Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Drug Prevention.

23.

asked the Minister for Justice how many members of the Garda are attached to the drug squad; and how many were on duty on Saturday, 11th October, 1969, between 10 p.m. and 12 midnight.

24.

asked the Minister for Justice if the Garda Authorities received any complaints about a person appearing on the RTE Late Late Show on 11th October last who produced a cake allegedly containing a drug; what action was taken by the gardaí; and if the person concerned was charged with the illegal possession of drugs.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions 23 and 24 together.

Four members of the Garda Síochána are engaged whole-time on work connected with drugs. Other members of the force include this work in their ordinary duties.

Three of the four whole-time members were on duty at the time mentioned.

No complaint about the incident referred to was made to the Garda Síochána. A criminal prosecution, whether in relation to drugs or anything else, requires evidence of a kind admissible in a court. There was no basis for a prosecution in this case and, besides, the Garda information is that the person concerned was an alien who left the country a couple of days later.

Would the Minister say whether there is a ban-gharda in the drug group?

Is one of the four a ban-gharda?

Speaking from recollection, I think there is, but——

I raise this because the complaint has been made to me that when girls are found with drugs and have to be searched there is no ban-gharda there.

Whether she is officially designated or not, I know there is one member of the ban-gharda working with them.

In respect of the person who appeared on the Late Late Show on 11th October, will the Minister say when he left the country?

The Deputy will appreciate this is a light entertainment show on which all kinds of comedians from all over the country, including some from this House, appear from time to time. I think these people probably ate this cake and enjoyed it that particular night.

The Minister said this person had left the country. When did he leave the country?

Two days afterwards, I understand.

Are we to assume, also, that nobody from the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána looks in at the Late Late Show?

The taxpayer is not paying the Special Branch of the Garda

Síochána to look at light entertainment on television or the gimmicks produced on light entertainment.

If there is any illegality and a member of the Garda Síochána sees it, he is on duty.

Some members of the Garda Síochána, no doubt, did see this show.

Does the Minister not agree that when such a statement is made on the Late Late Show it is serious enough to warrant investigation?

About the cake?

I do not know, but I suspect this cake was a gimmick that was produced for entertainment on this show.

Should it not have been investigated?

We are talking about legal evidence. An illusionist on any of these shows can produce rabbits out of a hat or cakes in which he alleges there is poison.

The knives that appeared on a previous show were not produced out of a hat.

Did I correctly hear the Minister for Justice refer to Members of this House as comedians, and, if so, is that in order?

The Chair did not hear the expression, but if the Minister did mention comedians in relation to Members of this House the Minister should withdraw the statement.

Would the Minister care to confirm or deny that he said "comedians"?