Amendment No. 6 has been discussed with amendments Nos. 5 and 6a.
Criminal Justice Bill, 1967: Committee Stage (Resumed).
I do not want to discuss it. I want to explain the position in relation to it. Amendment No. 5 was defeated and consequently, so far as we are concerned, we would prefer the Minister's amendment No. 6 to subsection (4) of the Bill as it stands. If we succeeded in defeating the Minister's amendment the position would be that subsection (4) in the Bill would remain as it stands. While we do not think the Minister's amendment entirely acceptable, it is an improvement on subsection (4) and for that reason we agree to the Minister's amendment.
I move amendment No. 6:
In subsection (4), page 9, lines 24 to 32, to delete paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) and to substitute the following paragraphs:
(a) he is satisfied that the person has committed an offence involving either a breach of the peace or conduct that was likely to lead to a breach of the peace,
(b) it is not reasonably practicable to apply for a warrant, and
(c) he has reasonable grounds for believing that, if the person is not promptly charged with the offence aforesaid, the person is likely to engage in further conduct whereby the commission of an offence involving a serious breach of the peace may occur.
Amendment No. 6 agreed to and amendment No. 6a falls.
When was amendment No. 6a withdrawn?
Amendment No. 6a cannot be moved since it is to a part of the Bill which amendment No. 6 deletes.
But that does not mean that amendment No. 6a was withdrawn.
I think the Minister indicated he would accept this.
I said I would agree to insert the words "within the period of twenty-four hours immediately preceding the time of the arrest". Paragraph (a) of the amended subsection would then read:
he is satisfied that the person has, within the period of twenty-four hours immediately preceding the time of the arrest, committed an offence involving either a breach of the peace or conduct that was likely to lead to a breach of the peace.
That meets what Deputy Tully wants.
Yes. I am prepared to withdraw if the Minister will do what he said he would do yesterday evening.
I will do it now if it does not create any difficulty. If it does create difficulty then I will guarantee to introduce the amendment inserting these words on Report Stage.
The usual procedure is to deal with a matter like this on Report Stage.
I think everybody isad idem.
If it does not create any difficulty I can make the amendment now.
The normal procedure is that it should be done on Report Stage.
That will mean introducing another amendment.
(Cavan): In this case there are two amendments before the House and I think, with respect, what the Chair has in mind is the fact that an amendment to an amendment is usually introduced on Report Stage. But here we have the two amendments before the House, both of them having been discussed.
The House can, as I understand the procedure of the House, take by agreement an amendment of this kind here and now and, if the Chair will agree to allow the amendment of my amendment No. 6.
Yes, if the House will agree then the Chair will accept the amendment. What are the exact terms of the amendment that is now being made?
The nature of the amendment now being proposed is that on my amendment, which is accepted, we should in paragraph (a), after the word "has" in the first line, insert the words "within the period of twenty-four hours immediately preceding the time of the arrest". The paragraph will then read: "(a) he is satisfied that the person has, within the period of twenty-four hours immediately preceding the time of the arrest, committed an offence involving either a breach of the peace or conduct that was likely to lead to a breach of the peace".
Amendment amended by leave by the insertion after "has" in the first line of paragraph (a) of "within the period of 24 hours immediately preceding the time of arrest."
I move amendment No. 7:
To delete subsection (7).
Subsection (7) reads:
A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person whom he, with reasonable cause, suspects to be guilty of an offence under section 59 of this Act.
In order to consider the effect of that subsection, and to get the meaning of the amendment, it is necessary, then, to turn to section 59, the section dealing with unlawful possession. It reads:
(1) A person who knowingly and without lawful authority has in his possession or on his premises or conveys in any manner any thing obtained (whether by himself or any other person) in contravention of the criminal law shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Where, on the hearing of a charge for an offence under this section, evidence is given of the circumstances in which the defendant was found in possession of or having on his premises or conveying the thing to which the charge relates, the court, if it considers it reasonable to do so, may accept that evidence as constituting by itself alone aprima facie case against the defendant.
Subsection (7) of section 12 in effect says that in those circumstances set out in subsection (1) of section 59 a member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant. I referred to this matter in the course of the Second Reading discussion on the Bill and I have put down this amendment because it seems to me that the general power of arrest without warrant, which this subsection purports to give the Garda Síochána, is going a bit too far. I think I know, and I think the House will appreciate, what the Minister has in mind in this subsection. It is referred to in the Explanatory Memorandum as intended to replace a similar provision in the Criminal Justice Act, 1951. The query I raised on Second Reading and which has been raised by others is whether or not the phrasing of the subsection as it stands, and its relationship to section 59 of the Bill, do not carry further than is intended and do not in fact carry too far the power of arrest without warrant which is to be conferred on the Garda Síochána by virtue of this subsection.
The case has been made that the subsection as it stands would empower a garda to arrest without warrant any person he suspects of being guilty of an offence under section 59: it is the possession of a thing obtained in contravention of the criminal law. One point made in memoranda which were circulated, and which the Minister referred to in the booklet he published as a reply to critics, was that the words used in section 59 are "any thing obtained" without further defining what "thing" is or might be. The Minister's reply to that, as I recall it rightly or wrongly, in the booklet he published was to the effect that, even in the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, the word "thing" was not further defined. As I say, the case has been made in the memoranda circulated by the Irish Association of Civil Liberty that, in fact, what we are doing or what it is proposed to do here greatly enlarges the existing law by saying, in effect, "...any ‘thing' obtained (whether by the person being charged himself or by someone else) in contravention of the criminal law...".
The case is made that this power of arrest without warrant in these circumstances could mean that a garda, withcut a warrant, would be entitled to arrest a person on suspicion of having in his possession such a thing as a bottle of brandy which a relative might have brought from abroad some time before without having declared it at the customs. It might even, by virtue of subsection (9) of section 12, then give power of forcible entry to premises or into that person's or any other person's home, again without warrant, in order to search or make an arrest. It may be—I imagine it is— strictly intended by the Minister that the power of arrest without warrant being given in subsection (7) should be a replacement as nearly as possible of the existing law—the existing law as contained in subsection (1) of section 13 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951.
I move this amendment principally to ask the Minister to look carefully into the matter to see, to satisfy himself and to satisfy the House that in fact all he is doing here is remaining, so far as the criminal law is concerned, within the actual framework and within the actual power that exists under section 13 of the 1951 Act. If that is the position then there is nothing new and nothing novel in subsection (7) as it stands. On the other hand, it has been argued, that there is here an extension of the powers, that there is here machinery for arresting people who may have stolen property in their possession. Admittedly the word used in section 59 is "knowingly", but then that is open to comment later when we come to deal with that section, and that they should have in their possession something which is obtained in contravention of the criminal law. My recollection is that the Minister, in reply to the question about a customs offence, said that this was a matter entirely for the Revenue Commissioners and the Garda did not enter into this, good, bad, or indifferent. If that is the Minister's view of the law at present, I accept it. I think that is the position and what is meant——
In the instance of the uncustomed bottle of brandy that is the law.
I accept that that is the position but the query is: will it be so if subsection (7) passes because the argument has been made that, if it is passed, it will extend the authority of the Garda to arrest without warrant, even in the case of the bottle of brandy that was brought in from abroad without having been declared at the customs? I know the Minister's view is that at the moment it does not and that it is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners, but my query is: if subsection (7) is passed unamended is it going to capture into its net circumstances such as that and confer power of arrest and subsequently power of search without warrant on the Garda?
I said yesterday that this appeared to be a lawyer's Bill but that, while the lawyers knew more about it than anybody else, it was necessary for the ordinary layman to understand what is in the Bill, otherwise he would not know when he was breaking the law. Even the Fourth Estate felt that it was a lawyer's Bill and reading some of the newspapers today it appears that they seemed to think it was a Bill which should be preserved entirely for legal comment. They seem to have missed the point in some of their comments. We have to be very careful and the debate, if it is listened to, will bring out points to the ordinary layman which will show what he can do and what he can be committed for doing. I may be misinterpreting this, and if I am perhaps the Minister will correct me, but subsection (7) states that "a member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person whom he, with reasonable cause, suspects to be guilty of an offence under section 59 of this Act". What is section 59? Does it relate to a very serious offence? Section 59 states:
A person who knowingly and without lawful authority has in his possession or on his premises or conveys in any manner any thing obtained (whether by himself or by any other person) in contravention of the criminal law shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
In other words, we are talking about the right of a garda to arrest a person for a relatively minor offence. This is not a serious offence.
Last week the Minister was talking about the man who committed murder and that it was necessary to have the right for a garda to arrest him because he would be stepping on to the plane —it used to be on to the boat—and leaving the jurisdiction. What is this for? For something for which the maximum fine is £100 and the maximum sentence is six months imprisonment. As I say, I am reading it as an ordinary layman would read it. If this is in the existing law—I do not know whether or not it is—it is extraordinary, and if it is proposed to introduce it now for the first time into the law I think it is a mistake. I believe it should be the other way round. Nobody has or should have any respect for a receiver, somebody who is in possession of stolen goods. The Minister may be rightly concerned with the petty criminals who would not be petty criminals but for the fact that they are able to dispose of their ill-gotten gains. Surely it should be possible, if somebody is in possession of a small amount of goods for which he can be sentenced to six months' imprisonment or fined £100, or fined and imprisoned, to get a warrant to have him arrested? These people are not going to rush out of the country knowing that they have enough property or money with them on which to live in comfort for the rest of their lives. This is a case where the right of arrest without a warrant should not be allowed, where it should be necessary for the garda to produce a warrant. It is dealing with a relatively simple offence.
