Criminal Justice Bill 2004: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I refer to the Morris tribunal. The judge is fearless and his report points up serious misdemeanours on the part of gardaí in Donegal. Perhaps the time has come to consider that the circumstances are exceptional enough to sanction legal aid for the McBrearty family because, clearly, the tribunal would benefit from proper legal analysis of the issues facing Frank McBrearty and his family.

However, I am concerned when everybody criticises the Garda because it is an exceptional public agency and morale is key to the proper discharge of its functions. Gardaí put themselves in harm's way to protect the public and their work is associated with constant danger. They put their lives at risk at times and it should be borne in mind that, while their behaviour should be analysed and scrutinised with due rigour, the Garda is a different public agency and its work is different from anything else.

When I contributed previously to the debate on this legislation, I raised concerns about Part 3. I refer to the issue of anti-social behaviour orders, which are the subject of wide debate. They are good in theory and I support the inclusion of such orders in the legislation, which the Minister stated he would address later by way of amendment. However, a clear and simple definition of "anti-social behaviour" must be provided and obvious dangers must be avoided such as creating a charter for bullies in local communities. People forget that the Minister has proposed the equivalent of a yellow card for offenders so that they know if they reoffend, they face the possibility of criminal sanction but if they do not, there is no danger of them being criminalised. People have the will, volition and capacity to change their behaviour and the intention of a punishment, sanction or penalty is to change a person's behaviour.

Some of the opposition to the ASBOs, particularly where children are concerned, is fair but some is unreasonable. A recent editorial in Hot Press compared ASBOs to kneecapping by provisional republicans. It said it was a State version of such street thuggery because the Garda would act as judge, jury and executioner. That is way over the top and that analysis is hardly worthy of comment, except that Hot Press goes into detail about its concerns about ASBOs.

I agree with the need to review whether such orders should apply to children. Much has been said about the non-implementation of parts of the Children Act 2001, which is a concern for everybody. For example, the power of a court to bind parents to the peace has not been provided. That has been raised by many members of the public. The Act also provides for a parental supervision order to be imposed by a court but that has not been implemented. This would require parents to engage in parenting courses and courses to deal with addictions. Such orders would address concerns being expressed by the public without going down the road of using ASBOs for children.

Restriction of movement orders were also provided under the Children Act 2001 but they have not been implemented. These would allow a court to restrict the movement of a child through a curfew if he or she has committed an offence. If these provisions were implemented, people's concerns would be reduced. Until the Children Act 2001 is fully implemented, the further criminalisation of children should be avoided. I do not support ASBOs for children but if they are introduced for them, they should only be used as a last resort.

Many members have commented on the success of juvenile liaison officers throughout the system. Community service orders should also be considered for 16 and 17 years olds. They are provided for in legislation but they have not been implemented. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 identifies offensive conduct and threatening behaviour as a crime. In addition, when a person is brought before the District Court, he or she can be found guilty of an offence but the judge can exercise discretion to impose the Probation Act, which means no criminal offence has been recorded but if a further offence is committed within a certain period, the offender faces criminal sanction. This is a "yellow card" procedure in existing legislation. To think we are dealing with an empty canvas would be wrong.

Regarding Part II of the Bill, the issue of a DNA database was discussed at a conference hosted last week by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Such a database is not included in this Bill but the Minister said on Second Stage that he hoped the Law Reform Commission would table proposals on the matter. I agree with this suggestion absolutely. I attended a lecture approximately ten years ago by the famous defence lawyer, Mr. Barry Sheck, who defended OJ Simpson. He described how a DNA database is of benefit to not only prosecution lawyers but also defence lawyers. I would welcome such a database. A forensic scientist in the UK commented that, so successful has such a database been in Scotland, police there cannot remember what it was like trying to prosecute and resolve investigations without one.

The Criminal Justice Bill and the Garda Síochána Bill are major Bills that will have significant impact on our criminal justice system. The latter is reaching its final Stages in the Oireachtas and will likely pass all Stages by the summer recess. However, as has been said this morning, the Minister has promised a debate in the House on the second report of Mr. Justice Morris. That the changes proposed in the Garda Síochána Bill are thoroughly reviewed in light of this report is important. Having said this, the Bill goes some way towards answering Mr. Justice Morris's criticisms, particularly by way of the introduction of the Ombudsman Commission and the Garda inspectorate.

I welcome the development of a new emphasis on community policing as it will be an invaluable tool for the criminal justice system. This is a long-term project and its benefit for crime figure reductions may not be seen for many years to come. The Minister and this Government have been losing the battle against crime until now. Muggings, robberies, increased drug trafficking and organised crime frighten and terrify many of our citizens. The Government has been in power for almost eight years. While in Opposition during the two years prior to that time, all the current Minister spoke about was zero tolerance regarding crime. However, only after eight years has it been realised that crime must be tackled at its source and that preventive measures are the most successful. Hence, the new emphasis on community policing.

No one can accuse the Minister of not introducing enough legislation. We have buckets of it, most of which is not workable and of little effect because it is not resource-based. Consequently, it has no effect on real criminals. The new reliance on laws and regulations is having an effect on ordinary citizens. A phrase that is commonly used by an increasing number of ordinary citizens is that we are living in an open prison. This feeling is not due solely to legislation and amending legislation being introduced by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The feeling has been created by the raft of legislation introduced by the Minister alongside what appears to be more and more regulations springing from the Departments of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Agriculture and Food, Finance, Transport and so forth on a daily basis.

This perception is not helped by regulations and legislation that are badly thought out. Initially, we had legislation that allowed our children to eat with us in pub restaurants until 9 p.m. only. Some months after this, the time changed to 10 p.m. and, by the same stroke of the all powerful Minister's pen, the summer season was extended from 1 May to 30 September. The Minister also introduced a raft of regulations to clear up any misunderstandings there may have been about the original legislation. "Separate area" became a legal term. Under 18s could not hold a non-alcoholic disco in a bar or nightclub but, several months later, it became allowable if a new raft of regulations introduced by the Minister could be understood and implemented. We are reaching the stage when hoteliers, youth workers and gardaí must be experts in law to keep up with these changes and interpretations.

One of the most serious problems for motorists is the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads. The insurance industry blames these for the massive increases in insurance prices, which affect everyone's personal budgets and the country's competitiveness as a whole. The penalty points system was to be the solution. Legislation was introduced and worked for a few months but the Government again failed to properly think out the legislation and provide the necessary resources to enforce it. The number of fatalities and injuries increased gradually until it is now as high if not higher than it was before the introduction of the points system.

New speed limits were introduced recently without reclassifying regional roads. Many parts of the country do not have national primary roads or motorways. In some cases, they have exceptionally good regional roads, on which the general public is now obliged to drive at 80 km/h on journeys of up to 200 kilometres. Other smaller byroads where speed limits should be 50 km/h or less have speed limits of 80 km/h. When one raises this issue, the answer given is that these roads are being reclassified, most of which should be done by Christmas. How can the general public have respect for and confidence in the law when its experience of these Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats legislators is that they will probably get something wrong the first time or will not provide the resources to implement the regulations and laws they introduce?

