Wednesday, 26 March 1947
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £43,480 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1948, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice.
Mr. Boland: The main debate generally takes place on the Vote for the Office of the Minister for Justice. I propose to start with the financial aspects of the Votes and to deal later  with other aspects. A part from normal increments of salary, the increases in all these Votes are almost entirely due to the new salary scales in the Civil Service which came into operation on the consolidation of the basic pay and bonus last November and, on Vote 33, to the corresponding increases in the pay and allowances of the Garda Síochána which have been published in the Press during the past week. The cost of the increased pay and allowances of the Garda amounts, approximately, to £350,000 per annum. However, I shall very briefly go through the Votes in the order in which they are numbered, pointing out any variations in the figures which, I think, may be of interest. There is nothing of particular interest, I think, in Vote 32.
On Vote 33, the estimated strength of the officers and men of the Garda Síochána is given as 7,494 as against 7,476 last year. Apart from the substantial increases under sub-heads A and B for pay and allowances, I would draw the attention of Deputies to sub-head H, which provides for an increase of £7,600 for the maintenance and running expenses of motor transport, and to sub-head M which provides for increased compensation to members of the Garda injured in the course of their duty, etc. The figures under sub-head M are, however, purely conjectural. Naturally, we cannot be sure what the amount will be.
On Vote 34, there is an increase of £16,182 for pay and allowances. There is a decrease under sub-head B of £2,130 for victualling, as the cost is based on an estimated daily average of 675 prisoners as compared with 780 in the previous year. These figures, I may remind Deputies, are conjectural as various factors may arise throughout the year which will upset the advance calculations as to the daily average number of prisoners. Last year, for instance, a daily average of 780 prisoners was budgeted for, but the actual number in custody was 687. The number of officers to be employed in the prisons service this year is estimated at 326, as against 289 in 1946-47.
The increased staff is consequent on the reopening of the Borstal institution  at Clonmel and the extension of the periods of recreation granted to all prisoners on Sundays, which have been increased from, roughly, two to eight hours. I might also direct attention to sub-head H, under which a sum of £8,050 is provided for the maintenance of buildings and equipment. This sum is more than double the sum provided for last year: the extra £4,500 is to be spent mainly on the erection of a new boiler-house, the building of ball-alleys and the concreting of exercise yards at Mountjoy Prison and the erection of ball-alleys and a good deal of reconstruction and renovation work at the Borstal institution in Clonmel.
On the District Court Vote, there is a saving of £3,170 in the provision for temporary additional justices. This saving is more apparent than real. There has been an increase in the number of permanent justices and four will be paid out of the Central Fund and will not be provided for in this Estimate. It was hoped to dispense altogether with temporary justices and that may come about eventually when things become more normal. That was the idea of increasing the number to 40. There were four movable justices, to relieve those who were ill or on holidays, but I find that, in spite of having made these four permanent, we still have to provide extra help. There were three justices ill recently and we had to have three extra temporaries; and I do not see any hope in the coming year of being able to do with less than three temporary justices.
Mr. Boland: Ever since I was Minister for Justice and even before that, the practice has been to have some temporary justices. The law allowed us only 36 permanent justices and I brought in a Bill during the year to increase that to 40, so that we were doing away with the undesirable practice of having temporary justices at all. However, that did not happen to be sufficient. We hope that it may prove unnecessary to have temporary justices in a year or so when things become normal.
 I do not think that the financial side of the Votes for the Circuit, Supreme and High Court, the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds, the Public Record Office and the Office of Charitable Donations and Bequests calls for any comment.
Turning to the statistics for crime— the important part of the debate and one in which everyone is interested— I am sorry to have to say that the figures are still very high. I need scarcely remind Deputies that the Report of the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána on Crime for the year 1945 was laid on the Table of the House last December, and the statistics in the various crime groups—indictable, summary and juvenile offences—are set out in detailed tables and are summarised in the foreword, and compared with the statistics for similar crime groups in earlier years. The report is a valuable document and I hope to have it printed and circulated in each year in future about the month of August. It may not be possible to have it printed this year, as I understand there is considerable congestion in the printing trade, but, when conditions permit, it will be done.
I have recently received from the Commissioner an interim report on crime for the year 1946. The figures in it are provisional, of course, and will be re-checked before being published in final form next August, but I do not expect any great divergence as a result of that re-check.
The total number of indictable crimes reported to the police in 1946 was 15,139, as against 16,786 in 1945. It is the lowest figure recorded since 1941 but it is still almost 100 per cent over the 1939 figure.
In the group classified as “offences against the person”, that is the group comprising crimes such as murder, manslaughter, woundings, sexual crimes, etc., there are 550 cases recorded in 1946, as against 639 in 1945.
In the group headed “offences against property with violence”, that is, burglaries, housebreaking, robbery, malicious damage to property, etc., the corresponding figures are 2,571 and 2,732; the decrease in this group in  1946 is almost entirely in the Dublin metropolitan area.
In the group headed “offences against property without violence” which includes larceny, receiving, fraud, embezzlement, etc., the figures are for 1946—11,832; for 1945—13,227. There was a decrease of 1,159 in the number of larcenies reported and a decrease of 183 in the number of cases of receiving stolen property.
With regard to non-indictable offences, the total number of prosecutions in 1946 was 152,210 (the corresponding figure for 1945 being 150,862). This figure (the 1946 figure) was made up, in the main, of 85,735 breaches of the Road Traffic Act (of which 53,151 were in respect of offences by pedal cyclists against the lighting regulations); of 17,241 breaches of the intoxicating liquor laws, of 11,701 offences in relation to the licensing of dogs and 8,100 breaches of the School Attendance Acts.
In the Dublin Metropolitan area the number of indictable offences reported to the police in 1946 was 9,070 as against 9,543 in 1945. The number of crimes of burglary, housebreaking, etc., last year was 1,094 which is over half the total of such crimes committed throughout the whole country. The total number of larcenies in 1946 was 7,262 as against 7,506 in 1945. Larcenies of goods not exceeding £5 in value totalled 3,051, a decrease of almost 800 on the figure for the previous year, but under the heading “Larceny from Unattended Vehicles” the figure 946 shows an increase of 474 on the previous year.
In the Report on Crime for 1945, tabled in the House last December, the Commissioner gave it as his opinion that over 40 per cent. of the larcenies in the Dublin Metropolitan area could  have been prevented if the owners took reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of property such as bicycles, rugs left in unattended motor-cars, clothes left on lines at night, overcoats in hotels, etc. The prevention of these larcenies and their detection is an extremely difficult task for the police, who have their hands full as it is. People should take care at least of their own property and not expect the police to do everything. I might refer here to Appendix B of the 1945 Report to show the high value of police work in the detection of indictable crime. There is in that report a very valuable index. The table of figures shows for each Garda division the number of indictable crimes committed under various heads, the number of detections and the percentage of detections. I think most Deputies will be interested in that report if they study it.
When speaking earlier on the financial aspect of Vote 34, I mentioned the increased staffing in the prison service owing to the reopening of the Borstal institution at Clonmel. As Deputies are aware, the premises at Clonmel were taken over by the military during the war years and we moved the boys to Cork Prison, at the same time transferring the prisoners there to Limerick Prison. When the emergency ceased my Department resumed possession of the Clonmel premises. For a long time past I was satisfied, both from personal inspection and the reports of my officers who supervise the prisons service, that Cork Prison was unsuitable for the housing of boys over long periods. The Borstal institution at Clonmel was reopened in January, 1947, and the 26 boys in Cork were transferred there. There is no intention of making the premises at Clonmel the permanent institution for the care of these boys. I am satisfied that the best solution is to build an entirely new institution with ample grounds somewhere in the vicinity of Dublin. Various sites have already been inspected and a provisional selection has been made, but so far we have not been able to make any headway with the building of such an institution.
I do not propose to make any further observations now, but if any Deputy  has observations to make on the working of my Department during the past year, I hope to be able to deal satisfactorily with them in my reply at the close of the debate.
Mr. Coogan: I note that provision has been made for a new assistant secretary and a new principal in the Minister's office. We did not get any explanation of the necessity for such increased staff there. I am sure that the work of the Department is growing with the years and there is probably a good case for these appointments, but at the same time I think the House is entitled to some explanation for the appointments just now, when expenditure of all kinds is soaring upwards and upwards.