As I understand it, this is not a new provision; it is merely a re-enactment which is necessary by reason of the redrafting of the law proposed in section 59, with which we will deal later. We have got to keep an eye on section 59 and to remember that the offence is a serious one, even if the value of the article is comparitively small. The offence in section 59 involves a person who knowingly obtains or carries, virtually, stolen property or keeps it in his possession. It is something which is in contravention of the criminal law.
There would be no objection to this if it was limited to stolen property.
No, but it must be something in contravention of the criminal law. I cannot visualise any other way in which you could have property obtained in contravention of the criminal law otherwise than by theft.
As far as I know, smuggling is not a criminal offence. Importing banned books is not a criminal offence. If we introduced prohibition and made the possession of alcoholic liquor a criminal offence, well and good, but so far as I know smuggling is not a criminal offence. I regard the possession, with knowledge, of goods obtained in contravention of the criminal law, not in contravention of the revenue regulations, as a serious offence. In this subsection we are not dealing with receivers of stolen goods as much as the people who harbour them, who are giving them temporary accommodation while the thief is elsewhere.
In view of the fact that this is a re-enactment and not a new provision neither Deputy Tully nor anybody else has any reason for alarm. Granted, you cannot say definitely that a certain offence which is not now a criminal offence will never be one but that is a matter for the Oireachtas to keep an eye on, as I am sure it will. As matters stand I am perfectly satisfied that if a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable cause for believing that a person is improperly or knowingly in possession of stolen goods there is no good saying to him: "Please go and find a peace commissioner and swear information and get a warrant for arrest." The person in question will not be so obliging as to remain in the same place long enough. It is quite obvious that the member of the Garda Síochána who has satisfied himself with reasonable cause that stolen property is being carried or retained by the suspected person must be entitled to arrest him at once. Otherwise, the chance would be gone. There is really no cause for nervousness about this. I hope it will be retained.
(Cavan): When I read subsection (7) in conjunction with section 59 at first I did so with more or less a layman's mind and, like Deputy Tully, I thought it was very far reaching. I wondered if it was wide enough to cover trivial offences which it was never intended should be covered. I can see the necessity for a provision such as this in the case of a person conveying stolen goods in a motor vehicle, a large or even a small quantity of stolen cigarettes or liquor or jewellery or anything else, when the goods are actually in transit. If the vehicle is not intercepted and the goods obtained then it may not be possible to locate them later on. I can see the necessity for this sort of provision in this sort of Bill but I think it is too wide as it stands. I am not entirely satisfied that it does not cover the smuggled bottle of brandy. I should like the Minister to make clear whether he does intend to cover the bottle of brandy or not. I speak subject to correction but I think smuggling is regarded as a criminal offence.
I suspect that the Deputy may be wrong in law.
(Cavan): Again, I speak subject to correction, and no doubt the Minister will have this at his finger-tips, but I understood that there was a case in a superior court some years ago in which the issue was whether the Revenue Commissioners or the Attorney-General were entitled in a smuggling offence to appeal against the dismissal of the charge of smuggling. I understand the superior court held that because smuggling was regarded as a criminal offence the prosecutor did not have a right to appeal. I speak entirely from memory and I should like the Minister to say if I am right or wrong.
The bottle would not have been obtained in contravention of the criminal law.
(Cavan): If smuggling is a criminal offence, yes.
You do not obtain it by smuggling; you buy it abroad.
(Cavan): Yes; obtained by himself or any other person. You obtain it in the country; you have it in your possession as a result of smuggling.
But you do not do it in contravention of the criminal law.
(Cavan): You do. I shall take this up with Deputy Booth. “A person who knowingly and without lawful authority has in his possession...” If he is in the State and if smuggling is a criminal offence and if he has the bottle in his possession within the State and it was smuggled, either he himself or somebody else must have brought it into the country in contravention of the criminal law.
Yes, but he did not obtain it in contravention of the criminal law.
(Cavan): If the Deputy will read the section he will see that there is nothing about obtaining it there. It says: “has in his possession...”. These are the words —that he has it in his possession or on his premises——
Yes, but he has in his possession something obtained.
(Cavan):——“has in his possession... or conveys in any manner anything obtained in contravention——
You are not obtaining the bottle in contravention.
(Cavan): I should say that “obtained” means to have it, to bring it into the State. It was obtained and brought into the State in contravention of the criminal law.
No. I do not agree with that.
(Cavan): Then let us clarify it. When I hear Deputies splitting hairs on a section of a Criminal Justice Bill and one Deputy making a reasonably forceful argument that it is undesirable and a Deputy from the Minister's side making an argument to justify the section, I say it is time to clarify it. That is what we are here to do. It is not fair that it should be let loose on the country and that innumerable people in lowly circumstances, not in a position to bring this to the superior courts to have it clarified, should be in doubt. Does the Minister intend that this should apply to the bottle of poteen? If he does not, is poteen-making or distilling or trafficking in poteen within the criminal code? Or, is it in the same category as the offence of smuggling?
It appears to me that the subsection is another extension of the right to arrest without warrant where it is not altogether necessary. It is a very wide section and it is loose. I think section 59 is meant to be an all-embracing section..."has in his possession anything obtained in contravention of the criminal law." That covers anything from a needle to an anchor. In some sections of the Bill the right to arrest is governed by the seriousness of the offence and in several sections the seriousness is measured by the punishment applicable to the offence, whether it is five years' penal servitude or five years' imprisonment. But here it could happen that the arrest without warrant would apply in the most trivial case. That is a move in the wrong direction. I should particularly like the Minister to clarify the case I spoke about which went to the High Court as to whether the prosecutor in a smuggling case had the right to appeal. I think it was decided that he had not on the grounds that it was a criminal offence.
Whatever Deputies may think about the details of section 59, one thing beyond dispute is that it is designed to replace section 13 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, dealing with unlawful possession. This is the purpose of the section. The section in the 1951 Act has proved to be technically defective and the new section is essential. If Deputies have any criticism to make I suggest the appropriate place is on section 59 when we reach it rather than on this subsection because the power of summary arrest is absolutely essential to the operation of the section not only in some cases but in the vast majority of cases.
When dealing with this subsection I do not want to become bogged down in details of section 59 but this is a section that is quite important in the day-to-day, or, if you like, the night-to-night, work of the Garda in the detection and prevention of crimes. It applies to the sort of case where a garda in the small hours of the morning finds a man furtively conveying, say, half-a-dozen transistor radios or a couple of cameras or perhaps a few thousand cigarettes. The problem is that very often the owners of these goods cannot be identified. The law of larceny as it stands— I hope to change this at some stage— makes it extremely difficult to stand over a straightforward charge of larceny even if the man were willing to admit having stolen the articles found on him. Sometimes he may genuinely be unable to help in the identification of the owner and, in a situation like this, a summary power of arrest is essential if the Garda are to be able to do their job at all. For instance a man caught at three or four o'clock in the morning with a number of transistor radios or perhaps a couple of overcoats may have stolen the articles from cars and it is likely that he will not know who the owners are. As all lawyer Deputies will appreciate, it is essential, under the law of larceny, to prove ownership of goods. That is an anacronism in this day and age but, at all events, it is the law of this land and it creates these particular difficulties.
Some Deputies have said that the section goes far beyond this but we can deal with these criticisms when we come to the section itself. If there is a valid criticism, I have shown that I am willing to take account of it; but, on the other hand, I have also shown that some of the critics can be very wrong and I believe they are wrong on this. However, whatever the final form of section 59 may be, we must have this power of summary arrest as we had in the 1951 Act, which is the Act that section 59 replaces. If we do not have this power, the section will lose its value and a significant number of criminals will go unpunished because they will have disposed of the evidence by the time the police can get a warrant. This section is designed mainly to enable the police to pick up a man in suspicious circumstances, particularly in the early hours of the morning.
Deputy O'Higgins has referred to the extension of existing powers but I would remind him that, under the 1951 Act, there is power for summary arrests. Section 13 of that Act reads:
A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person whom he reasonably suspects of having or conveying in any manner any thing stolen or unlawfully obtained.
It does not necessarily mean anything stolen by him. The article could have been stolen by anybody. It is the opinion of those whose duty it is to deal with these prosecutions that section 59 of the Bill retains probably less than 50 per cent of the existing power from the 1951 Act, which is defective. Whatever about the accuracy of that, it is far narrower in scope than the section of the 1951 Act which it replaces.
It seems narrower in some senses.
It is narrower. As regards cases affecting the Revenue Commissioners, the bottle of brandy is not a good example. Certainly, it is not very relevant to what we are discussing. The Revenue Commissioners, as Deputy Fitzpatrick well knows, have all the powers that they need under their code. They have the necessary powers to enable them to follow any smuggling cases which they wish to follow. It is the clearly established policy in this country that the Garda do not take on themselves revenue work. It is the Revenue Commissioners who pursue this field.
Except in the advertisement on television for Murphy's stout. There is a garda actively engaged in the pursuit.