In light of this background, I will address some of the issues arising from this Bill. Following the collapsed Liam Keane murder trial, there were calls from the general public, the Garda and the Opposition for more powers for the Garda Síochána. This call occurred despite having introduced much significant legislation due to our history and successive Governments' efforts to quash terrorism. After the murder of Veronica Guerin, there were more calls for greater powers to be given to the Garda and for more legislation. Further legislation followed the atrocity in Omagh. One would think that these laws together would be sufficient to contain the lawlessness we face today but such is not the case. The general public and the Minister himself feel that events are out of control. Murders, robberies and muggings are constantly in the headlines. The Minister continues to get the support from a large section of the public and the Opposition because everyone hopes that what the Minister refers to as a final and comprehensive package of legislation will solve the problem eventually.

In desperation, the Opposition and sections of the general public support this Bill. Due to this feeling, people are prepared to accept laws that infringe upon their individual rights to a certain extent. Some aspects of this Bill seem reasonable in current circumstances. There is a statutory power to preserve crime scenes, a general power regarding search warrants and the curtailing of the right to freedom by increasing detention periods to up to 24 hours for arrestable offences. On closer examination, these are worrying changes.

A person's home enjoys special status under the Constitution. It is protected by Article 40.5, which clearly states that "the dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and shall not be forcibly entered...". There is no doubt that taking the power from the Judiciary, an independent arm of the State, and giving it to superintendents of the Garda Síochána considerably weakens this constitutional provision. It puts power totally in the hands of law enforcers, with no judicial or lay involvement. This may work well when the institutions of the State and the Garda Síochána are beyond reproach. However, there have been times in the past — and perhaps there may be in the future — when this was not the case. It is at times of difficulty that constitutional rights protect the ordinary citizen from potential abuses by the State and its law enforcement agencies.

The basic civil right to liberty will be eroded by the extension of detention periods. Again, this is not such a serious problem when organs of the State are beyond reproach. However, the right to freedom and the presumption of innocence are fundamental civil liberties designed to protect the ordinary citizen when State institutions are suspect or law enforcement excessive.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform admits that changes in the law allowing the Garda Síochána to take bodily samples, such as saliva, from those in custody will help to create a DNA database. I accept that this is a debate for another day and another Bill, as argued by the Minister, but the changes in this Bill are laying the foundation stones for a DNA database.

Section 15, part 3 is to be welcomed in the present circumstances. There is no doubt that subversive organisations and barbaric criminal gangs, not that there is any difference between them, have too often intimidated witnesses to such an extent that they fear for their lives if they appear in court to give evidence. As the Minister pointed out, the need for provisions of this nature was highlighted by the collapse of the Keane murder trial, when witnesses who had previously given statements to the Garda Síochána recanted and refused to give evidence against the accused in court.

However, agreeing to this provision violates the right of a person to confront his accuser. Powers like these should be used sparingly and only on a temporary basis and therein lies another problem. Once legislation is passed, it is seldom repealed. Most of the anti-terrorism Acts introduced over the years are still part of our legal system. One solution to the problem of the infringement of civil liberties that this Bill creates is to build in a clear provision that these sections will be thoroughly reviewed on a two yearly basis.

On section 30, the Fine Gael spokesman on Justice, Deputy O'Keeffe, has made it clear that the party does not believe that arms control should be dealt with in the context of this Bill. Fine Gael will, if necessary, introduce a Private Members' Bill to deal with the firearms issue in a far wider and more comprehensive manner.

On the face of it, section 29 appears to be reasonable in providing for on-the-spot fines for public order offences. The question is, however, what is a public order offence? There are many different interpretations. The Garda Síochána and judges disagree on this issue on a daily basis. Individual gardaí will differ in their understanding of what constitutes a public order offence. Some members of the Garda Síochána will maintain that a group of young people arriving into their home town, having won a match, singing and celebrating after dark, is a public order offence. Other members of the force would totally disagree with this. Therefore, very strict guidelines must be given to the Garda Síochána to ensure an even-handed approach to the issuing of on-the-spot fines.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has not clarified whether payment of an on-the-spot fine will result in a criminal or other record for the person involved. In this context, we are mainly dealing with young people, many of whom still live with their parents, are in education and dependent on their parents. Many more have full-time or part-time jobs. They might decide that, even though they consider themselves innocent, the easiest solution is to pay the fine. Then there would be no need for explanations to their parents and no risk of exposure in the local press. A record of any offence can have serious consequences for young people. It can affect their work, educational or travel prospects. I urge the Minister to examine these issues and confirm that the payment of on-the-spot fines will not create a record for the individual involved.

If the introduction of new laws would solve our law and order problems, then we would live in a crimeless society at this stage. We should look in other directions for solutions — better education, particularly at primary school level; better sporting facilities for young people; more gardaí on the streets; more community gardaí, well resourced and independent from the mainstream force; a re-vamp of the Garda training regime, to introduce more specialisation and professionalism; and more equipment and technology of all descriptions. Otherwise, we will perpetuate the myth that legislation will solve our problems.

I wish to share time with Deputy McGuinness.

I find it unusual to take part in a Second Stage debate on the Bill currently before the House because, having reviewed the Minister's speech on the matter, the legislation that eventually emerges from this process will include many new provisions, therefore changing much of the Bill. While I support the general thrust of the Bill as currently published, I am not willing to write the Minister a blank cheque for the issues he is concerned with or, for those that have been referred to in the media. Therefore, in addition to commenting on the provisions of this Bill, I will refer to additions that can be made to make it more effective.

Everyone agrees there is no acceptable level of crime and any fear of crime within a community is unacceptable. Unfortunately, despite the fact that levels of crime have fallen in recent years, people's expectations of being victims of crime continue to grow. For this reason, I am in favour of measures that will enable a more effective fight against crime. It is our job to make provision to protect people while, at the same time, we consider ways to successfully prevent crime and, more importantly, to prevent people becoming involved in criminal activity. In this context, I refer to some of the major issues included in the Bill before the House, especially as they relate to children.

A recent development in policing may be the most fundamental advance for communities for several years, namely, the increase in co-operation between the Garda Síochána, local authorities and community representatives. The development of joint policing committees is an excellent initiative for which I warmly compliment the Minister. These committees will provide a forum where the Garda Síochána and the local authorities can co-operate and work together to address local policing issues such as estate management, planning, traffic, street lighting and public order. Their role is to facilitate discussion on matters of local concern and to develop new strategies to combat problems.

I represent Dublin North West, where incidences of anti-social behaviour and low level crime have caused serious problems in some areas. However, contact among local residents associations, garda liaison officers and public representatives has been of tremendous benefit in combatting such offences. I regularly attend the Safer Ballymun and Safer Finglas meetings aimed at increasing local co-operation with the Garda Síochána and building trust in the authorities in the area. On both counts, they have been very successful. At these meetings, we have recognised that crime and anti-social behaviour are societal problems and therefore need to be dealt with by society as a whole. We have recognised that if we lumber the entire responsibility on to the Garda, we do ourselves and our community a grave disservice. In saying that, I also believe that Garda numbers and visibility are of the utmost importance. I am an ardent supporter of community policing, which has long been treated as a poor relation of the Garda services. In the past, community policing has lacked resources, promotional prospects and status within the force. If we are to keep the Garda on board in a real partnership with the community, we must ensure community policing receives as much funding and support as necessary. I know the Garda budget is now at an all-time high and I call on the Minister to ensure that funding continues and grows in order for community policing to flourish.

