Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2014 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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

The Bill before us amends the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 by creating three new offences in order to give effect to two Council Framework Decisions from 2008 and 2002. These offences, as we all know, are public provocation to commit a terrorist offence; recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism. I and my party broadly support this Bill but we have some concerns about it. I am conscious that the Government is implementing a European directive but there several points contained within the Bill that we are concerned about and are seeking clarification or reassurance from the Minister on.

Why has it taken the Government so long to transpose this? It seems highly unusual that the transposition of something like this would take such a long time. Perhaps the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Murphy, can explain this to the House or ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to respond on Committee Stage or later.

Our main concern regarding this Bill is the definition of terrorism as it is formulated in the Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA. It is a very broad definition which could include virtually every act that has some element of organisation or planning. This seems unworkable and something we would be quite concerned about. By reiterating the framework decision definition, the Bill legitimately raises the question whether this instrument has a built-in function creep in order not only to combat terrorism, but to extend the definition in such a manner as to cover most public order situations and more common criminal acts as they apply under national law.

While there is a definite need for cross-border co-operation in this area, even international co-operation, criminal sanctions and definitions should be solely the realm of the member state. We do not want to hand over this type of power to Europe. Such issues are for member states alone to deal with. We do not want to see the EU become involved in this area of our citizens’ lives. We would like to see greater checks and balances contained within the Bill to ensure there is no such function creep in this area.

To deal with the threat from the dark net, it is not all bad. There are human rights activists and journalists in some countries who need to protect themselves from very dangerous regimes and need something that could not be monitored in order for them to communicate and tell the stories of their communities. It can be a benign force. However, it has also been used by very dangerous criminals and issues such as child abuse are a real concern. I have raised with the Minister the poor resourcing of the Garda computer crime investigation unit's information technology equipment and its capacity to conduct forensic examination. We need to ensure that An Garda Síochána is resourced and has the most up to date equipment possible to combat this threat. We need to make sure that people engaged in serious criminality, organised criminal gangs and paedophile rings, who pose a threat to our communities, have nowhere to hide and there is nothing in the Internet they can use as some kind of haven for their heinous activities. To combat that we need to resource An Garda Síochána properly.

The milestone Garda Inspectorate reports into the investigation of crime, which were carried out over three years, contained very serious criticism of the IT equipment within An Garda Síochána so I wanted to avail of this opportunity to draw attention to that as a real challenge.

I want to briefly mention another concern, namely, data protection issues. Any data collected under this legislation should have to comply with standards in this State and not those of any other member state. We do not want to see a situation where data shared in good faith leaves the hands of another member state and is no longer under the standard at which it left Ireland. We simply cannot afford to see an abuse of power by governments in this area. The clearest example of this in recent years was the case of Frank McBrearty from my county of Donegal. He tried to enter the US with his family and was refused entry by the US authorities because according to US immigration records, he had a conviction for assault despite the fact that the conviction had been overturned and he was found to be innocent of the charges levelled against him. This case raises very serious concerns and questions about how data on individuals is retained in this State and exchanged with agencies from other jurisdictions. This is something we will seek to strengthen on Committee Stage of this Bill.

The challenge with all these measures in the area of justice and protecting our citizens from real threats is that we must strike a balance between a state's responsibility for security with civil liberties. We want to ensure that any of the powers being introduced do not impinge on civil liberties and are not used to spy on law-abiding citizens who challenge the Government and foreign policies. We know in this House that there is grave concern about the use of Shannon Airport by the US military in the theatre of war in Iraq, a war that was not sanctioned by the UN. We have concerns about the tolerance of the Israeli regime and how it essentially imprisoned millions of Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank and keeps stealing land. An appalling government has been formed there and its approach to settlements is very worrying. There are many regimes we tolerate or co-operate with under the guise of the EU which are a concern for the Irish people. We need to ensure that we have a balanced approach and that we protect our citizens from real threats. All of us are appalled by the development of Islamic State and reject utterly that creed which is an insult to the honourable people who follow the Muslim faith in Ireland and across the world. It is an honourable faith and I have huge respect for many people who adhere to the Islamic faith. We need to get that balance right in terms of the civil rights and liberties of our citizens and those across the EU versus a state's need for security mechanisms.

I will wrap up by mentioning the need for consistency. If we tolerate the Israeli regime and what it has done in Palestine and what is happening in Egypt, we send out a signal to young Muslims in the Middle East. In Egypt, the former government has been locked up and sentenced to death and an Irish citizen, Ibrahim Halawa, is locked up there. When we tolerate these regimes and co-operate with them, we send a message to young people that radicalises them and allows them to fall into the hands of the very organisations we seek to protect our citizens from. We need consistency in foreign policy and courage from our Government. One step we can take very soon is to recognise the state of Palestine. The two Houses of the Oireachtas have asked for this to happen and our Government needs to ensure it happens. If we are consistent in our approach to human rights internationally and if we live up to some of the great names who have come before us - Irish leaders who have advocated for human rights across the globe - we are in a strong position to confront the terrorist threat and extremists out there. That is my plea.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to speak on the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2014. I welcome the debate because it is an opportunity to look in detail at the legislation and what is going on in the modern world. In recent weeks, we have seen significant levels of violence in Ireland and internationally. We have seen the kidnapping of children, women and children being killed in different conflicts and sectarianism across Europe and Africa and even in our own country. One hears a lot about terrorism in the debate but when one is talking about violence, one must also look at the impact of state violence, which is often ignored.

The Bill is designed to give effect to European law on terrorism. It creates three new offences - public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism. We must all strongly oppose indiscriminate and sectarian violence, regardless of whether it happens in the Middle East or Africa and whether it involves the killing of Christians, Muslims or other innocent people. We must face up to the reality that this cannot be tolerated in any society. We as legislators and Members of the Oireachtas must constantly harp on about this issue. There is no point in staying silent, sitting on the fence and being selective in our opposition to violence.

Recently, we have seen horrific attacks on members of Sinn Féin and the murder of Gerard Davison in Belfast and yet the silence in this House and in broader society has been deafening, which is not acceptable. These double standards should always be challenged. It is not acceptable in any democratic society for people to be shot or blown up or for their families to be attacked or for people to be shot down on their way to work. It is not an option to stay silent. It is very important that we say this because I found the silence in the past 24 hours to be deafening. Yesterday, the Taoiseach had to be asked to condemn the violence.