I am glad that the Minister has been able to meet the demands of the Gardaí to a very considerable extent and, whilst appreciating that the increases now being granted involve a sum of something like £350,000 a year, nevertheless I would like to direct attention to the fact that under the new dispensation of pay and allowances the Taca Síochána has not been fairly treated. This force was recruited in 1939 as a temporary police force and it was absorbed in the Garda Síochána in 1942. Because of the fact that it was regarded as a temporary police force from 1939 to 1942 it has been treated, for pay and allowances purposes, on a different basis from the rest of the force. The net effect of the improvement in pay and allowances for the Taca Síochána is that no member of that body can earn an increment for seven years. It seems an extraordinary anomaly that men serving in the same barracks and wearing the same uniform should be placed in such a position of disparity. Anomalies of that kind, particularly inside the four walls of a small police station, are likely to lead to a lot of internal jealousies and it is desirable that any grievances that might arise in that direction should be rectified.
The number of the Taca Síochána is somewhere about 300. Another point is that none of these men can earn an increment in pay until he reaches 27 years. Again, that is an unfair discrimination as between the Garda  proper and the Taca; in other words, they have to serve seven years before they can enter on the basic pay of the Garda Síochána proper. Whilst the original intention was to treat them as a temporary force, circumstances rendered it impossible to disband that force. In fact, not only had they to be absorbed in the Garda Síochána proper, but the Garda Síochána has since had to be increased by recruitment. Any anomalies or grievances that arise there should be rectified.
I know one particular member of the force who will have eight years' service completed in April. He will then qualify for his first increment. Most of these men have the secondary standard of education and some of them are university men. The vast majority are undoubtedly men of the very highest standard of secondary education. They are the cream of the country's physique and the cream of the country's talent and education. I think these young men not only have rendered a good account of themselves to date, but we shall have to look to that force for many of our future non-commissioned officers and officers. I ask the Minister to review their case and to see if the anomalies to which I have briefly directed attention could not be rectified.
As regards the increases in pay, they are a considerable improvement on the old position. We are setting up, however, an economic and social boundary between the police force in Northern Ireland and the police force in Éire. The disparity in salaries and benefits of all kinds between here and Northern Ireland is becoming so marked that it will be to the economic advantage of anybody seeking employment in the future to cross the Border. I understood it was the policy of this State, whatever Government might be in office, to endeavour to attract the citizens on the other side of the Border to this part of the country rather than that the Six Counties should become an attraction for our citizens. It is noteworthy that many of our citizens are crossing the Border to take up employment there because of the better attractions in pay and emoluments.
 In Northern Ireland a policeman starts with £5 5s. a week and rises to £7 a week. Here a Garda starts off with £3 10s. a week and rises to £6 7s. 6d. A sergeant in Northern Ireland starts with £7 10s., rising to £8 5s. The equivalent position here has a salary of £6 12s. rising to £7 10s. The head constable in Northern Ireland, who is the equivalent of an inspector here, starts with £475 and rises to £550. Our inspector has £420, rising to £475. The Northern Ireland district inspector, the equivalent of our superintendent, starts with £525 rising to £875. A superintendent here has £490, rising to £770.
The figures I have given represent the new scale obtaining here. There is a definite lag between the two forces and, having regard to the degree of cooperation which exists between the two forces and to the necessity for trying, as far as possible, to make conditions here equivalent to what they are across the Border, there is still an anomaly which in time is bound to have an adverse effect.
I mention that matter to show that our people here have not yet reached the level of the people in the Six Counties but I think the most distressing position obtaining to-day under the new Order is the case of the widows and orphans. I do not think they have been treated in any way fairly—in fact they have not been treated at all under the new scale. A Garda's widow gets £30 a year as a widow's pension and, in respect of her children, she gets £10 for every child not exceeding three. The maximum amount she can get in respect of children is, therefore, £30. If she has a family of 12 there is a limitation which deprives her of any allowance in respect of every child beyond the third.
That is a limitation which certainly cannot be defended on moral grounds, a limitation which should go irrespective of any increase in the allowance per child. The Garda's widow, who is  expected to carry on in late life with a pension of £70 a year for herself and her family, is placed in a most unenviable position. It is a physical impossibility for her, perhaps at 50 or 60 years of age, to get a position of any kind in any walk of civil life. Unless she turns out to take a job as charwoman or something like that, she has virtually no other source of employment or income. She is very often faced with the problem of having to rear and educate her family on that very attenuated income. I think that when pay and allowances were being revised, the case of the widow and orphans should have received first consideration. Instead of that they have been ignored. I am sure it is not the Minister's fault that that position obtains to-day. I feel that that position is due to the Department of Finance rather than to the Department of Justice. I would again ask the Minister to consider this matter because there are several cases in the City of Dublin to-day of widows who are living under the most appalling hardship while endeavouring to maintain some degree of respectability in circumstances which certainly are not creditable to the State.
An officer's widow receives the old-time pension of £50 with an allowance of £20 for each child, the allowance, again, being limited to a maximum of three children. Again I feel that it is a limitation which is indefensible on moral grounds. I suggest that the cases of these widows and children should again be raised and that no matter what the attitude of the Minister for Finance may be, the Minister should continue to fight the matter until a satisfactory solution is arrived at. I understand that the number of widows would not be more than 400 and the amount of money involved would not be very considerable. I know that the Minister is sympathetic. I know also that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction and discontent prevailing in the force because of the manner in which widows and orphans have been treated. I would ask the support of Deputies here in urging on the Minister to consider the case of these widows and orphans.
 As regards the crime figures, it is rather startling that the situation has not improved as much as one would expect. The figures are still very high when compared with the pre-war statistics. I understood the Minister to say that they are the lowest since 1941 but that indictable offences still show an increase of 100 per cent. over 1939. That is a very serious matter. Many serious offences are definitely on the decline but there are still some very unsavoury features connected with the crime situation. The number of larcenies, petty pilfering, embezzlements and forgeries remains practically constant and gives food for thought to sociologists and others who are worried about our social and economic condition. I am glad to see that juvenile crime is on the decline. I agree with the Minister and with the Commissioner of the Garda when they say that a great deal of the petty larcenies, particularly in urban and metropolitan areas, are entirely due to the carelessness of property owners, particularly motor-car owners. There is downright carelessness in that regard. Much of the crime which prevails, larcenies from cars and even from houses, and larceny of bicycles, would be prevented if owners would only take reasonable care.
I should like to mention, as I have on previous occasions, the case of District Court clerks and to put the case of these clerks before the Minister in the hope that it may awaken some sense of justice amongst the hard-headed men of the Civil Service and particularly of the Department of Finance who are dealing with this problem and who are not showing the appreciation of the service of these gentlemen that they might show. The problem of finding a suitable scale of salaries and pensions for District Court clerks has now been under consideration for five years and, as far as I can ascertain from questions in the House, we are now no nearer to a scale of salaries and pensions than we were five years ago. I have already mentioned this case to the Minister but I want to stress the position again as I see it.
The Minister in 1942 introduced a Retiral Order and gave notice to the District Court clerks that they would  be retired at the age of 65, in the case of established clerks, and that in the case of unestablished clerks, they could not hope for service beyond the age of 70. Now this Order came as a bolt from the blue to these men who were led to believe in 1923 and 1924 that they would be established on a pensionable basis. According to the terms of their appointments in 1923, they were to have a probationary period of six months and, if confirmed in their appointments, they were given to understand that they would be entitled to a gratuity or pension in due course. They were certainly told that they could rely on having their positions established and on having pensions provided for them at the end of their period of service.
Yet, in 1942 at the height of a grave economic emergency, these gentlemen were notified that they would be retired. That retiral meant in many cases that they would be retired without any provision whatever. I think that was very harsh treatment for men, many of whom had rendered great national service in the Sinn Féin and Irish volunteer movements, many of whom had been active not only in the old Dáil courts but in the old Vounteers, men who not only took a prominent part in the Sinn Féin movement but some of whom spent long terms of imprisonment and endured great hardships in jail.