I compliment the Minister for introducing Operation Anvil. In the last two weeks in my constituency it has been successful in combating a number of issues that have been of concern to us for some time. While I do not wish to stray into the issues raised by the publication of the report of the Morris tribunal, it is imperative that every measure is taken to ensure that trust is restored and maintained in the Garda force.

I wish to deal with children in our criminal justice system. There has been much debate over the last two months regarding the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders or ASBOs. Before anyone gets into the rights and wrongs of this scenario, I wish to discuss how children are treated in our criminal justice system. The sad truth is that the Children's Court system is failing our young people. Rather than removing them from criminal activity it is causing them to enter an endless cycle of offending and detention. This is the awful reality that many people face every day. Many of my young constituents are caught up in this system, their families are affected entirely by it and I cannot let the opportunity pass by without discussing it.

A recent study of approximately 1,000 cases in the Children's Courts in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford has highlighted that a lack of support and early intervention for young offenders means that detention is not being used as a measure of last resort but rather as a measure of system breakdown. The report found that there has been a significant increase in detention rates from 10% to more than 20% in recent years, rising to almost 30% if suspended sentences are included. The majority of the cases in the study involved young males aged between 16 and 17 who tended to come from backgrounds of disadvantage and poverty. A range of problems was prevalent among the children studied, including mental health issues, behavioural problems and alcohol and drug addiction. Despite presenting with such problems, the courts did not appreciate the complexity of the issues facing the child in many cases. While few cases overall resulted in custodial sentences, many of the children were granted bail with conditions such as a curfew, restrictions on movement or a direction to stay away from alcohol and drugs. This is the type of restorative justice that we hope will stop children taking up criminal activity in the first place.

However, the reality is that this is not happening. The lack of bail support and lack of resources for the probation services means that many of these conditions are too difficult, time-consuming and too draining and are setting up young people to fail. If these children end up serving a custodial sentence, the possibility of them halting their criminal activity as adults is very slight. For example, if we look at figures from Trinity House in Lusk, which is one of the few links in the juvenile justice system that experts believe to be working, almost one half of the offenders there end up in adult prisons within six months of their release. Even if they avoid further detention, they often end up in health board care or become homeless. This is unacceptable and cannot continue.

Before we introduce another way in which our children may end up in the criminal justice system — through ASBOs — the Minister should ensure the Children's Court system is radically improved because it is currently failing children and us. Having spent 30 years in primary teaching, most of which was spent in youth work, I believe that 99% of young people are not intent on causing wanton damage even when they are playing loud music and wearing hooded tops. They can be intimidating but there is a big difference between that and being involved in anti-social behaviour.

There is growing concern about incidents of anti-social behaviour. In my constituency, I am aware of many vulnerable people, particularly old people, who are subjected to serious nuisance and forms of harassment, which can cause great distress. However, I also know that when it comes to resolving juvenile crime, it is best to use a holistic approach and keep everyone — gardaí, parents, community representatives and schools — involved. This is just a short list of the various groups that need to be involved in dealing with juvenile crime. We need to combat anti-social behaviour but we also need to provide a range of responses that can be tailored by the courts to meet the needs and circumstances of individual young people.

Where the behaviour of young people is difficult to manage or out of control but is not criminal, the Children Act 2001 already contains progressive measures to address this situation by diverting them from future criminal activity. Garda diversion programmes, family conferences and community sanctions are some of the many ways we can decrease anti-social behaviour and low-level crime. The Act should be fully implemented and resourced to allow this system to work. Finding resources can often be difficult but in 2002 the annual cost to the State of keeping a boy in Trinity House was nearly €250,000 and these funds could be better used by resourcing the Children Act.

I congratulate the Minister on his efforts thus far in introducing legislation to increase our fight against crime, increasing the Garda budget, introducing joint policing committees and supporting community policing. All these measures will certainly make the fight against crime more effective. While I support the thrust of the Bill, I urge the Minister to take the concerns of many Members about certain elements of it on board. I also ask him to consider the points I have raised about our current juvenile justice system and current legislation covering juvenile crime before introducing further ways to deal with these young people. I look forward to keeping a close eye on the debate on this Bill and as the debate develops, to seeing the fruits of this in the final Bill presented to the House.

In general I welcome the content of this Bill. The Bill has some aspects that I am concerned about and some aspects I would like to see debated fully. Some of the suggestions made by the Minister regarding additions to the Bill need to be teased out, perhaps on Committee Stage. This is where that will be done. The Minister and those who represent him here during this debate should take note of some of the concerns expressed and suggestions put forward in an effort to improve what is very important legislation.

There is no doubt that in the context of contemporary society there is a need for strong legislation in this area. Decent people within our communities are affected on a daily basis by serious crime, vandalism of one kind or another and anti-social behaviour, which is the biggest problem facing every one of us and the communities we represent. The Bill speaks heavily of all of the penalties for those found guilty.

In the context of the unfolding debate on the report of the Morris tribunal, we need to focus on the side of the citizen who might find reason for complaint about some aspects of the implementation of this law and how they are treated. I refer to the Butler case in Kilkenny. The way in which the family's complaint was handled by the current arrangement within An Garda Síochána was entirely unsatisfactory. The hearing the family received was extremely poor, did not recognise the complaint made or address the issues raised. The family received a very poor response from the Garda authorities and the complaint unit that exists within An Garda Síochána. I urge the Minister, as I did in a previous debate, to respond in a more positive and proactive way to the correspondence I sent on behalf of the family to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I encourage him to conduct a separate investigation into the issues raised to ensure justice is done with regard to the death of that young man on a road in Kilkenny. Essentially, what is in question is the quality and thoroughness of the investigation into the young man's death. I am flagging the issue for the Minister and am asking him again in a constructive way to look at the correspondence I sent his Department and determine if the family can be assisted in any other way.

One of the specific issues mentioned by the Minister was anti-social behaviour orders. I fully support strengthening the Garda position in dealing with those who are involved in anti-social behaviour but this is a blunt instrument and it should not be applied in the way suggested. It is insufficiently defined and significant harm could be done to young people in this country. It is the wrong way to deal with anti-social behaviour. We should examine the legislation that is already in place but not implemented. This Bill offers an ideal opportunity to examine that legislation and to spend the money where it needs to be spent, that is, in supporting gardaí in a positive way and, in turn, extending that support to the communities we represent.

Community policing has been greatly praised in debates in this House but it is hugely under-resourced. As soon as there is a community garda in the community, he is changed or shifted or his tasks are re-prioritised so he has little or no time for the community aspect of his work. In many cases, gardaí have been instrumental in stewarding young people who have gone off the rails, as it were, back into a normal code of conduct that is acceptable in the community.

The system in the UK is often offered as an example of the use of anti-social behaviour orders. However, a number of areas in the UK take a different approach to the concept. There is a softer approach in the initial phases. All the legislation in that regard and, in particular, the relevant funding must be examined. A partnership must be established between the local branch of the Health Service Executive, the local authorities, the Garda and the communities but that is not happening on a wide scale. If one writes to the local authority or the Health Service Executive about an anti-social behaviour matter, one will be referred to the Garda. If one talks to the Garda about it, they are simply under-resourced. They do not have the community gardaí needed to deal with this growing problem. It is an issue that must be tackled but I do not believe the blunt instrument of anti-social behaviour orders is the mechanism by which we will achieve greater co-operation within our communities. The Minister should take note of that.