When I talk about violence, I go right across the spectrum. I am talking about sectarian violence and the kidnapping of young girls. In respect of state terrorism, one cannot have double standards if one wants to convince people internationally that peaceful and democratic politics are the way forward. The Dublin-Monaghan bombings and the Miami show band massacre are examples in our recent history. There was considerable silence about these events because there were serious concerns about the role of the state in these acts. We asked the question and the Dáil passed a motion relating to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and yet we have seen no real action.

There was a strong state dimension to the Dublin bombings in 1972. I was a member of the joint Oireachtas committee which dealt with these bombings. One aspect that arose during our work was the urgent need for a Garda liaison officer to work closely with the families. The families of the victims of the 1974 bombings in Dublin got a Garda liaison officer but the families of the victims of the 1972 bombings did not.

I ask that the Minister of State, Deputy Murphy, bring that message back to the Minister.

On the issue of terrorism, international terrorism and who is a terrorist and so on, people find it nauseating that some states engage in violence while at the same time lecturing fringe groups involved in terrorist activities. Over the past 15 years I have many times raised the issue of Cuba and the famous case of the Miami Five, who thankfully were released. I welcome recent developments between President Obama, Raúl Castro and the Pope in relation to building dialogue and a peace process. Over the past 15 years many people here ignored the plight of the Miami Five, five Cubans who were trying to stop Miami-based terrorist groups from carrying out violent acts against the people of Cuba. They were found guilty of charges ranging from murder to espionage by a court in Miami which relied on the evidence of convicted terrorists. All were innocent of the charges brought against them. Extensive intimidation of jurors by these same terrorists was a feature of the trial, following which the Miami Five were imprisoned. Many of us in this House were involved in the release of the Miami Five, whose imprisonment was a blatant miscarriage of justice. In terms of the history of Cuba in these types of situations, the campaign was dedicated to the memory of the 3,478 Cubans killed and the 2,099 maimed at the hands of US based terrorists since 1959. These are issues we have to face up to as well. States cannot be allowed to do one thing while preaching another. I commend Dr. David Hickey on his magnificent work in the building of a relationship with Cuba and also Che Guevara's daughter who has done a great deal of work with Beaumont Hospital, which is in my constituency. It is important we acknowledge that many people are now working together to build bridges. There is significant potential to further develop this relationship, including in the context of small business and jobs.

On the Bill, section 5 provides for the insertion into the principal Act of a new section 4B which provides:

For the purposes of this Part, recruitment for terrorism means—

(a) the intentional recruitment of another person—

(i) to commit, or participate in the commission of, a terrorist activity,...

We will need to monitor the impact of this legislation. It is important to make that point. In debating the issue of terrorism and violence, it should not be forgotten that there have been 12 gangland deaths in this city over the past 12 months in respect of which there have been no prosecutions. We also have a problem in Ireland in terms of violent acts. The Bill provides that a person convicted of this offence is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for up to ten years.

Section 6 inserts a new section 4C which states:

For the purposes of this Part, training for terrorism means intentionally providing instruction or training in the skills of—

(a) making or using, for the purpose of committing, or contributing to the commission of, a terrorist activity—

(i) firearms or explosives,

(ii) nuclear material,...

The issue of Shannon was mentioned earlier by some of my colleagues. It is not acceptable that peaceful demonstrators should be brought before the courts for highlighting a State's involvement in violence. This is an issue on which we should all also speak out.

The issue of conflict and the Palestinians was mentioned. If the Palestine conflict ended, the result would be the disappearance from this earth of a lot of violence.

Returning to the definition of terrorism, earlier I asked whether the definition in the Bill is too broad. My concern is in relation to public order issues and my advice to the Minister and Government is that they should not go over the top in this regard. They should also be careful about handing over powers in this regard to the EU and other authorities. I do not support violence or violent acts but I do support civil disobedience. That is the way forward because it creates a healthier society.

According to the latest EU statistics on terrorism, seven people died as a result of terrorist attacks in the EU; 152 terrorist attacks were carried out in EU member states; and 535 individuals were arrested in the EU in relation to terrorism-related offences and court proceedings in respect of terrorism charges concluded in relation to 313 individuals. Earlier I referred to the violent attacks being carried out on our own doorstep. We must remain conscious of what is going on in our own country. We must be very vigilant about defending and protecting the peace process and those who took major risks in that regard.

Overall, I welcome the Bill and this debate which provides us with an opportunity to see where we have reached. Again, I do not support violence but I do support the protection of civil liberties and the right of people to participate in peaceful and democratic protest.

With no disrespect to the Minister of State, Deputy Dara Murphy, it is shameful that the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, is not in the House to listen to the opening contributions to the debate on this important legislation. I am particularly concerned that despite the fact that the Minister had 30 minutes to deliver her opening speech on this issue yesterday, she chose to speak for only 15 minutes and did not bother to read the complete script provided to her into the record. To me, this indicates the cavalier attitude of this Government to critically important issues of civil liberties.

The Minister in her opening remarks attempted to perpetuate the idea that repression can beat terrorism. Have we really learned nothing? Repression does not stop terrorism; it spawns terrorism and the facts prove it. The Minister spoke last night about the rise of ISIS and referred to the fact that 80% of European foreign fighters are engaged in activity with ISIS. From where did ISIS come? Obviously, it arose out of the illegal invasion of Iraq and the decimation of the population there. Another breeding ground for ISIS is the break-up of Libya and interference in the civil war in Syria and so on. This is the roots of terrorism. Unless these issues are addressed, we will never have world peace.

The Minister referred last night to Turkey being a main route into the combat areas of Syria and Iraq. Why are these combat areas? It is because the West invaded and destabilised them for their own interests. We know from provisions in earlier legislation in this area, which are added to through this Bill, that civil liberties and big brother watching us is not in any way making the world a safer place, rather it is probably a more dangerous place. The Minister also spoke of those who seek to destroy our democratic society. Of what democratic society was she speaking? Is it the one in which people vote for a Government which prior to an election promises to do one thing and then does another when it gets into office? Is it an EU democracy that allows the people of Greece to vote for a different government and then seeks to blackmail that government into not fulfilling its election promises or is it the democracy that the Fianna Fáil Party wants to protect? Last night, the Fianna Fáil spokesperson talked about concern for the safety of Irish citizens from returning radicalised combatants. This is the same Fianna Fáil Party that facilitated the active use of Shannon Airport by the US military. It is beyond a joke at this stage.