Deputy Fitzpatrick gave a bad example when he mentioned poteen because, under the Illicit Distillations Acts, a garda can arrest a man on suspicion of carrying poteen at any time; he can search his house at any time without a warrant and he can dig up the man's garden without a warrant. Even if the garda officer finds poteen five miles away from the man's house but on his land he can arrest the man unless the man can prove that he had no knowledge of the presence of the poteen on his land. Therefore, when the Deputy speaks of poteen, he is giving an example of existing law which goes back for about 200 years. Consequently, it appears that very many people do not know some of the existing powers. I suggest to the Deputy again that we should not proceed to discuss section 59 until we come to it, as we will in due course.
If the Minister would prefer to leave the amendment until we are dealing with section 59, I have no objection.
I have no objection to that but, of course, it is a matter for the Chair.
There is a point on which I should like clarification. The Minister and Deputy O'Higgins have drawn analogies between the peculiar powers of the Revenue Commissioners in regard to smuggled goods and the Garda Síochána in regard to spirits distilled without a licence, commonly known as poteen; but section 59 speaks of a person who, knowingly and without lawful authority, has in his possession or on his premises any article. It says that that man may be arrested by a member of the Garda Síochána without a warrant if the garda reasonably suspects the man to be guilty of that offence. Surely we are travelling a step further than we ever travelled before if we are to delegate to a member of the Garda Síochána the function of suspicion with reasonable cause that a person knowingly has in his possession or on his premises anything obtained in contravention of the criminal law?
The Revenue Commissioners have always been in a different position. The Minister knows from his experience in the West of Ireland with regard to poteen, as I know because of my experience as a Deputy for a Border constituency, that officers of the Revenue Commissioners have phenomenal powers. An officer of the Revenue Commissioners can stop the man in the streets of Carrickmacross, take the overcoat off his back and say to him: "Prove to me that that overcoat has been lawfully imported and the duty has been paid on it. Unless and until you do, it is seized." He has that right under the revenue law and the obligation of proof shifts to the owner of the overcoat.
We all know that that is a very odd power. The Revenue Commissioners have gathered unto themselves down through the years the strangest powers owing to the great difficulty of enforcing a variety of revenue laws. As the Minister knows, when we were dealing with the Income Tax (Consolidation) Bill we carried on an old provision which the Revenue Commissioners had acquired back in 1910, I think, which was found to be contrary to the Constitution and we had to take remedial steps before the Income Tax (Consolidation) Bill could be passed by the Oireachtas.
Is there not a new principle here if we suggest that the Garda officer may arrest when he has a reasonable suspicion that somebody knowingly does a certain thing? The Revenue Commissioners never claimed that right. The Revenue Commissioners simply said: "I do not care where you bought the overcoat. We believe that overcoat to have been brought in illegally and the duty was not paid on it. Inasmuch as that is the fact, unless you can prove the person from whom you bought it lawfully imported it, we hold it." That is a claim that no other organ of the State makes. It is doubtful, if somebody raised the matter on a constitutional issue in the Supreme Court, if that claim on the part of the Revenue Commissioners would stand up; but that is another day's work. I do not think there is any other organ of the State which claims that wide power or to whom the Oireachtas has ever conceded such a wide power. It has only been conceded to the Revenue Commissioners because of the notorious difficulty they have in enforcing the revenue law. However, I am quite agreeable to the suggestion made by Deputy O'Higgins that we will leave further discussion of the amendment over until section 59 is under consideration.
It occurs to me that Deputy O'Higgins could make whatever arguments he wishes on his amendment or on the effect of subsection (7) when we come to section 59. Of course, Deputy Dillon is quite right in saying that the Revenue Commissioners have wider powers, I suppose, than any body there is dealing with the matters with which they have to deal and it is their business to do it. The point he makes about the question ofmens rea can be raised in relation to a number of other offences. It is an ingredient of most offences, in fact.
Not in poteen.
Not in poteen but in the kind of offences I am trying to visualise here. This is some gentleman caught at 2 o'clock in the morning with three or four transistor radios and so on. What I want to explain to the Deputy is that when the case comes to the court and a point is raised, the garda must satisfy the court and the justice that he had reasonable grounds for suspicion for the action he took. This runs through many branches of the criminal law that would otherwise simply not work, where a police officer detects what he thinks is a crime— stolen goods being carried or what have you—and because of the circumstances, perhaps because of the hour, perhaps because of the local situation, he must have power to make a quick arrest. If in such cases the garda had to go around chasing a peace commissioner to give him a warrant, when he came back his bird would have flown.
Let me say again that when we come to section 59 we can debate whether it is narrower, as I say it is, than the existing law which it is replacing, the 1951 Act, or whether it is wider. In the meantime however, I feel sure the House will be satisfied that it is essential in the circumstances which I have described for the garda to have an instant power of arrest. The Deputy, I am sure, appreciates what I have already quoted as the existing law under the 1951 Act and that those powers are there and that the purpose here is to replace them. If the Deputy withdraws his amendment, we could leave over until the debate on section 59 whether it is in fact broadening the powers, or, as I think, narrowing them.
(Cavan): I do not entirely agree we can deal with this satisfactorily by ensuring that section 59 is no more extensive than the provisions of the 1951 Act. There is a lot to be said for a section such as section 59 but the question here is whether we are to confer the powers of arrest without warrant suggested in section 12 for every offence under section 59. The Minister has, quite rightly from his point of view, made the case that a person could be found abroad late at night or in the early hours of the morning with half a dozen transistor radios or maybe a large quantity of cigarettes or something of that nature. That would be a case in which it would be highly desirable to provide for arrest without warrant.
If we are going to limit the powers of arrest without warrant in respect of an offence under section 59, we will have to do it when dealing with subsection (7) of section 12 because if that subsection stands then the person who commits an offence under section 59 will be automatically subject to arrest without warrant under the subsection we are now dealing with, whether the offence under section 59 is a trivial one or whether it is an offence of the magnitude of the Great Train Robbery. We should write into subsection (7) some safeguards. If the Minister would be prepared to accept the powers proposed to be conferred by this subsection in respect of certain hours of the night—in this Bill we have the precedent in certain subsections where more extensive powers are given to the Garda from an hour after sunset until an hour before sunrise—I would be with the Minister if he would be satisfied with that.
This is simply an all-embracing subsection which will cover everything that may be held to be an offence under section 59. I do not think it is a complete answer to any argument made from this side of the House to say: "We are not extending the law. That is the law as it was 20 years ago." We are now reviewing the law. This Act and this debate provide an opportunity for having a look at the law as passed and seeing whether it is reasonable or not. I do not think it is any answer to say that this is the law as it was before, if the law as it was before was undesirable. I bow to the Minister's greater knowledge and vast professional experience in respect of the illicit distillery business and I accept completely that the position is as he says it is there. I await clarification from him at a later date about the smuggling code. Deputy Dillon made a very good point in respect of the smuggling or customs code because it has to be an offence here for the person to knowingly have in his possession something that has been illegally or improperly obtained. As Deputy Dillon pointed out, that is not a necessary ingredient of a customs offence. The Minister says the customs authorities have all that power at the present time but I say that we are writing into this Act of Parliament that the garda will have power if they suspect that a person has knowingly in his possession something he should not have, although he might have it quite innocently.
Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick of Cavan is flogging a dead horse on this. We have to accept the fact that smuggling something is not a contravention of the criminal code. It is a most regrettable thing but it happens; and, human nature being what it is, it is hard to avoid.
It is illegal.
(Cavan): The Minister has not said that yet.
In view of the fact that there is power given to the revenue authorities, as Deputy Dillon says, to act without any warrant in honest suspicion, there is already that power in the hands of the revenue authorities and quite obviously that is where it should properly lie. The offence here is quite a different one. It is something obtained in contravention of the criminal law. I cannot see, in spite of what Deputy Fitzpatrick says, that possession of a smuggled bottle of brandy or a banned book, improperly imported, is something obtained in contravention of the criminal law.
Section 59 is virtually a re-enactment of the existing law just as subsection (7) of section 12 is a re-enactment. The main brunt of criticism of subsection (7) so far is that it is an unwarranted enlargement of the power of arrest without warrant. We have got over that. Deputy Fitzpatrick has gone on a rather sounder line now by saying that, even though we are not enlarging it, at least we should take an opportunity of reviewing the law as it stands. I do not see any reason for amending the law as it stands, because I know of no instance where this power of arrest without warrant, which has been the law since 1951, has been improperly used and I am not aware of any complaints in that connection. I see no reason, having given the members of the Garda Síochána that power 25 years ago, why we should now take it back from them or limit that power in any way.
Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick of Cavan was trying to be helpful when he suggested we might limit it to certain hours of the night. The argument does not hold water. A man can be in possession of stolen property at any hour of the day or night. The references to certain actions being more apt to be criminal in the hours of darkness appear to refer to loitering with intent, and so on. In so far as section 59 itself is concerned, we are informed that this is largely a drafting amendment of the previous law by reason of the difficulties in drafting prosecutions under the existing law. It is quite right that we can pass subsection (7) at the moment, which is certainly a re-enactment of an existing power and then when we come to section 59 we can see whether it is also a re-enactment in a tidier form of the existing law. If anyone can find something excessive in the drafting of section 59 it will be time enough to discuss that then. We would be far better advised to deal with subsection (7) as we find it. We are not prejudicing any discussion on section 59 in any way. I would hope we would leave the subsection as it stands and then have a closer look at section 59 when we come to it.
