When I reported progress last week I had only had time to deal with two aspects of the debate up to that point: one was the reference persistently made by members of the Government party to the boycott of the South African rugby match by the anti-Apartheid Association and the attempts those on the Government benches made to draw an analogy between that boycott and the persuasive efforts made by members of the anti-Apartheid Association to get the Press to apply a similar boycott to the match. I dealt with the attempt of those on the Government benches to draw an analogy between this totally voluntary request by the anti-Apartheid Association and the design expressed in this Bill providing for the prosecuting of the Press for reporting, commenting upon, airing or giving the freedom of the Press to those who encourage or advocate the commission of an offence under sections 2 and 3 of this Bill, whatever "encourage or advocate" means. I trust that I adequately established the distinction between the persuasive attempts made by those to whom the South African regime is loathsome and the unacceptable and the fascistic style of Press muzzling envisaged in this Bill. I think I made that distinction satisfactorily to any reasonably minded person. I am sure I did not make it adequately to the Minister, as the Minister, if I may say so—and I do not often indulge in personalities in this House—in a characteristically petulant letter to the national Press over the weekend demonstrated that he remains obdurate in his refusal to concede——
Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill, 1970: Report Stage (Resumed).
Is there a word of it untrue?
(Cavan): Most misleading.
There was not a word of it untrue.
Every word of it was, to all intents and purposes, untrue. The point the Minister missed in that letter was this: he implied that the amendments put before this House by Deputy Cooney and Deputy Fitzpatrick and the comparable amendment put forward as amendment No. 10 by Deputy Pattison and Deputy Desmond, seek to make a distinction between journalistic freedom of expression either in the Press or on television and the freedom of expression of the man in the street at the street corner. Certainly, some distinction is made in these amendments but they are simply an attempt to rescue journalistic freedom from the blanket application of section 4 against comments or advocacy of this kind. Certainly—I know I speak for myself—if the amendment could go further and involve the total deletion of the section in question I am sure everybody in these benches would be extremely happy and Deputies Fitzpatrick and Cooney would be equally happy if the sectionin toto were withdrawn. The amendment put forward simply seeks to ameliorate an almost unamendably dictatorial section and it should be viewed in that constructive way and, as I shall have occasion to mention later, as the official newspaper of the Minister's own party views it.
Another point I want to make is that the Minister is seeking here to limit not merely action, the action of squatting, for example. This I could understand though not necessarily in every instance approve. What the Minister is seeking to inhibit here is the expression of opinions. This, I respectfully suggest, is a qualitatively different thing to attempt to do, an attempt to limit journalistic expression on radio or television, the expression of opinion.
I do not know how the Minister can say "rubbish" when he says in the section that a statement in contravention of subsection (1)— the encouragement or advocacy of the commission of an offence under sections 2 or 3—constitutes the guilt of an offence. It seems to me—and this point arose in an exchange between the Minister and Deputy Dr. Byrne—that if I in this House say, as I intend to say in about ten minutes, that in certain circumstances people should be encouraged to squat, and I am free to do so, and then go outside the gates into Kildare Street and say it again I become instantly liable to prosecution under this Act. I do not even have to name a specific person who should squat, as it is crudely called; all I need do is say that, in the circumstances—the Minister is a lawyer and I am not—on the public street or on television or in the Press, if it is not exempt, that I advocate under certain circumstances the commission of what the Minister calls an offence to become instantly liable to prosecution. Is that not correct?
Of an offence, not squatting.
No, but if I go outside and express the opinion that the Minister is wrong outside the Kildare Street gates and that in certain circumstances I would encourage or advocate the commission of an offence, surely I am guilty of an offence?
A person who encourages or advocates the commission of an offence under sections 2 or 3 shall be guilty of an offence—is that right?
No. The Deputy was talking about advocating squatting. There is nothing in the Bill about that.
Let us give it its polite title, forcible occupation of land or a vehicle, the act of locking, obstructing or barring any window—all these lovely legalistic clauses inserted here. If I go out and read section 3 of this Act to a protest meeting outside the Dáil and then say: "I advocate that in certain circumstances this should be done", surely I fall foul of the Minister'sgauleiters?
In certain circumstances.
In what circumstances? This Bill will be a lawyers' delight; I can see that. The Minister does not seem to be friendly to very many people but he certainly does appear to be friendly towards the Bar. I revert to my point that what the Minister is trying to do is not simply inhibit action but actively to prevent expressions of opinion or advice or, as he calls it, encouragement. The expression of free opinions is one of the oldest buttresses of democracy everywhere. People express opinions which are at odds with the law; they express opinions and encourage actions which are at odds with our own tastes or verbal or mental preferences. One of the oldest traditions of democracy is that at least they are permitted to be heard.
Much reference has been made here to the fact that one of the most historic advocates of forcible entry and occupation in this country was the late Patrick Pearse. Trinity College, of which I am a Fellow, in one of the less attractive episodes in its history on one occasion forbade the entry of Patrick Pearse to address a meeting of the Gaelic Society in Trinity College. The then Provost, Dr. Mahaffy, referred to what he called "the man called Pearse" and said in effect that no platform would be offered to this man so long as he was Provost of Trinity College. Pearse consequently was not heard within the walls. Most of us today in Trinity generally accept that this was a shameful occurrence in our history. Yet, this is precisely what the Minister is seeking to do, to prevent, not an action, but the simple verbal advocacy of a certain point of view.
Earlier, I had occasion to mention the great English philosopher, John Stuart Mill. The Minister unfortunately, and I can understand that he must be undergoing considerable physical stress in connection with this Bill, was not present to hear my philosophical contributions and so I am happy that now before one of the Parliamentary Secretaries takes his place, I shall have the pleasure of reiterating some of the arguments I made then on the Second Reading which are specifically relevant to this particular amendment.
Would that not be repetition?
I do not think so because I shall logically and specifically gear them to this amendment. I assure the Minister I should never think of repeating myself. My knowledge of the works of John Stuart Mill is sufficiently encyclopaedic for me to talk about him on two separate occasions without repeating myself.
We are all very impressed by that.
I should never expect the Minister to be impressed. In the immortal words of Parnell, quoting from memory——
Other members of the House suffer from the disadvantage that they are not Fellows of Trinity College.
I do not think that any member of the O'Malley family has in recent years suffered from any considerable disadvantage. I would remind the Minister that the Irish, if these benches are guilty of obstruction—which I deny—have the honourable record of having invented the art form and that it is safe to praise it at 90 years removed but, apparently, unpalatable to have to endure it in a green Tory State. I would remind the Minister of the words of Parnell to Butt when Butt complained that Parnell's actions were incurring the odium of the English. Parnell replied: "The day the English start liking what I say I shall consult my conscience." The day the Minister starts being impressed by what I say I shall seriously have to consult not merely my conscience but my confessor.
John Stuart Mill in "On Liberty" laid down a number of tests for the preservation of liberty in a community. These tests revolved largely around the concept of freedom of expression, the greatest single buttress of democracy. They are summed up in a number of great epigrams of Mills such as: "All mankind has not the right to silence one dissenter." If there was only one person in a State who held a contrary view to all the others in the State, that man had a right of freedom of expression of his opinion, not perhaps to action or to revolution or to violence but at least to the expression of his opinion. Looking with the eye of the practised scholar at categories of human intellectual activity for which the Minister has such predictable contempt. More, realising how much society had changed its opinions about matters of ethics, law, morality and sociology in the 2,000 years since the birth of Christ, argued that every opinion, even the orthodox one, should be subjected to constant challenge because, he said, even if it was a right opinion, it was unlikely that it contained all truth and its collision with another opinion might, perhaps, lead it nearer truth and that even if in turn it was to be seen that it possessed all rectitude and all truth, unless it was opposed by the continuous battering and opposition of contrary opinions then that orthodox opinion would harden into an ossified sacred cow which was accepted in ritual rather than intellectually. On the basis of this he distinguished between self and other regarding actions in the world of morality and law and, while setting his face against those actions which were physically hurtful to other people, insisted upon the retention of the right to express a point of view no matter how unpopular.
This is a tradition as old as Savonarola, as old as Socrates, as old as Sir Thomas More. It is a tradition which was maintained as recently as 1914-16 by the then Chief Secretary in this country Augustine Birrell who, in fact, treated the manoeuvrings, the marches and the speeches of the volunteers with a greater degree of tolerance and acceptance than the Minister is prepared to treat the expression of opinion hostile to this Bill 60 years later.
The Minister objects to the continuous use from these benches of the word "fascist" to describe his Bill but listening to some of his own most ardent supporters I could not help feeling how valid this expression was. Deputy Carter, for example, spoke of statements which could be harmful to to the State. "Harmful to the State"— what a horrible phrase, evocative of the Germany of the 30s and of the Eastern European countries of the 50s and to some extent the present day. "Harmful to the State". What is wrong with expressing opinions harmful to the State? What guarantee have we our laws, ethics and institutions are impermeable and here for all time?
The Minister knows much more about law than I do. I wonder if he knows as much about the history of the freedom of the Press both in remote times and in more immediately proximate times in this House. Replying to Deputy Byrne he made a facile, if correct, distinction between the privileged reporting of debates in this House and the reporting of statements made outside it. I wonder if he knows with what great difficulty a man called Hansard secured this same freedom, privilege, of reporting the proceedings of the House of Commons in England on which, let us face it, we largely model ourselves, how in a series of libel actions relating to Sir John Wilkes, he established the principle of what was said and leased in Parliament was sacrosanct. That principle was broadened in both countries, both England and Ireland. In fact—and this is not totally irrelevant—up to relatively recent times, up to about 50 years ago, the Minister may know, the laws of libel were greatly more relaxed than they are today, so that newspaper comment, for example, at the time of the Parnell and Dilke divorce cases was a great deal freer than it is today and political invective in the hands of someone like Tim Healy in the columns ofThe Nation was permitted much greater play. In the two centuries in which the freedom of the Press was traditionally won Ireland played an honourable role in asserting this principle. There were many famous newspapers in this country which have challenged orthodoxy, authority, and most times have got away with it and when they have not got away with it have been involved in some cataclysmic upsurge which has affected our nation's history.
I wonder what the editor ofThe Nation, I wonder what Davis, what Gavan Duffy, would think of this particular piece of prescription. I wonder what Lady Wilde, who wrote under the name of Speranza, the article that precipitated the 1848 Revolution—Alea jacta Est— and was not prosecuted at that time for it by the British Government, more tolerant of dissent than our contemporary Irish Government are, would think of this present legislation vis-á-vis the Press.
I wonder what would be the view of the editors ofThe Irishman of The Irish Felon, of An Phoblacht, of The Workers Republic, The Irish Worker—a whole catalogue of papers which sold in the streets of Dublin for 1d and gave some hope, confidence, to people who were being told, as this Government are telling certain sections of the community today, that they were outsiders, beyond the Pale, because their views were not acceptable to the then Ministers. The people who in 1913 passed from hand to hand the writings of Larkin and Connolly in The Workers Republic to buttress them up against the hunger and starvation, deprivation imposed on them by an alien capitalist regime—I wonder what they must be thinking now, wherever they are, of a regime which, thanks to their blood and their sweat and their sorrow, exists with the legal force to introduce legislation to prevent a journalist, a commentator or, indeed, a politician outside this House from expressing his point of view if that point of view differs from that of the Government.
That is totally untrue.
If it is totally untrue I will sit respectfully to hear the Minister.
The only thing you are precluded from doing is advocating crime and that always has been, is now and I hope always will be the position.
But you define the crime.
All indictable crime.
And you define the crime.
All indictable crime.
We do not trust you to define the crime.
I do not define it. It is there as all indictable crime.
It is in the Bill.
It is on the next amendment.
If, in addition to what Deputy Dr. Browne and Deputy Cooney have correctly said to the Minister, this situation always has been, is and always will be, what is the necessity for this additional legislation?
Because the crime is there. It is specified.
The Minister is asking a country which is outraged at his Bill, an entire Press that is outraged at his Bill——
I have not seen the country outraged.
——to believe that he simply seeks to dot the i's and cross the t's.
There are a few hundred supporters of the Labour Party outraged—of a certain type— but that is all. The people of this country are very much behind the Bill, and well the Deputy knows it.
Did the Minister read theIrish Press this morning? Did he read the Irish Times last Thursday? Did he read the Monaghan Argus, the Kerryman, the Irish Independent? Does he read anything?
The National Union of Journalists?