This Bill transposes an EU Council Directive into Irish law and, as stated by other speakers, introduces three new offences, including provocation, recruitment and training for terrorism. It also amends the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 while retaining all of the blithe and widely sweeping definitions of terrorism contained in the original Act, which includes phrases such as "unduly compelling a government or an international organisation to perform or abstain from performing an act", with no definition whatsoever of what makes this compulsion undue. We could have acts that might seriously destabilise the political or economic structures of the State, but no attempts to come to grips with how we define such destabilisation, which begs the question of whether protest or civil disobedience are acts that might fall under the definition of destabilising the State. Obviously, the response of Government will be that we should not worry about that but, of course, we should worry about it. There is some hypocrisy in relation to the introduction by way of this Bill of further measures to combat terrorism when on a daily basis we facilitate terrorism at Shannon. The Government has been happily complicit in US wars of imperial aggression throughout the past decade, many of which wars were illegal.

I refer to the definitions in the 2005 Act. That Act refers to seriously intimidating populations; unduly compelling governments to perform acts; and wars which have seriously destabilised and destroyed the fundamental political, constitutional, economic and social structure of a variety of states. Does this not meet the criteria of the actions of the US military in parts of the globe or the actions of NATO? It fits perfectly with the definition of terrorist activity in the original Act but, of course, we are not really talking about that now because we have one law for one type of terrorist and another rule for all the other types of terrorist. This is not good enough. Large and imperial states have a taken for granted monopoly to engage in violent military activity, regardless of its extra legality. In fact, they are even encouraged to do so, which is crazy. That repression is maintained in the Bill.

One of the most troubling aspects of the Bill is the new offence of public provocation to commit a terrorist offence. The potential for abuse of this is absolutely rampant, given that it encourages not just directly encouraging the commission of a terrorist act but indirectly encouraging it. For example, someone might say: "I am sorry about that; I committed that act because I read something somewhere where I thought somebody meant I should do it." Is this what we are talking about? Could saying publicly that Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans have the right to resist occupation and aggression through armed struggle be construed as public provocation? Could a person who targets by direct action against corporations, government policies and inter-government organisations, like the EU, fall under the remit of this new Bill and this new definition of terrorism? This is so broad and such an invasion of our public and civil liberties. It even envisages that a charge of public provocation could be brought even when no terrorist offence was committed. What does this mean for free speech? Are we really putting into law something that says a person could be prosecuted for an offence that does not even take place? This shows how ludicrous and broad this legislation is.

I have no doubt the Government will tell us not to worry about it and that this does not cover civil disobedience or such like. The Government may argue that if somebody sits down in front of a Minister's car in a housing estate in Tallaght, that could not possibly come under the definition of provocation. I remind the Minister of State that one of the Government's backbenchers thought the activities of anti-water charges protesters were akin to those of ISIS. If this Bill is about ISIS, what is to say it cannot be used against Irish citizens? We have to look at the use of anti-provocation laws internationally - for example, the case of Eynulla Fatullayev from Azerbaijan who was convicted of incitement to terrorism in 2007 and was given a sentence of eight and a half years for writing an article about his country's support of US policies in Iran. Is this the direction we are taking? Even if not, it creates a chilling effect whereby people will self-censor. Assuring people that this is not the case will not stop somebody from thinking that he or she does not wish to be the first to be prosecuted under this legislation. Therefore, it will stifle dissent and will stifle opposition and alternative opinion. I think it is a radically disproportionate response to what is an over-stated terrorist threat.

I refer to the European Union terrorism situation and trend report in 2014. In 2013 there were no terrorist attacks in Ireland. How many religiously inspired terrorist attacks occurred in the EU in 2013? There were none. The vast majority of them were by separatist groups and took place in France and Spain and the House passing this legislation would have no impact on such events. It is a ludicrous response to a situation which has been caused by western interference in the first place.

We have to be clear and strong on these matters. International human rights law requires that any interference with a human right has to be necessary and proportionate. Interference with freedom of expression will be deemed to be necessary only if it fulfils a pressing social need. Where is the pressing social need in this situation? Under the European Convention on Human Rights, states have a certain margin within which to decide whether to curb freedom of expression through legislating to prohibit speech which seeks to incite or provoke terrorist acts. This is necessary according to circumstances and laws of each country. I do not think there is any pressing need. The so-called threat of Islamic terrorism has been exploited across the EU and internationally in order to curtail freedom, to abuse human rights, to expand the scope of state security, to increase surveillance on citizens, to militarise everyday life and to restrict freedom of movement. It certainly has not made the world a safer place because the world is more unstable now than ever because of interference and destabilisation and not because of insufficient repressive legislation.

In January, in the wake of the Paris attacks, the Taoiseach stated in the House that: "The comprehensive international approach that is needed should tackle the underlying causes, prevent radicalisation, share information more effectively, deter and disrupt terrorist travel and bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice." Before we continue a conversation about terrorism, we need to consider the definition of "terrorist activity" as set out in the principal Act. A terrorist activity is defined as an offence that is committed with the intention of:

(i) seriously intimidating a population,

(ii) unduly compelling a government or an international organisation to perform or abstain from performing an act, or

(iii) seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a state or an international organisation;

In March, a report authored by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone, the US-led war on terror has directly and indirectly killed, at the most conservative estimate, a possible 1.3 million people since 2001. They note that the total number of deaths in the three countries is probably in excess of 2 million.

The US and its coalition of the willing have led a war that is killing people at a rate that is encroaching on some of the greatest horrors of the 20th century, and they show no signs of slowing down the carnage. This Government refuses to see this action and its complicity in it for what it is - terrorism, plain and simple. We are participants in the largest terrorist organisation on earth. Ireland, by allowing munitions, military aircraft and almost 2.5 million troops through Shannon, is complicit in this mass slaughter of so many innocent people. We have supported a regime that seriously intimidates populations by flying drones over their heads and that bombs their villages, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, farms, roads, weddings and lives to dust. We support and instigate the radicalisation of those who survive the carnage, those who can no longer tolerate their humiliation, pain, anger and sorrow.

The Taoiseach says we have to deter and disrupt terrorist travel and yet the army that is responsible for the deaths of so many people and the destruction and destabilisation of vast swathes of the Middle East, travels freely and unchecked though our borders. The Minister of State refers to bringing the perpetrators of terrorism to justice. However, when we name the US President for what he is, which is a war criminal, the Government does not want to know. The man is ordering the execution, without trial, of thousands of people, including hundreds of children, and yet he faces no consequences nor censure.