Two of these men come from my own constituency. One of them was retired under that retiral Order and is to-day in Thomastown County Home without any provision whatever. That gentleman was not only a clerk of the old Dáil courts, but was secretary to the Sinn Féin executive in Kilkenny. He took the present Taoiseach on a canvassing tour of Kilkenny away back in 1917, on the occasion of the first Sinn Féin election there, and he was active down through the years as a member of the Volunteers and particularly as a member of the Dáil courts' staff there. Yet, we who claim to be a national Parliament and to have regard to the sacrifices made by men in the national movement allow such a gentleman to retire to the county home, without any provision being made for him. That is  due entirely to the fact that the Departments dealing with this problem of salaries and pensions for District Court clerks have failed to find a scheme. It is high time a scheme was found for these gentlemen. Many others of them will be placed in the same position in the very near future.
The other gentleman in whom I am interested has, due to the Minister's good offices, been kept on, because, if he were not kept on, he would have to go the same way, to the county home. That gentleman spent three years in prison at one time. He sacrificed all his property in the national cause. He was at one time a man of considerable means and he is now an old man, and if provision is not soon made for him and he has to retire because of incapacity, he must also seek the solace of the county home. I hope the Minister will energise whatever Department deals with this matter sufficiently to ensure that a gentleman with a splendid national record of that type will not have to retreat to the county home or depend on charity in his old age.
As to the rest of these men affected, many of them have national records. I have a long list of them here and I can give particulars of their records. Each one has a very good national record, both in the Volunteers and in the Dáil courts. I do not want to weary the House with the detailed list, but I give as a sample: Gaelic League and G.A.A.; I.R.B., 1905; National Council of Sinn Féin; organised branches of Sinn Féin throughout his native area; shareholders in Griffith's original paper Sinn Féin; battalion adjutant, Irish Volunteers, 1914; organiser Dáil courts in his native county, 1920; registrar of District Court; organising parish courts; collector, Dáil Éireann Loan in 1918-19. As a result of these activities, this man's business collapsed when he had to go on the run. He subsequently became a District Court clerk, and, according to the conditions of the appointment, was led to believe that he could look forward to a sheltered old age when he could retire on some decent pension.
The pension terms offered are not very generous. The pension terms originally offered to these gentlemen  were so appallingly ungenerous that they, all but one, refused them. They were asked to sacrifice years of service and were asked, in consideration of a pension, to take a reduced salary and to go on an established basis which virtually meant that, on their retirement at the maximum age, they would have to fall back on one quarter of their pay. None of them was paid liberally and a £300 a year man would have to fall back on something like £80 a year to survive in his old age. There are several cases similar to that of the gentleman I have mentioned, such as: I.R.B., 1907; secretary, local Sinn Féin clubs; member of the Volunteers from 1914; secretary, Belfast Boycott Committee; Gaelic League and G.A.A.; I.O. during the Black and Tan régime; assisted in running Irish Freedom; engaged in all forms of national and Republican activities at that time. These are the types of gentlemen who are being left to the mercies of, I am afraid, a cold-blooded Civil Service who have no regard for the sacrifices made by these men in these days. I appeal to the Minister not to leave these men in the hands of that cold-blooded Civil Service machine. I doubt if these gentlemen have an appreciation of the sufferings and hardship these men underwent in those days and I am afraid that some of them may be tinged with prejudice. Some of them may not have any sympathy with the men who took these risks in those dark days.
I want to put this point of view also, that these men, by virtue of the terms of their appointment, are virtually whole-time officers. They are debarred by law, by the Petty Sessions Act, Section 35, which, so far as I can find out, has not been repealed, from engaging in other activities and they may therefore, be regarded, for all practical purposes, as whole-time officers. Many business and other activities are denied to them by law and they were definitely given an undertaking in 1923 and 1924 that their position would be improved and that they would be established on a proper scale of pay and allowances and would receive pensions.
Mr. Coogan: I think it is a matter for the Minister for Justice. They are controlled by the Minister for Justice and the Examiner of District Court clerks is in his Department. It is he who must take the initiative in improving their lot. They are the servants of the Minister's Department. I urge that the scheme should be expedited as much as possible and I also urge that, where these men have capacity for their work, they should not be kicked out at 65, but should be retained, so long as they have the capacity to work. In Great Britain, this problem of court clerks arose and the British kept them on until the age of 72. There is no reason why, if a man is active in brain and body, he should not be kept on here until the age of 72. If they have to go at 65, the terms of their establishment should be such as to enable them to retire on something more than a mere pittance.
If we take the case of a petty sessions clerk in Derry and in a comparable area like Limerick, it will be found that the petty sessions clerk in Northern Ireland has a salary of about £750, with an assistant at £350. I do not know the Limerick man's salary, but I venture to suggest that it is not half the Derry man's salary and he has no assistant. There is no comparison between the work of a clerk in Northern Ireland and the clerks down here. Many new jurisdictions have been conferred on the District Court here which do not obtain in Northern Ireland. The job of the District Court clerk here has become so loaded with work that it has become a skilled occupation. The District Court clerk here is responsible for showing jurisdiction on every summons issued from the District Court office. Any document issued by him may be challenged by a solicitor in court and every time he deals with a summons or court document, he does something for which a solicitor in the ordinary way would receive a fee.
I put it to the Minister that having regard to the increased work of the courts, and particularly the increased work which will be thrown on the courts under the Rent Restrictions Act, there is certainly a case not only for  expediting this scheme but for giving these men generous terms for the work they are doing. I have laboured the point sufficiently to indicate that there is a case for these gentlemen receiving decent treatment.
The Circuit Court clerks are in a somewhat different category, but their case, I understand, is also dragging along. Many of these men have spent 50 years in the public service. I know that, when originally appointed, these men were probably appointed as assistants to the clerk of the peace and were not established civil servants, and, in the ordinary sense, were not paid directly from public funds; but nevertheless the clerk of the peace, the predecessor of our court registrar, had to get the money from public funds to pay his assistants, and to that extent they were public officers in the employment of the State, even though they were not established. Certain offers were made to these gentlemen, many of whom, as I say, have upwards of 50 years' service.
But the net effect of the offer was that they would not have received as a start more than seven years' established service and, in order to get that seven years' established service, they would have had to agree to a considerable reduction in their existing salaries. I think their case is one which should receive treatment also. Some of them definitely have rights to compensation under Article 10 of the Treaty. Others of them, to my own personal knowledge, rendered sterling service, and dangerous service, in the national movement and are deserving of special consideration for these services. When we consider the present cost of living and realise that for 30 years a number of these gentlemen have got no increment whatever by way of increased pay or allowances, we see that their case is all the more deserving of urgent treatment. I would appeal, therefore, to the Minister to urge the Minister for Finance to bring the problem of the pay and pensions of these people to an early conclusion.
There is only one other matter that I wish to raise—it is a problem to which I have referred on previous occasions—that is, the tendency of all  Government Departments to throw new duties on to the Garda, duties, which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as police duties. The Minister has given us a serious picture of our crime situation. We are 100 per cent. over the 1939 figures in crime. That is a serious situation and I have no doubt that a good deal of it may be due to the fact that ordinary beats and patrols have had to be stripped, ordinary police supervision has had to be reduced, in order that the Gardaí might provide service for other Government Departments. The Guards are expected to engage in all sorts of activities for other Government Departments. The Minister should resist any further encroachment upon the Garda's time for work of that kind. I know that it is an easy way out to get the Guards to make the necessary investigations or inquiries and the necessary reports but when that can be done only to the neglect of the performance of ordinary police duty, we are bound to have an increase in crime. If you strip the streets of Dublin, or of any large city of police, and the juveniles are aware of that fact, you are bound to have an increase in petty crime of all kinds and petty crime eventually leads to more serious indictable crime. For that reason alone, I think the Minister should resist any further encroachment upon the time of the Garda for miscellaneous duties, which cannot be regarded as police work.