Deputy Dr. Browne a second ago said that we do not trust the motives of the Minister in this. This is perfectly correct. By a happy coincidence he brings me on to the next point I want to make and I trust I am in order in making it. What we have here is a gap in credibility between Opposition and Government. The Minister insists that nothing is intended in this section 4 beyond the operation of what is, effectively speaking, the present law. The Opposition in turn insists that an attempt is being made here to muzzle the Press and television. At this point I bring to the evidence against the Government on this Bill and on this section in particular a special knowledge and a special experience, which qualifies me perhaps to speak about the maintenance of journalistic standards of freedom in the face of acceptable or unacceptable legal restrictions with an experience not shared by anyone else except Deputy Keating and of course Deputy Major de Valera, who presumably is the author of this morning's editorial to which the Minister takes such exception.
For three of the most enjoyable years of my life I was permitted by accident to play a central part in the formulation of the current affairs policy in broadcasting in this country. This experience has left me with an insight into the attitude of the Government towards the communications media which entitles me, I think, to comment on the credibility gap between the two sides of the House here today. In 1966 I was hired to take the chair in what was perhaps the first infant, thrusting experiment, unrestrained in unbridled discussion of political affairs, a programme called "Division". In the three succeeding years I worked with a man, younger than I, who can I think be fairly called without rival the architect of whatever freedom of expression exists in political journalism in this country, Muiris MacCongail, a young man who has now, after five years, resigned from the editorship of "7 Days", a resignation, which on the one hand permits me to speak a little more freely than I would otherwise do, a resignation which, cumulatively with these other actions of the Government, makes me wonder if perhaps the freedom achieved in those short years is about to be lost.
I fear in this Bill, in regard to journalistic freedom, not the direct legal provisions made here so much as the innuendo, the threat of the big stick which will hang over every television producer and newspaper editor if this section goes through. What do I mean by that? I mean that the Irish way of doing things, if I may put it that way, is not to bring the full force of the law down with sledge hammer effect on such an editor or such a producer but rather by the subtle use of innuendo, the implied threat, the guarded remark across the luncheon table or on the telephone, to induce in such a producer or such an editor such a degree of nervousness that any kind of freewheeling aggressive journalism becomes impossible in his junior staff, becomes censored at source. It is the censorship at source I fear and it is Bills like this, which hold the big stick over editors and producers, which would bring about that censorship at source.
I can remember well, when I was a relatively young, very nervous man in the presence of Fianna Fáil Ministers, that political broadcasting was nearly destroyed in Radio Telefís Éireann owing to the obduracy of not this Government but a previous model. I remember one instance—it is relative to this section—when because in "Division" it was felt a discussion on agriculture necessitated the presence of the then president of the National Farmers' Association, Mr. Rickard Deasy, the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Charles Haughey, refused to appear on the programme. The inference was made, never in writing but always on the telephone, by innuendo that in the absence of adequate Fianna Fáil representation on a specific programme that programme should not be permitted to be transmitted.
This use of the big stick was resisted. It was resisted because the then Controller of Programmes, a Swede, Gunnar Rugheimer, was prepared to stand up to the Government and because this young man MacCongail was prepared to do the same. For four months that programme continued to transmit its weekly editions without the presence of any member of the Fianna Fáil Party or the Government. This is something I admired deeply in the members of that programme at that time. Ultimately that particular conflict was settled in precisely the characteristic, unwritten way that I am talking about in connection with the threats implicit in this Bill. Some day I shall write the full history of this episode. It was settled after four months during an all night meal in the Quo Vadis restaurant with myself, Mr. MacCongail, Deputy Haughey and two of his political colleagues. Fianna Fáil consented once again to revert to participation in this relatively unimportant political programme.
That is just one experience and oddly enough, as some Deputies in the House know, since I am psychologically averse to talking for talking's sake, I will not detain the House with many similar experiences which occurred during the next three years, experiences which show that any attempt at individual expression of opinion, fair critical comment by "Division" or "7 Days" invariably ran into the hostility of the Government and the Government Whips. I will not deal at length with the programmes which were either taken off, bowdlerised or fought through thanks only to the courage and resilience of one of the people taking part in them.
I will not deal at length with the notorious Whips agreement which the Government thrust down the throats of Radio Telefís Éireann in 1966 by which the participation of an individual TD would not be allowed except with the prior sanction of the Whip. If you think about it, it is an odd situation; it is a restriction which would have made it impossible for George Browne to go on British radio and attack Harold Wilson over the Common Market, a position which would have made it impossible for Roy Jenkins to go on and do the same. The British, happily, have no such fears and on the whole, with some regrettable exceptions, permit their politicians and their commentators much greater licence than we are used to here. In our case, with broadcasting still as it is today in its infancy, and indeed with sophisticated political comment in the newspapers relatively speaking, in its infancy, since it has only gone on for a decade, we stand in permanent danger of the ground that was won over the last five to ten years being taken back on us, the danger of going back to the situation where the function of the political journalist was either to praise and laud the Fianna Fáil Party or else to report political events with the detachment and dead pan lack of comment with which they would report a flower show.
I shall not go into my whole career there, although some day I shall. It is a career with unremitting hostility from the Government to the whole principle of journalistic freedom, a period of unremitting incapacity of the Government to understand what is constituted in the phrase "journalistic integrity". It is a concept to which I shall refer in a few moments. Let me just say for the moment that in those years, when a TD was relatively unmuzzled thanks to the courage of that young man, MacCongail, no bias followed from that freedom.
On the contrary, the journalists associated with those programmes showed that almost invariably they could be relied on totally to maintain balance between different points of view. Even I myself, a life-long socialist, can say with my hand on my heart that I never loaded a programme or an interview against one person as against another. Indeed, before I ever joined the party of which I am now a member, the Leader of the party, Deputy Corish, during a debate on the Estimate for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs some three years ago said that the roughest interview he had ever had or had even seen was one done by me. I wonder if those on Government benches are capable of understanding that journalists can be trusted to that extent, and I call myself a journalist with some pride because during those three years I was to all intents and purposes a journalist.
What are the alternatives to this form of independent comment? The alternative is to be found all over Western Europe. They are not very happy. They tend to come from countries we would not seek to emulate. There is ORTF in France where the grip of the Gaullist and Pompidou Governments is so total that the jobs and livelihoods of the newscasters and commentators and interviewers are permanently in jeopardy unless they toe the official party line. Another solution, one which I think would appeal very much to the Fianna Fáil Party—I am sure Deputy Collins, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, has studied this—is the solution of the Italian television service. If a strike takes place and there is a police baton charge and some heads are broken the television commentators are entitled to inform the public that the strike took place, that there was a baton charge on such a day and at such a time and that a certain number of people on both sides were injured.
Can we have a quorum? This is much too good to miss.
Listen to the selective European.
Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,
Before a House was called I was trying to make some observations about the principle of journalistic freedom, some of which observations arose from my own personal experience of what it is like to deal with the power of a Fianna Fáil Government when one is in an exposed journalistic position. As I have said, I do not intend to dwell at great length on that.
The Deputy was dealing with the position in some European countries. We should like him to continue with that.
I intend to in due course, I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary.
We have called in some of his comrades.
We are not used to calling them comrades.
There was a time when you did—the democratic programme. You did not find the land for the people.
Since Deputy Browne was so good as to provide me with an audience which was already dwindling I do not wish to deprive them of losing the chain of reason which I was so carefully working out here, particularly seeing the Minister for Transport and Power here who has some experience of some of the incidents which I was adverting to in relation to the "7 Days" programme. I felt I should place him in focus, as it were. As I was saying about the Italian television service, the position is that one may simply report a fact. One may report that a strike took place, or a death took place and that certain events followed from this but one may not make any attempt at interpretation of the factors leading up to the event.
Is it the wish of this Government that a similar situation should apply here? I think it is the wish of this Government that this should be the case, because they have shown this in many ways. They have shown it in the constant perorations about journalistic licence made by Deputy Childers, the advocacy by Deputy Childers of the idea that newspaper reporters and television programmes should continually report good news. It is a rather amusing thought. They should rise in the morning and say the sun shone and that everything was fine in the Irish Republic. I do not think the ambitions of Deputy Childers in this direction are fallen far short of by the present news division of RTE. Every time I switch on the news I find that the Six Counties are "in a state of chassis" and that the Twenty-six Counties are in a state of beneficent tranquillity. Every newscast begins with shots of beatings and riotings in Derry and Belfast, often not with the inclusion of mention that these were shot 24 hours earlier and bear no relation to what is being said on the news broadcast.
I doubt if this has any relationship to the amendment.
I will explain its relationship in my next sentence. Tomorrow night a march will take place to Aras an Uachtaráin to ask an tUachtarán not to sign this Bill. I wonder will the television cameras be out there in comparable force——
Are you going?
Some of them will be there.
I expect to be in this House endeavouring to demonstrate to the Minister my ability to defend the freedom of the individual. Otherwise, I certainly would be there. The gentlemen on the Government benches should bear in mind that they may not always be on Government benches. Sitting on these benches, they might feel a little more sympathy with what I am saying than they are doing at the moment.
Is that a promise or a threat?
It is a promise, not a threat. If it were coming from over there it would be a threat, not a promise. I wonder if the cameras will be out in similar force and I wonder whether, if violence or anything of that sort happens at that march— please God it will not—it will find the top headlines in the news or if the docility to which the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs seems to have already reduced, even without this Bill, some journalists will mean inevitably that the news will start with the information that it rained in Belfast today.
This is further evidence of the Government's attitude which frightens us in regard to this Bill. I can mention the "7 Days" Tribunal. I admit that in relation to that programme, speaking from experience as a journalist, devices were used which should not have been used. It is perhaps inadmissible to use concealed cameras or concealed microphones. It is arguably inadmissible, and I will give an argument here, to use simulated shots to reproduce actions which notoriously take place which could not possibly be photographed. For that, the programme was perhaps correctly reprimanded. But surely—and this bears heavily on the accusations levelled at these benches that we sought that inquiry—the point at issue here were not the peccadilloes of the "7 Days" team but the major social evil which existed in moneylending. If journalistic licence as was used here to expose an evil had not been there I wonder how much opportunity Emil Zola would have got to rehabilitate Dreyfus under the kind of regime this Bill seeks to introduce? Had he been told he was over-emotional, that he was going too far, Dreyfus would have remained for the rest of his life on Devil's Island. Surely an ounce of journalistic licence is less important in the scale of justice than a massive social injustice which causes people to live in misery.
All these instances, these experiences of mine, cause me to doubt that this is a Government to which this power could possibly be committed. I will inevitably be contradicted but I am absolutely certain that the view I express is shared by practically every journalist in this country.
How, finally, can we evaluate the traditional attitude of the Government towards the Press and television? The simplest way to solve this, to define this is to quote from the remarks of the former Taoiseach, the late Deputy Lemass, God be good to him; he was a man for whom I had the utmost admiration in many respects but whose views on television freedom I could not share. In reply to a question in this House on 12th October, 1966 at column 1045, volume 224, of the Official Report the then Taoiseach said on behalf of the Government:
Radio Telefís Éireann was set up by the legislation as an instrument of public policy and as such is responsible to the Government. The Government have over-all responsibility for its conduct and especially the obligation to ensure that its programmes do not offend against the public interest or conflict with national policy as defined in legislation.
To this extent the Government reject the view that Radio Telefís Éireann should be, either generally or in regard to its current affairs and news programmes, completely independent of Government supervision. As a public institution supported by public funds and operating under statute, it has the duty, while maintaining impartiality between political Parties, to present programmes which inform the public regarding current affairs, to sustain public respect for the institutions of Government and, where appropriate, to assist public understanding of the policies enshrined in legislation enacted by the Oireachtas. The Government will take such action by way of making representations or otherwise as may be necessary to ensure that Radio Telefís Éireann does not deviate from the due performance of this duty.
That reply was given on 12th October, 1966, in the very context of the same row with Deputy Haughey over the programme in which I was involved,Division about which I spoke a few moments ago. The thinking which is represented in that statement can only be described as fascistic in the extreme. That sort of thinking and the kind of thinking enshrined in this Bill would send shivers down the spine of any newspaper editor or any television producer.
Again I emphasise that what is involved in legislation of this kind is not the overt Government interference in public affairs programmes or newspaper journalism. In my career in television I cannot recall where the prescribed formula for Government intervention in a case where a television presentation was considered to be less than detached, to be biased, was ever used. It was never necessary for it to be used. The other way, the way of innuendo, the sapping of the morale of the senior men, the producers and the editors, was sufficient. The other way was sufficient: the reminding of young, idealistic television producers, people like Owen Harris, Seán Egan, Lelia Doolin, Jack Dowling, and now perhaps, for all I know, my old colleague, MacCongail that they were on short contracts, that they were in insecure positions, that they had building society mortgages on their houses, that they had wives and that they had children. This is enough in any country to produce a degree of self-censorship which will ensure that the Government, having got their way by having the big stick in reserve, need never actually incur the odium of producing it in public.