In theory, the wording of the Bill is sound and sections of it could possibly be supported if the intentions of its authors were not dripping with hypocrisy. The crimes of Islamic State are horrific and it should be brought to justice but the same goes for the terrorist activities of Assad, Putin, Netanyahu, the US Administration and its allies. The same goes for Irish Government personnel who have facilitated the murder of innocent civilians by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a forward military base for the US war machine.

The Saudis are as fond of beheading people as ISIS, while pouring money and arms into terrorist organisations. The Irish Government does not seem to have any problem with them. This week, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has been condemned by Human Rights Watch for dropping banned cluster bombs manufactured and supplied by the US on civilian areas in Yemen. Ireland signed and ratified this treaty in December 2008. We are widely considered to have been a driving force in the advancement of the treaty and we are held up as an example of international best practice in our implementation of the treaty. Only two weeks ago, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade reaffirmed his commitment to the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Arms Trade Treaty.

He went on to state: "The commitment of Ireland to the promotion and protection of human rights is a foreign policy priority for the Government." This stance is perplexing in light of the fact that the Government has repeatedly refused to bring up human rights concerns with Saudi or US officials when it has had the opportunity. This situation simply serves to underscore the poverty of the Government's foundation when it speaks about human rights. What Administration could be taken seriously when its members pat themselves on the back for having legislation that protects human rights, such as the cluster bomb munitions treaty or the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, while the National Pensions Reserve Fund has investments in a number of companies that manufacture nuclear weapons, including Boeing, Honeywell International, Jacobs Engineering, Larsen & Toubro, Rolls-Royce, Safran, Thales, Rockwell Collins, Airbus, Fluor, Leidos, ThyssenKrupp and Babcock and Wilcox, to which AIB provided a four-year revolving credit package valued at $700 million in 2010? I wish the bank had been as good to me.

The Taoiseach once berated Bertie Ahern for not raising the issue of India's refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty on a trade mission. Now, the State invests in an Indian company that manufactures weapons, Larsen & Toubro. The official line, to use the words of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, seems to be that trade missions are not the place to raise human rights issues effectively.

I fear that apart from highlighting the dishonesty, duplicity and double standards of this Government, the Bill and the principal Act may be used to restrict and clamp down on civil rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of movement - similar legislation has been used in this way elsewhere - while simultaneously embedding institutionalised racism into our criminal justice system.

The inclusion of a series of new terrorist offences and the qualification that they need not necessarily be committed to be crimes is bewildering in its broad scope. For example, the proposed section 4A defines the public provocation to commit a terrorist offence as "the intentional distribution, or otherwise making available, by whatever means of communication by a person of a message to the public, with the intent of encouraging, directly or indirectly, the commission by a person of a terrorist activity". If this meant that every time the Taoiseach or a Minister was held to account for trying to justify American warmongering, then I might consider it. Sadly, however, this law will only be used to undermine the free speech of those whom it is politically expedient to criminalise. By holding a monopoly on the definition of the word "terrorism" to the effect that terrorism is only something people other than us undertake, the Bill is built upon a false, unjust and hypocritical premise.

The great Nigerian-American novelist, Teju Cole, wrote in the wake of the Paris attacks:

A tone of genuine puzzlement always seems to accompany terrorist attacks in the centers of Western power. Why have they visited violent horror on our peaceful societies? Why do they kill when we don't?

This puzzlement is the product of a situation where the West, particularly the USA, "has consolidated its traditional monopoly on extreme violence". Accordingly, when the US and their Allies "commit torture or war crimes, no matter how illegal or depraved, there is little expectation of a full accounting or of the prosecution of the parties responsible". Some weeks ago Gary Younge of The Guardian framed the situation perfectly, stating that the West "promotes itself as the upholder of principles it does not keep, and a morality it does not practise".

At the crux is the fact that we are discussing the extension of terrorism laws handed down from the planners of the great fortress that is Europe. We close our borders, monitor our citizens, police our waters and build walls to keep out the threat of violence.

At least six children under the age of ten were among a reported 25 people killed in Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes in the Yemeni capital Sana'a early one morning a month ago. What protections did these children have from our trade partner, Saudi Arabia? Where are their border controls, defence systems and anti-terrorism legislation? What recourse do the remaining family members of the 14 demolished houses have to attain justice against the powerful US-supported Saudi Arabia? What structures are in place to prevent the surviving members of the family from being killed and maimed by the US-made cluster bombs that now scatter their countryside? What incentive is there not to become one of our feared terrorists? We need to tackle the root problem that this Bill is trying to address, not simply the symptom.

Last night, the Minister said there was no doubt that this was significant and timely legislation, particularly in view of the deplorable terrorism witnessed in Europe and beyond in recent times. We agree that terrorist acts are terrible, but as long as we continue to ignore the fact that the US military machine has created more damage in this area than anyone else and that we are complicit by allowing that machine to continue to use Shannon Airport, then how in God's name can we say anything about human rights? What can we possibly say in defence of people who suffer at the hands of terrorism when we stay silent and remain complicit? It is too bad. Are we going to ignore the reality forever? When is an Irish Government going to stand up, behave like a neutral country and call a spade a spade? Let us call the truth for what it is.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this significant new criminal justice Bill, and I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to do so. I pledge my full support for the enactment of this Bill by all Members from every side of this House. I firmly believe that terrorism has no place in any modern society, or any country, for that matter, and that those criminals who choose to encourage, recruit or train others to carry out acts of terrorism, either domestically or internationally, should feel the full wrath of the Irish criminal justice system.

Given our country's long and difficult history of dealing with terrorism and the long-lasting effects of terrorist atrocities, it is unfortunate that we are still affected somewhat by deranged criminals who believe that terrorising or attempting to terrorise innocent citizens is acceptable so long as it helps them to achieve their twisted ideology. That is not acceptable. As legislators, we need to act now to criminalise certain activities, such as terrorist recruitment or training and public provocation of terrorism offences, to try to prevent any further incidents from occurring in this country or abroad in conflicts such as the Syrian civil war and the ISIS conflict.

Many counties in this country have experienced the full effects of terrorism in some way, shape or form in recent decades. My county of Sligo has had its fair share of incidents in the past. The most notable incident was the tragic event of 27 August 1979 in which Lord Mountbatten and two innocent children were murdered in Mullaghmore by the IRA during the height of the Troubles.