The police problem should be to get our crime situation back to normal, back to the 1939 situation. They cannot hope to achieve that objective if they are to be the messenger boys for every Government Department which has a new brain wave. That is the position we have had in the Garda for years, that the Garda is being over-loaded with non-police work, to the detriment of the prevention and detection of crime. I know that the Minister and the officials appreciate that situation but I do feel that, in the interests of our people, it is essential that the Garda should be divorced from all non-police activity and concentrated entirely on their main objective, the prevention and detection of crime.  That is what they exist for and we will never get back to the pre-war crime situation if half, or perhaps more, of our police in any given station are to be absorbed in non-police work. Every time a Board of Works inquiry or an agricultural credit inquiry or an inquiry from any Government Department has to be investigated it means the loss of a Guard for perhaps the best part of a day, depending upon where the investigations have to be made. I know that in practice it very often means stripping the small police station of its effective personnel for police work. These men find their energies dissipated in all sorts of administrative detail. Not only have they to go out to investigate on the spot the particular matter under investigation but they have to come back and make their report on the investigation. In that way much of their time is absorbed in duties which should properly belong to the officials of the Departments concerned. It perhaps may be argued that it is a cheap way for the State to get their inquiries or investigations carried out but I do say, with all seriousness, that many of these investigations should not be given to the Garda Síochána at all. Many of them are of such a confidential nature that they should be carried out by other agencies. They are not appropriate to the police machine at all and it is unreasonable and unfair to the citizen that certain investigations which are transferred to the Garda by Government Departments should be conducted by members of the Garda. Incidentally, that type of investigation of a confidential nature very often has an adverse effect upon the police in the locality and may have an adverse effect upon the police in their main job—the investigation of crime. I cannot overstress that aspect of police work because I feel that as the years roll on the tendency will be to increase that type of work upon the Garda machine and I am putting it to the Minister that he should resist all further encroachments and, if at all possible, get rid of the miscellaneous duties that are there, a heavy burden, on the crime machine. If you overburden the crime machine  with this type of work, it cannot be expected to give the results in crime that one would expect.
On that matter of crime, while the Minister did give us figures, he did not give us any figures for the cases detected and the percentage of detections as against cases reported and the percentage of convictions in relation to cases reported and to cases detected. The efficiency of the Garda can only be tested, to my mind, on that basis.
Mr. Coogan: Perhaps it is but I think we should have it here once a year so that we could see whether our police force is improving in crime detection and, above all, in getting the real results, the conviction of the criminal. We should have that information because it is only on that basis we can really appreciate the police difficulty. I know that a good excuse can be made for, perhaps, failure to detect certain classes of crime because men are simply not available for the investigation of crime and if I had these figures I would have been able to make a better case for resisting further encroachment upon police work proper.
Mr. Cafferky: The Estimate for the Department of Justice is divided into a number of sub-heads but taking the Estimate as a whole, it represents a considerable sum. In my opinion, so far as the District Courts, Circuit Courts, High Court and Supreme Court are concerned, the system is very complicated and it is that complexity which is the cause of so much expenditure. While we cannot discuss legislation, I would like to say that I think the time has come when something should be done to alter our legal system. I am glad that the Minister has given an increase of pay to the Garda Síochána. It was long overdue, especially to the recruits. They were badly neglected. Many arguments will be put forward as to the reasons for the increase in crime. The largest share of this crime is committed in the large cities and towns, particularly here in Dublin.  When one thinks of the conditions in this city it is surprising that there is not more crime. You see young boys of from eight to 12 years of age on the streets up to all hours at night with a few newspapers under their arms. The selling of the newspapers is just an excuse for them to defy the law by begging coppers. It is a pity to see them starting out on the wrong road at so early an age. Neither their parents nor the State appears to take any interest in them. Such a thing should not be allowed in our country. If the parents are not capable of maintaining them, except by sending them out on the streets at so early an age to sell newspapers, the State should intervene and have those youngsters sent to an industrial school where they would get a useful training.
I have also noticed that the number of young women on the streets of Dublin up to 12 o'clock at night is on the increase. I am sure that some of the more senior members of the House have noticed this, but they have failed to make any reference to it. I think it is a matter that should be mentioned because there does not seem to be any interest taken in it. The Guards do not seem to interest themselves in it, but the fact is that a considerable amount of importuning is carried on on the main streets of this city at night. That is not very creditable to a Catholic city. From what I have observed during the last four years, that sort of thing appears to be on the increase. I think some method could be adopted to prevent it happening. I imagine that a policeman would be quite capable of coming to a conclusion as to what these women are doing on the streets after 12 o'clock at night.
You also have in the City of Dublin one or two cafés, the purpose of which is certainly not to supply people with meals, such as tea and sandwiches, at a late hour at night. In my estimation they are run for some other purpose. We do not hear of anything being done to bring them under the notice of the authorities. There is one at the top of Parnell Street and there is another in a street off the South Circular Road. In my opinion these places are a disgrace to any Catholic country.
As regards dances, I am totally opposed to the idea of permitting the sale of liquor in dancehalls. Nothing could be worse than that, I think. If boys and girls go to dances and want a drink, then let them leave the dancehalls and go to the publichouses in the neighbourhood and satisfy themselves. They should not be able to get intoxicating drink in a dancehall. The hard point about that is this, that the dancehalls which are anxious to have these bars cater more for the middle and upper-classes than for the working-classes. It is regrettable that the middle and upper-classes should in this matter set such a damn bad example to the working-classes of the country, such a bad example that they feel it is necessary to have liquor on sale in a dancehall so that they—both men and women—can go on the booze and discredit themselves and the country. The sooner the Minister cuts that out the better for everybody and for themselves. We find dances run for various purposes, and that those promoting them are able to make a very good case before the district justice to have a licence attached to the premises in which the dances are held. In some instances the conduct carried on in these dancehalls is a disgrace. If the Minister were to instruct the district justices to refuse point blank the granting of licences to sell drink in these dancehalls he would, I think, be acting in accordance with the wishes of 95 per cent. of our people.
The system of moving Guards from one station to another is one that, I suggest, should be carefully looked into, especially in the case of married men with families. In some of these cases, the children may have reached the age of 14 or 15 and may be about to leave the national school. The income of a Guard or of a sergeant is not sufficient to enable him to send his children to a boarding-school for secondary pupils. I think that in the case of men with families and especially  children of the age that I have referred to, they should be stationed in towns where it would be possible for them to send their children to a day secondary school.
In Kilkelly, the village from which I come, steps should be taken to erect a suitable barracks for the Guards. In some of those country barracks there is no sleeping accommodation for single men or married men. In many towns in the County Mayo it is almost impossible for them to get suitable places in which to stay. A sergeant who came to Kilkelly three months ago had to ask for a transfer because of the lack of suitable housing accommodation. I think he had a family of five or six children and they had to do the best they could in a couple of rooms. There is really no barrack in Kilkelly. It is really a dilapidated house. It has been used temporarily as a barracks for the last 25 years. The sooner the Government make up their minds to erect a suitable barracks there the better. As the Minister is aware, I have done a month in prison and it helped to give me a little insight into the way things are run there.
Mr. Cafferky: The position is this. When a young man is sent to jail for a crime such as stealing a bicycle, hitting a policeman, being drunk and disorderly, using obscene language or the various other reasons for which young men are sent for one, two, three and up as high as nine months I think— judging by what I myself saw—that he comes out far worse than he was when he went in. That is my conviction. I am not saying it on prejudice.
There are no means of recreation whatsoever in Sligo prison. There are three rings, something about the size  of this floor, which you walk round and round until you become dizzy. It is 47 yards round about. I stepped it one day to find out the size of it. That is the only recreation they have. They have no recreation rooms, no wireless, no pack of cards, no dartboard, no billiards. They have nothing to utilise their minds except to think of crime or to bear within their minds a hatred for the policeman who caught them napping, for the justice who sentenced them to jail and, as some of them I think told me, for Mr. Boland the present Minister himself, and for everybody who is outside the jail. They are convinced that everybody is determined to knock the last breath out of them and to treat them as uncivilised human beings. It is just the mercy of God that we do not fall into one crime or another and it is unfair to penalise the young man who slips and may never slip again. I think that district justices should be most careful about sentencing a young man to jail. The man who is working in an office for a very small wage and is tempted to take £10, £15 or £20 of his employer's money, is sentenced and sent to jail for a term of six months. He is ruined for the rest of his life. When he comes out he cannot get any employment; he has no reference; his employer will not give him a reference and the governor of the jail will not give him a reference without stating that he was in his custody, and he cannot go away and hide under a false name—particularly in this country. Owing to its size everybody is known in it. It does not matter whether you live in Dublin or Mayo or Cork, you will be known and if you take up employment under a false name somebody will come along some day and expose the whole thing and your employer will fire you, even though you have served him honestly and faithfully. I think that that type of young man should get a chance to pay back what he took over a period of time and should be given a chance to go straight. Consideration should be given to the fact that he was working for a very small wage. Therefore, I would like the Minister to look into the conditions of Sligo Prison. In fairness to the Minister, I must say that I have been told that it was not the  intention of the present or the past Government to leave that building there or to use it if the whole country were united but seeing that the unity of the country is as far away to-day as ever it was, with no hope or no plan or no desire, as far as I know, to bring about the unity of this country, I think it would be well to do something to provide some of the amenities that are necessary for the prisoners in Sligo Prison. The food is not sufficient, not only in quantity, but in quality and it is badly cooked. The only substantial meal there is the stirabout at 4.30 in the afternoon. That is the only meal that would in any way take away the hunger. In the morning prisoners are awakened at 6 o'clock; they remain in their cells, doing nothing, until 8.15 or 8.30 when they get their breakfast which consists of an eighth of a loaf and two cups of tea. There is one pint of milk for every 18 pints of tea. I ask the Minister how would he like to drink tea with one pint of milk for every 18 pints of tea.
