asked the Minister for Justice if he has any proposals to amend the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, 1976; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Criminal Law Jurisdiction Legislation.
As I have made clear to the House on a number of occasions previously, I could not undertake to indicate, by way of reply to a Parliamentary Question, the legislative proposals that I might have in any particular area. In accordance with normal practice, any legislative proposals which I may have will be announced in the ordinary way when they have been considered by the Government.
I cannot thank the Minister for that reply. It is not very helpful. Would he agree that since the introduction of the Extradition (Amendment) Act of 1987 the operation of the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act of 1976 has become extremely cumbersome and difficult? On 13 December last, on a particular extradition case which was decided by the Attorney General, that is the case of Patrick Ryan, the Taoiseach said: "The charges which have been brought against Patrick Ryan are of a most serious kind, and they should be investigated by a court". He went on to say that the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act should be applied. I am simplifying what he said. It is an absolute public disgrace.
I wonder if it is necessary to refer to a particular person.
Four months later, we have had no news of any description.
I have to advise the House that the time available under Standing Orders for dealing with priority questions is exhausted.
I just want to make one quick point.
Am I to have an opportunity to reply?
We shall hear the Minister also. The Deputy has posed a question or questions. I should like——
The most important part of what I want to say is that the Extradition (Amendment) Act of 1987 imposes an obligation on the Attorney General to satisfy himself that there is sufficient evidence. We then have a cumbersome situation in that, if he decides for some reason that there is sufficient evidence but does not endorse the warrant, the DPP must go through the same process again.
I am sorry, but these are not questions at all.
Would the Minister not agree that we should amend that extradition Act?
Deputy Seán Barrett knows better than anybody in this House that the decision as to whether proceedings should be instituted in a particular case is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Prosecution of Offenders Act of 1974, which provides for the establishment of the Office of Public Prosecutions expressly provides in section 2 (5) that the Director of Public Prosecutions shall be independent in the performance of his functions. The requirement for the consent of the Attorney General for certain proceedings, which is contained in section 20 (2) of the 1976 Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Act, does not apply to the offences alleged in this case.
Could I just say——
I call Question No. 5.
In conclusion, please——
I am sorry, Deputy Barrett, I have called the next question.
The Taoiseach did say that there was a serious charge to be answered.
The next question, please.