessity for this legislation. Let us not forget either the clear evidence, as recorded by the Independent Monitoring Commission, of the ongoing involvement of these organisations in other serious criminal activities, including extortion, drug dealing and brothel keeping. These criminal activities are carried out as much for personal gain and to support particular individual lifestyles. There is also speculation that the terrorist expertise of these groups has been sought in some cases by organised criminal gangs. I am assured the Garda Síochána will continue actively to counter such attempts.

These anti-democratic groups remain active and determined in their opposition to peace and the rule of law. The importance of these legislative provisions in thwarting their activities should not be underestimated. However, the response to the threat posed by terrorism, or any form of crime, should be proportionate to the aim sought to be achieved. Part of this relates to the necessity to ensure continued respect for fundamental human rights. In enforcing the law, the Garda must be conscious of this requirement. The functions of the Garda, as set out in the Garda Síochána Act 2005, include the protection of life and property and the vindication of the human rights of each individual. In recognition of this, the Act also provides that a newly appointed member must make a declaration to discharge his or her duties with regard to human rights. The agreed programme for Government contains a commitment to place a renewed emphasis within the Garda on the importance of upholding human rights standards. Comprehensive and ongoing training and education for gardaí incorporates elements related to human rights. The force is more than capable of meeting the highest standards of human rights protection in the prevention and detection of terrorist and criminal acts.

As I mentioned, a report on the operation of the relevant sections since April 2007 has been laid before the House. The report shows that section 2 was used on 80 occasions. This section provides that where, in any proceedings for membership of an unlawful organisation, an accused failed to answer or gave false or misleading answers to any question, the court may draw such inferences as appear proper. However, a person cannot be convicted of the offence solely on an inference drawn from such a failure; there must be some other evidence which points towards his or her guilt.

Section 3 was used on 12 occasions. This section provides that, in proceedings for membership of an unlawful organisation, an accused must give notification of an intention to call a person to give evidence on his or her behalf, unless the court permits otherwise.

Section 4 was used on 13 occasions. This section amends section 3 of the Offences against the State Act 1972 in such a way as to expand the definition of "conduct" that can be considered as evidence of membership of an unlawful organisation. Specifically, "conduct" can include matters such as "movements, actions, activities, or associations on the part of the accused". This change simply aligns the definition of conduct in the 1972 Act with the reference to movements, actions, activities or associations used in section 2 of the 1998 Act.

Section 5 was used on 34 occasions. This provides for the drawing of adverse inferences in certain circumstances in the prosecution of a person for any offence under the Offences against the State Acts, any offence scheduled under the Acts, and any offence arising out of the same set of facts as such an offence, provided that the offence carries a penalty of five years' imprisonment or more. The effect is to allow a court to draw inferences where the accused relies on a fact in his or her defence that he or she could reasonably have been expected to mention during questioning or on being charged, but did not do so. That is a fair assumption on the court's part. As with section 2, a person cannot be convicted of the offence solely on an inference drawn from such a failure.

Section 7 was used on 16 occasions. This section makes it an offence to possess articles in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable suspicion that the article is in possession for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of specified firearms or explosives offences. Section 8 was used on 14 occasions. This section makes it an offence to collect, record or possess information which is likely to be useful to members of an unlawful organisation in the commission of serious offences. Section 9 was used on 127 occasions. This section makes it an offence to withhold information which a person believes might be of material assistance in preventing the commission by another person of a serious offence or securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of another person for such an offence.

Section 10 was used on 12 occasions. This section extends the maximum period of detention permitted under section 30 of the Offences against the State Act from 48 hours to 72 hours, but only on the express authorisation of a judge of the District Court. In this regard, the judge must be satisfied, on the application of a Garda officer not below the rank of superintendent, that the further detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence concerned and that the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously. The person being detained is entitled to be present in court during the application and to make, or to have made, submissions on his behalf. In the reporting period in question, an extension was applied for in 12 cases; two were granted, charges resulted and convictions resulted in the two cases.

Section 11 was used on 32 occasions. This section allows a judge of the District Court to permit the re-arrest and detention of a person in respect of an offence for which he was previously detained under section 30 of the Offences against the State Act but released without charge. This further period must not exceed 24 hours and can be authorised only in circumstances where the judge is satisfied on information supplied on oath by a member of the Garda Síochána that further information has come to the knowledge of the Garda Síochána about that person's suspected participation in the offence. Section 14 is, in effect, a procedural section which makes the offences created under sections 6 to 9 and 12 of the 1998 Act scheduled offences for the purposes of Part V of the 1939 Act. This means that persons suspected of committing these offences are liable to arrest under section 30 of the 1939 Act. The sum total of the uses of sections 6 to 9 and 12 was 157.