It is a pity that in tandem with the debate on this Bill a public debate is taking place outside the House about the liquor licensing proposals. Discussing anti-social behaviour on the one hand and establishing café bars throughout the country on the other does not exactly gel. I do not know who came up with the idea of café bars but it certainly did not arise in my constituency and it would not relate to my constituency.

Mine either.

They are not necessary in the trade and I doubt that society will accept them. Little analysis has been carried out of what is happening in society and in the communities we represent.

If Ministers listened to the general debates that take place on these issues in this House, blunt instruments such as this would not be used to deal with problems. There is no regard even for young children. In England, photographs of young children are distributed in the housing estates to implement anti-social behaviour orders. Is that what we want here? I think not. Consider that in the context of the all-night drinking sessions that take place. If gardaí were supported, the vandalism and anti-social behaviour would ultimately be defeated.

Many of the complaints that arrive on the desks of superintendents and gardaí do not get a response because the Garda simply does not have the force to respond. Kilkenny has one of the new bicycle squads. They are a great idea. Gardaí are able to get around to the various communities and flashpoints in housing estates late at night and particularly at weekends. They can deal with problems in a sensible way. If such initiatives were extended and properly funded, local authorities were properly funded for the management of their estates and community groups were assisted and funded, there would be less anti-social behaviour.

There is no need for café bars. It would be helpful to the trade and to communities if the Minister were to state clearly that this idea will be abandoned. It would be worthwhile.

He has left it to the local authorities to make a decision on it. It is local democracy.

No, we must make the first decision. There is still a national Parliament in this country and we must debate it in full. I do not care who makes the final decision but we make the first decision. The first decision on anti-social behaviour orders and the daft notion of café bars must be debated fully in this House. The decision must be taken here, not outside the House. It should not be floated for months to damage the morale of communities and those involved in the economics of the argument. The issue should be defused sooner rather than later. That is my view and it is the view of many other Members of the House. Just as the Minister can state his point of view, Members on this side of the House can do likewise. That is what I am doing in this debate.

Publicans have a strong view on it, not the public.

I look forward to an open and positive debate on Committee Stage of this Bill and on the other suggestions that have been floated. I commend parts of the Bill to the House and urge that there be greater public debate on the other issues the Minister has put in the public domain.

I am glad to have the opportunity to speak on this legislation. Like the previous two speakers, while I fully accept the need to deal with the crime and security problems in this country, and all Members receive complaints daily in this regard, there should be regard for the rights of the citizen. We should also use this opportunity to focus on what causes the problems and not condemn the entire public as the cause.

It is sad that in light of recent revelations, we are conducting this debate in the absence of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. If the positions were reversed and the Government parties were on this side of the House, they would be clamouring for the resignation of everybody from the Taoiseach down. There is not a word of apology or recognition from the Government benches. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform jumps around like an excited cuckoo briefing the media but then walks away in the face of the most damning criticism in the report published in the last 24 hours. It is timely that we are discussing a related issue this morning.

Some Members have tried to bring these issues to the attention of the Minister over recent years. How often must one say these things or to whom must one say them? All these issues were brought to the attention of the current and previous Ministers for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The issues raised this morning were raised by Deputy Howlin and Senator Jim Higgins over the past five years and are typical of the type of issues that have been raised but to which the Ministersdid not respond. It is another damning indictment.

However, let us consider the need for this Bill and what it will achieve. I believe it will achieve nothing. Crime here is appalling, as the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, should well know. The reason is that powerful criminals get away. Daily, the young see major crime barons plying their wares with impunity, which is appalling. It is only in recent times, after continuous peppering from the Opposition, that there has been any attempt to come to grips with the problem.

We know about the crime barons living abroad, in Spain and elsewhere, and we are told the authorities know all about them. If the authorities know about them, they should do something about them. Any young potential criminal growing up can read a headline about these criminals and learn how to live — learn how to drive a top of the range car, keep a couple of boats or a few horses, and live high on the hog. That is what it means to them: crime pays, and it is paying all the time.

The present Minister has failed to deal with the issue, like his predecessor as Minister, Mr. zero tolerance. There is an attitude that we should abolish petty crime with anti-social behaviour orders. This area has been chosen because it is very easy to deal with. However, it is where the potential fault lies in the Bill.

Two very serious ones were dealt with lately.

It is only in recent times that the Minister has accepted some of the points made to him by some of us over several years. I brought to his attention on more than one occasion the use of senior gardaí in totally inappropriate areas, as did other Members. Let us not cod ourselves about who is responsible for deployment.

While we are on the subject, I do not want Ministers telling the House they have no responsibility for a certain matter and that it is the responsibility of some official. It is the responsibility of the Minister who sits in this House, and nobody else's. It is time this was recognised. Far too often, as when answering written questions, Ministers claim they have no responsibility. That is right; they have little responsibility and they are showing it. The sooner Ministers come to grips with the situation, recognise and accept their responsibilities, and do something about them, the better for themselves and everybody else.

The Deputy would be quick to complain about unwarranted interference. A balance is required.

The Minister is the only one about whom I could complain. He is the Minister with responsibility for decentralisation, who jumped the gun before it went off.

That is incorrect. The Deputy would want to correct the record.

The Minister should be the last one to talk on that subject.

The Deputy is totally incorrect.

The Minister's progress to date is not spectacular in that area. He should keep himself to the areas he is best suited to. Decentralisation is his best——

The Deputy is incorrect.

Like the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, creates smoke and mirrors in the hope that everybody will get confused.

There is an issue of truth. What the Deputy said is untrue.

What I said is exactly true.

It is not true. I did not jump any gun. I did not do anything until the budget was announced.

There was a leak the night before. What of the posters stating: "Welcome to Parlon country"? Is the Minister not the same Parlon?

They were put up three days later. The Deputy should get his facts right.

All that is wrong with the Minister is that he was found out too quickly.

The Deputy's bluster has let him down again. He should get his facts right.

Speaking of bluster, nobody has generated more bluster than the Minister.

Before the Deputy makes accusations in the House, he should get his facts right.

The longer he lives, the more bluster he will generate. If it could be converted into energy, we would reduce the dangers of the ozone layer by about 30%.

I will show the Deputy the exact date and then perhaps he will have the grace to apologise.

I will move on to the issue of gun law. For the past five or six years, the appearance of a variety of guns in the pursuit of crime has become commonplace. I do not know how many times this must happen before it is decided something should be done. There should be an add-on or addendum to the Bill in this regard.

A person does not saw the barrel off a shotgun to convert it into an electric razor or to use it as a telescope. It is done for a particular purpose — to kill people. I stand over the actions of the Garda Síochána in regard to a recent robbery, after which many began wondering whether firearms should have been used. The fact is that people with guns were at that place, on that day, to kill people. The guns were for no other purpose; they were not to scratch an ear but to kill people. It is tough. What resulted is what happens in that kind of situation. Apparently, at long last, the Minister suddenly realised: "Oh, gosh. There are serious guns out here. What is the problem? Let us do something about it."