As I explained at the outset, I put down this amendment for the purpose of having examined and clarified the points which were causing uneasiness to some people with regard to the powers of arrest without warrant in the circumstances set out in section 59. The right approach to this is that of Deputy T.J. Fitzpatrick(Cavan) but we have to consider in relation to subsection (7) of section 12 whether or not it is right these powers of arrest without warrant should apply to all cases coming within the provisions of section 59. If we pass subsection (7) of section 12 as it stands, then those provisions are going to apply to every offence under section 59 whether we think they ought to or not.
They do apply. There is no limitation at the moment.
I am coming to that. I am trying to reply logically to the case which the Deputy and the Minister made as to why they should leave over all argument until section 59 is reached. Once you pass subsection (7) as it stands, then these powers of arrest without warrant contained in subsection (7) will apply to every offence under section 59. It would be a very laborious task later on to try to recast the entire section 59 to get in the exceptions. It was done in a much neater way in the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, when there was a section there specifically dealing with the power of arrest without warrant in particular cases which were set out in section 13. Deputy Dillon has raised a point of importance but the substance of what he mentioned there, and very rightly mentioned, and the effect of it probably is to limit rather than expand the existing provisions.
As I understand the position at the moment, under section 13 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, a garda has power to arrest without warrant a person whom he reasonably suspects of having in his possession or conveying in any manner anything stolen or unlawfully obtained. In a case like this, the power of arrest without warrant applies. He is somewhat more restricted under section 59 of the Bill because not only must he suspect that the goods have been stolen or unlawfully obtained but he must also reasonably suspect that the person whom he is about to arrest knows that is the position. To that extent the position is somewhat more restricted here.
I ask the Minister to explain the reference to the relevant subsection in the explanatory memorandum because I do not understand it. He will find on page 7, paragraph 47 (7) this statement:
...which provides power of arrest where a person is suspected of having committed an offence against section 59 (i.e. unlawful possession of goods), is in effect a re-enactment of section 13 (1) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951.
I have no comment to make on that, but it goes on to say:
The re-enactment is made necessary by the fact that subsection (2) of section 13 is being repealed and replaced by the modified provision contained in section 59 of the Bill.
The first comment I want to make is that it is not only subsection (2) of section 13 of the 1951 Act which is being repealed but, according to the Schedule, the entire section 13 is being repealed. I do not understand this. There may be a perfectly good reason why it is stated that the re-enactment of section 13 (1) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, is rendered necessary by the repeal of subsection (2) of that section, because subsection (2) of section 13 of the 1951 Act deals with the case of a person who is charged in the district court with having in his possession or on his premises, or conveying goods reasonably suspected of being stolen or unlawfully obtained, and fails to give account to the satisfaction of the court of how he came by them. As I understand the position, it is the failing to give account that is the offence under section 13 (2) of the 1951 Act.
I do not understand how the repeal of that subsection necessitates the re-enactment of the power of arrest without warrant in section 13 (1) of the 1951 Act. I may be misreading the explanatory memorandum, but I do not understand the explanation given there. If I am right in my reading of the 1951 Act, it appears to me that what is in brackets in paragraph 47 is quite irrelevant.
There is one point I should like to bring to the Minister's notice in regard to this subsection. The Minister, as a lawyer, has considerable experience, particularly from the defence angle, as a criminal practitioner. As far as I can see, for any offence of a criminal nature which is alleged to have been committed, the garda may arrest under section 12 (7). It has been held under the Customs (Consolidation) Act that it is compulsory to inform a defendant that he has the right to be tried by a judge and jury.
Will Deputy Booth listen to this, like a good boy?
Is he not being attentive?
I was enlightening a colleague.
It is the law that a customs offence is a criminal offence and in such an offence a person charged has the right to go before a judge and jury, as any practitioner in the Border counties knows, and it is the duty of the district justice so to inform an accused. Most cases under the Customs (Consolidation) Act are held before a judge and jury. One can imagine an example of a tyre which has been smuggled or the case of a tyre on which the duty has been paid but the person involved has lost the receipt during the months. If a member of the Garda finds a British manufactured tyre on my car, though the tyre may be half worn, he has the right to arrest me because it is a criminal offence as defined by section 59 of the Bill.
The Deputy did not get the tyre in contravention of the criminal law.
I can be arrested until I have proved that I did not.
You got the tyre in Derry so you did not obtain it in contravention of the criminal law.
The fact that it was brought in is a criminal offence.
A subsequent one.
The fact that I am found in possession of it is a criminal offence unless I can prove to the contrary, that it was legitimately brought in earlier, with customs duty paid on it.
But you did not obtain it illegally.
Deputy Booth has missed subsection (7).
The subsection gives power of arrest to a garda and it is with this subsection that I am concerned.
The garda must have reason to suspect——
The reason is written on the tyre—"Made in Great Britain".
That is not illegal.
It is illegal to have the tyre in your possession and the onus is on you to prove that you got it lawfully and that you paid the duty or that somebody else paid the duty or that there was a duty-free licence in respect of it. That obligation is on the accused and once one is found in possession of that tyre, under section 12 (7) a garda may arrest and the accused must discharge the onus of proof. There is the humiliation of being arrested.
Let us take another example. As the Minister knows very well, it is now a criminal offence to capture fish which are not up to a prescribed size or standard. In other words, the mesh of nets is now fixed. Let us take a simple example, lobster. Lobster of a certain size may not be captured and if they are there is a severe penalty for doing so. Supposing a carrier from Killybegs or any of the other western fishing ports is handed a consignment of lobster for delivery in the Dublin market. He is coming along in his lorry and suddenly a garda decides to stop the lorry and to open the box. He finds a lobster not of the required standard and he can there and then, under this subsection, arrest that man. That is the main objection to the subsection and that, I think, is the reason why Deputy O'Higgins put down an amendment to delete the subsection. It would be a very good thing. I know that what I have said may sound frivolous but the Minister knows that when one goes before a court and says: "It is frivolous" one is told: "But it is the law. We did not make it. It is there, written into the Act." That is our difficulty and that is why I should like to see the citizens protected and I think that the powers given under subsection (7) are very unfair to the ordinary citizen.
What is the position at the moment about fish? What is the position in law?
If the Deputy wants to know we will take crabs first. The fishery law provides that it is an offence:
to take, have in possession, sell, expose for sale, consign for sale or buy for sale.
(a) Any edible crab by whatever name known, carrying any spawn attached to its tail or other exterior part, or
(b) any edible crab which has recently cast its shell.
Was Deputy Booth interested in the penalty? It is £25, and on conviction any such crab stands forfeited. It is provided here that:
it shall be a good defence to prove that such crab was intended for bait for fishing.
There is a let out there.
Are members of the Garda Síochána entitled to arrest?
Under this Bill they would be.
Under existing law?
I am particularly anxious in our discussion of this Bill to restore public confidence in the process of deliberation in this House in regard to a matter which impinges on individual liberty. I noticed yesterday that the Minister, understandably getting a little bit impatient with the protracted nature of the debate, spoke of filibustering. I think he does himself a disservice in this matter. I think he ought to approach the discussion of this Bill with understanding because so far as this side of the House is concerned it is our duty not only to secure that justice is done but, in so far as it is humanly possible, to ensure that the people know that Dáil Éireann has examined with scrupulous care any legitimate apprehensions that have been raised in connection with this Bill in so far as it limits human dignity or human freedom, especially lest by inadvertence it goes far beyond what, in fact, it is desirable to do.
The Minister has said in his explanatory memorandum and in his observations today that section 9 which governs subsection (7) is a substantial re-enactment of the law as it stands at the present time. The case is being strongly made to the Minister that he is mistaken in that view and that probably subsection (7) is widening the scope of the occasions upon which a person may be arrested without warrant. I note with approval and appreciation that the Minister has expressed his readiness to postpone, if that can be made to conform with our procedure, this amendment relating to subsection (7) of this section until we are dealing with section 59. I do not know whether that is procedurally possible. I am afraid it is not.
Once discussion on an amendment has been entered upon there is no way of doing this except by the withdrawal of the amendment and putting it down on a later Stage.
Putting it down on Report Stage. I do not know whether that course commends itself to Deputy O'Higgins.
I have no objection.
If we could carry conviction to the mind of the Minister for Justice that this is not a dog fight conducted for the purpose of making his position intolerable, that this is not a propaganda campaign to paint him as a potential fiend, that it is the proper discharge by Dáil Éireann of its duty scrupulously to examine the law for the purpose of providing individual liberty for the citizens of Ireland, a useful service would be done and if this would help to carry that conviction to the Minister's mind I would suggest to Deputy O'Higgins that he would, as a gesture, withdraw this amendment, on the clear understanding that if we are not satisfied with the issue of the debate on section 59 this amendment will be reintroduced on Report Stage.
The Chair wishes to make it clear that once we dispose of the section we cannot go back to section 59 again.
No, but we can have this amendment again on Report Stage and, perhaps, the Minister, as a gesture from his side, would say if that situation arises that he will raise no objection to this amendment being recommitted on Report Stage. It would be useful evidence for the country that from both sides of the House an effort is being made to make good law and that matters that trouble individual citizens are not being carelessly overlooked in any process of filibuster or wrangle which might seem irrelevant to uninformed observers of our procedure.
I shall not chase all the different hares that have been raised. I am prepared to accept, of course, what Deputy O'Donnell has said in view of his knowledge of Customs with which I think we are not concerned. It is policy and always has been that they deal with their own business and not the gardaí. Leaving that aside, however, Deputy O'Donnell spoke of innocent carries of fish. I think a sufficient answer to that is that the 1951 Act has been specifically modified to bring in the word "knowingly". The Deputy will appreciate the difference.