I will now turn to those sections of the 1998 Act that were not used in the period under report, namely, sections 6, 12 and 17. Section 6 creates the offence of directing the activities of an organisation in respect of which a suppression order has been made under the Offences against the State Act 1939. Section 12 makes it an offence for a person to instruct or train another person in the making or use of firearms or explosives or to receive such training without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

Section 17 builds on the provision in the Criminal Justice Act 1994 providing for the forfeiture of property. Essentially, the 1994 provision empowers a court, in its discretion, whenever any person is convicted of an offence under that Act, to order the forfeiture of any property in the possession of that person which was used, or intended to be used, to facilitate the commission of the offence. The effect of section 17 is, in the case of a person convicted of specified offences relating to the possession of firearms or explosives, and where there is property liable to forfeiture under the 1994 Act, to require the court to order the forfeiture of such property unless it is satisfied there would be a serious risk of injustice if it made such an order. Although these sections were not used in the period under report, I am sure the House will agree that their continued availability is essential to an effective response to the threat from terrorist groups.

On the basis of the information set out in the report, it is clear that the 1998 Act continues to be an important element of the Garda response to the threat still posed by dangerous terrorist groups in the Republic and Northern Ireland. The ongoing threat presented by terrorist groups, particularly the dissident republican groups is clear. Accordingly, I have to conclude that the relevant provisions of the 1998 Act should remain in operation for a further year.

The Minister of State has made the case for the resolution to extend the provisions of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act. The Government has at times downplayed the threat of terrorist activities. The most notable example was the case of Paul Quinn, when the former Taoiseach stated, as did Sinn Féin, that this was a criminal matter and that the unfortunate Mr. Quinn was involved in certain acts of criminality. He entirely downplayed the involvement of a terrorist organisation in the killing of this man. However, the reports of the Garda and the PSNI clearly show the involvement of members or former members of the Provisional IRA in that atrocity. It took some time for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to confirm the continued existence and structures of the IRA in operation.

The Minister will probably find more support on this side of the Seanad than on the Government side for this resolution. Senator Walsh appeared to downplay the importance of this legislation this morning and suggested that we should be discussing other matters that occurred some years ago. The Minister of State has my full support on this matter. He has effectively laid out the case and the facts speak for themselves. Let us consider a few examples.

There was an incident in Bray in October 2002 and recently there was an appeal against convictions in that case. The court heard at that time that the gardaí had recovered a large quantity of Sinn Féin posters, including posters for the Sinn Féin Deputy, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, from a car in which they also found a stun gun, a CS gas cannister, a blue flashing light and a beacon. They also found two pickaxe handles, a lump hammer, three portable radios, cable ties, balaclavas and a fake Garda jacket in the car. Two of the men were dressed in fake Garda uniforms.

The European police agency, Europol, report on the terrorist situation and trends in the EU in 2008 clearly shows there is a significant increase in activity by the Irish National Liberation Army. Garda sources have indicated that this organisation has become embroiled in a number of violent disputes with criminal gangs in a battle over the control of drug dealing. It is suspected of selling pipe bombs and military grenades to criminal gangs. The report also adds that based on capability and intent, the threat from the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA is estimated to vary between moderate and substantial.

There have been a number of incidents. There was the recent incident where an off-duty police officer was injured by a booby trap car bomb in County Tyrone. The PSNI Chief Constable has warned that dissident republicans remain a significant threat. The Continuity IRA carried out a landmine attack near Roslea, County Fermanagh. In February this year a Strabane man, Andrew Burns, was murdered and his body was found with gunshot wounds near a church in Doneyloop, County Donegal. There was an alleged Real IRA plot to buy arms in eastern Europe. The Real IRA shot an off-duty Catholic PSNI officer in his car on Bishop Street in Londonderry in November 2007. There were other incidents.

The case is made. The continuing structures of the Provisional IRA and these other terrorist organisations, North and South, are still active. It is self-evident that the legislation needs to be continued. I hope Senator Walsh will agree with me on that.

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, to the House and wish him well in his new responsibilities since the change of Administration. He has distinguished himself to date and I have no doubt will continue to do so.

This legislation has been before the House for the past seven or eight years. To some extent, it is a pity it is deemed necessary. I accept that the justifiable outrage in regard to the terrible atrocity that was Omagh, where so many innocent people, children and adults, were savagely put to death, brought about the amendments to the Offences against the State Act. The legislation raises issues which those involved in the criminal justice system are concerned to safeguard against to ensure there are no miscarriages of justice. It is, therefore, appropriate that it be brought before the House on an annual basis.