The designation of a crime scene is dealt with in section 4. The issue has much wider connotations than are recognised or understood, for example, the designation of a crime scene in a certain place in County Donegal, which was referred to in the report we all read of this morning. In that case, how was it decided there would not be a crime scene? Why was the crime scene not preserved? Am I to presume that the need for the Bill is as a result of that case? If so, it is a mistake. Adequate legislation was already in place to deal with such matters. Countless crime scenes have been preserved throughout the country and the world without any such legislation. I am not sure how section 4(3) defines a crime scene. For example, an area where it could be concluded a crime had taken place might be designated as a crime scene. Various issues follow on from there. To what extent is it intended to embellish this section and to operate it? I do not know.

The Minister of State interjected during the contribution of his Fianna Fáil colleague some minutes ago in regard to local authorities and administration at local level. He should know that the local authorities are seriously and sadly lacking in regard to the job they have already been given to do, for a variety of reasons. They are about as capable of running other services as the House is capable of debating a critical issue at the time it arises, which is fairly incapable. When we deal with such matters, we need to think seriously about the root causes and what can be done in this regard.

I refer to juvenile crime. I have found with increasing frequency that schools and teachers can identify children who might become involved in juvenile crime at an early stage. The children might have behavioural, attention or communication difficulties or minor disabilities, but not sufficiently to justify having special needs treatment. In that situation, a child becomes insular, protective and a loner, and will seek attention in many and various ways. While I am not suggesting children are not entitled to do this, I point to the pattern of behaviour.

We hear references to children wearing hooded jackets. This is a sign of withdrawal. One does not have to be a rocket scientist or psychologist to figure that out. Why do they do this? It is not necessarily to ape "the general" or somebody who walked around with a cover over his head; it is simply that the child is withdrawing into himself or herself, and seeking refuge.

Anti-social behaviour orders will not do much to deal with this. In fact, they could alienate the young entirely. We were all young once and can remember that time, despite it being long ago — longer for me than for the Minister of State, who might remember it more vividly. However, if a young person has an unhappy incident with the law, it can taint his or her attitude for ever. This is a potentially serious problem which society cannot afford at present.

A UK police chief constable on his retirement some years ago spoke about law enforcement, penalty points and the civic-spirited attitude of the public to the law, which was always supportive. However, he said the increased incidence of motorist pursuit had resulted in far less co-operation with the police than ever before.

I am worried about anti-social behaviour and am fully aware that something must be done. I have received countless complaints from elderly people who have lived in their own houses all their lives who are now afraid to walk the footpaths because of the antics of a few people.

Deputy McGuinness and others mentioned the development of café bars. I cannot understand how this notion was conjured up. People cannot smoke in enclosed spaces and have been driven out on to the footpaths, although I do not know whether they will be allowed to smoke there either. Café bars will be an extension of drinking emporiums on to the footpath. Is this a desirable development at this time? I am as liberal as anybody else, but for some unknown reason the more accessible drinking becomes the worse becomes people's behaviour. It is virtually impossible to control the situation.

I do not blame young people for all of the problems. Also to blame are the huge establishments who pour 600 or 700 people out on to streets at the same time late at night or early in the morning. These people congregate outside, which is when the trouble starts. I dispute the Minister of State's suggestion that the influence of publicans is changing our view. Publicans have done their best and have been very successful in ensuring that the law is observed. However, there is little control over establishments which pour hundreds of people out on to the footpaths in the early hours of the morning. Garda cars and vans are called because disputes arise in this situation. The more people that come out of such establishments at the same time the greater the opportunity for incidents to occur.

One does not solve crime with new legislation, unless a technical issue pops up and is evident to all. I get suspicious whenever somebody introduces legislation to do something that should have been done before. This is a smokescreen behind which everybody can hide and say we can do nothing, our hands are tied so we need new legislation. Over the years, Departments have sought legislation to address issues that seemed to stare everybody in the face. However, the issues continued afterwards and still nothing happened. Nothing will happen unless the will is there to enforce the legislation.

From time to time the Minister has lectured us on the various means of dealing with illegal behaviour. One of crime's greatest assets in recent years has been the ability of criminals to convert their activities into solid assets. They have been able to buy property, launder ill-gotten gains, live a high lifestyle and achieve respectability on the basis of funding obtained by illicit means. I have tabled a series of questions on the issue over the years, as I have regarding gun law, organised crime and the spread of the drugs problem. The issues are inter-related. As it stands, there is not much in this Bill that will address them.

The Criminal Assets Bureau has been successful, but is it adequately resourced to do its job? If one considers the number of major robberies on this island in the past six months, the amount of stolen money must be close to €70 million or €80 million. That is a large amount and has much influential buying power. However, it is virtually certain that all of it has been laundered and is now legitimate. It has been converted into real estate, hotels and various business premises and is now respectable money. Are adequate resources in place to deal with the issue? As I said earlier, senior gardaí should be deployed to deal with these pressing and urgent matters. They should be fully aware that there is support for them to do so.

A number of major criminals have multiple investments. There have been some 5,148 suspicious financial transactions in the past 12 months. Of those, only a quarter were investigated. This is appalling considering there is €60 million to €70 million of illegal money floating around. It represents serious neglect on the part of the Minister.

We must deal with the issue of juvenile crime sooner rather than later. Arresting every child or teenager in the country will not solve the problem. Neither will it be resolved by introducing a custodial system that does not have an educational element. It is necessary to identify the children at risk in our schools with a view to giving them encouragement, back-up and education.

Hear, hear.

We must give them the means to break out of the system. Otherwise what John Lonergan has been telling us for years will continue, not only in the precincts of our prisons but all over the country. The Minister of State should convey to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform that he should do something about the matter urgently. Otherwise we will have more serious problems and more of this type of legislation, which is a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the broad provisions of the Bill and on the issues of crime, law and order. Many of the provisions are very welcome. Section 4 has been long overdue in that there have been numerous cases in recent times where forensic evidence at a crime scene was not preserved and could be tampered with or was exposed to the elements. Vital information and clues that could have led to a prosecution were removed either covertly or by other means.

In terms of addressing the problems of serious crime, the balance of power seems to be tipped in favour of the accused as opposed to being in favour of society at large. There can be good reasons for the public assuming that, particularly when cases on which they believe convictions will be secured are overturned on appeal on what could be considered a technicality. That diminishes the public's confidence in the Garda Síochána pursuing a case, bringing it to court and securing a successful prosecution.

As technology and forensic science advances, the need to preserve a crime scene is becoming more valuable. We did not have the capability of DNA testing in the past. Only basic physical evidence was gathered but with the advances in technology and forensic science, the protection of a crime scene is vital. Section 4 provides for that in a sensible manner. A garda who is in a lawful place, and assuming a crime has been committed, can preserve that crime scene and the order can be extended for a number of hours by a superintendent seeking same from a District Court.

I welcome other sections in the Bill. I referred to section 13 earlier. On the area of DNA and forensic samples, perhaps we should consider the question of trying to create a proper DNA data bank. Figures show that where a large data bank has been built up over years in other countries, and used very effectively, it has led to serious crimes being prosecuted successfully. Experts and scientists would agree that DNA testing is a very accurate way of identifying a suspect or eliminating a person from an inquiry. It can work both ways.