Unfortunately, despite the success of the peace process, the dreadful use of an explosive device as an act of terror is not confined to that troubled period in our history. In recent times, the threat of domestic terrorism has increased again from dissident republican groups, subversives and large-scale criminal organisations. A worrying example of this intensification occurred only last month in the quiet village of Ballysadare, County Sligo, where a dangerous pipe bomb device was detonated in a large estate where many children live and play. I have been advised that had the timing of the explosion been different, there may well have been fatalities at this incident. A similar incident occurred recently in County Leitrim, where another pipe bomb device was found in a rural community near Drumshanbo. Both of these incidents required the Irish Defences Forces explosive ordnance disposal team to be deployed alongside the Garda. These are only two examples of incidents in which explosive devices intended to kill were placed in my constituency. There are many more to which I could refer if I had the time to do so. The criminals behind these types of incident need to be stopped. I am hopeful that the proposed Bill, which will create three new terrorist offences aimed at hitting terrorist training and recruitment, will be effective at stopping this worrying trend from developing any further. Certainly, the introduction of the proposed crime of a public provocation to commit a terrorist offence is needed.

I say this because I am very concerned about how the use of the Internet and social media, in particular as a method of recruiting and promoting both domestic and international terrorism, is potentially affecting our citizens. This is of particular importance to the international conflicts involving Islamic State in Syria and Iraq currently. As I am sure the House is aware, ISIS openly uses social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to promote its ideology and to post gruesome updates on its sectarian wars to a wide international audience, including Ireland.

Alarmingly, up to 40 Irish passport holders are believed to be fighting with ISIS in Syria currently. My first thought when I heard about this alarming figure was to wonder if they were radicalised online in Ireland, as many of the people from other countries who have joined ISIS claimed to be. It is a worrying aspect which needs swift action from Government and I am happy to see this new Bill contains measures to combat this particular instance.

I fully agree with the Minister when she says there should be no hiding place in domestic society for those who encourage, recruit or train others to carry out acts of terrorism. I also know that it has taken a great deal of time and effort to get this Bill onto the floor of the House and I commend the Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and her officials at the Department of Justice and Equality on the work they have put into this Bill to get it this far.

I am pleased to support this very important legislation. As the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald, said in her opening remarks, we already have a body of anti-terrorist legislation but the last major legislation was almost ten years ago and, since then, the geopolitical landscape has changed utterly. We have seen the inexorable growth of terrorism striking right into the heart of Europe, most recently in Paris, and also in Yemen, Tunisia and Nigeria.

By definition, we know nowhere is safe because the essence of terrorism is that the terrorists instil fear of attack, even if no attack happens. Their way of terrorising is to instil fear and use threat, stealth and intimidation. Unfortunately, as we now know, the jihadists are increasingly successful in attracting young recruits, as well as money, to their cause. They use social media and all of their psychological skills to persuade not just vulnerable young people, but also well-adjusted, educated young people, to abandon everything they know and everybody they love to travel thousands of miles in pursuit of what is an alleged religious ideal, which is incomprehensible to all of the rest of us, and, I might say, also incomprehensible to the vast majority of Muslims.

In my own constituency, in Clonskeagh, we have the largest mosque and Muslim school in the country, so we have a very large Muslim population. I have to say that these are extremely law-abiding citizens. I have sympathy with them because many must feel they are regarded as, in some way, tainted by association with this terrorism, in much the way that Irish people felt when they lived in Britain during the IRA attacks in the 1980s and 1990s. There is that fear that, simply because one is of the same religion or origin, one is in some way tainted by terrorism.

Gardaí here in Ireland, through their own efforts and their engagement with Interpol and Europol, have excellent intelligence. Despite what some media reports seem to suggest, there are no more than a couple of dozen individuals here who gardaí feel it is prudent to keep an eye on. Therefore, I think we can be fairly confident that Ireland is not, in fact, a hotbed of terrorist activity. I know also that, in addition to their intelligence, gardaí are also proactive in prevention work and in engaging with the Muslim community to ensure that the young Muslim population is not subject to recruitment or any kind of grooming on social media or otherwise.

Vigilance is necessary for all of us, however, particularly so with the ever-increasing movement of great numbers of people to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Those in this wave of immigrants are, for the most part, trying to escape war and want in either sub-Saharan Africa or the Middle East, in particular Syria and Iraq. However, as part of its objective of instilling fear, Islamic State has threatened in the most cynical way to infiltrate Europe by posing as hapless migrants.

It may well be, and I hope and pray it is, that Ireland is never subject to a terrorist attack but that does not in any way lessen the need for this legislation. I say so for a number of reasons. The new protocol to the European Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism covers this whole area of procuring terrorists. It is essential for us to sign this protocol. Once the legislation is in place, it opens the way for us to ratify the convention and it is absolutely timely that we do that, given the rapidly changing landscape.

We owe it to the international community to show determined solidarity with it, and particularly with those who, unlike Ireland, have been attacked and are probably still vulnerable to further attacks in the future. By ratifying the European Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, we and all of the countries that ratify it send a strong signal that, no matter where these attacks take place, there will be no safe haven anywhere, either here or in any of the ratifying countries, for those perpetrating this kind of attack. This will be the case no matter where they attack, be it in Nigeria, where young girls were taken from school and subjected to God knows what fate, because they have never been found; in Tunisia, where utterly blameless tourists were shot dead; or in Paris, where journalists suffered a similar fate. In no case is it possible for us to identify any rationale behind these attacks, other than to try to strike terror into the civilised world. By their actions, they show their utter disregard not just for the rule of law or for life or culture, but for all of the human rights which we aspire to and which distinguish civilised man from what is the very worst in human nature.

Even in parts of Syria where Islamic State has taken control, its rule is not for the betterment of the people under it. In fact, it still terrorises the population it rules. In many cases, women in particular have not left their houses for months on end for fear of their lives or of enslavement. People have not been able to send children to school for three years. Life expectancy under Islamic State has fallen by 30%, from 79 years of age, which is typical of a western European country, down to 55 years of age in a mere four years. Unfortunately, most of that drop in life expectancy is due to the high mortality rate among youth and children, as medicines, vaccines and medical services have all but disappeared under Islamic State. In a mere four years, this is what terrorism can do to a country, transform it from being, if not a democratic country, then at least a peaceful and educated one, to the unspeakable conditions that now pertain for citizens today. It is a lesson to all of us that if this can happen in Syria, it can literally happen anywhere.

Only yesterday I read of girls and women who were rescued by the new Nigerian Government from terrorists in Nigeria. Of the 324 who were rescued, 314 had been raped and were pregnant, many of them just young girls of 12 and 13 years of age. This shows the utter ruthless brutality of this regime. Therefore, I fully support this legislation as a step towards ratifying the European Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism and dealing specifically with the growing evidence of the widespread practice of procuring young male recruits and, indeed, female recruits, training them and financing them, and, if they do not die for their cause in some faraway land, returning them as fully-fledged jihadis to their home country to spread further terrorism.