As I have said in the past, it is my wish that we will reach a stage, in the not too distant future, when the Minister will be able to come to the House and say that in the opinion of the Government and the security authorities there is no longer a need to extend the provisions of the Act. Of course, it is not just the dissident republican groups, even though the emphasis is on them. They were involved in the terrible atrocity that was Omagh but there is also the threat, which is somewhat new, from international terrorism. Some appalling atrocities have been committed in this decade which have made us all aware of the need to ensure the security forces and the legislative framework are in place to contest and meet the challenge in the interests of our people.

While reference has not been made to it, I understand that some time ago there were a number of people in this State who were involved in the al-Qaeda terrorist group. If the Minister of State is of a mind — he has stated he is — that there is a need to continue in force the provisions of the Offences against the State Act I am happy to support that.

With regard to the comment from Senator Regan, I would have thought I made myself clear on the Order of Business this morning. Omagh is an atrocity that all right-thinking people would condemn, so also are the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and many other atrocities during the Troubles. The Dublin-Monaghan bombings, which involved the single biggest loss of life during that period, is a matter that has engaged me over many years. An Oireachtas joint committee comprising Members from all parties examined the inquiries by the independent Mr. Justice Barron and heard various witnesses who came before it in regard to those atrocities. Certain recommendations were made which have not been acted upon. That does not reflect well on the Houses and that is the reason I called this morning for action to be taken.

There was no doubt in the minds of any of the members of the committee — people may have had different views at the outset of those inquiries — and there was common acceptance that collusion took place at a fairly widespread level in regard to many of the atrocities that occurred in Northern Ireland and in the Republic at that time and that there was definitely strong collusion involved in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. The view was that this went beyond the security forces and that it had to involve the Northern Ireland Office, which would have been working under the direct supervision and control of the security committee in Westminster. There are people at senior level in the then Administration who were at least aware of what was going on and took no action to prevent it. That is probably putting the most benign complexion on it. It is particularly insidious when the State involves itself in atrocities of this nature.

I would say to Senator Regan that his dismissive comment that this happened so many years ago as if it should be forgotten does a disservice to the families of those victims who have tried over the last——

On a point of order.

A point of order.

That is not what I said. What was said was that——

The Senator said it some years ago. What the Senator said is on the record.

What I said was that we are discussing this Bill and that the Senator had indicated that this was not of such importance that it merited priority.

That is not a point of order. A point of order is meant to be about procedures.

Those comments do a disservice to the families who have tried might and main to find some closure on this matter. That has not, in effect, been forthcoming. We have a duty, as elected representatives, if we are to follow in the footsteps of those who founded the State, to be as strong in our desire to preserve our sovereignty as they were and to find some closure for those families.

The Minister of State has gone through the various sections of the Bill which are part of the debate and has clearly defined the number of occasions on which they were used. I and others have argued in previous debates on this issue that some of those provisions should have been used as a measure to combat the serious criminal activity in the State, such as murders, drugs and the gang culture which has evolved around the drug trade.

I very much welcomed the introduction of a number of these measures into the criminal justice system in the Criminal Justice Act 2007. There are others that have not been incorporated. I urge the Minister and the Department to look at those if we consider and deem they are important measures to combat terrorism and the threat of terrorism and to act as a deterrent. The corollary of that would be that they can be used in the same way against those who get involved in very serious criminal activity. I am happy to state I support the continuation of these provisions. My comments on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in no way take from my revulsion at the Omagh bombing. All such terrorism needs to be condemned and dealt with.

With the permission of the House I wish to share time with Senator Hannigan.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I declare my interest in this matter as I have represented people before the Special Criminal Court and have, therefore, worked with the provisions that are at issue in this motion.

I wish to put on the record, as I think all of us have done, our condemnation of the dreadful atrocity that took place at Omagh and which, as the Minister of State has said, was the motivation behind the passing of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998. All of us will remember only too well the appalling carnage that took place that day in Omagh and we would all condemn it equally.

I would, however, like to register my own observations and reservations about the continuing in force of provisions of the Offences against the State Acts and, in particular, about the continued existence of the Special Criminal Court. Clearly the provisions at issue in this motion relate to the investigation and trial generally of scheduled offences, the trial of which will take place before that court. As we are aware, in many respects, the provisions allow departure from general rules and procedures that apply in the conduct of criminal investigations and criminal trials before the other criminal courts. In particular, serious encroachments on the right to silence are envisaged in the provisions at issue. They have been subject to a great deal of criticism not just from academics but also from practitioners and at international level. I wish to put on record some of those criticisms.