Civil liberties groups and the Human Rights Commission have made valuable points and will make submissions to the Law Reform Commission on this area. If a citizen suspected of committing a crime is brought into a station and provides DNA sampling voluntarily, the test can prove his or her innocence, assuming he or she is innocent, and he or she can be released. DNA testing would advance people's rights and ensure that a person is not detained for longer than necessary if the DNA system can be pursued through voluntary codes.

Section 13 also provides for saliva sampling. I was amazed to discover that it was considered an intimate act to remove saliva from a person. Hair follicles can be removed now also, which would be considered another useful source of DNA. Those procedures are very important to the Garda Síochána in trying to fight crime.

I saw some statistics recently which indicated that successful prosecutions were obtained in Scotland in a number of serious crimes through the use of DNA testing. One person who had committed numerous rapes was eventually detected many years later through DNA sampling. We must give the Garda Síochána the opportunity to use all available science and assist it in every way in that regard. The public should not be concerned about abuse of that since it is scientific more than anything else. We should be supportive of DNA testing and encourage people to voluntarily provide DNA samples if they are suspects in a crime. That is something we should push forward as much as possible.

Some very responsible contributions were made to the debate but some Opposition Members complain that crime is rampant in our society. I reject that. Statistics show that crime is not rampant in our society. Our streets, compared with most European countries, are very safe. We have issues with public order offences and anti-social behaviour, but in general most citizens feel reasonably safe in their communities in comparison with other large cities throughout Europe.

There is no doubt there has been an escalation of firearms crimes and that since the ceasefire in the North, some of the arms used by paramilitaries have been siphoned off to a number of serious criminal elements rather than being decommissioned. There is a proliferation of guns in society and it is a problem we should acknowledge and address. I am aware the Minister is examining the possibility of having a firearms amnesty. I would support such a measure. It was used in Britain some years ago for knives and thousands of lethal weapons were handed in voluntarily. If we had an amnesty here before we enact serious provisions in legislation to deal with people who hold illegally held firearms, it might assist in taking a number of weapons out of circulation.

I must refer to Operation Anvil and the deaths of two suspects in a post office raid. We must be conscious of the fact that if people go out one morning to raid a post office using firearms, the State has a duty to support the Garda Síochána in every way possible. They should try to apprehend the suspects without a firefight but in the event of that happening, gardaí have every right to defend themselves using lethal force if necessary. We should not jump to conclusions immediately about that. There is a mechanism in place whereby a senior Garda member can investigate such incidents. People will be satisfied with that because such an investigation should be done by an outside body. I believe more independent people should investigate such incidents but firearms are seldom used by members of the Garda Síochána. We have had two deaths recently but attacking the gardaí involved as if they were the ones who did the wrong deed on that morning is despicable. We must be supportive of the Garda. We cannot ask members of the force to take on serious hardened criminals who intimidate communities and arms of the State and then assume they overreact when they use force. If we are to be supportive of the Garda Síochána, we should be more moderate in our language and not jump to conclusions.

With regard to the Morris tribunal, that issue is something we must address also. The majority of people have confidence in the members of the Garda Síochána. Its members have served the State well over the years. There is no doubt that developments in the Morris tribunal and its findings have cast a cloud over the force and, more than anybody else, the members of the Garda Síochána are hurt by the findings. They feel betrayed by a number of senior members of the force in that this type of activity could take place through the ranks of the Garda. We must accept that will damage the public's confidence in the Garda Síochána to a certain extent but we set up a tribunal, it has reached conclusions and we should deal with those and implement any recommendations. I have no difficulty with an independent ombudsman investigating complaints against members of the Garda Síochána. Most members of the force have no difficulty with it either because they take pride in their uniform and in their sworn oath to uphold the laws of the State and protect our society. We should move expeditiously on that because this cloud has been hanging over the Garda for some time. We have the tribunal findings and we should act swiftly on them.

Anti-social behaviour has been spoken about on numerous occasions recently. Members on all sides of the House want to speak about and highlight the problem because it affects all public representatives. Not a day or a week goes by when Deputies from urban areas, particularly those representing rural areas with large conurbations, are asked for transfers by people in local authority houses because of anti-social behaviour and intimidation. The ambience in these estates is being ruined by a few individuals and we have failed to address that problem. The Garda will say it has more serious crimes to deal with and that resources must be used in the fight against serious crime. I accept that, but if we do not address the root problems and deal with juveniles who get involved in minor anti-social behaviour, many of them will end up committing more serious crime which will bring them into the criminal justice system.

Some people oppose the measures on anti-social behaviour orders, which would be issued in the civil courts initially and, if breached, could become a criminal case. The bottom line is that if we were to enact the legislation, and if it were to be complied with, and prosecutions were brought by members of the Garda, we would criminalise youths on a regular basis in the Children's Court anyway. I fail to understand the argument that this Bill would criminalise large numbers of young people. If the provisions in the Children Act were implemented we would criminalise them anyway. There is now a provision that would provide for a yellow card system to the authorities. If there is a wayward offender, a person involved in serious forms of anti-social behaviour, the anti-social behaviour orders would be an effective system. It is important to differentiate between teenage pranks and serious continuing anti-social behaviour.

I recently travelled to Britain to observe the implementation of anti-social behaviour orders and acceptable behaviour contracts on young people. From speaking to people on whom they had been served, and speaking to communities who have had to live with serious intimidation causing alarm and distress not just to a few people but to a whole community, I found that there has been a transformation of the community. In Ireland I see an opportunity to go a step further and ensure anti-social behaviour orders are served judiciously.

Equally, if a person offends and an order is made, support services should be brought in immediately to assist that person. He or she may come from a dysfunctional background, in which there may be drug abuse, psychological problems or the myriad of other problems with which children grow up. We cannot allow them to continue on their way just because they grew up in a dysfunctional background or have behavioural problems. It is grossly unfair to the community but it is also neglect on the part of the State in turning a blind eye to a child experiencing problems. The anti-social behaviour orders or acceptable behaviour contracts give us an opportunity to bring that person into the system, to allow us to provide services and support.

There may be problems with parenting. In Britain there is a parental order, where parents incapable of parenting are given skills, support and assistance. Very often parents are not capable of parenting because they may also be in a local authority housing estate without community support or the support of close family. That is something that needs to be examined.

On the Children's Court, not all of the provisions of the Children Act have been enacted. We all accept that.

Why is that? Who is responsible for that?

There is a problem with the Children's Court. From what I can ascertain, in up to 30% to 40% of cases guardians or parents do not present themselves with the accused in court. That is a gross neglect under the Children Act because we need to ensure there is a parent or guardian at the hearing when a juvenile is tried. That is a failing of some magnitude. We want to ensure that we have some parental or guardianship responsibility yet no-one attends with juveniles in court. That must be addressed to ensure some degree of responsibility is placed on somebody else, rather than solely on the offender, who is criminalised in the Children's Court.

Too often the Children's Court has not been taken seriously, but it is part of the criminal justice system. A person convicted in the Children's Court has a criminal conviction. In opposing the anti-social behaviour orders and acceptable behaviour contracts people have highlighted the fact that breach of an order criminalises young people. In fact, the current legislation allows for arrests and children being brought before the Children's Court so the child is criminalised anyway.