I tried in the beginning to steer the House away from a full discussion of section 59 on this particular subsection so that we would not get bogged down on it at this point, but if the amendment is withdrawn and if it would meet the wishes of the House to recommit it—this particular one—on another Stage, I am certainly agreeable to do that.
That is a perfectly fair undertaking.
If it is reintroduced on Report Stage it will be recommitted?
Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 may be taken together.
I move amendment No. 8:
To delete subsection (8).
I regard this as one of the most important amendments to this Bill.
Subsection (8) of section 12 provides:
A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person who, after warning, refuses to desist from or continues conduct which the member has reasonable grounds for believing to be an offence under Part VI of this Act.
It is essential, I suggest, in dealing with this subsection, which I ask to have delete from the Bill in its entirety, to consider sections 28 to 33 or 34 which constitute Part VI of the Bill. Section 28 is the section—and I am going by the index now—which deals with unlawful meetings, processions and demonstrations: section 29 deals with power to prohibit meetings, processions and demonstrations believed to be unlawful: section 30 deals with meetings and processions requiring notice: section 31 deals with power to impose conditions with respect to or prohibit meetings and processions: section 32 deals with watching and besetting: section 33 deals with acting at meeting or procession in a disorderly manner and the next section deals with the penalties.
The Minister is aware that no part of this Bill caused so much uneasiness in the public mind, and so inflamed public opinion, as this part of the Bill. All the matters in Part VI, which, as I say, inflamed public opinion against the Bill, were seriously proposed by the Government for carrying into the criminal law of this country. In addition to that, and to all the penalties laid down in Part VI of the Bill, we have here this small section at the commencement. In addition to all the penalties prescribed in Part VI, the garda were to have power of arrest without warrant.
To refresh the minds of Deputies, including myself, as to the provisions of Part VI it is suggested here that there should be power of arrest without warrant. If a Garda officer has reasonable grounds for believing an offence is being committed, he may arrest "a person who, after warning, refuses to desist from or continues conduct which the member has reasonable grounds for believing to be an offence under Part VI of this Act." Section 28 has already had some attention from us, even on Committee Stage, by reason of a Ministerial amendment to alter the definition of a public place. This is the section which deals with meetings, processions and demonstrations within half a mile of Leinster House. It is prescribed according to section 28 that they shall be unlawful. We will, I hope, be discussing section 28 in greater detail later. For the moment all I want to point out is that under subsection (8) of section 12 it is proposed that the power of arrest be extended to those cases coming within section 28.
Section 29 deals with the question of the authority of a garda, not below the rank of superintendent, to prohibit meetings, processions and demonstrations which are believed to be unlawful. Section 30 is the section under which it would become an offence, punishable by a fine or imprisonment, or both, for a person to hold or organise, or attempt to hold or organise, any public meeting, or any procession, in or through any public place unless he has given appropriate notice to a garda superintendent. I know I will be told that the Minister is dropping that, that he has an amendment down later on to get away from trouble and difficulty which were caused to him and to the Government by the introduction of section 30, but, so far as I am concerned, we must deal with this as a whole.
The point I want to make is that the proposal in section 30 is to make it an offence, punishable by a fine or imprisonment, for a person to hold or organise, or attempt to hold or organise, any public meeting without first giving notice to a garda superintendent. What is relevant here is that it is also proposed that if a person failed to give notice to a garda, power of arrest without warrant might apply under subsection (8) of section 12. That is what is proposed in section 30. Section 31 then went on to propose a system whereby conditions could be attached in respect of meetings or processions.
The whole set-up here, the idea of interfering with the right of the people to assemble freely and peaceably to express their views, or to demonstrate in a peaceful and orderly manner by processions, to hold a public meeting, is wrong. The fact that it was proposed that that should be interfered with and controlled in a tight manner by the authorities, and should be subject to the giving of notice on the one hand, and to restrictions with regard to the conditions under which such meetings and demonstrations could be held on the other hand, coupled with the fact that if an offence were committed-had this Bill gone through as proposed by the Government—in relation to the sections dealing with public meetings, demonstrations and processions, the garda authorities would have power of arrest without warrant, really "shook" the people of this country. They were entitled to feel uneasy about the whole approach of the Government to this measure, and to the provisions about which I am talking now—the original provisions, some of which still stand in Part VI.
I have appealed to the Minister already in relation to other parts of the Bill that he should deal with them by withdrawing the Bill as a whole, and coming back with a new Bill dealing with the matters about which there is general agreement in respect of law enforcement so far as crimes and criminals are concerned. Certainly with regard to subsection (8) of section 12 the Minister should at least make some gesture. He has gone part of the way in some of his later amendments to drop sections 30 and 31 but he should make some gesture in regard to this subsection by agreeing to drop it as I propose in my amendment and Deputy Tully proposes in his.
I want to support these amendments standing in the names of Deputies O'Higgins, Tully and Corish, because subsection (8) is one of the most objectionable parts of this Bill. It vests in the Garda wide powers of arrest which they have not had up to now. It also infringes on the freedom of assembly guaranteed under the Constitution. We must remember that under Part VI of the Bill we are dealing, by and large, with law-abiding citizens who may feel very strongly about a social evil in our midst and want to do something about it. It is now possible to arrest them without warrant if they take steps to organise a public protest against a social evil which was probably created by Government inactivity of one kind or another. I should like to hear from the Minister who requested this power and what is the need for it.
Meetings and protest demonstrations which get large public support always stem from a very good reason. Smaller demonstrations and smaller meetings which may be more vocal and may appear to be tougher to handle, do not create any big problem for the Garda Síochána. Those involved would not be demonstrating for a very good reason or a very obvious one; therefore, their numbers would be small and, under existing regulations, it should be possible to contain them.
What concerns me and, indeed, all organisations interested in the wellbeing of the community, is that under this subsection any law-abiding person who would be doing his duty as a citizen by trying to bring to public notice some grievance could be arrested without a warrant.
Under this section we would be extending greatly the confrontation between the Garda Síochána and the public. It is very necessary that there should be the greatest possible cooperation between the Garda Síochána and the public. If the Garda Síochána must now extend their activities to public meetings and public demonstrations so that they can arrest people without warrant, then it will build up a great deal of mistrust between the public and members of the Garda Síochána.
I am sure the members of the Garda Síochána do not want this power themselves and that they would find its execution very difficult. It is not always easy to distinguish between a public meeting for an election purpose and a public meeting for some other purpose that could be connected with a political objective. All demonstrations are of a political nature and can be said to be for an election purpose, whether the election is this month, next year or whenever it is. I would appeal to the Minister to delete this subsection completely, because it has been objected to by people from all walks of life. If this subsection is passed we shall find law-abiding, respectable people arrested.
I would agree with Deputy Dillon that we must go through this Bill with the greatest possible care and demonstrate to the people that we are legislating with real deliberation. But there is a danger if we go on with this discussion on subsection (8) that we shall duplicate the discussion on all the provisions of Part VI of the Bill. Part VI will give rise to a tremendous amount of discussion and it is right that it should. I would hope, however, that the action that was taken as regards the amendment of subsection (7) might be taken on subsection (8) and that Deputy M.J. O'Higgins's amendment, which was supported by Deputies Corish and Tully, might be withdrawn and, if necessary, reintroduced on Report Stage.
The attitude adopted by Deputy Dillon is in marked contrast to that of Deputy M.J. O'Higgins yesterday when he stated that the purpose of Fine Gael was to obstruct the Bill. I hope that is only a slip of the tongue on Deputy M.J. O'Higgins's part and that we shall be able to get down to discuss it very reasonably and responsibly. However, if we go on in this way on subsection (8) of section 12 there will be a duplication of discussion on Part VI.
This subsection has rightly given rise to the gravest apprehension amongst responsible people. I want to say this and I hope the Minister will take note of it, for I say it at some personal risk: I wish it were true what Deputy Pattison said, that we should bear in mind that in Part VI of the Bill we are dealing exclusively with the rights of people of goodwill. I wish that were true, but we ought to face the fact—and we have a duty to face the fact in the times in which we are living—that the great evil with which a constitutionally elected Government, such as we have here in the Republic of Ireland, has to struggle against is the exploitation of the demonstrations of reasonable people of goodwill by criminal elements who seek to use such demonstrations for their own felonious purposes of precipitating anarchy; and the dilemma of our time is that constitutionally elected Governments acting as the Executive, concerned with the maintenance of order and government, have a very human and natural tendency to over react to the attempt by criminal elements to turn lawful demonstrations into incipient anarchy in the streets.
I want to recall now to the House that there are certain trademarks of this procedure which are known all over the world at the present time—in the United States of America, in Great Britain, in Northern Ireland and in our own capital city—and it is something of which we have every reason to be proud in that there is no part of the world in which that attempt has met with less success than here in the Republic of Ireland, because here our people recognise that the Government is a Government with the full moral authority of election of a free Parliament, freely elected by the majority of the people in free elections. Now it would be a disaster of the first magnitude if, finding ourselves in the position that we have been better able to deal with the evil activities of potential anarchists, we suffered ourselves to be frightened by events in other countries into an over-reaction to what is an undoubted danger.