It is precisely because of debates like this which cause the Government's motives to be seen clearly by the public, that I delight in being and am proud to be part of the opposition which is being mounted from these benches to this shattering Bill.
Again I turn to phrases used by Deputy Carter the other day when he spoke of things like "fair or unfair comment". Who is to determine what is fair or unfair comment? The Government? If the Government were to determine this, fair comment would be solely that which was laudatory. Once every six months some emasculated representative of the Opposition would be brought on to jerk his head like a puppet and give sanction to what had been said before. There is quite enough evidence that this is the line of Government thinking for me to be able to say that.
Deputy Carter spoke of a situation in which the public were sufficiently informed. "Sufficiently informed", "fair and unfair comment"—these are phrases evocative only of Goebbels. Who is Deputy Carter to determine whether the public is sufficiently informed or not? To me this section in particular is part of a creeping campaign against the freedom of the Press and television to which I have referred, a creeping campaign which is also expressed in the Commission of Inquiry, or whatever it is called, recently appointed by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, into RTE, a Commission of Inquiry which will lead no doubt, to a restructuring of the 1961 Broadcasting Act to make it even worse and more repressive than it is at the moment. It would suit the Minister better to be seeking to liberate television still further, to accept that nine or ten years experience, whatever it is, have acclimatised our people and our journalists to the utilisation of this medium to a point where they can be trusted to the extent that the BBC are trusted in England. If for one moment I thought that this was the thinking of this Government I would support the commission appointed by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and I would have far less trepidation about this section.
However, everything I have said here, every experience I have had, every straw in the wind I have encountered, lead me to believe that all these measures, most specifically this section but not solely this section, are part of a creeping campaign against the whole idea of journalistic and television freedom. Of course it will not work because even if television were reduced to the most emasculated of current affairs programmes and an endless stream of imported American comedies, that alone would have the effect of reminding people in this impoverished, emigration-torn Ireland of the high standard of living which exists in other countries; it would remind them of the freedom of expression of ideas which exists in countries like England and America; it would remind them of what they are being deprived of. Television is the Pandora's box of our particular age. The Government, having seen the lid opened between the years 1966 and 1969 much against their will, are now endeavouring to mount the impossible task of sitting on that lid and forcing it shut again.
They will not succeed in doing this but in the process of attempting to do it they will break the careers and the hearts of the finest of our Irish journalists between the ages of 30 to 40 years. Shame upon it for attempting to do so. I have great confidence in the Irish press and television—if I said that outside the House the Minister might dispute it, and I would probably be subject to prosecution after this misbegotten Bill goes through the House—and the journalists and commentators in the four national dailies and also in the provincial Press. I hope they will have the courage to infringe the conditions to which we are opposed here within one week of this Bill becoming law. If they do this they will demonstrate to our so-called Irish Republican regime, as Irish Republicans demonstrated 50, 60, 100 years ago, that the jails even of a regime like this are not large enough to hold the dissentient if that dissentient is sufficiently numerous, sufficiently sincere and sufficiently honourable.
I wish to turn to a case of a woman in my constituency who has had an ileoechtomy. This is a very unpleasant, painful operation requiring removal of the entire lower bowel and the living of a life of tremendous handicap thereafter. This woman's husband is an alcoholic under treatment and she has two children. She has tried to be rehoused but she cannot be rehoused because she has only two children. The corporation do not regard the family's medical evidence as adequate to justify rehousing. If that woman said to me that she was going to squat somewhere, I could not find it in my conscience to tell her that that was a wrong, immoral, unethical, unlawful and unjust thing to do. Would she be a criminal for having done so? Yes, and I presumably would be a criminal for having encouraged her to do it. Would it not be better if the Government, as theIrish Press pointed out, devoted time to solving problems like that of housing rather than devoting time to muzzle the exponents of one form of solution to this problem?
Earlier, the Minister for Justice, with a characteristic sneer, implied that opposition to this Bill was confined to these benches and to 200 or 400 of the usual Reds, Odd bods, Weirdies,et cetera. Do the people on the benches opposite never read the newspapers? From all corners of the country—the Donegal Democrat, the Monaghan Argus, the Kerryman—editorials have come out attacking this Bill. The Irish Independent has denounced it. The Irish Times, after what I must regard as a degree of equivocation about this Bill and a slight degree of satire towards the attempts of the Opposition to frustrate it, on 22nd July, came out with a denunciation of this Bill and of this section in particular. Lo and behold, today the Irish Press managed by Deputy de Valera, bearer of the most honoured name in the entire traditional Fianna Fáil camp, perhaps the author of the editorial to which I intend to refer perhaps not, but in one way or another underwriting it, wrote as follows:
Without going into legal niceties, it should have been possible before now to devise some formula of words whereby fair comment and reportage, be it pictorial or otherwise, on a matter of public interest would not be inhibited. Some amendments of this nature——
the amendments at which the Minister for Justice jeers——
have been proposed and at the beginning of this, apparently final, passage of the Bill through the Dáil, these or some variant of them should be put into effect.
We have some enormous problems confronting us, the deteriorating situation in the North is but one. Having the Dáil's time taken up with one easily alterable section of a Bill, whose retention is being fought for and against with the ferocity of a rearguard action in the field, will not help us to deal with these problems. Let us now have that suitable alteration and let us get on with the nation's business.
Does the Minister for Justice not realise how isolated he is? Has he given up reading his own party newspaper?
I have very little more to say. The point has been made in the past that perhaps the Deputies on these benches are insincere in defending journalistic freedom and that if they were placed in the same position as the Government they would behave in the same way as the present Government are behaving. It is a fair accusation. All politicians are hypernaturally susceptible and sensitive people, and to them a good television programme or a good editorial is one which concurs with their own views. I can assure those journalists who question the sincerity of people on these benches that I, as an ex-journalist, am sincere in saying that in no circumstances would I subscribe to the kind of inhibition on freedom of expression contained in this section. In England, the testiness of the Labour Party in Opposition about the BBC is ridiculous, childish and unworthy of them. The setting up of a Press and TV council is also childish and unworthy of them. Under no circumstances would I associate myself with the same thing here.
It is tactical for Fianna Fáil to blame the Press for the image of the Government and the image of Parliament. This does less than justice both to the integrity of the journalists and the intelligence of the Irish people. If the image of this Parliament is low it is not from journalistic distortion of the facts. The conduct of Parliament and of this Government in particular has been low during the past two years. Deputy Carter opposite and the Minister also spoke of the Irish "captive audience" who can be seduced by the 200 odd weirdies,et cetera who have infiltrated television and who are all dedicated to the Labour Party—of course, there are none of them in Fianna Fáil. The Irish never showed any predilection for captivity in the past. Every television set has a knob which can turn it off and the Irish are quite capable of using those knobs.
Spokesmen for the Government have sought to make a distinction between the transmission of fact and the transmission of informed and presumably prejudiced comment. Already in the context of Italian television I have made the point that this is meaningless. The late C.P. Scott, editor of theManchester Guardian for many years, said “Comment is free and facts are sacred”. When the question was put to Muiris McCongail at the “7 Days” Tribunal whether or not be agreed with this statement, he answered that he had never been able to understand it. I should like to say the same thing. What is a fact and what is a comment? How can any energetic, idealistic, journalist, either on television or in a newspaper, explore the motivation of a fact without a degree of comment? How can he simply say that an event occurred, that Michael Collins was shot, that war broke out, that Hitler died, without in some way setting this in the context of comment? A television station reduced to the reportage of fact would set the clock back five years to the days when “Open House”, I think it was called, was the reductio ad absurdum of political television in this country, a benevolent placid opportunity for TDs to express in carefully rationed segments of time, related to the strength of their party, their prepared opinion under the benevolent auspices of a neuter chairman. If that is what the Government seek, and I think it is, then indeed the lights are going out for journalistic freedom in this country.
Chun a fháil amach céard go díreach tá ar intinn na ndaoine atá ag ligint orthu go bhfuil siad chomh mór sin in aghaidh na reachtaíochta seo, tá beartaithe agam focal nó dhó a rá a spreagas iad, b'fhéidir chun a thuilleadh a rá agus seans níos fearr a thúirt domsa m'intinn a dhéanamh suas faoi chéard tá i gceist acu.
It is not my intention to speak at any great length on this amendment. I intend to make one or two comments so that it may be possible for me to confirm the view I have that the pseudo-opposition to this Bill which we are getting here is not anything more than an attempt at filibustering and playing to the Press.
As a citizen and as a public representative there have been times over the years when I have had certain misgiving about what I saw reported in our daily newspapers and what I heard reported on radio and television. Giving to journalists the integrity about which we have heard so much here I decided they were doing what they were entitled to do and what they felt was for the betterment of the people and in the best interests of journalism. I never questioned them on it and for that reason I should be accepted as one who has this respect for journalists about which other people speak, although their history may not be as good as mine.
Because I speak after Deputy Thornley I wish to refer to the occasion when Deputy Thornley and Deputy Cruise-O'Brien set themselves up to indicate to the Press how, when and on what they should report. I am not concerned with what agitated the minds or the consciences of the Deputies in question because the case they made today I can make tomorrow. It is rather extraordinary and quite paradoxical that the two Deputies, who are on record as having suggested that they would deny the right to any paper or a particular paper to report on that which journalistic integrity would have them report, now come before this House baring their hearts in the interests of and on behalf of what they claim is journalistic integrity.
Admittedly they will make the case that, having regard to the special circumstances as they saw them, they saw fit to register this objection and to indicate what would happen if they were in office. Deputy Thornley and Deputy Cruise-O'Brien are two rather influential members of the Labour Party and if Deputy Thornley says he would do in the Government what he is doing now then we must take a lead from what he did last year. Would he in Government indicate to the Press what they should report on? These are matters which indicate the insincerity of the case being made by the Opposition.
As politicians we must be forever conscious of the Press. We all like reportage and we all like favourable comment and as an indication of the faith, trust and confidence I have in our journalists I am prepared to take slight issue with them knowing they will not harm me because I exercise the freedom I have to comment on things honestly and truthfully in the same way as they themselves comment on them. No one accepts that every journalist is the absolute in integrity. Everyone realises that a journalist might in the same way as a politician, a professional man or a labouring man offend occasionally. This glorification of journalists is but an effort on the part of the people concerned to play to them in the hope that they will curry favour with them and get what all politicians hope for—better reportage.
If the Opposition are as anxious as they lead us to believe in wanting to take over Government tomorrow why should they not be encouraging the downfall of this Government? Why should they not encourage the Government to have on their conscience the fact that they introduced legislation which was unwelcomed by the people and which meant when the next election occurred that they would be in government? I am convinced that the Members of the Labour Party and others who have spoken know quite well that this Bill is necessary and that the section we are discussing, which makes it an offence for any erring journalist to encourage, or incite other people to commit an offence is necessary also. That is what we are discussing. We have had many references to various countries but there has been a careful avoidance of mentioning those socialist countries where the Press has no freedom. England has been quoted where it suits to do so. This is the first time that I have heard a socialist at heart regard England as being the ideal socialist country. Apparently it suits to do so on this occasion and, no doubt, there will be other occasions when it will be suitable to cite some other country.
In relation to squatting there is the difficulty of doing what might be popular as against what might be responsible. I am as familiar as anybody else with the housing problem in Dublin and I have the same sympathy for any family who has not the accommodation they require. In this context I am happy to take issue with Deputy Thornley in his reference to a lady in the constituency that both he and I represent who has two children but who cannot get a house. Deputy Thornley spoke of a house being vacant beside this woman and, in conscience, he says he could not dissuade her from going into that vacant house.
The Deputy is well aware that in Dublin there is a certain priority in the matter of housing. He knows, too, that there is a certain regard to medical opinion. A medical certificate indicating that a family are entitled to priority is taken into consideration in respect of that particular family so that they might be accommodated sooner than what we might call a healthy family. Notwithstanding the fact that in Dublin there are many thousands awaiting to be accommodated, Deputy Thornley would indicate that he is prepared to take a person who may be at the end of the priority list and help him or her to get a house to which, in accordance with priority, somebody else is more entitled. I am at a loss to understand how the Deputy could make such a suggestion because in so doing he is disregarding, among other things, the recommendations of the medical officer in Dublin city. Again, this is the popular thing to say.