Mr. Cafferky: I dare say you did, but in fairness if we are trying to reform prison conditions or the prisoners themselves, is that the way to reform them? A pint of milk to 18 pints of tea! It does not even colour the tea but it makes it look ugly and sickly. I would rather drink it black. I admit there was sufficient butter but an eighth of a loaf is not sufficient for some men. It is not sufficient for big-bodied men with big appetites, farmers' sons and men who have been working on the soil. They told me that they were hungry the whole day long and even during the night.
Mr. Cafferky: In the evening at 7.30 they get a sixteenth of a loaf of bread and two cups of black tea which has been described by a district justice as a meal. It was in the papers. I have the cutting. He has not to live on it from 7.30 until 8.15 in the morning, already hungry before he got it, in many instances the tea cold, having to travel along icy corridors with the snow  blowing in the air holes. The cooking utensils in Sligo Prison are in no way modern; they are completely out of date. The heating system is numb. There are two furnaces but neither is suitable for the prison, never was and never could be to my mind and if you sat on the top of them or went into them they would not burn you. For fun's sake I spat upon it one night and the spit was still wet the next morning. What amount of heat have the prisoners been getting in that prison for years past? They have, I believe, 20 tons of coal since the emergency and they never used a shovelful although you could squeeze the turf without putting very little pressure on it. That is what they are using for fuel although the coal is breaking up into dust. What greater emergency during the month of the blizzard than that emergency with no fuel, no turf and yet no fire to heat the prison. The governor of the prison, a very nice gentleman, told us when we were going in that there were 60 degrees of heat. I did not feel warm until I came out.
We were not concerned about ourselves. We were only a month in, but God help the poor devil who has to spend nine months or a year there. I ask the Minister to afford more recreation to those prisoners, more amenities, such as cards, wireless, a dart board, a billiard table and, particularly, to arrange for communal feeding in a place such as a refectory, instead of carrying the tea along corridors and passages as long as from here to the Department of Industry and Commerce across the way. There is a cold breeze blowing through those corridors and passages, and by the time you get the tea, it is ice cold. I cannot see why prisoners are not fed in a refectory with two or three warders watching over them. The canisters in which the tea is carried are supposed to be of aluminium but they are not finished and are partly black on the inside. They serve for the purpose of tea, porridge, soup, meat, vegetables and bread. One utensil is used in all cases and, in nine cases out of ten, when you get your tea, you find grease floating on it. You would want to have the stomach of a dog to drink  that tea. The prisoners wash the utensils but oftentimes the water is only lukewarm and does not take away the grease. I should not object to tea being served in a vessel in which other food had been provided if it were clean. But one knows that it is not clean. Many times I could not drink my tea because of the grease floating on the top.
In the year 1947, there should be no objection to the use of cutlery. Shortly before we went in, the prisoners were supplied with a fork and a big soupspoon, sufficient to shovel gravel into a cart. Before that, they used their fingers and they had to put their hands down deeply into the canister because it was very high. I believe that cups and saucers should be used. I do not suggest that they should be of the fancy type; half-pint delf mugs would serve the purpose. The governor said to me that canisters were better because they kept the food warm. He is right in that. It would get cooler in the mug but, if you had a refectory near the kitchen into which the boys would march, that objection would not hold. I was told that, if that were done, some ruffians would pinch the food of the others. But you could have the refectory divided into cubicles and have two or three warders supervising them. The ruffians could be put back into their cells until they made up their minds that they would behave and be content with their own rations. It would be very easy to discipline those fellows. In Sligo Jail, there were only two prisoners who could be described as criminals or ruffians. There were 26 prisoners when I went in and only about 15 or 16 when I was leaving.
The greatest prisoner of the lot is the warder. He is the real prisoner. On Sunday, when prisoners are walking around the ring, he stands like a statue. Even though the weather be freezing, he has to keep his hands out of his pockets. He has no means of warming himself and he must stand there from 9.30 to 12.30 and from 2.30 to 4.30. I saw the soldiers on duty outside Buckingham Palace and they were provided with a little hut with an electric fire. At intervals, they left the hut and paraded up and down. In  Sligo, the warders have to stand in the rain or snow watching the prisoners. Whether there are only two prisoners or 22 makes no difference. Then, they have the same uniform when they are on duty and off duty. If they get wet, they cannot change into another uniform; they have to keep on the same damp uniform all day. Their shoes are too light for winter, though they are all right for summer. They are too light for men who have to go to the farm or go out with young men who are carrying turf. I understand that two or three of those warders have gone to a sanatorium. They went in as healthy young men, which proves that the conditions under which they carry out their duties are not good. I understand that the warders' hostel, or place where they are accommodated, is out of date and unsuitable. Their furniture is completely out of date. They are very badly situated so far as furniture is concerned. It is unfair that they should be asked to sleep in the same type of bed, with the same type of mattresses and blankets, as the prisoners use. The men who are supervising the criminals in jail are treated in some instances worse than the criminals. In many cases, the criminal has more liberty than the warder. Even when off duty and walking through the grounds, the warder dare not smoke. That system is too Hitlerite. I ask the Minister to consider supplying those warders with a second uniform or, at least, a second pair of trousers. They have to go around the cells and corridors and have them clean before the governor comes round.
I heard many times of the authority of the sergeant-major but a governor is next to the Almighty when he comes around on inspection. The cells and corridors must be spotless and the warders have very often to clean them themselves. They do not like to be rough on the prisoners. If they were, perhaps they would not do anything for them and would have to be locked up. The warders, therefore, have to soil their uniforms in cleaning up. Yet, when they parade in the morning for inspection, they must be spick and span. They must use the same uniform when cleaning up and when on parade before the governor. If it is not spick  and span, they are told off and penalised.
The allowance given to wardens when they go to the Circuit Court is not sufficient. Does the Minister really think that 9/- allowance is sufficient for a warden who leaves home and spends a night in Castlebar, having to pay for bed and breakfast, tea, dinner and lunch and come home again? Does he think that 1/6 is sufficient for tea for an untried prisoner who is landed in jail and has to go to court to be tried? Does he realise that, partly through shame and partly through charity, the warden has to put his hand in his pocket and pay for the untried prisoner? I can understand that, as no man could in decency walk into a restaurant and leave the poor prisoner hungry outside, even if he had committed a crime. That is something which should be seen to immediately.
There is great dissatisfaction amongst the staffs of all prisons as regards having to wear their uniforms out to the Circuit Court and back. Everybody knows who they are and they are not liked by anybody. People know the warden is taking a prisoner to or from jail and, Irish sympathy being what it is, a warden is not liked. It also embarrasses the young man who may be innocent of any crime and who is being taken to the Circuit Court to be tried. When he has to sit beside the warden, everyone assumes that he is a criminal, or at least a suspected one. It is worse still when the uniform itself—which is the only one they have —is soiled and stained and it is no credit to the prison staff when they go to the Circuit Court 40 or 50 miles away but within the district of the prison.