Having said that, I have got to recall to the House a personal experience of my own and a vicarious experience of those who went before me. My father, God be good to him, was arrested in Woodford 80 years ago on a warrant sworn out by the district inspector of the RIC under the Crimes Act for participating in the "Plan of Campaign" and, mark you, things were pretty hot in Woodford in those days. He and William O'Brien went down to collect the rents in Woodford, the rents which the landlord, Lord Clanrickarde, had refused to accept. Lord Clanrickarde had fixed rack-rents and the tenants went and tendered what they considered to be a fair rent and, when Lord Clanrickarde's agent refused to accept it, the tenants went down and paid them to my father and William O'Brien for funds for the "Plan of Campaign" and there is still hanging in our house one of the old Bank of Ireland £5 notes signed by the district inspector of the RIC as material evidence of the crime of John Dillon under the Crimes Act in respect of which he was arrested. But before the district inspector could arrest him he had to get a warrant and, having got the warrant, he had to take one of the notes off the table, sign it and present it in evidence in a trial in which my father was subsequently acquitted. That is how the note came back into our possession because, on his acquittal, the police had to surrender the note back to my father and it has been kept as a family heirloom ever since.
I travel from that date to a date 50 years later and I beg of the Minister to believe that I am not trying to provoke him, but I am recalling a fact of which he has personal knowledge. I draw his attention to section 31 of this Bill. One of the offences in respect of which a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of superintendent has a right of arrest is where he has reasonable grounds for believing that the holding of a procession may occasion serious public disorder. Now I remember that day in 1934 or 1935. I went to a meeting in Ballina, the Minister's home town. We held the meeting in the market square. It was the first time I ever saw stones thrown at a meeting.
Supporters of the Minister's Party gathered behind the wall at the back of the market yard, where there was a heap of stones, and they began to fire the stones over the wall on to the platform. I remember, when I was speaking, I thought that somebody had upset a hive of bees because there were all these little black objects in the air in front of me. Then suddenly I heard them rattling on the platform and I realised for the first time in my political experience, that I was under fire from stones. The atmosphere of the meeting, as will be readily understood, was highly charged, to put it mildly, but, in spite of the stones and in spite of the opposition, the meeting proceeded and came to its conclusion.
After the meeting we proceeded to return in procession to the hotel in Ballina. I do not remember the street, but the Minister probably knows it well. We were walking down a street, which was quite steep, and there was a very large crowd at the front of which I was walking. At the foot of the street there was what I will euphemistically describe as a crowd of the Minister's supporters challenging our right to pass. The chief superintendent of the Garda Síochána, whom I shall not name but whom the Minister will recognise by his local appellation of "Doubtful" was walking beside me, and he said to me: "Mr. Dillon, you must turn back. They will not let you pass." I said to the chief superintendent: "You have sufficient men at your disposal to allow a lawful demonstration to proceed on its lawful occasion. I warn you that, if you do not take measures to see that that can be done, I shall clear them out of the way." He walked beside me down the street for about 20 yards exhorting me to turn back. I refused to turn back. I told him that, if he did not clear the crowd, I should do so—I need hardly say, with the assistance of those around me. Accordingly, when we were about 20 yards from the foot of the street, he assembled the gardaí, charged and scattered the crowd and we proceeded on our lawful occasion.
I want to put it to the House that, on that day, under subsection (8) of this Bill which Deputy M.J. O'Higgins seeks to delete, would it not have been the duty of the chief superintendent, under section 31 (2), to put his hand upon my shoulder and to say: "I arrest you on the ground that I have reasonable grounds for believing that the holding of this procession may occasion serious public disorder"? Now, is there anybody, is there any Deputy on any side of this House, who believes that the chief superintendent should have had that right on that occasion? I was then deputy leader of the Fine Gael Party in this House. I was attending a public meeting and I was proceeding, with my supporters, in a perfectly peaceful and lawful way back to the hotel from which the speakers at the meeting had originally come and to which they were now being escorted by their supporters.
Those were rough, tumultuous days in which the Minister and I found ourselves on opposite sides, energetically opposed to one another, and, for all I know, he was in the crowd at the foot of the street. He was a good deal a younger man than he is now: so was I. Does he think the chief superintendent should have had the right to arrest me because I said: "I will not allow Deputy Moran or the late Deputy Ruttledge, God be good to him, and his friends to prevent me from walking with my supporters peacefully through the streets of Ballina?" I do not believe anybody in this House, however vindictive, believes that the chief superintendent should have had the right to arrest me when I said to him: "Either you clear the mob or I shall clear them; I intend to proceed on my lawful occasion."
Let us remember that, with the British Government here, drawing all the resources of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the British Army against us, they still thought it requisite, before they put my father in Woodford, to swear out a warrant and to satisfy the resident magistrate that there wasprime facie evidence that he was breaking the law even though, at the subsequent criminal proceedings, they failed to satisfy a jury, as packed as they could make it, that he had in fact broken the law. Is it desirable, albeit the world is changing and has changed since those days, that an Irishman should be entitled to the unanimous support of every responsible element in society to take whatever measures, however Draconian they may be, to resist anarchy, to change the law, so that, on that day in Ballina, instead of my being in a position to say to the chief superintendent: “Go and do your duty and vindicate the law which is that persons going on their lawful occasions shall not be hindered and intimidated by mobs, however orderly”— instead of law-abiding citizens being in a position to say that —the chief superintendent should have the right to lay his hand upon my shoulder and to say: “Inasmuch as I believe that, if you continue to exercise your undoubted right lawfully to go about your rightful occasions in this town, it may be the occasion of serious public disorder and I arrest you—not the people who are challenging your right to go about your lawful occasion —for asserting your right to go about your lawful occasion”?
I implore Dáil Éireann: do not let us go on record as saying, at this time, that we are going to make that the law of Ireland. I implore Dáil Éireann to forbear from doing that in the full knowledge, in the full realisation, that Deputy Pattison is unduly optimistic in believing that we are dealing here almost exclusively with people of goodwill. We are not. Undoubtedly, many people of goodwill lawfully desire to assemble in demonstration and public procession but, equally undoubtedly, there are elements both at home and from abroad who are prepared to come here and to mingle with such persons of goodwill——
That is the trouble.
Exactly—and to do so for the purpose of converting the lawful assembly or lawful procession into the first elements of anarchy.
I am fully conscious of that. Often those persons of goodwill, who pass resolutions and attend public meetings, have not the moral courage to come out and to say: "We know these elements are here and we recognise the danger." But, fully recognising all these dangers and freely declaring —as I am doing in public now—that they are here both from abroad and from amongst our own people, I am urging Dáil Éireann not to over-react to that situation. I understand—nobody understands better than I do—the difficulties that confront the Garda Síochána in grappling with these situations but I commend to the Minister's attention the fact that the London Police have grappled with these situations very successfully. If the Minister will cast his mind back, I think he will remember that, prior to the riots in Grosvenor Square, London, the trend of public opinion was rather against the London Police. It was felt that they were being oppressive and unnecessarily interfering. But, once the people whom I have described in this House recently as the "Red Berets" showed their hand in Grosvenor Square and the police, with restraint, contained them and dispersed them, public opinion swung heavily over on the side of the London Police and has remained in support of the police ever since.
Some people are inclined to ask what I mean when I refer to the men with the red berets and the bullhorns because it is against them I believe this subsection is directed. We ought to face the fact that there is an international technique being operated at present. It is that where there is a lawful demonstration proceeding you see people either dressed in red uniforms of one kind or another, or with some other distinguishing mark, and almost always each is equipped with a bullhorn. The purpose of the bullhorn is to direct a crowd into a common course of action, because human experience teaches that once a large crowd begins to move upon a carefully preconceived and directed course of action the possibility of precipitating riot is immensely increased. That is not the end of the dialectic. The purpose of red beret with the bullhorn is to force the people of whom Deputy Pattison spoke, the people of goodwill who have come out with no other purpose than lawfully to demonstrate, into conflict with the Garda Síochána here or the police in other countries.
Invariably red beret with his bullhorn is in the background and it is from his companions come the golf balls with the nails stuck into them or the razor blades or the other missiles habitually thrown at the Garda Síochána or the police as the case may be, up to the point that the police have to react if the purposes of the architective anarchy are not to prevail. But their reaction falls on the decent people who are up at the front and it is then that red beret and his bullhorn scuttles from the scene of the conflict to a prearranged meeting site for the purpose of gathering a meeting to protest, not in regard to the purpose of the procession or the purpose which the procession was originally organised to serve, but to protest against police brutality.
This is quite true.
Fully conscious of the problems that that carefully organised dialectic of conduct gives rise to for any Minister for Justice, whatever Party he belongs to, let us, the Oireachtas, decide that, despite the stories I have had here to tell from my own and from my father's experience, despite the evidence of what we see proceeding around us, not only in Ireland but all over the world, we are determined not to over-react and to give to the Garda Síochána not only the right but the duty to arrest the deputy leader of the principal Opposition Party in Dáil Éireann for no other reason than he was walking at the head of a perfectly lawful procession and refused to be deterred from doing so by the assembly of an unruly mob that proposed to deny him that right.
Mark you, at the time the scene in Ballina, which I have described, transpired, feeling was running so high in this House—and there are few Deputies present who can remember this; the present Minister for Justice is the only other Deputy apart from myself who can recall those days—that the possibility of personal conflict was never absent from our minds. It was a constant source of anxiety for the Leaders of the Parties in this House to prevent tempers rising so high that Deputies would assault one another. Yet, we were able to get through all those stormy years from 1927 to 1939 without any subsection (8) which Deputy M.J. O'Higgins seeks to delete from this Bill.