The Deputy spoke also about television programmes and in particular about what he would consider to be the injustices that have occurred. I must bear in mind that at some future date I might appear on a television programme and that, consequently, I should be boosting up the gentlemen responsible for these programmes. While I have respect for them and appreciate the work they are doing, I must say that, having taken part in one or two programmes, I was not unmindful of the attitude of one or two people on those programmes. Because myself or some other contributor was not prepared to speak in a tone that fitted in with the programme as they saw it, we were not entitled to the freedom that they would now claim for themselves or would consider that we are taking from them. Human nature does not end when one moves into the field of journalism and neither does it end when one goes inside Montrose. There are people there who think like us but in so far as this Bill provides for the possibility of there being, at some time, a journalist who might not appreciate his responsibilities, as other journalists of integrity appreciate them, and in so far as there might be a journalist who might be a party to inciting persons to commit an offence, there is nothing wrong with this Bill and the amendment is not necessary.
We have heard examples of what happens in other countries. I would not wish to be accused of being insular but I have more interest in what is the concern and philosophy of our people than in what is the concern and philosophy of people of other countries.
Although I may have been somewhat critical of Deputy Thornley's approach, I think that if he were here he would agree with me when I say that in parts of our constituency during the past two years we have been attending meetings at which people have been crying out for the Government to take some action in the matter of vandalism—vandalism of the type that results in young men, and sometimes young women, who have nothing else to do moving into corporation playing areas and evicting the young children who are playing there so that they themselves might take over.
The Deputy is aware that this is getting away from the amendment.
With respect, I think the point I am making and which I intend pursuing is as relevant as some of the utterances we have had so far, if not more so. I try to regard legislation as it affects the people. I was hoping to pursue the point in relation to my own constituency so as to indicate that during the past couple of years Deputies Thornley, Byrne, Gogan and myself have attended meetings at which the concern of the people was the taking over of corporation property by vandals—in our area, they are called skinheads—who have no respect for property. In so far as this legislation would help to curtail the activities of these young people I welcome it. I have no doubt that nobody in this House, and no journalist, whether he represents Press or radio, would encourage these young people or any other people to annoy their neighbours.
Since other Deputies have been allowed wander far afield before coming directly to the terms of the amendment, I would make the point that we are being told now that there are more urgent problems than this. To me there is no more urgent problem in Ireland at the moment than the situation in which we have a certain body of people, thank Heaven not a great number, whose philosophy is that if they have not got something which I have and if at any given moment it does not seem to be required by me they have a right to use it. Whether it is my house, my car or, indeed, my money they do not care. It is rather frightening to me to think that we have people who have been elected here and represent people, as I do, who would suggest that the day has not come when we should put a stop to that.
Not very often do I trespass on the very valuable time of this House but I am prompted to contribute to the debate on this Fine Gael amendment because I regard the passing of this amendment to this most objectionable section in this most undesirable and unwanted Bill as of great importance.
Reference has been made by speakers on all sides to the importance of preserving, not alone free speech, but the freedom of journalists to report as they think fit. My reason for viewing with grave concern and alarm this section and the reason I feel so agitated about it is that I recall with great pride the lengthy speeches made in this House to my knowledge over the past 20 years or 29 years on the subject of the preservation of democracy, the right of free speech, the right of free reporting, the right of a free Parliament to legislate. I recall those speeches when I hear of the views expressed last week and this week that certain Deputies are anxious to deliberately waste the time of this House on this amendment. That is not so because there are Deputies who have been impressed by the high standards set in this Parliament by the late William T. Cosgrave, the father of the present Leader of the Opposition, similar speeches by the late Deputy Richard Corish, father of the Leader of the Labour Party, and the inspiring addresses of the late Deputy James Fitzgerald Kenney, coupled with the sentiments of men like the former Deputy McGilligan, Deputy Mulcahy, Deputy Seán MacEoin, the late Deputy William Norton, the late Deputy James Larkin, who was an outstanding advocate of the right of free speech, free assembly and, above all, freedom of the Press to report without hindrance. I remember speeches in this House by an Independent Deputy, the late Deputy Richard S. Anthony, just as I remember the contributions very eloquently made by the late father of the Deputy who has just spoken, Deputy Tunney, whom we all held in the greatest affection in this House many years ago. All these speeches were based on the right of a Parliament to make good laws to be obeyed by all our citizens.
If there is an effort being made in this section to interfere with the right of journalists, whether on newspapers, radio or television, to report facts as they find them, I venture to say that if such a Bill or such a section were presented to Parliament in the time of the late W.T. Cosgrave, the late Richard Corish, the late James Larkin and others, to whom I have referred, there would have been uproar in this House but as time goes on and, perhaps, with the new type of Deputies we do not seem to set the same value on or attach the same importance to the right of free assembly, the right of free speech or the right of Parliament to pass fair laws, reasonable laws which citizens are expected to obey.
A Bill of this kind is tantamount to aggravating and disturbing the peace of mind of law-abiding citizens. Many of us have asked ourselves, but have not got a reply, what is the necessity for this Bill and for this section. We are now considering the necessity for amending the section. Is there large scale squatting in this city or in this country at the moment? I cannot see nor have I heard any evidence of such. There is certainly no general demand in rural Ireland for a Bill or a section of this kind to be enshrined in the Statute Book.
We hear the Minister for Justice and his party colleagues saying that Parliament cannot adjourn for the summer recess until this Bill has passed all stages. I have wondered in the past few days whether there is a reason for all this. Did they think that by slipping in this Bill at the end of a long, weary and tiresome session of Parliament that Deputies would be so weary and tired, their energies so overtaxed, that they would get it through without a clear expression of opinion and without sufficient thought? If the Minister for Justice thought that he should think again. In the past week it has been said that the reason Deputies were so vocal on this amendment was anxiety to curry favour with journalists in order to gain generous publicity for their political activities. That is not so.
Deputies are elected to Parliament mainly to legislate, to contribute to debates and to object strenuously regarding any legislation that interferes with the rights of citizens. That is why Deputies wisely have taken time to focus public attention on what appear to be the hidden motives behind this section. We could not discuss a more important matter than the amendment now before the House. It is my view, and I am sure it is shared by many other Deputies, that there is no evidence of a general demand for this Bill and there is no need for all the alarm, the excitement and the rush on the part of the Taoiseach and his Government in this matter.
The previous speaker inferred that Deputies were vocal on this issue in order to get into favour with journalists and reporters of the newspapers and television. Deputies have a duty to speak on an important topic such as this and we are exercising that duty. We cannot expect respect from those outside this House unless we show them we are serious in our work and serious in exercising our responsibilities in giving the people good legislation.
Deputies who have been vocal in their objections to this section realise it is not in the public interest. It is an evil section and is more far-reaching in its consequences than any other section of the Bill. It is part of a major and well thought-out plan to remove completely any essence of democracy. The experience in other countries has shown that freedom is not lost at once. It is lost step by step. If we consider the setting up of regional boards to replace the smaller authorities——
The Deputy is getting away from the amendment.
I was endeavouring to point out that this is part of a big plan to change the parliamentary system——
The Deputy does not mean the amendment, of course.
The previous speaker mentioned that there might be one journalist who did not use proper discretion in the discharge of his duties. It there will be only one offending journalist, why is it necessary to have such a section? My experience has been that journalists are, perhaps, more conscientious in the discharge of their duties than even Members of this House. They have a grave responsibility to report facts, whether in the newspaper columns or on radio or television. Above all, they must report the truth. Journalists are men and women of integrity, intelligence, common sense and devotion to duty and, above all, devotion to publication of the truth.
Is this section being included in order to prevent the truth being revealed and read by the citizens? Is this section not a vote of no confidence by the Government in the integrity of the journalists? The section has been described as a "gobstopper" to prevent people of integrity from discharging their duty, namely, to tell the truth to the people. This duty imposes a grave responsibility before man, and more grave responsibility before God.
In this section an effort is made to prevent the discharge of their duties by this responsible and highly professional group of people. How do the Government expect to earn the respect of the general public if the laws we pass here do not meet with the approval, the support and the respect of the people? Is it not most desirable that we should pass here laws which all citizens can obey, cherish and respect? How can citizens be expected to respect, obey and cherish what we are all agreed is bad law? Does not the bad law lead to anarchy? This section is bad and, if the amendment to the section is not accepted, then this section could lead to anarchy. The constitutional rights of journalists and others to report facts will be restricted if this section becomes law.
I find in the country a good deal of apathy on the part of people in relation to their constitutional rights. If this section is not amended it will lead to a disastrous situation because, as it stands, it is designed to muzzle the Press, radio and television. There are those of us who believe in democracy. There are those of us who believe in freedom of expression. There are those of us who believe that one should speak and say what he likes, how he likes and when he likes so long as he keeps within the law.
Any law designed to restrict freedom of speech is suspect. One cannot but be critical of any law designed to prevent free comment. This section, as it stands, will prevent free comment by those whose job it is to report facts and to give the truth. Will those engaged in the newspaper industry take this measure lying down? Are the Government reinforced in their hope of getting this section because people are not interested and because journalists, as a voting power, are not a very strong pressure group? Here is a piece of legislation which could seriously affect the lives of those engaged in the newspaper industry; not alone that, but here is a piece of legislation which could affect the lives of their readers. I believe there is not sufficient emphasis outside this Parliament on the design behind this section. If editors, journalists and all others engaged in the news media allow this section to go through, with the support of the public, a public sunk in apathy, then the loss will be theirs and the loss will be engendered through their neglect.
One would have expected the moment this section appeared in print that every newspaper in the country and the news media on radio and television would have come together to make known the perils. Admittedly, the National Union of Journalists made their protest. The protest took the form of a letter expressing their views, their indignation, their horror and their disgust. What about the tens of thousands outside who should be interested in this section? Why do the journalists and all those concerned in the news media not focus attention on this section? Why do they not hold a "No News Day", a black day, with a complete closedown on news in the public Press and on radio and television? That would focus public attention and alert the people to the seriousness of this section. This section is a cancer which will eat into the living cells of democracy.
This is one of the most objectionable sections this House has debated for many a long day. I have yet to hear the Minister go into real detail on this section. He has a duty to tell us——
The Minister has spoken on the amendment.
Agreed. He has spoken, but he said nothing. I agree the Minister has spoken at length.
This is Report Stage and the Minister cannot speak again.
I agree the Minister has spoken. He often speaks.
So does the Deputy.
But one can speak for hours and say nothing, and so it was with the Minister for Justice on this amendment. He has spoken.
There are other amendments. We can incite him to speak on the other amendments.
(Cavan): Encourage him.
We were as wise at the end of the Minister's statement on this amendment as we were before he had spoken. A journalist who publishes the truth or who publishes facts could, under this section as it stands, be found guilty of committing an offence. Has the Minister clearly explained why, if a daily or weekly journal expresses an opinion truthfully and accurately which it could be established was in any way associated with a reasonable protest, it should not be considered extremely undemocratic that such a journalist should be regarded as guilty of an offence?
The Bill is not about protests; it is about forcible entry.
The Bill is about forcible entry but we have no evidence at present of any large-scale activity in respect of forcible entry. What is the necessity for this measure? Where is all this forcible entry? Is it because certain public spirited citizens made a protest because they were anxious to preserve certain artistically designed buildings?
There is nothing in the Bill about that; it is about forcible entry.
Where is the forcible entry? Where is the demand for this section? I know my constituency as well as the next and I cannot see any evidence of anyone forcibly entering the property of anyone else. Nobody would enter my property.
The Deputy should relate his remarks to amendment No. 7.
I do not see any necessity for this measure.
There is no trace of forcible entry activity in my constituency either.
There is no outcry in my constituency for this section, or in any other constituency of which I know. Surely we must protect the rights of journalists who may be invited to attend a meeting for the purpose of discussing——
——for the purpose of discussing——
(Cavan): Did the Parliamentary Secretary read the article in today's Irish Press?
We do not accept theIrish Press as the Bible.
We are not discussing newspapers. Amendment No. 7.
I was endeavouring to make the case of a journalist who had been invited to attend a meeting which would be considered contrary to the provisions of this Bill.
What the Parliamentary Secretary wants me to say is "a meeting to discuss forcible entry". I am too long in this House for him to try to put words into my mouth. That is exactly what he is trying to do. Assuming a meeting of citizens was held——
Suppose somebody forcibly entered Lar Lynch's in Portlaoise?
I presume Lar Lynch would be the first man to protect his own interests as he has done in the past.
Personalities outside the House should not be introduced into the debate.
I am taking the case, as I believe I am entitled to do, of the journalist who reports the facts of an assembly which may be considered by the authorities as contrary to the provisions of this Bill. If that journalist conscientiously publishes the proceedings of such a meeting he will be guilty of an offence.
Not for publishing.
No, for encouraging or for advocating.
If he says they were right.
Assuming that he were to say in his report that in his opinion these people had every ground for taking the action they were taking, whatever that action might be, he will be accused of encouraging or advocating. He can encourage by being present.