In conclusion, I want to say how much I support this legislation. I know it is largely ignored by the media, and we are dealing with it on a quiet Thursday afternoon, but I suspect it is probably one of the most important Bills we will put through this term.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance will not be supporting this Bill.

We are, of course, opposed to terrorism. It and all terrorist acts are currently illegal and will remain so, subject to very strict and severe sanctions, even if this Bill is defeated. The Bill represents a broadening of the 2002 Council framework decision on combating terrorism, and that legislation represented a very serious erosion of civil liberties as well as playing into and encouraging a climate of Islamophobia.

The framework decision defined terrorism as "unduly compelling a Government to perform or abstain from performing an act", a definition so broad as to encompass the majority of people active in politics in this country. It is so broad as to include everybody who participated in anti-water charge protests and mass protests in towns comprising hundreds of thousands of people, who could be said to be unduly seeking to pressurise the Government to scrap the water charges. It defines it as seriously destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a state or international organisation. That definition is so broad that it covers anybody who is opposed to our structure of neoliberalism and capitalism. By that definition, I am a terrorist, and the Labour Party of old may well have been defined as a terrorist group. Some of those that would have come under the definition of terrorism in the past include the ANC in South Africa, which had the aim of overthrowing the racist apartheid constitution and regime, the Greenpeace occupation of oil rigs, which was aimed at large oil companies destroying the planet for profit, and protesters in Genoa against various organisations of international capital. The safeguards introduced by the Council at the time are simply not enough.

The 2002 and 2008 framework decisions are part of a series of so-called counter-terrorism measures that have played a part in the serious erosion of democratic rights and freedoms in the European Union. In total, 239 counter-terrorism measures were introduced in the EU from September 2001 until December 2013. This is part of an international attack on civil liberties, which had its zenith in the US in terms of the USA PATRIOT Act and everything else in the aftermath of September 2001. Those horrific crimes, for which ordinary people paid the price, were used to rightly whip up horror and revulsion against those terrorist acts. They were also used as a whip to try to get people to accept an erosion of democratic rights, giving the illusion that with increased repression and decreased rights in terms of people's freedoms, civil liberties and right to information and data protection, we could somehow eliminate the threat of terrorism. That is simply not the case.

A British social attitudes report in 2007 found that the very mention of something being a counter-terrorism measure made people more willing to contemplate giving up their freedoms. It continued, "It is as though society is in the process of forgetting why past generations thought these freedoms to be so very important". That is the process we have seen over the past decade and a half, namely, the erosion of democratic rights under the guise of protecting people from the threat of terrorism. We are likely to see a new phase.

After the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris in January, the French Government moved quickly in the wake of the mass revulsion against the barbaric attacks to introduce what is being dubbed France's PATRIOT Act. The Act proposes a fine of €150,000 and ten years in prison for someone holding explosives who had visited the website of a terrorist organisation. Shockingly, it also gives the state the right to block websites and issue travel bans without recourse to a court or normal justice, including the checks and balances when people have their day in court. Similar laws are in place or are being put in place in Denmark and Luxembourg.

In the UK, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government has published the UK's seventh counter-terrorism Bill in 14 years. It includes travel bans, internal exile, the ability to stop UK citizens entering the UK and restrictions on Internet freedom. Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty correctly said that these laws are a chilling recipe for injustice. They come on top of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which allows for arbitrary house arrest, electronic tagging and travel restrictions. The right to one's day in court is being dispensed with more and more. Human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce described these measures as "[T]he ultimate demand of any totalitarian regime: the executive is the accuser; the moment of the accusation is also the moment of the imposition of the penalty".

There is a trend across Europe of attacks on democratic rights, which is taking place against the backdrop of massive opposition to the political establishment across the Continent. That opposition and mobilisation is feared by the capitalist classes across Europe and their political representatives. They fear people exercising the democratic right to protest and mobilise in opposition to austerity and other neoliberal measures. It is, therefore, no accident that these draconian laws are coming at this time. It is a conscious use of fear to try to keep people down.

The latest Europol Terrorism Situation and Trend Report makes reference to people engaged in anti-eviction campaigns in Italy. Will the new reports make reference to people engaged in protests against water meters or charges in Ireland? Many will say that those laws and definition of terrorism may extend to people who are engaged in protest and opposition movements that are anti-austerity and social in nature, but they would not be used on those movements. The experience of the introduction of draconian laws does not indicate that will be the case. In fact, writing about the Council framework definition of terrorism, a professor in Oslo University stated that this legislation may not be used in such a broad and generalised way at first, but that we know from long experience that discretionary measures in this area will be employed less carefully and more broadly as time passes when the time is ripe and the need is there. That is precisely what history demonstrates.

It is not enough to simply plead for this Government to promise not to go too far in using this legislation against peaceful protestors. We can consider previous legislation. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act was debated in the Dáil in 1994 in the context of dealing with drunkenness and threatening behaviour. It is now regularly used against protestors. It is the main law cited against those who are stopping water meters from being installed in communities where they are not wanted, protestors in Rossport and people who picket workplaces. It is used again and again against those who attempt to fight back. Another example is the miners' strike in Britain, which saw a similar use of legislation used against a major social movement.

This takes place in the context of a culture in which there has been a rise in Islamophobia. In the course of the debate in the Seanad, some incredibly paranoid scare stories came from establishment politicians. One Fianna Fáil Senator implied that jihadists would be training in the Wicklow mountains or on a remote island off the coast. It plays into the idea that the majority or a significant minority of Muslims are terrorists and adds to the idea of a clash of civilisations. The first victims of jihadists were Muslims. The Europol report from 2014 shows that the majority of terrorist incidents and arrests in Europe are not related to any religious motives, but rather to separatists.

There is a whipping up of fear and an atmosphere of Islamophobia and fear about the radicalisation of Muslim youth. We have to understand the root causes of terrorism because, as I said, all of these things are illegal. More repressive laws will not stop terrorism. The things that have driven people into the arms of organisations in some cases are the poverty and precarious situation of young working-class people, the endemic and systematic racism and discrimination faced by young Muslims and other ethnic minorities and an anger against imperialism and what has happened in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic, all of which have experienced interventions.