The Minister should take cognisance of this fact. I hope he will take cognisance of it by the knowledge that there is no present danger in this country of anarchy succeeding in its detestable practices. There is no such danger because, although I detest the present Government and would long to see them out of office, I would cheerfully lay down my life in defence of their right to enforce the law because they are the legitimate Government. There is no Deputy on any side of the House who would not support the Government in vindicating the law and in the preservation of individual liberty and the freedom of the individual. It is that knowledge which gives the Government the moral position which other Governments not 100 miles away have not got. It is the want of that moral position that makes them rightly fear that lawful demonstrations might deteriorate into anarchy before which, for the want of that moral authority, the Government might collapse. No such danger exists here because, if such a danger confronted the Government in the morning, every individual in this Oireachtas would hold up his hand until that danger had passed.
Surely, instead of concealing that fact, instead of doubting that fact, instead of acting as if that were not true here, we should act in the certainty that it is true and that the extremity of power requisitioned by subsection (8) of this section, coupled with the subsection of section 31 to which I referred, is not necessary. If it is not necessary let it be dropped from the Bill and let it be dropped by a Government that know or ought to know that, if it is the agents of anarchy against whom subsection (8) is directed, they do not need it now because if it ever became necessary this House would give it to them in ten minutes; Dáil Éireann, the Seanad and the President would give them the power they require if anarchy were in a position to make a material challenge.
There is no division here on the subject of allowing anarchy to replace law. That is one principle upon which, as far as I know, there is absolute unanimity in Oireachtas Éireann. Is that not something we should be proud to claim? Is that not something we should be proud to rest on, something that should reassure us? We are in a position to say to persons disturbed and alarmed about subsection (8) of this section that we have listened to their representations, sympathised with their anxiety and that, on the assumption—rightly made in my opinion— that the individuals participating in these strong representations to the Minister for Justice on this subject are responsible and good people even though we do not agree with some of their views, their representations have been heard with respect in Oireachtas Éireann and in deference to them the Dáil has dropped subsection (8), but on this clear understanding—I believe it is an understanding that will be forthcoming from every Party in the House — that, if these or any other powers are required hereafter by the legitimate Government to challenge the disciples of anarchy, they will be made available and with so emphatic a voice that anarchists in this country, no matter from whence they come, will pause before they proceed about their evil work.
I know it is possible on this section to debate sections 30 and 31 as they stand in the original text. The House is aware that these two sections are likely to be going and to be replaced by other sections. Yet, I appreciate it is open to the House to debate the old sections 30 and 31, as they stand, but let us be clear that it is not these old sections 30 and 31 that it is proposed to include in the Bill but the amended versions that have been circulated in substitution for them.
May I interrupt the Minister to direct his attention to the fact that the paragraph I read out of section 31 is substantially contained in his new section which is proposed in amendment No. 17 "... a meeting or procession in or through a public highway that is likely to occasion serious obstruction of traffic or a serious breach of the peace...."
In the new section there is no——
Just one at a time please.
I am just trying to help the Minister. He is proposing that this does not apply to his new section 31.
No, I think he meant that the new section does not reproduce the old one.
No. In relation to the new substituted section there is, in fact, to be no power of arrest, so that the Deputy has been relating something to the existing section. However, even if the old section 31, to which the Deputy has referred, was law, not alone would it not have been the duty of the superintendent to arrest him under the section but it would not have been possible because under the old section 31, as it stands, the superintendent's power was to prohibit a meeting in certain circumstances subject to a right of appeal to the courts. The section would not have applied to the situation the Deputy spoke of. However, the position is that these two sections are to go and, when we get to that stage, they are to be replaced by other sections in relation to which there is to be no power of arrest. The first of these sections merely proclaims, without any penalty or any offence being involved, that it is the duty of good citizens to notify the gardaí of unusual meetings that might cause traffic difficulties and so on. In the other section it is provided that if they proceed without giving notice to hold a meeting which ends up causing grave public disorder they then commit an offence but it is an offence which will be dealt with under summons in the courts in the ordinary way.
Would the Minister say why he is moving, as I presume he is, his amendment No. 9?
I shall explain that to the Deputy when I deal with my amendment in a moment. I want to correct what is obviously a misapprehension of Deputy Dillon.
There is no misapprehension. I am looking at the text of the Minister's own amendment which says ..."shall be guilty of an offence".
I am saying that under the new substituted sections there is no power of arrest. I do not propose to argue about what was in, and still is in, the old sections 30 and 31. Let me get to the amendment in my own name, amendment No. 9. I want to point out that the subsection as it stands gives power of arrest without warrant for offences under Part VI. Later in the debate I shall move amendments to replace sections 30 and 31 by two new sections. The new section 30 creates no offence and, therefore, the question of arrest has no relevance and the consequential amendment of section 12 (8) will not be needed. The new section 31, however, does create an offence and it is not an offence in respect of which a power of arrest without warrant would be appropriate. It is because of this that it is necessary to amend section 12 (8) in order to exclude section 31 from the ambit of the section.
In other words, Deputy Dillon was quite right.
No, I think the Deputy was mistaken. We do not regard this power as being appropriate here.
In dealing with the whole of Part VI and its relevance to subsection (8) let me say again that it appears to me that we are in much the same difficulty as when we were discussing the previous amendment. By that I mean that we shall be discussing every section in Part VI from section 28 to section 34 on this amendment. I think it would be far better and more satisfactory if we discussed these sections as we come to them because we shall still be going back and forward from section 28 of Part VI to subsection (8) and similarly with the various other sections. For instance, let us take section 33 of Part VI which states that "Any person who at a lawful public meeting acts in a disorderly manner for the purpose of preventing the transaction of the business of the meeting, shall be guilty of an offence", that is a reenactment of existing law. I think it is the Public Meetings Act 1908. If a public meeting is taking place nobody who has had long experience in this field minds a few interruptions but if there are a few people who set out deliberately to prevent a public meeting continuing in an orderly way, and if they have been warned not to persist in their conduct and if they still continue to do so in order to prevent the orderly lawful holding of that meeting then under this particular subsection a garda could arrest such a person for refusing to desist from this particular conduct.
I move from that back to section 28 which has been mentioned by Deputy O'Higgins. Section 28 deals in a very particular way with this House and with the rules that should be laid down by the House for preserving the independence of Deputies and ensuring that they are not interfered with in regard to their assembly here for the purpose of doing their national business. As I said on Second Reading, I should hope that this particular section will be dealt with in a very special way by Deputies when we come to it. I hope that it will have the serious consideration of Deputies from every side of the House and that we will have the considered view of all Deputies as to what should be the law in respect of keeping Parliament independent and what should be the law in preventing undue interference with Members coming here to do their business.
Subsection (8) may have some relevance in that field but if we continue as we now are we will be roaming from section 28, which I have mentioned, to the other section about public meetings and to various other sections. Therefore, I suggest to Deputies, if it would meet with the wishes of the House, that we would discuss these particular sections as we come to them. We shall not get anywhere if we continue to discuss all the sections some of which will undoubtedly be amended. Therefore, the most reasonable way of dealing with this situation is to let us have this with my amendment and if the House considers it desirable after we have discussed Part VI of the Bill we could, on the next stage, have it recommitted to a committee of the House and at that stage discuss Deputy O'Higgins's amendment.
We have facilitated the Minister in that manner in relation to the last amendment. The last amendment dealt principally with what most of us would regard as matters proper to be dealt with by the criminal law. The position here is quite different.
We do not regard these matters as proper to be dealt with by the criminal law. Without wishing to appear disobliging, I am not prepared to facilitate the Minister on this occasion. This Bill was not drafted by the Opposition. It is a Government measure. The presentation of the Bill and the manner in which it is framed are matters that were laid down by the Government when they drafted and introduced it. It is not our fault. If, in considering amendments, we must go from one part of the Bill to another in order to consider properly and relevantly the amendments, it is the fault of the Minister.
It is the fault of the Government.
There was very great weight in a number of the speeches made on this section. We should bear in mind that this Bill was hatched by the Government before there was ever any question of, for example, civil rights marches. Permission for the printing of this Bill was given by this House as far back as the 22nd June, 1967. The Bill came after the agricultural trouble. It came after the confrontation between the Government and the NFA. Therefore, it is relevant to inquire if the sections or the provisions of the Bill dealing with arrest without warrant were brought into this Bill because of the difficulties in which the Government found themselves in dealing with the NFA and with the ICMSA.
One such section is section 32, the first subsection of which reads:
Every person who, with a view to compelling any other person (in this subsection referred to as the said person) to abstain from doing or to do anything which the said person has a legal right to do or abstain from doing, wrongfully and without legal authority, watches or besets the house or other place where the said person or any other person resides, or works, or carries on business, or happens to be, or the approach to such house or place, shall be guilty of an offence.
I wish the House to consider that section in the general picture that was presented here some years ago when the office of the Department of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries was being picketed by farmers. I invite the House to come to their own decision on whether, in those circumstances, if this Bill had been enacted with the power of arrest without warrant as applying to section 32, the position would have been that the members of the NFA and the members of the ICMSA who were picketing outside the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries would have been and could have been arrested——
And must have been.