In the 1970s Mary Robinson, who was previously a Senator in this House, produced a pamphlet about the operation of the Special Criminal Court on which she had done a good deal of research. She expressed serious reservations about the use of a non-jury court to try particular offences. Much more recently the report of the expert committee to examine the Offences against the State Acts again expressed reservations about aspects of the legislation. There was strong dissent on the continued existence of the Special Criminal Court.

I referred to international criticism. In the Kavanagh case an international body criticised the referral of non-scheduled offences to the court by the Director of Public Prosecutions. There was a criticism of that power of referral. Clearly, there has been a move in recent years to use the Special Criminal Court to try non-scheduled offences. All of us would share great concern at the rise of so-called organised crime and the incidence of seriously violent crimes. We would also all agree that more should be done for the victims of such crime. I have done research on that area and have called for different ways of dealing with and providing support to victims that would greatly improve their experience of the criminal justice process.

There are other ways of dealing with organised crime than to dispense with jury trial and to use the sort of procedures that are envisaged under the offences against the State legislation. With less extreme variations we could apply the ordinary criminal justice code to organised crime in the way we have seen in the United States in the trials of organised crime, racketeering etc.

We should have a debate on the matter. The main point is that the motion should not go through on the nod. We should not be in the business of simply rubber-stamping the continued existence of the provisions for a further 12 months without serious consideration in particular of the provisions that have not been used. The Minister of State indicated that sections 6, 12 and 17 of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act were not used in the period April 2007 to April 2008. If the provisions are not being used we must query why we are asked to continue their existence for another year.

I thank Senator Bacik for sharing her time with me. I also welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan.

It is ten years since the legislation was first enacted. We can all remember where we were when the horrors of that day in Omagh unfolded. It was particularly horrible because at that time we were very hopeful that the situation in the North could be resolved. People were concerned about whether we could make a breakthrough and achieve peace but ten years on the situation has improved dramatically. As a result, legislation such as this has become less necessary.

While my party will not oppose the passing of the legislation today we will put down a marker for future years such that any special measures contained in the legislation have to be justified and cannot just be passed on the nod, so to speak. Given the improving political situation we would expect less requirement for these measures. I ask the mandarins in the Department to consider whether it will be necessary to renew all of the clauses next year. On this occasion we will be supportive of the legislation.

I do not intend to speak for long as I just want to comment on the unfortunate situation that requires the legislation to be in place. We would much rather that the situation had moved on far more significantly than is the case. I echo the feeling expressed by Members in both Houses that we look forward to the day when we do not need this type of legislation. It would be remiss of me not to make a contribution on the basis that three of my constituents were involved in the Omagh bombing and two of their Spanish friends were also killed. That event has touched our community very deeply and we empathise and sympathise with the families of the more than 3,000 other people who died in the Troubles.

We want to move on with peace. We do not want terrorist activity in the form of fuel laundering, drug dealing or anything else that is disguised as something other than what it is. I would like to see an end to all criminal activity with a terrorism background. We all have a role to play in ensuring there is no place for criminals to hide. I strongly advocate that people continue to come forward to the police, North and South, with any information they have on current or past events.

In the course of a debate the question was asked about whether the Omagh bombing or the Dublin and Monaghan bombings were more important. All such death is wrong. All those events were beyond tragic and anyone who has information on them should come forward, even at this stage.

I trust this legislation will not be needed in the very near future. I know the consequences of the actions in my area and I want to see the better Ireland heralded by the Good Friday Agreement for which people voted.

As with other speakers there is regret at the necessity for legislation of this type because its existence presumes a victory on the part of those who engage in terrorism and seek to use it as a political weapon. The Government has chosen to renew the legislation annually since the original passage of the Act. There is consensus in the House that this should be the case. A wider debate needs to take place on the circumstances that would obviate the need for the future existence of the legislation. It is clear that the terrorist threat that has existed in this jurisdiction is reduced although it continues to be potent. We should have a wider debate on why we should have the legislation on the Statute Book.

It is interesting to note that in the neighbouring jurisdiction there is a debate on legislation to deal with international terrorism and its effect on civil liberties. It is ironic that the focus of the debate there is on periods of detention and methods of using evidence that are far more draconian than those included in the Act. While we have suffered greatly at the hands of terrorism, we should be grateful that in terms of its limits on civil liberty the legislation is far less draconian than it could be. The very mechanism that allows it to be introduced annually on the basis of a report to Government and a Government decision on whether it should be continued is a safeguard that we do not find in other jurisdictions.