Community policing needs to be introduced in a forceful manner. We all reminisce about the old days when the local garda lived in the station and knew everybody in the area. There used to be a few more gardaí living in the area and they all knew members of the community. Unfortunately community policing is seen as the bridesmaid of policing, or to be politically correct, the best man of policing. We have to ensure that community policing becomes a central focus of the activities of the Garda Síochána. We should start at the top by having an Assistant Garda Commissioner, responsible for community policing. There should be a promotional structure from the junior ranks of the Garda Síochána. If a garda is interested in community policing and works with the community, he or she has to come back into the mainstream and show credentials in crime detection and legislative enforcement if he or she wants to progress. We are losing the experience of community police officers as they move into mainstream policing and progress through the ranks if they are capable. That is something that needs to be examined.

Local authorities have a responsibility to design estates with amenities, facilities and green spaces at planning stage of a development process. There should not be alleyways leading into dark areas at the back of houses. Estates that are genuinely conducive to a good community environment should be built. For many years estates were built with no provision of amenities and the houses were badly designed. There were dark alleyways and a lack of proper infrastructure to give a proper ambiance to the community. The physical well-being of an estate has an effect on how people see their community and on whether people take pride in their community. Local authorities must be more proactive so that when applications come in they take these factors into account.

For many years we have blamed social deprivation, unemployment and poverty. Coupled with badly-designed housing estates, it is a recipe for disaster and this has proven to be the case. We are now involved in regeneration, dismantling apartment blocks and rejuvenating areas. Some of the apartment blocks being built around our cities are destined to become ghetto developments because of bad planning and design. Local authorities have a role to play.

In some areas the Garda Síochána regularly meet public representatives and community associations. This should be put on a more permanent footing. Members of the Garda Síochána should be very involved in their communities. They should attend schools, speak to young people, get involved in soccer, GAA and rugby clubs, and youth groups. In this way gardaí would be part and parcel of a community. Community is not just about driving up and down an estate in a Garda car or on a bicycle, or walking the beat. Gardaí must interact, and must be part of the fabric of the community. That is something not allowed by the transient nature of community policing, where a garda spends two or three years in an area and is just beginning to build up contacts when he or she is whisked off to mainstream policing.

There is an element of despondency in how people view our criminal justice system. People think there will be a technical problem so that a case will be dismissed. In Cork there was an appeal against a conviction and the person was released. That is the system we have but it undermines confidence. I welcome the broad thrust of the Bill, which has given me the opportunity to speak on the issues of anti-social behaviour. I hope the Minister takes on board the views expressed regarding the provisions for fighting anti-social behaviour in the community.

Tá sé suimiúil gur labhair an tAire i nGaeilge nuair a chuir sé tús leis an díospóireacht seo ar an Dara Céim. Tréaslaím leis mar gheall air sin. Beidh suim ag lucht teangeolaíochta chomh maith ar an chaoi inar úsáid sé an Ghaeilge mar chum sé a lán briathra nua agus focal nua ar nós "cearta an indibhidiúla" agus mar sin, focail nach raibh in úsáid in am asheanathar nuair a bhí sé ag tabhairt a chabhair go hiomlán leis an Ghaeilge. I will use some of the time allocated to me to contribute to this Bill in English, in deference to those who are interested in this debate. I confess to a particular interest in speaking on this legislation. In 1969, when I was appointed as a lecturer in sociology and political science, one of my specialisms was the sociology of law and deviant behaviour. I lectured in that area for over 20 years. My contribution today is based on my experience as a member of the McBride commission, at the invitation of people such as my colleague, Deputy Costello, in the late 1970s.

When we held public hearings in Dublin in preparation for the MacBride report, which investigated prisons, one of the finest witnesses that appeared before us was a retired chief school attendance officer for Dublin City. He made it clear that he could detect in school attendance patterns more than 80% of all those who would run into trouble later. At that time, there was no co-operation between the Department of Education and the Department of Justice. Early intervention should have been introduced at that stage along the lines of the proposals in the White Paper, Children in Trouble, published by the British Labour Government in the late 1970s. That was not a soft approach to crime, however.

One of the problems in the current debate is that those of us interested in trying to understand the dynamics of what is taking place in communities are misrepresented as being, somehow or another, soft on crime. We are also portrayed as not being as concerned as others that the right of older, vulnerable people to live in peace and security is being disturbed by a small minority. Elderly people are entitled to Government action but it should be done on the basis of properly constructed strategies for having peaceful and orderly communities.

Is it acceptable that with education welfare legislation in place, the Bill having been passed by the Oireachtas, there are only approximately 25% of the necessary educational welfare officers to deal with the matter? There are currently slightly more than 80 such officers, whereas one would need 330 to 350 such staff to deal with children in trouble. If the Government were serious about dealing with such children, it would ensure that the educational welfare service was properly staffed.

A large number of measures aimed at dealing with deviant behaviour is available at any one time. Rather like a pyramid-shaped funnel, the scale of measures includes breaches of the law and warnings by the diversionary programme, which was known previously as the juvenile liaison service. In addition, people may be accused of an offence while others may receive notice of an offence. The procedures also include investigation, apprehension, detention, court and prison. After prison there is a high level of recidivism among young offenders. One must approach this problem by applying every one of the measures I have cited, thus removing as many people as possible from progressing to the next stage. There is nothing in this legislation, however, that examines what one might call the understanding of deviant, criminal behaviour in the community.

One of the most popular books in the 1970s and 1980s was Deviance and Control by Professor Albert Cohen. The introduction contained the sentence, “We are far more interested in control than we are in understanding”. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence of understanding in what I have heard during this debate.

I want to make a point that goes to the heart of the work of this Dáil, and I speak as a former Cabinet Minister. It is outrageous to introduce a Bill on Second Stage while planning to add new sections on Committee Stage. I agree with some of the eight or nine principles in the Bill, including steps to secure a crime scene. It is wrong, however, to announce that a further nine principles, encompassing the majority of sections, will be introduced on Committee Stage. This deprives Deputies of the opportunity to discuss the entire Bill on Second Stage. Effectively, therefore, the Bill before us is not what will be presented on Committee Stage. That is an outrageous and unacceptable legislative procedure.

I would have given the Minister support for some sections of the Bill, and I have cited one such instance already. In any other legislature, the Government would withdraw the Bill and announce that it was inserting nine new sections. A new Second Stage would then allow Deputies to participate in the debate, but that is not happening. It is outrageous and arrogant of the Government to act in this manner.

I read the Minister's speech in Irish carefully and found this unusual phrase, "cearta indibhidiúla", which happens to be wrong. The European Convention on Human Rights refers to "personal rights". I will not go into the pedantic issues, but in Irish they are referred to as "cearta pearsanta". That does not matter, however, because translation on a good day is better than no Irish at all.

I was a member of the Cabinet that introduced the Criminal Justice Act 1994. I have been concerned that we did not insert sufficient safeguards and accountability mechanisms in that fundamental piece of legislation that is now being reviewed here. I have known many wonderful and conscientious gardaí who have been proud to wear the uniform of the Garda Síochána. Such gardaí have not been well served by the antiquarian notions of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I will cite an example to demonstrate my point. In the 1970s, when I was lecturing in sociology, young army cadets attended courses in sociology and other subjects. The same offer was made to the Garda Commissioner at that time, but it was decided that such courses would distract gardaí from real policing. Therefore, they did not take up the opportunity of pursuing our university course. Gardaí who graduated with degrees, often after pursuing evening courses in their own time, were not regarded as real policemen and suffered for it in the Garda Síochána promotional system.