I remember receiving a summons in 1942 before I was elected to this House because it was held that I encouraged and advocated the non-payment of a just rate imposed under legislation in this House, the Barrow drainage rate. Before the summons was heard I was elected a Member of the House. Summonses were issued against other people for encouraging and advocating. Less than three years afterwards this House passed legislation wiping out this special rate because it was considered to be unjust. A section of this kind can be used as a means of preventing others as well as journalists. Take the Deputy who supplies his script to the journalist for publication. Take the Deputy who would be present at a meeting, who might be on the platform, and who is reported as having been present. If this section is passed, similar sections will appear in other Bills which will deprive elected representatives of their rights as this section is designed to deprive the journalist of his right to report the facts either on radio or television. This is the thin end of the wedge. If this section gets through without Deputy Fitzpatrick's amendment it can be used by Fianna Fáil as a precedent for other legislation designed for the convenience of Fianna Fáil and the present Government.
This section should be fought tooth and nail, inside and outside this House, because there is a deep rooted, evilly disposed motive behind it. It is a "gob stopper" to prevent journalists from reporting the facts. It is a step, as Fianna Fáil believe in the right direction, to undermine the existence and continuance of democracy as we know it in this country. We have a duty to prevent that. Fianna Fáil may laugh. Fianna Fáil Deputies may sneer and jeer. Facts are facts. Here we see professional people in the discharge of their duties about to be branded as being associated with irregular activities and to be described as breakers of the law by encouraging and advocating people to break the law. These journalists are impartial, having no interest other than to report the facts, not concerned with the merits of the case, not concerned with whether it is right or wrong. They are there in their professional capacity to report facts. If they report the facts in regard to proceedings, no matter how strong may be the grievance of those associated with the problem being discussed, these journalists can, under this section, be branded as law breakers and criminals.
Is the Parliamentary Secretary who is sitting in for the Minister not ashamed of this section? There must be some Deputies left in Fianna Fáil who have some love left in them for the rights of the citizens and for the preservation of democracy. You cannot have a free Parliament if you have not a free press. Parliament will become a farce if journalists are not free to report what goes on, whether it is to the credit of Parliament or to the dishonour and disgrace of Parliament. We have a right as elected representatives to speak our minds here. The day that right goes from us in Parliament is a long, gloomy, sad day for the country. The day the journalist is blindfolded and gagged is the day when freedom and the right of free speech in Parliament are rocked to their foundations.
At all costs, we must preserve in a free country freedom of the Press and those associated with the radio, the television and the Press must not have hanging over them the threat of legal proceedings, of being branded as criminals or as law breakers, or of being presented with summonses and court decrees when they discharge their duties honourably and truthfully. If I know the journalists of this country, there is never any need and there never has been any need to question either their ability or their integrity. Here we have a section in a Bill, with far-reaching concealed effects that we have not seen yet, deliberately designed by Fianna Fáil as a step towards setting up — Fianna Fáil Deputies may laugh but it is happening under our very eyes—a small, high powered, big-influence, wealthy dictatorship of big men with empty heads, who talk very loud. We must break that up in this Parliament. This section is to reinforce these big men. For those who have been here long enough, past history is sufficient. This section is designed to prevent the journalists and newspapers of this country from publishing the truth and from using their own discretion in giving the public the facts. Parliament weakens and every Deputy's status is reduced the day this House passes a section which will interfere with the rights, liberties and freedom of the Press.
Reference has been made to the United States of America. The hallmark of a State that is in any way democratic is freedom of the Press. In the United States of America that freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. I have always regarded the United States as the defender of freedom. Thank God that that great Power is there to maintain freedom and to help nations whose freedom is being diminished.
Some 100 years ago the British Government, in their respect for freedom and to show the importance they attached to freedom of the Press, removed all taxes on newspapers. They considered that a tax on newspapers, on the publication of information, would hinder freedom and democracy and the right of the public to be well and truly informed. We have even seen in the past few weeks the manner in which the freedom of the Press was highlighted in the city of New York when every newspaper and every journalist in the United States felt that if that freedom was to be infringed in any way a great wrong would be imposed on the American people. They won the day. The freedom of the Press, the radio and television is something to be cherished.
Many Deputies have spoken about the freedom of television. We have not in this country what we can describe as freedom of television or radio because of Government control. I was amazed to read an article last week, with reference to this Bill, in which it was conveyed to the public that neither politicans nor newspapers were aiming at or should aim at a high ideal of perfection. When I saw that a responsible newspaper, with reference to this amendment, was questioning the right of newspapers or politicans to aim at a high ideal of perfection it made me think.
May I ask what is wrong with Members of this House aiming at a high ideal of perfection? Have not the newspapers, as well as the Members of this House, a bounden duty both before God and man, to aim at a high ideal of perfection? If we see that a newspaper is critical of Parliament, or if one newspaper is critical of another's ideal of perfection we are slowly losing our grip and steadily slipping down the slope of imperfection and Parliament are standing idly by because their aim in the past has not been at the highest standards of perfection. Their aim has been to the contrary and a section of this kind, if passed by a free democratic Parliament, will add considerably to those imperfect standards.
We all have a duty. Every individual will be judged eventually on his own record, both here and hereafter, and he has a duty to set high standards and to endeavour to attain, if at all possible, to the highest possible standards. I want to tell newspapers who feel that politicians have no interest in perfection that they ought to examine their own conscience in regard to playing up to the whims and to the cheques of their advertisers. We who are politicians, dealing with an amendment such as this, have a duty in regard to perfection and because we are dedicated, in so far as we possibly can be, to perfection we want to see that this unwarranted, unnecessary and disgusting section is suitably amended.
I fail to understand why newspapers and those connected with the presentation of news have not taken a more determined and serious view of this matter. We find that printers who may execute orders for literature, posters, handbills or anything else of that nature, or who become involved in any work of that nature, will be guilty under this section which is an intrusion on the rights of even the ordinary citizen who might be involved in giving out handbills. No Government should be given the authority which this section seeks. We all have certain rights and we have a duty to hold on to those rights and to safeguard those rights.
What I greatly fear is the section which we are now trying to amend. If it is passed it can be used as a precedent for having similar sections in other pieces of legislation. It has been suggested that Deputies who have become so determined to speak at such length against this section have motives other than their concern for a free Press. We are all very conscious of the high standard of integrity of the ladies and gentlemen of the Press and of the managements of national and provincial newspapers.
Therefore, the position becomes serious when a section of this kind is brought in by a Government who would not hesitate to use it to suit themselves. In this country, especially in relation to radio and television, nobody can say there is entire freedom. Many of us have been trying to get a free radio and television but our best efforts have not been successful because they have been hampered by the Government. Although we have not a free radio and television, we have a free Press and the great danger I can see is further Government influence. We know that appointments to radio and television are Government appointments and we know that broadcasts are of the type that suit the Government. No one listening to newscasts could fail to realise the pro-Government bias.
Consequently, a free Press is of vital importance. To date, there has not been Government intervention but all of us know that if Fianna Fáil had their way every newspaper would be pumping out Fianna Fáil propaganda week after week. We had an example of attempted Government interference withThe Farmers' Journal. It was fully debated in the House and there is no need to comment further on it. It was direct interference with a free and independent Press. The only way the Government can influence newspapers is to withdraw or to curtail Government advertisements. Many provincial and some national newspapers have been influenced by the amount of Government interference——
The Deputy said "withdrawal".
I said the newspapers would be influenced by the degree, the amount of Government advertising. Need I spell it out? Can I make it any clearer?
It does not seem very relevant.
I was endeavouring to explain to the Parliamentary Secretary that we have a free Press but that we have not a free radio and television, despite our best efforts to have it free. One way the Government can get at the Press is to interfere with Government advertising. That is the way they can interfere, particularly with a newspaper that cannot stand on its feet, that must depend on Government advertising for its existence. I should like to see every newspaper in the country standing on its feet without dependence on Government advertising. If newspapers find this type of interference they should immediately consult their local TDs so that the matter might be highlighted in this Parliament. If there is not freedom of the Press to convey to the public what takes place in Parliament, then Parliament itself becomes a farce. I would go even further and say that even more important than Parliament is a free Press.
In theNationalist and Leinster Times of Carlow, an editorial last week referred to a speech by the Taoiseach last autumn to a group of western journalists. The Taoiseach said:
From a fair and balanced presentation of news and views and from free expression of opinions, a healthy democracy draws its life and strength.
It is not without good reason that the Press has become known as the Fourth Estate, for it shares in government and is an essential element in the democratic process. If the Taoiseach expressed those views to the western journalists last autumn why is there now a necessity, less than 12 months after that speech, to curtail the activities of the journalists by this section, to have them, so to speak, branded as criminals for encouraging and advocating the breaking of the law? Was this speech not a piece of hypocrisy? Did Deputy Tunney not describe it exactly a few moments ago when he referred to speeches being made by politicians to obtain the goodwill and favour of journalists? What other purpose had that speech? If there was any sincerity in the speech, if the Taoiseach meant what he said to the western journalists, would he have allowed the Minister for Justice to come into Parliament with this section which is an instalment, and a major instalment, towards the ending of democracy as we know it?
It is only right that the Taoiseach should let us know what has changed his mind in relation to Irish journalists since last autumn, because he is not paying the same tribute to the western journalists in this section of the Bill presented here by the Minister with his knowledge and consent. Although anything can happen in Government circles today, it is most unlikely that the Minister for Justice brought in this Bill without the Taoiseach's knowledge.
I wonder what did the Taoiseach mean by saying that the Press shared in government. This is an occasion on which he should be invited to tell Parliament what he meant. Did he mean that the Press was to be used by the Government to advocate whatever the Government wanted, be it right or wrong? If the Press is to be free the Government must act reasonably and in accordance with the precepts of Christian charity. Do the Government want the Press to cover up the failures, to putty the cracks, to bolster up the dishonesty, to participate in an act of hypocrisy? Is that what the Taoiseach meant when he spoke to the western journalists about the Press sharing in Government?
The Press is free and we want to keep it free. If freedom has been taken away from radio and television we now have an opportunity of demanding that the Press be left free to judge for itself what is right without any interference or dictation, without threats, without having the rights of journalists and of management being overthrown through the frequent visits of the summons server.
How can there be a free Press unless the heavy hand of the law is lifted and the Press allowed to continue to enjoy the privileges which the Press in this country and in our neighbouring country of Britain have enjoyed for over 100 years? By this Forcible Entry Bill Parliament is selling out. We have no right or authority to barter the rights and privileges of citizens. We have no right to prevent the free exercise by a man of his profession. This is the first time I have seen a section of this kind in a Bill which makes it a criminal offence for a man to discharge the duties of his profession. One can encourage and one can advocate. If this section is passed it will be the thin edge of the wedge. Democracy has taken a beating over the past two years in this country. A section of this kind in this Bill which no one wants is a threat. There is a threat of fine and imprisonment for newspapers and journalists. This is one of the most serious and determined blows against freedom which we have had since the State was founded. If we were doing our jobs properly we Deputies should avail of every week-end to tell the public that, even though the Taoiseach praised the integrity of journalists and said that a free Press was the right of a democracy, there has been a change in the meantime. There is an effort to kill the Press, to stifle the truth and to prevent the public from getting the facts. The one way that can be done is to hold a threat of jail or of fines over the heads of eminent journalists of the highest integrity. If there are Deputies in the House who think that is good law they are entitled to their opinion in accordance with their intelligence. This might be good law for Bulgaria or State behind the Iron Curtain or for Fidel Castro. It might be good law in a country where there is no free parliament. In the Republic where we pride ourselves on whatever freedom we have, we find at the end of the long summer session that Fianna Fáil are rushing through legislation to make criminals of journalists and pressmen who believe in the exercise of their own discretion in accordance with the ideals and high standards of their profession.
I hope that Deputy Fitzpatrick's amendment will be accepted. It appeals for the exclusion of radio and television from the terms of this section because if radio and television are not excluded the Press will be muzzled and journalists will be afraid to report. The Minister for Justice will use the full authority of the State to make journalists do what he wants them to do because he is a small, little man who likes to pull big and heavy weights. If the Minister gets a section like this passed, he will not hesitate to implement it. Radio and television can now be described as part of our lives. If those responsible for presenting true facts on radio and television are going to be stifled and gagged by a section of this kind, how can we expect impartiality in the future? How can we expect truth and facts? With this threat of forcible entry, it is only a matter of time before legislation is introduced to deal with farmers' organisations, tenants' associations and rent problems. The squatters are only being used as an excuse for the introduction of this section. They are non-existent. They are being used to stifle the Press. It is the aim of Fianna Fáil to stifle the Press. The Press brings the truth to our homes. The truth does not suit Fianna Fáil and in order to stifle it we are going to be branded as associates, advocates and encouragers of the breaking of the law, when we assist the squatters.