We need instead to build a world with no poverty, precariousness, war or exploitation, and no repression of terror Acts will deliver that. Rather, the mass force of people from below can achieve that, just as they achieved the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, the overthrow of Ben Ali in Tunisia and of Mubarak in Egypt, despite all of the complications and reversals and counter-revolutions that have happened since then. Mass action by ordinary people holds the key.

I am pleased to be able to speak on this important legislation concerning terrorist offences as a member of the Oireachtas justice committee. The Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill is a significant piece of legislation with two primary objectives, namely, amending the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Act 2005 in order to give effect to EU directives agreed under the Lisbon treaty and allowing Ireland to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism.

The Bill creates three new offences in respect of terrorist activity which are covered by the amending framework decision and the Council of Europe convention to which Ireland is already a signatory. These three new offences are the public provocation to commit a terrorist offence; recruitment for terrorism; and training for terrorism. The Government is committed to combating terrorism, as this legislation demonstrates. Ireland needs to legislate to be able to combat terrorism in all of its guises and that includes being able to confront, when required to do so, incitement to commit terrorist offences and recruitment and training in order to carry out terrorist activities.

Our own history demonstrates why legislating for these offences is important and should enable Ireland to look abroad to our fellow European countries and focus on combating terrorism alongside them so that the citizens of the European Union can be safe and protected. Those who would threaten the lives of ordinary people by engaging in acts of terrorism, whether on this island or elsewhere, must be brought to justice and must know that the international community will not tolerate their activity and will take all possible activity to prevent and punish it.

Although it is possible to criticise the comments I have just made, our own history must be considered when it comes to legislation such as this. We should also look to recent events, for example, in Paris where we saw the shooting of a journalist and other people, the bombings in Madrid in 2004 when a large number of people on trains were killed and others suffered, and similar bombings targeting people on public transport in London in 2007. Another event that comes to mind in all its horror, which is easily one of the most despicable acts of terrorism carried out in recent years, is the attack in 2011 against the people of Oslo and the Norwegian labour party. This comes to mind because of two copycat attempts that occurred subsequently in the Czech Republic and in Poland. This is directly relevant to the legislation that is before the House today.

While the threat level to Ireland from international terrorism is considered to be low, we must remain vigilant, particularly where the possibility of lone wolf type actions witnessed elsewhere in Europe is concerned. The random and unpredictable nature of such attacks makes them a particular matter for concern. It is important, therefore, that we have the relevant tools at our disposal to deal with terrorist threats in all their forms and at all stages, including incitement and other preparatory activities. By criminalising the terrorist linked activities of provocation, recruitment and training, the legislation further strengthens our hand in this regard. I am pleased to commend the Bill to the House.

As there are no other speakers, I call on the Minister of State to reply.

The Minister for Justice and Equality, who introduced the Bill in this House last evening, regrets that she is unable to be here today and I am pleased to stand in for her for the remainder of the debate. On behalf of the Minister, I wish to thank the House for giving its time to this most important matter. I thank Deputies for their contributions, comments and general if not unanimous support for this important legislation. It is clear that there is a shared determination to combat terrorism, in all its forms and at all stages. This Bill strengthens our hand in this regard by further developing and enhancing existing counter-terrorism legislation. It focuses on the more subtle, indirect and insidious aspects of modern terrorism, namely, public provocation, recruitment and training. The Bill makes it an offence to engage in any of these preparatory activities and provides strong penalties for those found guilty of them, including up to ten years imprisonment if the crime is sufficiently serious.

We continue to learn that events far from our shores may have an impact on us domestically. Thankfully, Ireland has not experienced any of the horrendous attacks experienced in other European member states, yet we must never be complacent. This legislation will add to Ireland's ability to deal with the threat from terrorism both domestically and internationally.

While we have not yet been directly affected, we must, as a long-standing member of the EU, show solidarity with our fellow member states. In that regard, the House can be assured that Ireland will continue to contribute to initiatives in this area from a European perspective also. A number of points of action have been identified as requiring particular priority from an EU perspective. The Minister for Justice and Equality yesterday alluded to the EU passenger name records directive in some detail. Member states also continue to examine other ways in which our security and policing agencies can enhance levels of co-operation and information exchange. Europol has recently proposed the setting up of a counter-terrorism Internet referral unit where police agencies can exchange information on abuses of the Internet for terrorist purposes. This is to be welcomed and An Garda Síochána will continue to co-operate with its international colleagues in this sphere.

More also needs to be learned about the individuals financing and supporting terrorism within Europe. The many and circuitous routes foreign fighters take to travel to the combat areas must be identified and greater engagement with non-member states who have a shared interest in these matters must occur. Initiatives in this area are ongoing and being developed. This is a truly international problem.

The threat from international terrorism is also undoubtedly a complex one. There was a time when we could point at a specific organisation or structure and take action to reduce its terror capabilities and dismantle its infrastructure. The new nature of terrorism is much more random and the traditional formal organisational and hierarchical structures no longer apply in many cases. The threat becomes more difficult to detect, anticipate and deal with.

Many of the attacks we have seen recently are carried out by individuals or small cells of individuals, self-motivated and radicalised. Some have received training in the combat zones of the Middle East. A number of the attacks in France bear this hallmark. The attacks carried out by these individuals clearly demonstrate the threat posed by the foreign fighter phenomenon.

As previously outlined, the Internet has proved a powerful tool for the forces of radicalisation. The EU has identified curbing the use of the Internet for recruitment and radicalisation purposes as another key action requiring attention. The challenge in this area is phenomenal. For example, it is estimated that 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Twitter processes 500 million tweets per day. For every site or tweet taken down, there are many more waiting to replace them. Dealing with the abuse of these resources, which are enjoyed by many for legitimate reasons, requires more than simply attempting to remove the offending content or making its presence illegal. It is apparent that the companies offering Internet based and social media services do not view the exploitation of their product by terrorists as desirable. Indeed these companies are engaged in trying to develop ways of addressing the issue. However, the ready availability of this content needs to be questioned. We are not talking about curbing freedoms of expression or speech here. We are simply asking whether this doctrine of hate and intolerance should go unchallenged. Greater engagement with the technology companies and Internet service providers is required. More research is also needed into what content has a genuinely radicalising effect and what does not. Is it, for example, the preaching of radical clerics or, particularly where young people are concerned, simply peer group pressure? Why is it that our modern progressive democracies based on free speech and expression seem so hateful to some of our own citizens? Hard questions need to be asked. Responses need to be developed.