That kind of attitude existed in the Department of Justice also. I recall that we tried to establish an institute of criminology. Out of respect for the people in the Department of Justice, we were told that they would not be allowed to attend the meetings to establish such an institute. That kind of antediluvian attitude is still present in the minds of those who are not really committed to the question of internationally tested rights.

I was upset to hear the current Minister say that he regards the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' process for dealing with immigrants as an encumbrance. He describes those of us who are interested in international human rights as people who are suffering from political correctness. The law is the law, however. I am in favour of the application of the criminal law with all its accountabilities, processes and certainties. If people are breaking the criminal law then let them be prosecuted to protect citizens. That principle of jurisprudence was established in the 18th century. Sadly, however, there are sections of this Bill for which there is not a shred of jurisprudence. Section 29, for example, is an outrage. It is badly worded and is a major breach of basic legal protections. It does not strike a balance between victims of crime and those who perpetrate it. The absence of process is outrageous. I listened with interest to a thoughtful speech by Deputy McGuinness. Deputy Kelleher then said the Children Act 2001 and its provisions were part of the criminal process. They are the very opposite. Regarding the thinking of children in trouble, the thrust of the Children Act 2001 was to remove from criminalisation and stigmatisation as many children as possible through early intervention. It is interesting that the juvenile liaison service was replaced by the diversionary service. Let us be positive with regard to some matters. Where the diversionary service is used and resourced, 90% of the youngsters it deals with do not offend again before the age of 18. Why not take that as our example? If three sections of the Children Act are being implemented, why not implement the other seven proposals among the ten fundamental proposals which would keep children off the conveyor belt of criminalisation?

It is disgraceful that people would rush to these punitive sanctions without a shred of evidence. It was suggested that it is somehow or other justified because of the victims of crime. If we get a chance when Members are replying on Second Stage, let us see the sections dealing with the victims of crime. There are few references in this Bill to doing anything for victims of crime. This is a rather cheap attempt to exploit the politics of fear.

Some of us have spent much of our lives working in this area. Nine principal matters in the Bill were announced on Second Stage. We have had an announcement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, of nine fundamental amendments for Committee Stage. Reference has been made to what have been referred to as anti-social behaviour orders. The Minister has made most of these announcements through the media and not in this House. How can we have Committee Stage of a Bill when we have not had a Second Stage discussion on it? Let the Minister come to the House to make his statements.

I am worried about the Minister's statements on these issues. He is not taking into account some of the research regarding where ASBOs are applied, and said he did not have a single objection to their introduction from a Member or anyone else representing a working class constituency. I represent more working class people than the Minister ever will, and I have done so for a long time. I live in an area surrounded by housing estates and I know what I am talking about.

I regret that we did not put more safeguards in the Criminal Justice Bill 1994, because I have seen it abused. I saw an interesting situation in that regard, involving two people, not from Galway. One, a boy, was standing in front of Jury's Hotel. He was waiting for his sister when a garda told him to move on. After a quarter of an hour the boy's sister had not arrived and he was still there. He had a bottle but was not drunk. He was dragged into the Garda station. His sister was unable to find him, and he was missing for several hours. In court, the judge asked if the boy had given cheek to the garda, and the garda said he had.

That sort of abuse of the law is not unusual. When the Minister, Deputy McDowell, attends this House to tell us he has established an independent authority which will give us the policing which the police, the community, the public and ourselves want, when we can have legislation which will be tested by independent scrutiny, he can then lecture us. Instead, he is afraid to attend the House with his nine proposals. How is he to define, for example, anti-social behaviour?

A colleague who has worked all her life for the debt and development commission was collecting signatures for the campaign to abolish Third World debt. She was dragged off in a police van from the streets of Galway city, where we struggled for the right to be able to distribute literature and to assemble in a public place. While distributing her literature, she was told she was in breach of a by-law. I advised her she was not. She was then told she was in breach of the Public Order Act and brought to the police station. She has never received an apology.

Such extraordinary behaviour is all justified on the basis of whipping up fear and blaggarding people who hold views like mine, suggesting we are soft on crime. We understand crime. We have visited prisons and dealt with those who have committed crime. I have visited more prisons than Deputy McDowell. I was a member of the McBride commission many years ago. I can tell of the hypocrisy of the reforms with regard to what is being published today. Around the same time as I was on the McBride commission, Mr. Justice Barra Ó Briain presented his report about video-recording in police stations. If its recommendations were implemented even on a pilot basis, nearly 30 years ago, one would not have had the situation we have seen in Donegal regarding the McBrearty case.

Let us have reform of the criminal law, but not an hysterical public campaign on some kind of alleged moral entrepreneurship, with the Minister cowardly going on his little moral crusade outside the Dáil, lacking the courage to attend the House and justify the extremism.

Sections of this Bill are good, while others, such as sections 15 and 29, should be deleted. If the Minister goes down the road he is on with regard to dealing with behaviour which is tearing the heart out of many communities, he must implement and resource the relevant sections of the Children Act. The educational welfare offices must be adequately staffed in accordance with the legislation.

What will happen regarding an ordinary public protest one might have? For example, I support the right of the Palestinian people to a state. I do not justify any extreme actions and have always condemned them. However, people organising protests in Dublin on behalf of the Palestinian people are being made jump through hoops with regard to satisfying the corporation, and can be asked for an insurance bond of up to more than €600,000. People might want to put on a street theatre show involving the demolition of a house, as happens in the West Bank and the occupied territories, but the Garda authorities will tell them that is an incitement to hatred.

What will happen when a person is asked by a garda for his or her name and address, and that person asks for proof of identity, and then refuses to accept it? The person is asked to come to the Garda station. One could be holding up a banner, just as some of us have been doing all our lives, and refuse to go to the station. One is then fined €1,500. If that is not paid, one is then involved in the criminal process.

This is a republic, with rights, including the right to be in a public space, the right to law and protection and the right of communities to live in peace. We must not be bludgeoned into a strange system whereby anyone who feels like it can get an ASBO against a neighbour. People are crowing about ASBOs in Britain. A recent television programme revealed that ASBOs have been taken out there against old-age pensioners. There were two old men living alongside another old man. One was up in the attic, recording the neighbour's singing. The other man complained of a television being turned up too loud, which was only because the person watching the television was deaf. Those people got ASBOs against each other. Local authorities in Britain have found that the ASBO system is not working. The diversionary programme which replaced the juvenile liaison service is working.

I will tell another story of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and of its penny-pinching. Typically, a garda would visit a house to talk to a youngster in trouble and to the parents. Quite often, that was enough. Now, people in such situations are told to attend the Garda station in order to save money and overtime.

We need intervention systems for children in trouble, community policing and good law. We need to have intervention orders which will work. We do not need a hysterical public debate, whipped up for the sole purpose of exploiting the politics of fear, which drives a coach and four through our criminal law. Most of all, this House must be respected. Second Stage speeches are for the fundamentals of the legislation and one cannot make a Second Stage speech on Committee Stage.

Debate adjourned.