asked the Minister for Justice if he is aware that statements are being issued by members of illegal armies and that such statements are appearing in Irish newspapers; if he intends to take any action in the matter; and, if not, why.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Statements by Illegal Organisations.
I am so aware. The sending of such statements for publication in a newspaper or periodical publication is an offence and so is the actual publication in a newspaper or periodical publication.
It is usually impossible to obtain evidence that would identify the originators of these statements and sustain a prosecution against them. Partly for this reason, that is to say because the principal offenders cannot ordinarily be identified, there has been a reluctance to prosecute newspapers. There is, however, an additional and more important consideration and that is that, in relation to the publication of propaganda obviously emanating from subversive sources and very often actually claiming credit for serious criminal offences, the Government hopes that the news media will exercise a responsibility above and beyond anything enjoined on them by the criminal law.
I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to appeal to all concerned to review the position immediately and to take account not only of their own clear legal obligations but also of the interests of public peace.
The news media will, no doubt, realise that the publication of propaganda statements of this nature emanating from subversive sources is of considerable benefit to these subversive organisations and gives them a significance in the public mind out of all proportion to their very small numbers.
Will the Minister tell me why there has not been any prosecution if there was an offence? Why is the Minister turning a blind eye and why are the Government standing idly by? Is the Minister not aware that Mr. John A. Costello when he was Taoiseach went to the newspapers? Is the Minister not aware of the fact that statements are being published and that this is making the joining of the IRA a romantic idea? It is doing harm to many of our young people. Is it not time that the Government took action and governed in the interests of peace?
(Cavan): Did I understand the Minister to say that it was difficult to bring prosecutions against the people who forwarded these statements to the newspapers? Does the Minister not think that it would be reasonable to clamp down on the publication of these statements in the newspapers and that he would be justified in doing so?
I have appealed to the newspapers now to take account not alone of their legal obligations but also of the interests of public peace in the country. Appeals were made before to the newspapers and to the news media. The matter is now a very serious one. I earnestly hope that the newspapers will take full cognisance of the present situation and act accordingly.