Considerable resources have been invested by the EU Commission in the creation of its radicalisation awareness network to examine the issue of radicalisation in all of its facets. These include initiatives in the areas of policing, community relations, prisons, mental health and the technology sectors. Ireland contributes on a number of fronts to the workings of this network.

It is obviously very important to have international co-operation, strong security measures and empowering legislation to deal with the terrorist threat. A purely law enforcement based approach will not, however, sufficiently address radicalisation and violent extremism. It is also necessary to have policies and initiatives in place at national level that serve to discourage people from being drawn into extremist activity and to protect communities that may be at risk from radical sources. The best prevention is to stop people from getting involved in anti-social, violent or terrorist activity in the first place and to convince them to turn away from such behaviour. There is a need for meaningful engagement with communities who may be under threat from radical sources.

An important part of this process is avoiding any sense of profiling or stigmatising sectors of the population. The protection of fundamental rights and the recognition that the majority of people want to live peaceably and play a productive part in society are enshrined in this engagement. Integration of all of our citizens in our society - their society - has a very important role to play in this regard. A good example of a proactive approach in engaging with our minority communities is the work of the Garda racial, intercultural and diversity office to which the Minister referred yesterday in her opening speech.

On the subject of integration and inclusiveness, the office for the promotion of migrant integration in the Department of Justice and Equality is in the process of developing a new strategy on migrant integration. This follows a lengthy consultation process with a wide range of groups representing migrants throughout society. This process of engagement is very important not just in the context of seeking to prevent seditious activity, but in the general spirit of inclusiveness for all of our citizens in our democratic society.

In his contribution on the Bill last evening, Deputy Collins inquired as to what action could be taken on Irish citizens engaging in foreign fighting. The Passports Act 2008 contains provisions under which the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade can refuse or cancel a passport. Should the Minister, following consultation with the Minister for Justice and Equality and-or the Minister for Defence, as appropriate, form the opinion that a person would be likely to engage in conduct that would prejudice national security or the security of another state, the Minister may cancel a passport already issued to an Irish citizen. A cancelled passport must be surrendered to the Minister. A person who uses or attempts to use a cancelled passport is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term of up to ten years.

In addition, the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides for the revocation of citizenship of naturalised persons in certain circumstances. In the event of any information being brought to the attention of the Minister for Justice and Equality which should have been disclosed by a naturalised citizen, the Minister can invoke the statutory process which exists for the consideration of revocation of citizenship. I understand, however, that the revocation of citizenship is not an entirely straightforward matter. Such cases would have to be handled on a case by case basis, in consultation with the State's legal services. Certain factors would have to be taken into account, such as whether the person has dual citizenship and whether he or she has already re-entered the country. Under the relevant legislation the subject has the right to appeal to a statutory committee which then considers the matter in full and reports its findings to the Minister for Justice and Equality, who will then decide on the matter.

There is considerable concern throughout Europe and elsewhere at the phenomenon of individuals travelling to conflict areas in the Middle East and the consequential threat posed to national security. While the number of Irish citizens who are believed to have travelled to the conflict zones is estimated at between 25 and 30, within this number are individuals who travelled to Libya and other Arab states to take part in the popular uprisings known as the Arab Spring which began in December 2010. Some of these individuals are known to have returned and three died in the conflicts. In Ireland, the Garda Síochána monitors the movements of those suspected of involvement in extremist behaviour, and in line with best practice internationally has engaged with returnees from the conflict areas. For obvious reasons it is not possible to be any more specific than this.

Dealing with, and discouraging, extremist and terrorist activity is obviously very different from discouraging or suppressing legitimate rights to freedom of speech or the expression of opinions and political ideologies. It is vital in a democratic world that the right to express views and beliefs, sometimes outside the mainstream, is protected and that journalists, for instance, are free to voice their commentary. Such fundamental human rights should not be compromised, as to do so would play into the hands of extremists who would seek to forcibly deprive us of these rights.

I will turn to specific questions asked by Deputies. Deputy Mac Lochlainn asked about the delay in the transposition of the amending Council framework decision on combating terrorism. Transposition of EU legislation is, unfortunately, often delayed not due to any lack of commitment or willingness on Government's part, but due to the volume of legislation produced by the EU and to competing demands with domestic legislation. It is a question of prioritisation and I expect that the Bill will be enacted very shortly.

Deputies asked why the definition of "terrorist activity" and "terrorist linked activity" in the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 are so broad. The 2008 framework decision, to which this legislation gives effect, provides for the addition of three new offences to the definition of "terrorist linked activity" in the 2005 Act. All member states agree these new offences should be included in any definition of terrorist linked activity at this time, thereby building on the existing offences contained in the 2005 Act.

Existing offences covered by the definitions of "terrorist activity" and "terrorist linked activity" are set out in Schedule 2 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005. The Schedule lists the offences which, with the requisite intent, would constitute terrorist offences. These include common law offences such as murder and rape; offences under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997; offences under the Criminal Damage Act 1991; offences under the Explosives Substances Act 1883; and offences under the Firearms Acts and Chemical Weapons Act, to name but a few. In this way, only the most serious offences are covered in our legislation by the definitions of "terrorist activity" and "terrorist linked activity".

In response to the points raised by Deputies Daly and Murphy, section 6(5) of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 provides that where persons engage in protest, advocacy or dissent it does not in and of itself constitute a terrorist offence. The Government has repeatedly made it clear that extraordinary rendition is an illegal practice which Ireland does not accept, and there is no question of the State having been complicit in the practice of extraordinary rendition. Any person with credible information that Irish airports are being used for any alleged unlawful purpose should report their concerns to An Garda Síochána.

Deputy Mitchell mentioned Ireland's ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. One of the purposes of the Bill is to enable Ireland to ratify this convention. Work will begin on this process following the enactment of this legislation.

I note that an amendment on data protection and onward transfer will be tabled by Deputy Mac Lochlainn on Committee Stage and we will address this next week.

The Bill will ensure there are no gaps in our laws that can be exploited by those who would seek to inflict terror and mayhem on innocent people at home and abroad. We must ensure there can be no hiding place in democratic society for those who encourage, recruit or train others to carry out acts of terrorism and we must never relent in our determination to use all resources at our disposal to root them out. This is not just a fight against terrorism and intolerance. It is a battle for hearts and minds, and the House can rest assured that Ireland will continue to play its part. On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, I am pleased to commend the Bill to the House.

3 o'clock
Question put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 49; Níl, 9.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Walsh, Brian.

Níl

  • Collins, Joan.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jerry Buttimer and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Mick Wallace and Paul Murphy.
Question declared carried.