This Bill and this section of it are too serious to smile at or to joke about. The consequences are too serious to contemplate. I hope that an effort will be made by the newspapers to bring home to readers throughout the country what Fianna Fáil and the Minister for Justice are trying to do. This Parliament stands for the free expression of opinion by radio and Press. Fine Gael want that freedom maintained and encouraged while Fianna Fáil want to stifle it. Why do they want to stifle it in relation to forcible entry? Forcible entry is non-existent. The introduction of this section is a hoax. Fianna Fáil want to use this section for other activities. They want to prevent the public from getting the truth and the facts in relation to other more vital items. This section will be used when discussing other legislation so that they can say: "There is a precedent for a section of that kind in the Forcible Entry Bill. We will now have a section in a Bill to deal with tenants' associations. We will now put it into a Bill that it will be an offence to advocate that foreigners should not buy land here."
If a journalist were to condemn the purchase of land by foreigners and if a section such as this section were put into a land Bill, what would the situation be? Deputies have a grave responsibility. If I saw a land Bill coming in with a section which would prevent me from advocating or encouraging that foreigners should not buy land as they are doing, and have done, I would take a serious view of it. In relation to this amendment and this section I do not want the Government to be in a position to say that we already have it enshrined in the Forcible Entry Bill, that Parliament at the time did not take a serious view of it, because Parliament thought so lightly about it, because Parliament commenced to give away democratic rights, because Parliament did not value the freedom of the Press, because Parliament did not put a proper value on the integrity of Irish journalists and we let it through our hands. I do not want to see that happen and that is why I cherish the speeches which have been made here during the last 29 years.
With the exception of the Chair I believe I am the longest serving Member in this assembly at the moment. I have heard great men, who are not here now, speak in defence of democracy, the freedom of the Press and radio and freedom of speech. Is everything they have said from these benches to fade into insignificance as a result of a section which will immediately take away the right of the journalist to report the truth as he thinks fit and to give to his readers the truth as he finds it? The late Deputy James Fitzgerald Kenney, Deputy Richard Mulcahy, Deputy Dillon, the late Deputy William Norton, Deputy Corish's father and Deputy Dick Anthony, all spoke from these benches as we have been speaking tonight to prevent any Government from taking from our people the rights they have.
This Bill is taking from our people the right to read and hear the truth. How can there be anything more serious for Parliament to consider? We must deplore the act of any Government that tries to do that. We must decry the attempt of any Minister who comes into Parliament in the name of democracy and tells us that, by a section of a Bill uncalled for and unwanted, he is going to brand journalists and the management of newspapers as criminals.
Is it not time we sat up and realised that something is being taken from us by Fianna Fáil? They are depriving us of the right to truth through the medium of a free Press. This section is highly explosive so far as democracy is concerned. It is evilly conceived and put into this Bill with a bad intention. It is weighed down with advantages for Fianna Fáil so far as the stifling and muzzling of a free Press are concerned.
I have availed of every opportunity during the past 29 years of rising in defence of democracy. I believe in freedom to speak both inside and outside this House. I also believe in the right of a free Press to use their own discretion in reporting what I say. The day that Parliament loses its free Press is a day when Parliament becomes a farce and ineffective. The most important thing in the life of any democracy is the freedom of the Press. This section interferes with this right and yet the Minister for Justice wonders why we are delaying the House talking about a trivial little amendment that does not make any difference. He says that it is not important and may be ineffective. If that is the case why does he not take the section out of the Bill? Why does he not have confidence in journalists? Why does he not ask the Taoiseach what he meant when he said last autumn that the freedom of the press was the essence and the true life of a democracy.
There is a lack of dialogue between the Minister for Justice and the Taoiseach. They are walking in opposite directions. In order that they may have an opportunity of coming together might I recommend to the Minister for Justice that he seek from the Taoiseach's Office a script which must still be in existence, if it has not been shamefully destroyed within the past ten days, of the Taoiseach's speech to the western journalists. If a meeting could be called in the largest party room in the House and the Taoiseach was at the head of that meeting—provided, of course, that Deputy Blaney and Deputy Haughey were not available—he could instruct members of his party on what he really meant when he said to western journalists that a free Press was the essence and the true life of a democracy.
This is the most vital and serious problem which the House has debated for a long time. I trust that others who have a view to express thereon will express it. My own view is that this is a firm and determined nail in the coffin of democracy. It is a wrong section in a wrong Bill. It is aimed at doing a grave wrong to our people, who are lovers of freedom, whether it be freedom of speech or freedom of the Press. This is an effort on the part of Fianna Fáil to deny our people the right of freedom through the medium of the Press, radio and television. Such denial will meet with the greatest opposition possible outside this House. I call on every editor and on every journalist who is worth his salt to stand up now and to shake off the shackles of slavery and shake off the shackles of waiting for the £ from Fianna Fáil for advertising and do this country the good turn of informing the public of the grave national scandal that is involved in interfering with the rights of the free press. One way of drawing public attention to this suppression of the free Press is to have a black news day, that is, to have a day on which no news would be presented and then, the next day, tell the public that this had been done in order to draw their attention to the whim of the Minister for Justice, contrary to what the Taoiseach said, to regard them as criminals because they discharged their loyal duties of honesty and integrity in conveying the truth to the viewers and the readers of this country. This is a disgraceful Bill and this section is particularly disgraceful. I hope it will be amended in the manner in which the two Deputies have suggested but even if this amendment is accepted, the teeth are still not taken out of the section because these teeth are dangerous and can and will be used to the detriment of democracy and freedom of speech and viewing. Should the Bill be passed by the votes of Members of this Dáil, I hope that after the next election, when the present administration is replaced, no time will be lost in having this objectionable section removed from the Statute Book in order that we might be sincere in reinforcing the confidence of newspaper management and of the Press generally.
It is essential for the future of democracy that there be a free and healthy Press—a Press that would not be interfered with by the Garda, by the Minister for Justice or by the courts of law. At this late stage I appeal to the Minister for Justice to take his dirty hands—speaking politically—off the freedom of the Press and thereby permit the free operation of journalists in their efforts to provide the people with the truth. The Minister still has a little time left. If he does not do as I have asked, this measure will be regretted. I look on the Bill with disgust and contempt.
It is difficult to understand why the Minister for Justice and, indeed, why the Government have not yet got the message, not necessarily from those of us in Opposition, that this Bill is thoroughly unwelcome and undesirable. All the daily papers have commented on the Bill. In particular they have commented on section 4, an amendment to which is now being debated. I would commend to the Minister and to the Government the last sentence of a leading article that is published in today's issue of theIrish Press. To a large extent this reflects the sentiments not only of those of us who are in Opposition but of the people of the country generally. I quote:
Having the Dáil's time taken up with one easily alterable section of a Bill, whose retention is being fought for and against with the ferocity of a rear guard action in the field, will not help us to deal with these problems. Let us now have that suitable alternation, and let us get on with the Nation's business.
They refer to section 4. I take that as it is written and not as it might be interpreted by some members of Fianna Fáil as being a criticism of those of us in the Opposition who have spoken with such concern and at such length against the Bill and, in particular, against section 4. I have been a Member of this House for a number of years—not for as long as Deputy Flanagan—but I recognise the repetition of the tactics of a Fianna Fáil Government particularly when they want to push through legislation such as this. Their tactic is to try to stampede the Opposition into letting the Bill through without serious consideration. This Bill is being given serious consideration even though there are people who wail that the Dáil should be adjourned by now so that people might go on their holidays. People should be allowed to go on their holidays and the staff should be relieved but the ball is at the feet of the Minister for Justice who, I might remark, has shown scant respect for this House during the Report Stage of this particular Bill.
We saw a similar tactic in December last when the Government tried to rush through what they must now consider to have been an undesirable piece of legislation—the Prices and Incomes Bill. At that particular time they were so intent on trying to put the Bill through that, after we had voiced our objections to internment without trial and asked for a debate, we were told that we could swop a debate on internment without trial if we gave the Government the Prices and Incomes Bill before the Christmas adjournment in 1970.
In 1961 we witnessed the same sort of tactic when the Government for some unknown reason assembled Dáil Éireann by telegram in order that during what was a holiday period they might push through the Electricity Supply Board (Temporary Provisions) Bill. They blame the Opposition for having the Dáil sitting at this stage but I remember a time in 1948 when the tactics of Fianna Fáil speakers on certain measures at that time, not as serious in their content as this particular measure, succeeded in keeping the Dáil in session well into the month of August. There were no wailings then about the staff and neither was there any criticism of the Labour Party or of their association with the trade union movement. I do not know whether it is pride, vanity or pique on the part of the Government and in particular on the part of the Minister for Justice that we are still here because, as I said at the beginning, they must have got the message by now.
If the Press, radio and television are at all representative of the views of the people of the country, it must mean that if we do not have a majority of people in the Opposition to defeat this Bill it would be defeated overwhelmingly if it were put before the people in a referendum. There is no use Fianna Fáil consoling themselves that they have a majority of votes and that, consequently, the Bill will be passed. It must be remembered that the Opposition, whether Independent, Fine Gael or Labour, have a majority of support so far as votes are concerned as was reflected in the figures for the last general election. I do not wish to attribute motives to Fianna Fáil that are too sinister but they have been in office now for quite a long time. Like the Unionists in the North, I suppose they are determined by hook or by crook to hang on to that power. It appears to me that there is a very definite pattern when Fianna Fáil come to deal with people who annoy them, who get in their way or who irritate them. The usual solution of the Fianna Fáil Party is, as in legislation like this, bluntly to demand heavy fines or, failing that, to put them in jail. I have referred to the ESB (Temporary Provisions) Act providing that if workers did not conform to certain sections of that Act they could be put in jail. It meant that if they decided to withdraw their labour or not to accept a wage offer, for example, which was agreed on by a third party, if they refused to work for those wages, they would be put in jail. There were similar provisions in the Prices and Incomes Bill which the Government had the good sense to withdraw, or which the Government withdrew when they saw the success of the trade union movement with the employers in establishing a national wage agreement. We saw then proposed trade union legislation—the same tactic—if you do not do the will of the Government, as expressed in the Bill, we will put you in jail. We had this in the Criminal Justice Bill. I suppose one must be thankful that there was this upset in May, 1970, when a Minister for Justice was either dismissed or resigned. It was the last we heard of the Criminal Justice Bill. Despite all the defensive speeches at that time for that Bill and the speech made by the then Minister for Justice, Deputy Ó Móráin at a Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, there has not been one mention of it since.
I would appeal to the Government to regard this piece of legislation, particularly this section in the same light, to pocket their pride and their vanity and say at least: "We will defer consideration of this until the autumn session." I do not think anybody from the Fianna Fáil benches has attempted to stress the urgency of having this Bill passed before we adjourn for the summer vacation. We saw this attitude of Fianna Fáil trampling over their opponents or those who irritated them in protest marches by the farmers when, once again, and without legislation like this they put many of them in Mountjoy Jail. I do not think I could be regarded as a trouble maker or one who has ever advocated violence or breaking the law but the Government must recognise that there is such deep feeling not alone among Members of this House but among people in the country generally that they could be building up, are building up, will be building up a lot of trouble for themselves if they insist on going through with this legislation. Deputy O.J. Flanagan gave certain advice to the news media—the newspapers, television and radio. He told them what they should do. What he failed to realise, of course—I am sure the Press, radio and television realise it—is that if they take that advice under this piece of legislation they could find themselves in jail. I warn the Government and I warn the Minister for Justice that there will be a violent reaction because the people do not like to be persecuted. They will not be repressed and they will not be kicked around. This is what this legislation is all about.
There were people who talked about the Minister's intentions. A usual remark from the Opposition when one comes to consider legislation like this is: "Well, the present Minister may not implement the terms of it in full but some other Minister in five, ten, 15 or 25 years might." We have the reverse position now because, in my view, and I bear no malice against him, nor to any other Deputy in the House, one man who would employ that Bill to the very letter is the present Minister for Justice, Deputy O'Malley. That is the big danger that I see as long as he remains Minister for Justice or for as long as the Government decide that they will push this Bill through Dáil Éireann by reason of the fact that they have a majority of the Members of Dáil Éireann behind them. On the other hand, however, they have not a majority of the people behind them.
I do not know of any other law which has the same provision as that contained in section 4 of this Bill. I do not know of any section which attempts to muzzle Press comment and, mind you, it may be an interpretation of what the Press said, it may be somebody's interpretation as to what the writer of a leading article may think and it may come down to a case where the editor or journalist has a certain sentence with a question mark after it or an exclamation mark. It could be interpreted as advocating a particular offence described in this Bill.