I am not saying these things with any venom or desire to vex the Minister or score a point on him. These are a few of the things I found out while in Sligo Prison. Otherwise, I would know nothing at all about them. I am merely asking the Minister, whenever an opportunity presents itself, to consider some of the points I have made and remedy them if he can. Better conditions should be brought about in our prison life. You will not reform a prisoner by treating him as he is  treated at present in Sligo. If the other prisons are like Sligo, I cannot imagine him being reformed, but can imagine him getting worse and coming out determined to revenge the serving of his nine months on society in one way or another, no matter what the consequences may be. Even if he is told he will be kidnapped again and made serve three years in another prison, he will be determined to do it, because of the time he has already spent in prison.
The quantity and quality of food are not sufficient. There should be a refectory where all prisoners could have their meals together. If there were any blackguarding or abuse of that, there is a recognised way of dealing with it and a prisoner can be sent back to his cell for a certain number of days, as decided by the governor or the chief warden. These concessions should be used to reform the prisoners and bring them back to the straight path. There should be a ball alley and football field attached to every prison, so that the prisoners can spend Sunday in a more fitting manner than walking about with an idle mind. There should be a large recreation room for use in winter. There is none in Sligo. Imagine the conditions there, where four or five men are sent into each cell and all they have is a stool each to sit on, while there is a warden standing at the door looking through the glass, which is just about the size of an eye. That is deplorable and I cannot imagine the Minister having been all these years in office—or his predecessors, either—and allowing such a system to continue.
Mr. Cafferky: I mean the Minister, though I daresay that, if you got the chance, you would do so. I would like the Minister to take into consideration the points I have made in relation to the changing of Gardaí from one station to another and in particular the placing of married men, with children of 14 years and upwards, as near to secondary schools as possible. One or two houses should be let out specially for Guards in towns where there are not suitable barracks and, whether there are barracks or not, there should be houses for the married men.
When the Minister was replying to two questions this afternoon, I think he had not all the information at his disposal. Perhaps he is unaware that there is a case listed in the courts in Mayo in relation to the burning of this particular house, McEllins of Balla, and the Mayo County Council is going to oppose it. There is evidence in existence that it was a short circuit which caused the fire.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: Deputy Cafferky's remarks about the rather inane and purposeless form of recreation, that is, marching round in circles, which seems to be a feature of prison life, prompts me to advert to what we observed when we went down, with the consent of the Minister, to visit Portlaoighise last year. That was one of the things that did strike us as being in need of urgent reform. I gathered, though I cannot check up on it at the moment, that so far as Portlaoighise is concerned the practice was discontinued there, or at least an effort was to be made to discontinue it. I am speaking from memory now, but I have an idea that that was to be one of the adjustments that would be made in that prison. If it is continued in Sligo Prison and other prisons, there is no reason why, if it has been altered in Portlaoighise, it should not likewise be altered there.
Since reference has been made to that particular form of prison routine, I would like to know from the Minister how far it will be possible for him to adopt the reforms that that particular deputation urged upon him as necessary, in so far as Portlaoighise prison is concerned. There were a number of matters, some minor and some major. To what extent they have been remedied I do not know, and I am sure it would be of interest to the House if the Minister would give us details.
There is one matter which has been raised every year on this Vote, since I came into the House, by other Deputies and by myself and I feel it is necessary to refer to it again to-day. It is the housing problem that confronts the Garda. I can speak with some experience of their position in the City of Dublin, where they are regarded as not being eligible for the Dublin Corporation houses. There can be no doubt that the Gardaí are faced, in the matter of housing, with an almost impossible position. I am not unmindful of  the fact that an equally difficult position has arisen in our country towns and villages, where there is probably no choice at all, no available accommodation for members of the Garda Síochána. It is a serious position from the point of view of the administration of justice if those upon whom the responsibility of administration rests are not in a position to house themselves and their families.
I mention this matter again because last year the Minister indicated that serious notice was being taken of the position and plans were well in hand, or advanced, in relation to proper housing facilities. I would like to know what exactly is the position and what the Minister proposes to do in relation to housing. I realise that there are big difficulties to be surmounted, but it would be reassuring if we could have some idea as to how far the plans have been advanced and what eventually will they comprise.
Deputy Coogan, together with other Deputies and myself, last year referred to the position of District Court clerks. I desire to support the plea that has been made here in connection with those officials. I feel that it is necessary to do so on this occasion because last year, when we were discussing this matter, we were under the impression that the Minister was entirely sympathetic and that his sympathy would be demonstrated by immediate representations to the Minister for Finance. Deputies were left under the impression that the point we had in mind— pensions for the District Court clerks —would follow in a short time.
We had occasion recently in the House, when the matter was raised, though not quite in the definite way that it is being raised on this Vote, to note that it was evident the Minister was not quite so keen or enthusiastic as he was here last year. It may be that he did make strong representations to the Minister for Finance and it is possible he may not have been very warmly received, but I do not think that would be any justification for dropping a matter which seriously affects, not a large number of individuals—indeed, that number may now be regarded as a diminishing factor— but individuals who have given good  service to the State and who are not being rewarded in the way in which people who serve the State well should be rewarded—that is, in the form of superannuation of a suitable type.
I wish to renew the appeal I made last year and early this year. Whatever qualms the Minister may have about his approaches to the Minister for Finance, I urge him to go again and point out the merits of this case and the feeling that there is in this House behind the appeal for justice for these men.
I am anxious to ascertain from the Minister what precisely have been the reactions to the Rent Restrictions Act of 1946, in which special provision was made for the fixing of fair rents for dwellings under a valuation of £10. It was envisaged at that time that district justices would be specially appointed for the purpose. I gathered from the Minister some time ago, when he was dealing with another question related to this, that not very many cases were accruing from the operation of that Act. My view is that if the legislation has not given the result which some of us felt it should give, that is entirely due to the fact that the masses of the people, particularly in the City of Dublin, are unaware of its provisions.
The Minister may say: “What can I do? I have passed legislation which was intended to be a measure of justice for those people. It is there and I set up all the necessary machinery and what more can I do?” But it is not very easy for the public precisely to understand every detail of an Act passed here. I venture to say that there are few members of the House, apart from those associated with the discussions on the Bill, who know the essential provisions of it. It might be possible by some method of publicity to bring home to the minds of the people in Dublin and elsewhere throughout the country the clauses in that Act that are available for them if they are worried about increased rents or feel they have a grievance.
The Minister has responded in a disappointing manner to the pleas that were made in connection with the need to set up courts to deal with furnished  flats—again I have the City of Dublin in mind.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: With your permission, I shall satisfy myself by intimating to the Minister that the replies he has given on this subject are not entirely satisfactory. May I hope that the justice of the case which has been made—that is, the case relating to the necessity for changing the law, and it is quite true that now I am on very dangerous ground—will be duly appreciated by the Minister and that he will move away from the replies he has been giving recently on this subject?
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: I want to deal with another matter and it will be the last suggestion that I shall make to the Minister to-night. It is a question in which members of all Parties are interested, namely, the question of legal aid for the poor. Here again is a reform which is urgently needed. Under present conditions we have one law for the rich and another for the poor. Any Deputy will readily understand that where an individual is not prepared to bear the expense of going into court or cannot bear the expense, the dice is loaded against him. He has not the necessary funds to employ a solicitor or counsel and thereby suffers a grievous hardship. This reform is already in operation elsewhere, and I think it is overdue here. I am sure our legal friends would be in a position to make a stronger case on that point than I can, but I should like to put it from the angle of the man in the street. I think that an unfortunate poor person who is not conversant with the various intricacies of the law should be safeguarded against himself, if you like, and that facilities should be made available whereby he can obtain such legal assistance as will enable him to obtain justice.