——without warrant. This is quite independent of section 28 of the Bill, quite independent of the fact that the activities may have been taking place within a half mile of this House, independent of the fact as to whether the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries happened to be in Government Buildings or elsewhere in the city. Had this legislation been enacted, the Minister would have armed the Garda authorities with power to arrest immediately and thus prevent the orderly protest that was carried out on that occasion.
I fully understand and appreciate the necessity for arming the garda authorities or any other authority, for instance, the military authority, with adequate power to put down riots or disturbances of that nature but those powers are there already and there is sufficient authority vested in the Garda force to quell riotous behaviour should it take place. The necessary power to arrest or take whatever action is necessary to prevent or quell a riot is already there under Common Law. Consequently, to my mind, we have got to differentiate between that situation and the situation which the Minister seeks to deal with under the provisions of this Bill.
I agree fully with Deputy Dillon that we have got to retain our sense of balance in those matters. Many of us would react, and react very quickly and very forcibly, to intimidation by mobs and to the kind of situation foreseen by Deputy MacEntee when he spoke some time ago and which I quoted yesterday. Apparently theIrish Times was so impressed that they gave a subheading to his speech of “Question of Mob Rule”. We have got to retain our sense of balance, as I said, because there are a number of things involved here. We should not, as Deputy Dillon quite rightly put it, over-react against a situation. Not only should we not over-react against it, but we should take care in our legislation here not to provoke the ordinary law-abiding people of this country—the people who wish to continue to have the right to engage in public meetings, protests or demonstrations, and to express freely their views in public in a peaceful and ordinary manner. There is no doubt that at the time this Bill was introduced, with the extraordinary powers it sought, as originally introduced, to deal with the control of public meetings and demonstrations, it inflamed not the agitator so much as the ordinary, peace-loving citizens who wanted to preserve their right to tell the Government, the Opposition or any other section of the community what they thought of them in public and who have under the Constitution the right of free assembly and free speech.
The Minister referred to section 33 which appears in Part IV and which is one of the sections for which it is sought to give power of arrest without warrant. He mentioned, quite rightly, that the provisions of section 33 in relation to public meetings are in fact merely a repetition of what appears in the Public Meeting Act of 1908 with the great difference that in the Public Meeting Act of 1908 there is no power of arrest without warrant. The Minister is seeking to incorporate that now not in section 33 but by the operation of subsection (8) of section 12 of this Act. It would be dangerous and unnecessary to give those powers to the Government. If the Minister could make a case for this House showing it was necessary that the Garda should have power of arrest without warrant in those cases it would be something we could consider. If we did not agree with this we could argue about it and we could express our own points of view. I do not think the Minister has made the slightest case to show there is any necessity for those powers.
Even Deputy Dillon said he could get it in ten minutes with agreement here.
If he showed it was necessary and there was a situation in this country where there was an emergency situation which would require the use of emergency measures I have no doubt at all that the Minister would get whatever powers he thought necessary with the goodwill and cooperation of all Parties in this House. All Parties in this House would know in doing that they had the backing of the people they represent. The Minister comes in here looking for those powers in a Bill which, as I say, was hatched and plotted some two years ago and, to my mind, although the Minister may think he has made powerful arguments himself, I do not think he has given the House any reason as to why those powers should be given. He has not advanced any argument which could be seriously considered here as being one showing the necessity for giving those powers.
I do not mind whether we consider subsection (8) of section 12 in the context of the Bill as it stands at the moment or in the context of the amendments which the Minister will propose later on to sections 30 and 31. Regardless of sections 30 and 31 either in their present form or amended form in the amendments which the Minister proposes to move to them later on I do not think those powers should be given in relation to the other sections which are comprised in Part VI of this Bill. Certainly, and the Minister himself has recognised this, there is no justification for giving the power of arrest without warrant for offences coming within the framework of section 31 of the Bill, either the original section 31 or the amended form which the Minister is proposing.
The Minister himself recognises that and I think he was wrong in arguing as he did with Deputy Dillon that section 31 was not a section where the power of arrest without warrant would have applied. Obviously it was, otherwise why is the Minister proposing his amendment No. 9, the purpose of which is to exempt section 31 from the power of arrest without warrant? That is the only purpose of the Minister's amendment No. 9. If I do not get acceptance of the amendment which I am proposing, to delete this subsection entirely, then, making the best of a bad bargain, I am prepared to accept the Minister's amendment No. 9 at least to take those powers of arrest without warrant out of the application of this Bill so far as section 31 is concerned.
The very fact the Minister found it necessary to frame and propose amendment No. 9 shows, to my mind, if that was not done then the power of arrest without warrant which is given by subsection (8) of section 12 would apply to section 31 of the Bill. I would appeal to the Minister to accept this amendment and to drop this power which he is seeking from the Bill. It seems to me to be unnecessary, to be uncalled for, to be provocative and to be inflaming public opinion about this Bill.
The trouble with the situation which we now have in this House is that some of us are so experienced in our own procedure that we have become oblivious of the difficulty which people outside the House have in following our procedure. We have got to discuss each section of each amendment on its merits as it comes up. The Minister says "But look fifteen sections ahead and see what is going to happen there. Pass this subsection now and you will see, if we pass the section 20 sections later on, most of the harm in this section will disappear." If the Minister has decided to amend his own Bill so radically he ought to do what his predecessor, Deputy Brian Lenihan, did and withdraw his Bill and bring in a new Bill drafted in the form appropriate to the copious amendments which he proposes now to a Bill which he or his predecessor introduced two years ago.
We have got a duty, over and above the actual business of legislating and questioning Ministers, to try to carry conviction to the minds of our people that Parliament is a vigilant, effective body for protecting their fundamental freedoms and for legislating within the Constitution. I venture to swear there are not half a dozen Deputies in the House now, or available from our membership, who have sufficient procedural expertise to envisage what this Bill would be like if all the amendments on the amendment paper were incorporated in it. I doubt if there are three Deputies in the House who could tell us what this Bill would look like if those amendments which the Government propose to accept are put in, and those amendments which the Government propose to resist are left out.
We are in the fantastic position that our public duty imposes upon us an obligation to argue issues which our parliamentary experience teaches us may never arise. The people—and God knows they are a minority—who follow our proceedings with close attention cannot be expected to understand the procedural problems with which we have to grapple in trying to legislate. They look at a Bill which they have been reading about consistently for two years since it was first published. They have held their meetings, made their protests and representations. Now they believe that what we are discussing here today is substantially the Bill which they discussed in the Mansion House and in their debating societies and at their protest meetings. They ask themselves why is there not the passionate indignation in Dáil Éireann which they felt when they were discussing this Bill 18 months ago. The answer, of course, is that we, knowing the procedure of Dáil Éireann, recognise that the Minister has, in certain respects, gutted his own Bill. The Bill we are considering at the present time is one which we, as parliamentarians, know is not the Bill they discussed at all. The things that shocked them most are, in many cases, gone. We are failing in our duty here in Dáil Éireann if we create in the minds of such interested people the impression that we are treating with relative indifference what seemed to them to be matters of immense importance. It shocked me a little to read in this morning's newspapers of the Minister's somewhat irresponsible allegation yesterday that the Opposition were leading a filibuster.
Deputy M.J. O'Higgins said he was obstructing——
Would the Deputy hear me out? It is a mistake to suggest that the discussion of this Bill has been on a frivolous level or that it has been conducted for any other purpose than that we consider it requisite to direct the attention of Dáil Éireann to the full gravity of the problems that arose. Discussions here ought not only to improve legislation, but they ought to carry conviction to the minds of our people that in dealing with matters so grave as those dealt with in this Bill Dáil Éireann is fully alert to its responsibilities and conscious of its duties. It does not necessarily mean that the whole House is thronged with Deputies. They delegate to those Deputies of each Party, who are specially concerned and qualified to deal with the relatively obstruse matters raised by legislation of this kind, to come in and fulfil their duty of speaking for them. It is only when the division bell rings that a body of Deputies come in to participate in their historic function of voting. I am afraid I must charge the Minister with the primary responsibility for this confusion, against which he has so violently reacted. He spoke contemptuously of people whom he described as busybodies and mischief-makers.
The Deputy had better quote me. I do not remember those words.
I do not purport to quote the Minister's words but I gathered from the report of his speech —which I did not hear because I was not here when he made it—that he did speak harshly of some of the critics as people who had not bothered to consider the Bill closely and who had circulated documents founded on grave misstatements of fact which reasonable inquiry would have informed them of. The Minister is, in part, responsible for misunderstandings, if such exist. When he came to the conclusion that such comprehensive amendments were necessary he could have laid those ghosts by simply saying "We will drop the Bill in its original form. It was not well drafted and would require radical amendments. The sensible thing to do is to incorporate the amendments, Government and others, in a new Bill".
And give it a new name.
I do not mind the name at all. The Criminal Justice Bill is quite all right by me. So long as this House stands for justice I am quite content. If the Minister had incorporated all the amendments in a new Bill and said "I have listened to everybody and I agree with some and not with others, and for those that I agree with I have changed the Bill, and those I do not agree with and think are wrong I am now going to challenge on the merits of a new Bill", we would have had a much more constructive debate. The Minister would have elicited from the House the kind of reaction which I think a Minister for Justice most urgently needs in times like these, which would have proclaimed to the country, whether we like him personally or not, or whether we like the Government to which he belongs, that one thing is certain: if he acts in this country in defence of justice and in defence of decency he will be supported by all sides in Dáil Éireann.