I have no criticism to make of the Press. Our Party certainly have no criticism to make of the Press even though it is only fair to say that on very many occasions and maybe in the majority of cases, when there is general comment, we have been, so to speak, on the wrong end. I suppose we all have our favourite newspaper and I will not name mine now—it could be theIrish Press sometimes—but these are strong words from the Irish Independent, from their editorial on 17th June. It is headed “A Fascist Bill.” There are strong words in the Irish Independent. I think they mean it. I think it could not be said that they are anti-Fianna Fáil. I do not think it could be said that they have carried on a campaign against Fianna Fáil any more than any of the other newspapers in the country have carried on any sort of campaign against Fianna Fáil generally. On particular issues, yes, perhaps. This editorial of 17th June reads:
The Prohibition of Forcible Entry and Occupation Bill 1970, which was again debated in the Dáil yesterday, betrays certain disturbing fascist tendencies in our present administration. Three repressive proposals stand out: (a) the giving of powers of arrest without warrant to the Gardaí, (b) the placing of the onus of proving himself innocent on an accused,
It goes on like that. While that is regarded as fair comment and may be fair comment from those who do not agree with it, if this particular Bill becomes an Act and is signed by the President theIrish Independent can be heavily fined or its editor and those associated with the newspaper can be put in jail if this is reproduced after the President has signed the Bill. Deputy Davern shakes his head but this could be regarded as advocating and suggesting to people that it was a bad law, an unfair law, that it should be resisted. I have a similar quotation here from the Cork Examiner. I do not think I should delay the House by reading it fully because I am sure in my absence this has been quoted fully. Each one of the daily newspapers—the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Cork Examiner and the Irish Press has suggested that this is a bad Bill. The Irish Press, in particular, takes exception to and strongly criticises the Minister for his attitude towards the amendment now proposed to section 4.
Will the Deputy please give the reference?
TheCork Examiner dated 4th June, 1971, and the Irish Independent dated 17th June, 1971. It has been said that we are wasting the time of the House. So far as my party are concerned, there was no decision, tacit or otherwise, that there would be a filibuster. There was no decision whatever that the House should be unduly delayed. I can assure the House that those people who have made long contributions have carried out a tremendous amount of research because they feel so strongly about this Bill. I concede to the occupant on the front seat of the Government benches that his contributions on certain other amendments were excellent. However, apart from the contributions by the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister—both of which could be described as brief speeches —I cannot understand why there has not been a greater reaction in defence of this Bill, and in particular of this section, from Fianna Fáil members and especially from members of the Government.
There has been no such reaction. The Minister treats this House with scant respect. I do not know where the Minister is. According to a report recently it appears he was in some place in the Middle East or in Eastern Europe lecturing to people on peace and justice. I hope be told them about this measure and assured them he would not introduce internment without trial or reintroduce the Criminal Justice Bill.
There are many more important things we should be discussing in this House and this has been suggested by theIrish Press in an editorial today. We are talking about people squatting but we are not talking about people being exploited; we are not talking about the 250,000 people who are living below subsistence level; we are not talking about the 70,000 unemployed; certainly, we are not talking about the people in Dublin and in the provinces who are in urgent need of houses. The public should realise it is not the Opposition who determine what is to be discussed in Dáil Éireann. If we had our way we should sweep this Bill under the carpet. We would much prefer to talk about the unemployed, to talk about the situation in the north, and above all, we should prefer to talk about the provision of money in order to provide the houses that are so badly needed.
The argument relating to the letter members of the Labour Party, including myself, addressed to the Press requesting that they should not report the visit of the Springboks is a weak argument. We did not threaten the Press: we merely suggested that this might be an effective form of protest against a team and a group who were pro-apartheid. We did not say they should be fined, we did not say they should be put in jail. As fellow trade unionists we asked them to use their discretion and said that in our view the visit should not be given any publicity.
I suggest that the Government defer this Bill, or at least defer the inclusion of this section, and swallow their pride. We have had legal arguments from people qualified in the legal profession—I am not one of those people. Other defenders of the Bill on the Government side seemed to suggest that the Bill was designed to prevent squatting and the taking over of homes. I do not think I should go into great detail again on the attitude of the Labour Party in regard to squatting, particularly if it means that people jump the queue in regard to corporation houses. We do not think that is right but we say when this is done there is the ordinary law. In our view, and this view is shared by the majority of people, the law is sufficient in itself to correct any such transgression.
I am informed that the legal problems arising from squatting could have been handled by a change of court procedure and, I believe, this has been done in Britain. That country has a far greater problem in regard to squatting. I do not know if it is a bonus for Fianna Fáil or for the city commissioner, but my information suggests that there is less squatting in the city of Dublin today than existed six or 12 months ago. This may be due to the fact that the Government are making a contribution towards the provision of houses, but I do not know if this is the case. Although the problem in Britain appears to be much worse, they amended the rules of court relating to the procedure. I am informed the relevant Order is Order No. 113 of July, 1970, and it makes provision for obtaining possession more efficiently and more effectively —not the sledgehammer approach adopted in the Forcible Entry Bill. Senator Robinson pointed this out in the Seanad and she suggested that what we required in this instance was a new procedure. That procedure has been provided by the British Government.
Squatting in local authority houses is covered by the 1970 Act and the Minister for Local Government said this was sufficient. Therefore, why the necessity for this Bill and what is the purpose of subsection (1)? It is abundantly clear to us all that it is an attempt to muzzle the Press. Section 4 (1) is unnecessary because incitement already is an offence and we have had an example in the last two or three days of incitement being so regarded.
The Government are attempting to establish a more authoritarian State and this is one example. There is a pattern in the legislation introduced by Fianna Fáil and the manner in which they acted against trade unionists and farmers—now they are acting against the people they call squatters.
This is indicative on their part of distrust of the law and the courts and this section demonstrates their distrust of the Press.
It was not regarded as necessary in Britain to introduce new legislation and we operate more or less under the same law. So far as housing is concerned, we should tackle the problems that cause people to squat rather than squatting itself. It is fair to ask: would these people squat if they had houses? When people mention squatting, frequently the picture that is painted is one of undesirable people forcibly entering houses, of squatting and regarding the property as their own. In many cases—I will not say in the majority—these squatters are not in the real sense people who have no absolute right to be in the houses. In many cases they are relatives of the tenant who has died or relatives of people who have moved to another place but, in a moral sense, they do not regard that as squatting. They believe that, because they are related to the former tenant—in some cases that tenant may be a parent—they have some sort of right to be there. They do not do this with any criminal intent but if this particular piece of legislation passes through Dáil Éireann, they will be regarded as criminals.
This Bill, described by the Fianna Fáil Party as being against squatting, will go even further than it does in regard to people who are homeless. It could be used against other forms of social protest, protest I do not consider entirely undesirable. I certainly do not consider those who participate in protests by way of squatting to be criminals and I do not regard that activity as illegal. Would it be an offence, in a particular industry if trade unionists, who believed they were being treated unfairly by the boss, decided to sit in in the factory? We have had many examples of that, some here and some in other countries throughout the world. That is part of their protest. It is one of the ways in which they believe they can bring home to those who are their employers the justice of their case and the injustice of the attitude of the employer. This form of protest has been made and it has not been regarded as illegal. Some may regard it as undesirable but, in my view, they have just as much right to sit in as they have to picket outside. They are part and parcel of the industry and their stake is just as good and just as important in that particular industry as is the stake of those who supply the money.
We had the famous case in Stockholm where people protesting against a decision by the local authority to demolish trees protested by sitting in the trees. There are various forms of protest. We have had them in many of our seaside resorts, in some cases in undeveloped resorts. Is it suggested that this Bill will be used against people who honestly believe that an amenity should not be destroyed, who honestly believe that a right-of-way, say, should not be taken from them even though somebody can go back so many years and quote some particular Act to show that it is not a right-of-way and can never have been because it has been in the possession of this family or that family for generations? I honestly believe people are entitled to make a peaceful protest against incursions on amenities that have been enjoyed by them and by generations before them.
I believe that, despite the law, people must have the right to protest against the demolition of buildings, for instance. People protested successfully in recent times in one particular case. I believe they have the right to protest against the destruction of amenities which they believe should be preserved. I believe people's voices should be heard much more often. It surprises me at times that people should appear to be so docile. We are supposed to be a nation of rebels and revolutionaries. On the other hand, we are told we are a democracy. Democracy, as far as the people are concerned, is exercised only once every three or four years when an election comes around and they vote for the candidates of their choice under the system we have of proportional representation.
Let no one suggest I am instigating people to break the law but I will always defend the right of people to make peaceful protest. They are entitled to do that. What has been described as one of the most democratic States in the world, Switzerland, consults the people very often. It is not just left to 74 people to make the decisions. Here the only decision the people make is on election day when they decide whether or not Deputy O'Kennedy, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, Deputy Davern, Deputy Tunney or myself will be in this House and, if there is a majority on one side, they make all the decisions for the next three or four years. I do not believe that is right. I do not believe that is real democracy. I do not say there should be mob law, that the people should take over, but regard should be had to their views. Fianna Fáil cannot pretend or protest that they are the sole custodians of what the people want. One of their famous leaders once said that, when he wanted to know what the people wanted, he looked into his own heart. With all due respect to him, I do not think he could understand the mood of the people in all situations by just looking into his own heart.
Apart from squatting, section 4 prevents comment. Section 4 attacks the freedom of the Press, provides for guilt by association and provides that a person is guilty until he is proved innocent. I believe the existing law governing incitement is quite sufficient. Why then this new section? If it is a crime to squat then it is a crime to incite. I do not know what guilt by association can mean or how it will be interpreted. Does it mean that if some journalist is reported as having encouraged or advocated something then everybody associated with him will be guilty of the same offence? Does it mean that the sub editor, the compositor and every person employed in that particular newspaper office will be guilty by association? Does it mean, and it did mean this in trade union legislation proposed by the Fianna Fáil Party, that all the members of a trade union can be held responsible for some particular act merely because they were members of the trade union? Does it mean that if a football pitch is invaded everyone who goes on to the pitch will be regarded as guilty by association or guilty of forcible entry. That is what is provided in this piece of legislation.
Would the Deputy clarify a point? The Deputy suggested that section 4 (1) attacks the freedom of the Press.
Would the Deputy point out to the House where the Press or the freedom of the Press is mentioned in this Bill?
I presume the editor is a person.
But the Press as such, as a special category, where is it mentioned in this legislation?
Let me repeat the editor is a person and it does not specify whether or not it is oral or written advocacy.
I take it then the Deputy and all who argue like him are concerned only with the Press and not with individuals?
It applies to everybody.
The debate seems to be confined to the freedom of the Press.
Is the Press mentioned anywhere in this Bill?
Is the Press excluded then?
Should they be excluded any more than the ordinary individual who commits certain offences?
They should be exempt from offences?
Accept our amendment.
It is not often we get communications from the National Union of Journalists. This letter was addressed to every Member of Dáil and Seanad Éireann. Deputy Tunney suggested that all those who are in the newspaper world are not above reproach. He may not have used that word, but he said we should not regard them all as paragons of virtue.
I said they were all persons, all human beings.
The Deputy said they were not all paragons of virtue. Is not that a fair assessment of what the Deputy said?
I said they were all human beings, they were all persons.
And, as such, fallible.
Male and female. What an amazing revelation!
Perhaps Deputy Tunney while he cannot do it now could, on some other part of the Bill, give us the benefit of his views on the submission made by the NUJ because they do not lightly produce letters like this. They should be heard. They have pointed out the dangers not only to their newspapers but to themselves. Deputy Tunney is particularly interested in them. They are very worried about their position in the event of their reporting certain incidents or contributing an article or a column to a newspaper on certain topics. They do not take up the attitude they have adopted now lightly. For that reason their views should be considered by the Minister for Justice. We cannot get any view from the Minister, even by way of interjection, because he is lost for the past two weeks.
I hope we shall not get to a stage that has been reached in other countries such as Portugal where all news is censored. This Bill does not say that all news should be censored but it is a beginning. How far Fianna Fáil will go in other legislation I do not know. In Portugal, all news, all editorials are censored and, in fact, everything going into a newspaper there must get the censorship stamp. Surely we shall not begin to embark on that sort of course. As I have said, the editorials produced in theCork Examiner on 4th June and in the Independent on 17th June could not—I defy anybody to say otherwise—be produced if this Bill becomes law.
It may be a vain boast but I want to say this. Politics have been changing rapidly in this country. Nobody knows when there will be a general election. Many people think that because we are Members of this House we should know approximately when the election will be. I do not know when it will be and as far as this party is concerned we do not care how soon. But if we have any say in the next Parliament—Deputy Davern can note this date for the record, 27th July, 1971, at three minutes past ten—if the Labour Party have any say in the matter, this Bill if passed by this House will be repealed.