Mr. Costello: I have very few points to make on the Estimate—two being  on matters of principle, and the rest on matters of detail. I am impelled to mention, firstly, a matter of principle by the sort of plea that Deputy Cafferky made to the Minister for justice in which he appeared to ask the Minister to instruct district justices to take a certain action in reference to a matter about which he felt very strongly. I am sure Deputy Cafferky did not realise the implications of his plea to the Minister. I want it to be made clear by the Minister in his reply that neither he nor his Department issue instructions of any kind, class or description to district justices. I have frequently taken the occasion here of Bills dealing with district justices, whether Courts of Justice Bills or Bills imposing additional jurisdiction on district justices, to make the strongest possible plea for the independence of these courts in the administration of justice. I have pointed out that there is a disposition in the proposals that have been introduced from time to time, and in the remarks of Ministers, to suggest that district justices are in some way subject to instructions from the Government or any Department of State. I think that this House should make it clear that a district justice should not, under any circumstances, be liable to receive instructions from any Department of State as to the manner in which he is to dispense justice. I regard that as a vitally fundamental matter and I ask the Minister to state categorically and specifically, whether he or his Department have had the habit or routine of issuing instructions or circulars dealing with the matters in which district justices exercise judicial functions. It would be deplorable if such a practice existed. There is a particular method by which the view of the Department or of the Attorney-General can be brought to the attention of the district justice and that is through the medium of the State Solicitor speaking in court and acting for the Department. I would regard it as a matter affecting fundamentally the administration of justice if it were to be the practice of the Department to send out circulars in any way directing justices as to how they are to administer the law. I would ask the Minister to state when  replying, categorically and specifically, whether any such practice exists.
The second fundamental matter to which I wish to advert is one which is allied to some extent to the first matter. The Minister for Justice in his opening statement referred to the number of temporary justices. For years, I have been advocating here the abolition of the system of appointing temporary district justices. I believe the Minister has stated, as he stated on previous occasions, that he looks with disfavour on the system of appointing temporary district justices and he hopes that conditions will soon arise under which that system will no longer obtain. I have watched the course of events for the last 12 months and I am glad to see that a number of these temporary justices have been given permanent appointments. I hope the same will apply to the temporary justices at present in existence.
The matter of principle to which I wished to advert is that, in reference to the appointment of temporary district justices, and even to permanent district justices, it appears to be the continued practice of the Department of Justice to appoint these temporary justices and even permanent justices for political reasons and through political pressure. I have watched that system for some time in operation. It is a bad system; it is entirely wrong in my view when it obtains in reference to temporary district justices. During the period that a temporary district justice is administering justice, he is liable at any time to be recalled from his position. In that way he is indirectly, if not directly, subject to pressure which may be of a political nature in the exercise of his functions. It is undignified, improper and contrary to the public weal that when a vacancy arises pressure should immediately be brought to bear on the Minister to appoint A, B, C, or D, not because of his standing at the Bar or in the solicitor's profession but by reason of his political affiliations or because of the service which he has rendered at a general election to a political party.
The method by which judicial appointments, from the highest to the lowest, should be made, is, of course,  a very wide matter upon which to embark but I think everybody will agree as to the desirability of some system which would prevent the appointment of temporary justices or indeed the filling of any other judicial appointments on political grounds. I agree that there is a great difficulty in devising such a system but I do think that the system which has obtained in years past in reference to temporary district justices has been deplorable, obviously resting on the principle of political affiliations. That is one of the reasons why I have so consistently in this House asked the Minister for Justice to put an end to the appointment of temporary district justices. These are the two matters of principle to which I intended to refer on this Vote.
There are some matters of detail, not of very great importance but one is a matter to which I have in vain referred year after year on this Estimate. I have referred to the practice of the Garda authorities in refusing to give to solicitors who are acting in running down cases, accident cases, in the civil courts, statements which had been made to Guards by witnesses when the Guards are investigating the circumstances of the accident. That request has been consistently refused by the Minister year after year. Yet, year after year and term after term, I have seen these very statements which have been refused to certain solicitors in the hands of their opponents. It is time that all sides should be equally treated. I agree that until any criminal proceedings have come to an end none of the statements should be at the disposal of any person who intends to be a party to a civil action; but, once any criminal proceedings have been brought to an end, statements collected by the Guards should be put at the disposal of all parties to the civil action and so put an end to what is nothing less than a scandal—one party to a civil action being in the position to get these statements from the Guards and to have them in court, while his opponent in the matter is refused and cannot get the statements.
There has been a change of practice in connection with the investigation of claims for criminal injuries. I understand  that instructions have been given to the Guards to put at the disposal of county councils and other local authorities the statements and information collected by the Guards in their investigation of matters giving rise to the suspicion that a criminal injury has been committed. In addition to these statements being put at the disposal of local authorities, these statements should equally be put at the disposal of the applicants. In other words, all parties should be treated equally. That is all I am asking for. I am asking for no concession; I am asking that statements collected by the Guards in the course of their investigation of an accident or an alleged criminal injury should be put at the disposal, after all possibility of criminal proceedings being brought has ceased to exist, or after the determination of criminal proceedings, of all parties, and that all parties should be fairly treated.
The next matter to which I want to refer is the question of the employment of probation officers in the Dublin courts. I assume that there are no probation officers employed in any other part of the country. So far as I can see from the Book of Estimates, there are very few of these probation officers employed even in Dublin and they are employed at what appears to be a wretched stipend. The probation officers who, over a long period of years, have been the subject of eulogies from the Bench for the work they have done appear, so far as one can gather from the Estimates—whether they will partake of any increase following the general increase intended to be given to State servants, I do not know—to be paid a wretchedly low salary and they appear to occupy the unenviable position of being unestablished. Why should they be unestablished? Why should people who have proved themselves occupy the position of unestablished officers in such an important category in relation to the reform of individuals brought under their care or coming under observation?
The chief probation officer gets an inclusive salary of £350. The men probation officers get a salary of £250,  increasing by £10 to £300 and women probation officers £200 by £10 to £250. It appears to me that there is a strong case for an increase in the number of such officers throughout the country and it also appears to me that there is an unanswerable case for an improvement in the wretched salaries set out in the Estimate. I notice with some interest that the amount allocated in this year's Estimates for policewomen amounts to a sum of £437. Perhaps the Minister would vouchsafe some information to the House as to (a) the number of policewomen employed, (b) the necessity for the employment of those who are employed, (c) whether they perform any useful functions, and (d) whether, if the existing policewomen perform useful functions, sufficient of these officials are in fact employed for the purpose they are intended to serve.
As to the matter of legal aid for the poor, raised by Deputy O'Sullivan, all sides of the House would be prepared to approve of a scheme designed to achieve the ends to which he referred. I stated on one occasion that I never heard of any person who was prevented from coming to the court by lack of funds, and in fact the less funds you have, very often, the better chance you have, because you can carry your case right up to the last court in the land and it does not matter what costs are given against you, if you have no means to pay them. But there may be some cases in which hardship is caused by lack of the necessary funds to conduct a case. Considerable work is done by a section of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in connection with that matter.
The last point I propose to deal with is one on which the Ceann Comhairle perhaps will grant me some slight indulgence, in view of the indulgence he gave to Deputy O'Sullivan, because if I do not cross the threshold of the limits of what is allowable in debate on the Estimate, I will go perilously close to it. I will put my foot on the threshold, but, I hope, no more, because while I do not intend to advocate legislation, I am going to make a complaint against the Minister. I introduced into the House some years ago a Bill dealing with the reform of  the law of torts. That Bill was given a First Reading and was then referred to a select committee. The Minister, after the committee had been set up, agreed with me that he would put into shape the proposals contained in the Bill I had introduced and introduce them into the House. I know that that Bill has been drafted and I put down a question here some short time ago asking when it would be brought in. To my utter astonishment, I discovered for the first time that the Bill was connected with a nebulous law reform committee. The position is that we neither have a law reform committee nor is my Bill to be brought in after the lapse of four or five years. I have waited patiently, and I have had some correspondence about the Bill. I was given what I thought was a promise by the Minister that the Bill would be introduced. It is a Bill which is required urgently. It deals with the matter of the reform of the law of torts, and I think I have a complaint against the Minister. I do not say that he broke any undertaking to me, but I was under the impression that he promised that the Bill would be introduced, and there was certainly no reference whatever to any question of the provisions of the Bill being in any way the subject matter of consideration by a law reform committee. That was never mentioned until I got this fobbing-off reply the other day from the Minister.
Mr. Norton: I want to raise the matter of the existing Garda regulation under which members of the Garda Síochána are not permitted to be stationed at any place within 30 miles of their home or 30 miles of where their relatives reside. Frankly, I have never been able to understand the inspiration behind that regulation, unless it was the suspicion—I think, a thoroughly unreasonable suspicion—that a Garda could not be trusted to discharge his duties fairly if he were within 30 miles of his home or within 30 miles of his family home. For the past 25  years, the Garda authorities have assumed that if a Garda was stationed at a particular station, he would have to be transferred from that station if, by any chance, it was within 30 miles of his home. That regulation is “daft.” I think it is perfectly archaic, but apparently some people can find an even greater realm of “daftness” than that which is accepted as the standard pattern.
