Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Examination of Mail.

Thursday, 25 October 1945

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 98 No. 6

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Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he will state whether letters posted in Éire for delivery within the State are opened and censored by his Department or by any other Department with his approval; and, if so, if he can state why such letters are censored and how long this practice has been in force.

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Little): Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  No censorship of correspondence [622] is carried out by the Post Office. The Post Office Act, 1908, makes provision for the opening of postal packets in obedience to a warrant. Relative warrants are issued by the Minister for Justice. I have no information as to the circumstances attending their issue.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I have asked the Minister to state the reasons for such a practice. He has not indicated the reason. I have also asked him how long this practice has been in force. Would the Minister give me any further information?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I pointed out that under the Act of 1908 warrants can be issued by the Department of Justice for the detection of crime.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  From information at my disposal, I understand that the Minister's Department is opening the letters of private individuals, which I consider has a very serious effect on the rights of citizens. Can the Minister say on whose authority his Department opens those letters? Is it on the authority of the Department of Justice?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  Any letters opened are opened under warrant from the Department of Justice for the detection of crime.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Will the Minister say whether there is a list in his Department showing the names of citizens whose letters are to be opened, and whether, according as correspondence comes along for those citizens, the letters are put aside and sent to a further office where they are censored by the Minister's Department?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  The matter is entirely under the Department of Justice.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  Must there be a warrant for each letter, or can there be a warrant for all letters addressed to a certain person?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I do not know. That is a matter for the Department of Justice, not for me.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon  Zoom on James Matthew Dillon  The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs is the custodian of all [623] letters passing through his Department. Will he permit his officers to open only one letter on one warrant, or will he accept a warrant from the Department of Justice to open all letters addressed to a particular addressee?

Mr. Little: Information on Patrick J. Little  Zoom on Patrick J. Little  I have not got the information about that at the moment, and there is no use in my guessing.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I am not satisfied with the Minister's reply, and I give notice that, with your permission, I propose to raise the matter on the Adjournment in order to get further information. Meanwhile, the Minister will have sufficient time to secure the information necessary.


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