I intend to be very brief but I should like to refute much that has been said by many Opposition Deputies and which is completely designed to mislead the publc in regard to this Bill. As the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy O'Kennedy, stated there is no reference whatever to the Press or to radio or to television in section 4 which this amendment purports to deal with. An argument has been put up there that members of the Press are above all suspicion, that they are totally immune from any law. Any member of the Press is an ordinary citizen and the Press has its black sheep as well as politics or any other walk of life. It is just as likely that a small minority of the Press will be as guilty as some of the people who would attempt to disrupt law and order. These are the people the Bill is intended to deal with, those who would try to usurp the rights of others or take over the property of others.
I am a great believer in the saying that a man's home is his castle. If he has paid for that home, or if he is working hard for that home which probably will not be paid for until he is 65, then by heavens he has every right to defend that home by any means according to his own strength and resources. We have Deputies, not on this side of the House, who guard their homes with alsatians. Is that an anti-squatting measure? In view of the fact that legislation is reportedly being brought in in Britain to deal with these savage hound dogs, I wonder are they licensed. The interesting point is that those who presume to tell us that we are introducing fascist legislation here are themselves—one or two of them at least—taking private steps to deal with any squatters or intruders using their own means.
I have not even a cat at home.
I am not talking about the Deputy but I should not like to walk into his house in the middle of the night.
Give us some examples.
Deputies do not really want me to, do they?
Go on, do.
No, I shall tell the Deputy in confidence, elsewhere.
Will the Deputy deal with the amendment?
Deputy Dockrell has a poodle.
Deputy Davern has a few squatters on the Rock of Cashel.
And he does not need to tell us what their names are.
If the Deputy knew anything about Tipperary he would know that we have many relations spread over many areas and they are not all of the same name.
The amendment here would seem to set people in the Press, radio and television above the ordinary citizen. This is totally immoral in legislation as far as I am concerned. The fact that a man, because of this amendment might advocate the possession of some property by forcible means on the street corner and be prosecuted for so doing but would be allowed to go on television and radio where he would gain the ears and minds of millions of people and would not be prosecuted is totally immoral. This is peculiar in that the Fine Gael Party a fortnight ago were asking for law and order in this country. They asked the Government to enforce law and order effectively. Now they oppose this Bill which will deal with some of those who would attempt to usurp the rights of citizens. It is interesting to note that the amendment says:
... after "who" to insert "verbally (otherwise than on radio or television)".
If he writes it, it is all right: if he stands on a platform and says: "I am going to advocate something and I want you to do this with your full hearts and souls" and then hands out a leaflet and says: "That is what I want you to do", he is not liable to prosecution. But the innocent person who may stand up, not being as clever as some of the backroom boys in these organisations are, may jeopardise himself by being misled by those concerned. I have no legal connections but there are some legal Members in the House, particularly on the Opposition benches, and I ask them to look again at their amendment. To me it seems totally inconsistent to be putting some sections of the community on a pedestal and granting them diplomatic licence, as it were, to do or say as they wish. The Press is not always proper and correct in its editorials even though it may agree or disagree with us. They are not bibles and have no right to assume they should be. I see nothing in this Bill dealing with the freedom of the Press. I agree with the whole concept of squatting in the Bill and I am sure 100 per cent of the party agree with it——
Agree with squatting?
Prevention of squatting. It is all right for Deputy O'Connell to talk because he does not know what it is like to live in a small house or flat when he has a mansion with a swimming pool in Ballyfermot.
Personal references should not be made.
He lives in Inchicore, not in Ballyfermot.
I am only a country boy and do not know Dublin that well.
It does not matter. It is only an extension of Ballyfermot.
Deputy Corish tried to infer that this Bill and other legislation was to deal with people who would protest. There is nothing whatsoever in this Bill about protest, that is the ordinary, recognised protest that we see every day, but it is to deal with those who would presume to use militancy or brute force. I speak with particular reference to two organisations who seem to make a full-time occupation of urging others to do their dirty work or to implement their ideas for them but who themselves stay in the background. Deputy Corish also mentioned a case where somebody was charged with inciting. I think we all know who the person is. I do not know whether Deputy Corish was for or against it but the impression I got was that he was against the idea of that man being charged with inciting.
That man by his actions may cost the North Tipperary ratepayers £1 million or more—an increase of more than £4 in the rates.
There should not be references to cases that could besub judice.
There is a deliberate plan in this House by Opposition Deputies to mislead the people totally and to obstruct legislation, and indeed, to usurp the time of the House. They are going on a joint protest tomorrow night. I do not know if the Opposition in the House plan to do so but those in opposition outside the House plan to march to Aras an Uachtaráin tomorrow night and to ask An tUachtarán not to sign the Bill. In other words, they recognise that the Bill will be passed in this House but they are obstructing it so that they can disrupt everything, including legislation which could have been piloted through the House by now. This is a totally irresponsible attitude. Inasmuch as people who have led campaigns outside the House have also led other campaigns, this would add to the long list of degrees they have for irresponsibility and lack of interest in the nation as a democracy.
A question was raised—again in connection with Deputy Corish's reference to the Constitution and the type of democracy practised in this country—with regard to the voting system. That system has been accepted for a long time. I do not think that matter should have been brought up on this Bill because it is recognised that the majority in this or any other House of Parliament in the world have the right to govern for the people who elected them to office.
The fugitive is welcome. Does the Minister know his way in?
We should accord a warm welcome to the Minister at 10.15 p.m.
The question has been raised of guilt by association. There was an instance near my home town of squatting, of a forcible entry.
It is a pity the Bill was not passed.
It is an awful pity that it was not. Somebody went into a house which he had not been allocated.
He stayed in that house for a number of months. Finally, a court order had to be obtained.
Was it a local authority house?
He could be dealt with under the existing legislation.
He was. I am referring to this in the context of guilt by association. I know the person concerned was not capable of doing these actions by himself but he was misled by one or two individuals who have no other interest than to disrupt the system of the urban council in a very small town and to disrupt the ordinary political thinking whether of Fine Gael, Labour or Fianna Fáil, for their own political advantage.
The case of the Maggot Durcan.
The Maggot Durcan was respectable whereas the person I am talking about was not.
Deputy Davern. Others may contribute later if they wish.
I should like to make the point in regard to the question of guilt by association, that those who would incite others or would urge others, who are the instigators of squatting and forcible entry, are the people that should be covered in the Bill because it is often the case that the individuals who actually occupy the houses are a very innocent type of people. I do not know whether it is their mental capacity or other circumstances which may result in their being led on. The persons who lead them are the persons who, in my opinion, are far more guilty. This is obvious to many of the Fine Gael Deputies and, indeed, to some of the Labour Deputies.
The question of censorship has been raised in connection with this Bill. The Opposition know—each and every Deputy knows—that we are not any different from them as to where we come from, what we come from and whom we know and speak to. We are not Hitlers any more than they are. If this matter is raised, I must say that, as far as I am aware, the only Government ever in the history of this State to intern a journalist in Southern Ireland or to commit a journalist to jail was the Cumann na nGaedheal Government.
We do not want you to do it.
That was a member of theIrish Press at that time.
Not because he was a journalist.
Because he failed to divulge what he termed privileged information. It was the Cumann na nGaedheal Government that did it at that time.
(Cavan): Give us particulars of the case.
Could we have the gentleman's name for the record?
No, I will not name the person in the House.
(Cavan): I did not think the Irish Press was in existence at that time.
A man for whom I have much respect, Mr. James Dillon, a former Member of this House, any time they disagreed with him, used to call theIrish Press Pravda. The accusation cannot come across again. There is a volley of false words coming across from that side of the House. It is completely false coming from that side of the House, when the former Deputy James Dillon called the Irish Press Pravda.
(Cavan): Give us particulars of the prosecution.
I will let you know all that later on. I do not want to shame you here in public.
The point is that the members of the Opposition are accusing us of introducing facist legislation, of censorship of the Press. There is not one word in that Bill about Press, radio or television. If any member of the Opposition can find in section 4 the words "Press", "radio" or "television" mentioned——
You will vote with us.
I have often been sick but never that sick. Not one of those gentlemen—and I use the word generously—can find "radio", "Press" or "television" there. They know it to be totally untrue that we aim in any way to interfere with the freedom of the Press. Indeed, the accusation has been made that the Press who attend this House will not be allowed to report any statement that a Deputy makes that may be against any Government action in respect of legislation that they introduce. This is a deliberate and totally irresponsible attempt by Opposition Deputies to bring down the House and the reputation and standard of the House. Not least in their minds is the object of bringing down the Government.
I do not believe there are Deputies on the opposite benches who agree with this amendment. I know many of them are decent, honest, upright, just.
Deputy Davern should be allowed to make his own contribution.
I believe many of them are decent gentlemen but they are being misled by a certain section, by public opinion, by the Press, to bring in this amendment to try to oppose this Bill. They want to be the knights in shinning armour, be the heroes, be against the fascist Government, as they claim. Remember this much. Since 1932 we have had only two interrupted periods of Government. We have been accused before of being fascists and will probably be accused again. The more muck thrown at this Government, the more muck thrown at these benches, the more we like it because I can assure the Deputies opposite the people have never paid attention to them, to their muck or any other kind of dirt they try to throw at us. Wild, irresponsible accusations will never be listened to. It is a well known fact that the people on this side are of the people, by the people and for the people. Let there be no mistake about that.
You can fool some of the people all the time.
I cannot figure how the Deputy is getting away with it. The main thing is that there are Deputies sitting on those benches over there and they are totally in favour of this Bill. Those who have property in Dublin or who intend to develop property in Dublin are totally in favour of this Bill and of this particular section. We want to get at the backroom heroes of the so-called revolutionary groups in this country who try to usurp the rights of the people of this country.
I ask you now to put your votes where your mouths are and to vote for this Bill.
Why does the Deputy not do something about it? He has only another seven minutes to go.
Deputy L'Estrange is one of the people who asks for law and order, who cries hypocritically every week asking for law and order. He asks us to deal with those who try to usurp the rights of democracy. I am asking the Deputy, if he is a responsible Member elected by the rate-payers, the rentpayers and by people who have some foothold in this country, to support this Bill and protect their rights for the future.
The Fine Gael reaction on amendment No. 6 was very interesting. My colleague, Deputy Hogan, over there is a decent man and I know he will be forced through the Division Lobbies to vote for this. He will want to protect his bit of property the same as all the rest of us will and indeed to protect the rights of others in this country to own their own homes and to have them.
That should keep the Deputy going until 10.30.
He must be censored.
It is in connection with the collection for Holycross Abbey and has nothing to do with the Deputy.
Maybe it has. Has the Deputy got a tip for Galway Races?
I can assure the Deputy he will not enjoy Galway Races.
He could get a pairing with the Deputy.
If Deputies on the on the opposite benches who would agree with me that any member of the Press who incites people to disobey the law, encourages them to take over property privately held or publicly held by the corporation or by the Government, who would entice them to enter those premises, take them over, is right, or would the Deputy say he is to be immune from any law in this country or immune from the courts in this country?
He might be right.
If Deputies on the opposite benches can agree with that then what they have been saying a few weeks ago is totally inconsistent with the views of the people who have elected them here. Those who try to usurp the rights of others do not deserve mercy. This Bill is specifically to deal with those people. Each and every one of the Deputies opposite knows in his heart and soul it is to deal with subversives who would try to use innocent people to take over office buildings, disrupt economic development, disrupt ordinary progress in the country. These people are the people the Deputies over there are trying to protect under this Bill. Any newspaperman, anyone who advocates that these people are right, is equally as guilty as the person who enters the building. The vast majority of journalists are looked up to and they exercise a wide influence in this country. I know what the idea of most of the Deputies behind this is. It is so that they will get a good coverage in the papers each week for the rest of the year.
You have to look up to them.
Do you invite the Press into the Government meetings?
At least we invited the Press into our Ard-Fheis. We did not have any secret sessions in case Deputy Dr. Cruise-O'Brien would make as big a blunder as he did the year before about his Cuba thing.
(Cavan): You rejected Deputy Boland.
I recognise that the 17 Members of the Labour Benches are individuals. They have no constructive policy and never will have. In fact, there will be far fewer than 17 of them after the next general election so it will be far easier to deal with them on a Whip basis. If there is any truth in the rumour that Deputy Barry Desmond is going to Cork we will give him a push on the way through if he thinks he will get there.
That is not what he will get when he arrives there.
It might be looked on as forcible entry into Cork.
The Deputies opposite who will vote for this amendment know in their hearts and souls that they are wrong. They know that they are ensuring that the people who for so long got away with the offences they have been committing in this country will continue to get away with them.