Thursday, 29 May 1930
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £40,373 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1931, chun Costaisí Coir-Phróiseacht agus Dlí-Mhuirireacha eile, maraon le Deontas i geabhair do Chostaisí áirithe is iníoctha amach as Rátaí Aitiúla do réir Reachta.
That a sum not exceeding £40,373 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending  on the 31st day of March, 1931, for the Expenses of Criminal Prosections and other Law Charges, including a Grant in relief of certain Expenses payable by Statute out of Local Rates.
Mr. Ruttledge: I oppose this Estimate. One would have thought that in an Estimate such as this some more real and effective economy than a mere net decrease of £2,761 would have been effected. The Estimate provides for a sum of £62,848 for the current year. Under sub-head D one would have imagined that there could have been a much greater decrease than one from £12,000 to £10,500. I do not know whether the amount provided for last year was expended or not. A sum of £10,500 seems to be extraordinarily high as a provision for expenses of prosecutors, etc. Does the Minister anticipate that in the coming year he will have as many prosecutions and that there will be as many offences in the country as occurred last year? In regard to sub-head E we have the same figure fixed for this year as was fixed last year, for fees to counsel in connection with State prosecutions, namely, £6,000. I would prefer, and I am sure that most Deputies would also prefer, that a system should be followed by which special counsel should be assigned for that work. That was the practice previously, but it was changed, and I do not think that the change has served any useful purpose. The system now adopted is that cases are distributed among political adherents who may be knocking around the doors of the Government for some of the spoils. I think it is a bad practice by which counsel who may be engaged in other cases are taken over for State prosecutions and are not able to devote the same amount of time to such cases as they would be able to devote if they were permanent.
If special counsel were assigned for State prosecutions, I think that that work could be done more cheaply. The present system of distributing briefs has gone on extensively during the past six months.  Some briefs have apparently been given for charity and others for other purposes, and the system is being run in such a way that no one can see the purpose of it except, as I have stated, that these people were in a certain political alignment with the Government.
A sum of £6,000 was provided last year. Was this £6,000 spent? If it was spent, does the Government anticipate that in the coming year we will have the same number of prosecutions and the same expenditure? They budget for exactly the same amount. I do not know what basis they work on, and I do not know how exactly the Minister arrives at these figures.
Under sub-head G—Defence of Public Officials—there is an increase of £600, from £200 to £800. These expenses include actions taken against district justices. So far as I am aware, action against district justices are very few and far between. They would chiefly arise where mistakes would have occurred with regard to accepting service where service might be bad. There would then be certiorari proceedings, and the justice's decision would be quashed. I do not maintain that district justices should pay these expenses out of their own pockets. I think it is quite right where, in fact, a mistake is made, that the State should provide for payment of those necessary expenses incurred. Then I come to where there are included payments for Gárda Síochána and other public officials for acts done by them in the execution of their duty. The impression I have got would be that it applies to those cases that were not acts done in the execution of their duty, or could not be described as acts done in the execution of their duty. They were illegal acts, encouraged by the Minister for Justice and his Department, for which the public is now asked to pay. It is very nice to put them in the Estimate and give them the appearance of being acts done in the execution of duty. One of the reasons I put forward this is that I asked the Minister here on the other Vote  in which the matters arose of the illegal acts, to state distinctly whether in view of the decrees that have been given by the courts, and whether in view of the finding of the courts that illegal acts are being committed by the Guards, they arose out of execution of duty or not. It does not matter whether he has issued any circular directing the attention of the officers and Guards as to what their duties are, and the way in which they have to perform their duties. The Minister has evaded that, and has not given me any reply. Disregarding the consequences which have naturally flown from the encouragement of these illegalities, and his total disregard of any illegal or unlawful acts, he has evaded the question as to whether he has given any instructions, whether by way of circular or otherwise, as to how the Guards are to perform their duties in future. I believe the Guards are sufficiently trained.
We all hear about their being a young force, and so on. I believe the Guards that have been misled by the Minister for Justice know their duties and understand their duties quite well, and if they were not encouraged to do unlawful acts by the Minister for Justice they would not have committed these illegal acts, but why is the country to pay for the illegalities which the Minister for Justice stands for and encourages? The people have to pay for them. I do not think that anything like £600, even including costs, would have been incurred up to the present. So that in providing this sum the Minister must be anticipating the infliction of further penalties as a result of those illegalities. He anticipates that as a result of his action there are going to be further decrees and further actions. If anybody should pay for these the Minister for Justice should be made pay for them himself. The one person primarily and mainly responsible is the Minister for Justice. As everybody knows, he is a lawyer, and he has no doubts whatever as to what is lawful and what is not. In his interpretation of the law the Minister for  Justice has allowed his knowledge of the law to become flavoured with his political antagonisms and prejudices, and allows them to run riot with him. He encourages the Guards to commit illegalities which some of them, at any rate, would not have done if they had not got certain encouragement. The Minister is responsible for that, and no one else, by his attitude in this House. Every time any question is raised on the adjournment or otherwise the Minister has taken up that definite attitude of encouraging these illegalities by talking about law and order, and so on. Is this thing going to stop? Is the country going to have to provide next year for an increased amount under this sub-head? Is the Minister, even now, if he has not done so already, going to issue a circular to the Guards that these illegalities must stop, directing their attention to the fact that they are not entitled to commit these illegalities? If there are members of the Guards who have certain political prejudices, and who are partisans, and see that they are backed up by the Minister for Justice, they will persist in these illegalities. They will be encouraged when they see that provision is made in this Estimate to pay their decrees.
Mr. Ruttledge: I would like to know how I am. I am afraid the Deputy must have been having a siesta. I was dealing with sub-head G. Is not that provision of £800 in the Estimate an indication to these people who committed these illegalities that they can go on committing them and that they can go before the Court and if decreed the Government is going to step in each succeeding year and provide for the payment of those decreed? That is something more than winking at illegalities. It is absolute and definite encouragement of it and if it were only because of that one item in this Estimate I would ask the House confidently to reject the Estimate.
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