Will the Minister of State indicate in his response whether the Government is considering the scenarios that might develop when we no longer need an Offences against the State Act? I fear that the bogey of terrorism we have experienced on this island over a 40-year period and that exists internationally through other threats is a convenient excuse for those who want to have the strictest possible laws and who want to feel good about themselves by so doing rather than dealing with the nature of the problems. I refer, for example, to why terrorism exists in the first place and how it can be diminished in society. The fear is that if we continue to have such legislation there will be a rolling justification for some type of terrorism activity and for some people involved in terrorism to justify the continued existence of the legislation. Those of us who believe in a safe, democratic society founded on civil liberties yearn for the day when legislation of this type is removed from the Statute Book.

I thank Members for their support for the motion, especially Senator Regan of Fine Gael. Earlier this week I attended a conference attended by the Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, and the Chief Constable of the PSNI, Sir Hugh Orde. It is clear from those discussions that the threat posed by dissident republican groups is very serious. The threats are very real for many of the officers from both the PSNI and the Garda Síochána who attended the conference. It is particularly true for PSNI officers who continue to be targeted by these dissident republican groups.

On that occasion I made it very clear, as did the Deputy First Minister for the North, Martin McGuinness — some may find that ironic — that no quarter would be given to these dissident republicans in their continued efforts to destabilise the peace that is now well established on the island. They will be ruthlessly pursued and hunted down. The Garda Síochána and PSNI have an extraordinarily high level of co-operation on this matter. It is fair to say that the level of co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI has never been higher. It would be a terrible mistake on our part to relinquish these powers in the belief that we were living in an idealised world as a result of the peace process that unfolded from the first IRA ceasefire in 1994. Some very dangerous individuals are involved in the dissident organisations. They are concentrated in particular parts of the Border area and we need to be very vigilant in continuing to be able to address the threat they pose. I instanced the number of attacks that have been conducted to date.

Senator Bacik stated that some of the powers have not been used. I would emphasise they have not been used during this particular one-year review of the legislation. However, they have been used in previous successful prosecutions. Notably section 6 was used in previous years to secure the prosecution and conviction of Michael McKevitt, the undoubted leader of one of those terrorist organisations. It would be somewhat presumptuous to assume we should relinquish the section 6 power which specifies an offence of directing the activities of an organisation. It would be rather foolish to relinquish that section on civil liberties grounds at the urging of Senator Bacik on the basis that it has not been used in the past year. The only time it was used, it was used very effectively against one of the biggest figures in the dissident republican movement. It is not a time for complacency.

While we have this domestic threat on the island, there has been a very significant presence, especially prior to 11 September 2001, of significant individuals, one of whom was a neighbour of mine, living literally down the road from where I live in Dublin, who were intimately involved in the logistical support for the operations on 11 September 2001. Considering the international threat posed by al-Qaeda and others, unfortunately the Garda Síochána still needs these special powers. Like Senator Bacik I would love to see the value of basic civil liberties being optimised in a world——

The Minister of State is ahead of the game if he starts off by talking about al-Qaeda. He lost me there.

——which was free of terrorist threat. However, we do not live in such a world, even on the island of Ireland. It is very important that these powers be renewed for another year. As Senator Bacik pointed out it is important to have a debate on these matters on an annual basis. Some of the sections have not been used, including section 17 as she mentioned. There simply has not been an occasion to use that provision which specifies forfeiture. However, the Garda Síochána has other legal powers if it wishes to pursue a route of forfeiture of assets that may be used in the commission of these kinds of offences. I thank Members for their support. I listened closely to what Senator Bacik said as a lawyer involved in the human rights area. However, I emphasise that we live in a real world and not in the arid, academic world of human rights law.

It is not arid.

We face real threats on the island of Ireland and on the international scene which must be addressed. We would be doing a grave disservice to our citizens if we were not to retain such powers as those contained in this Act.

Senator Regan made a very serious point about Paul Quinn's murder. That is the subject of proceedings at the moment. The Independent Monitoring Commission's report indicated strongly that while individuals from the Provisional IRA were involved in that heinous attack, they were not in any way acting in an official capacity representing the IRA on that occasion. That is the clear message. We take great sustenance from the fact that the Provisional IRA has been stood down. All the intelligence reports indicate to the Government and to other governments that the organisation is now in a real sense redundant and not in existence in operational terms.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Next Tuesday at 2.30 p.m.