Recently I came across a case of a Guard who was stationed in a small village. He had a large family and, being anxious to provide for them, he secured employment for one of his daughters in a local shop. There was nothing very sensational or world-shaking about that. The Garda authority proceeded to look up the regulation and informed him that he would have to go. The poor man, who had been trying to supplement the family income by placing his daughter in employment, discovered that his reward for his zeal on behalf of his family was a notification that he was to take his family out of that particular place. He could leave his daughter there but the daughter was a girl of 18 years of age, employed outdoor in the particular shop, and what she was to do when the family went away was not indicated. If the daughter got a job in any place where the father and the family were, the father and the family would have to go and, presumably, the daughter would have to go with them or remain there on her own, at an age when, obviously, it was desirable that she should be under paternal control. I hope the Minister for Education, who is now deputising for the Minister for Justice, will ask that sympathetic gentleman to examine this matter sympathetically.
Mr. Norton: The facts do not matter. It is the regulation that matters. As a matter of fact, I made inquiries in connection with this case and was told it was the regulation. I think the Minister for Education, being a rather skilful politician, has discovered cases of that kind himself. I suggest that  this whole thing should be considered in the light of the fact that we have had a Garda force for the past 25 years and that whatever need there was for these extraordinary precautions in 1922 and 1923 does not exist to-day. We ought to get rid of an out-moded, archaic regulation of that kind. The Guards are not foreigners. They have not been discovered in a jungle and brought in here to police the Irish. They are our own flesh and blood, our kith and kin. They have as good a conception of citizenship and of private and public rectitude as any member of this House. It ought to be assumed that if a Guard does happen to desire to be stationed at a place near his own home town, that it is a natural desire on his part and unless there is clear evidence, by his action or inaction or by any misdemeanour on his part, that his being stationed near his home is likely to impair the efficient discharge of his duties, he ought to be allowed to remain there. The onus of proving that it is undesirable that he should remain there should be on the Garda authorities. They should proceed on the basis of assuming that a particular Guard is a conscientious member of the force, that he can be trusted and that, if he discharges his duties, he will be allowed to remain at the station but that if he does not discharge his duties satisfactorily at a particular station, he may have to accept the consequence of transfer elsewhere.
I think it is a reasonable request to make, in 1947. I think the original regulation was the product of suspicion, an unreasonable suspicion, so far as the members of the Garda are concerned, and I am satisfied that if the Minister looks into the matter, and will realise the amount of hardship caused to the individual and the negligible benefit conferred on the Garda as a force, the sheer logic of the situation will convince him of the undesirability of perpetuating the present out-moded regulation.
Mr. Byrne: A few weeks ago, dissatisfaction was expressed in the news-papers that the Taca were not being credited with their full service— whether for pensionable purposes or  for permanent status, I do not know If men who have served an apprenticeship in the Guards are being moved up, having been found satisfactory, they should be given full credit for the full time from the first day they entered the service. I do not fully understand the complaint but dissatisfaction was expressed.
Some time ago the Minister was asked whether it was his intention to have mounted police helping to regulate traffic in the City of Dublin. In the days of the Dublin Metropolitan Police we had mounted police. It would be a tribute to the horse-breeding industry if the Minister carried out the suggestion. Owing to slowness in putting up traffic lights in the City of Dublin and its outskirts many hold-ups in traffic occur. At the junction of George's Street and Dame Street, traffic hold-ups occur simply because there is a hold-ups at Trinity Street or O'Connell Street. If we had mounted police they could adjust matters.
In Dublin City there is a shortage of uniformed Guards. There may be plenty of Guards in the detective force, engaged on political and other types of work. While they do very useful work, it would be well to augment their numbers so that Dublin City could have more uniformed Gardaí. Guards in uniform act as a deterent to criminal activities. In the old days of the Dublin Metropolitan Police in Dublin I often saw six or eight and sometimes 12 members of the force in uniform pacing up and down on opposite sides from Trinity College to the Parnell Monument. From what I see now I feel certain that we have not enough Guards on duty in the City of Dublin. I hope, too, that the Minister will see his way to provide a mounted force to regulate traffic in the city. That would also be the means of showing people the magnificent type of horses we have, and would be a help to the horse-breeding industry.
Mr. Blowick: I think that in future some effort should be made by the Department to facilitate Guards who desire to get a change from a particular district. They are sometimes denied that. It may be that a man wants a  change because, if he is a married man, he finds he cannot afford the house rent he is paying or it may be that he wants more suitable provision for the education of his children. If a Guard is willing to undertake the expense of his transfer he should not be denied it. I know, of course, that his superior officers may think that he is a suitable man in a particular district or that he is suited for special work and therefore they will not sanction the transfer. I do not think it is a good thing to keep a man in a district against his will. If he is annoyed by reason of the fact that his application is refused he is not likely to make a good member of the force.
There is also what is known within the force as the 30 mile limit. I think that, in some cases, the regulation dealing with that is carried too far. I do not think any Guard could be said to have friends within 30 miles of his station by whom he would be likely to be influenced. I think that regulation might be relaxed, and that some discretion should be given to superior officers in carrying it out.
Deputy Cafferky gave the House an outline of what prison conditions are like. I cannot speak from personal knowledge of prison conditions, but in prisons you have two categories. You have in the first what are called first offenders, and in the second category the hardened old lag. The first offender may be in prison for some minor offence committed perhaps when he had too much drink taken. I think the Minister should inquire into the possibility of keeping these two classes of prisoners apart. The conditions should be made easier for the first offender and every effort should be made to turn him out a decent respectable citizen. Otherwise, he may become what Deputy Cafferky described as an enemy of society, one who is determined to revenge himself on somebody or other because he feels he has been too severely dealt with. There must, of course, be pretty severe conditions for the hardened criminal— for the person who is constantly breaking the law. I understand that some of them actually acquire a liking for prison life, tough and hard as it is. There can be no easing of the conditions for them.
 I now come to the point where, under the jurisdiction of the Minister, two members of this House were committed to prison. I think I am correct in saying that the Minister himself suffered a term of imprisonment when this country was under foreign rule. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that it was a harsh and savage act to send two members of this House to prison. It will be absolutely necessary for me to go into the causes that led up to this.
Mr. Blowick: On you and your Department. The courts, the law and the prisons are all administered by the Minister for Justice and his Department. I definitely lay the blame on your Department, and I will give my reasons.
Mr. Blowick: I do not think so. We are discussing on this Vote the prisons. The Minister himself has dealt with delinquency and with crime. I think I am justified, within the rules of order, in going into the causes that led up to a particular decision of the courts. I respectfully submit that I am not out of order in dealing with that.
Mr. Blowick: With all respect, that does not say that the matter cannot be redealt with here. Surely if a court makes a decision on a certain case that comes before it, it is open to a Deputy who wants to speak on it here to do so. In this place, where we have freedom of speech, it is open to every Deputy to speak on that decision.
Mr. Boland: On a point of order, while I do not want to stop any Deputy from speaking, I do want to say that this is going to be a new situation if the Minister for Justice is to be held responsible for what a district justice or a Circuit Court judge does. That would simply be an impossible situation. I have no right or authority to interfere with a district justice or a Circuit Court judge, and I am not going to be held responsible for what a district justice or a Circuit Court judge does. It would be setting a very dangerous precedent if there was to be any interference with the decisions of the courts. I may say that Deputy Cafferky to-day was under a misapprehension when he suggested that I made suggestions to the District  Court. I cannot do any such thing, and I have never attempted to do it.
Mr. Blowick: I never had the slightest intention of reviewing judicial decisions but the Minister has told us that he is not responsible for certain officials in this Department, yet he asks this House for a Vote for their salaries. He is particularly stupid this afternoon.
Mr. Blowick: A certain alleged breach of the law occurred on a certain day in Ballyhaunis, and I was going to go into the causes that led up to that. In my opinion, any breach of the law does not occur without a cause, much less responsible Deputies who have the backing of 7,000 or 8,000 supporters each surely did not commit a breach of the law without some serious cause. They are both good-living men: both of them are teetotalers, and I wish to put on the records of this House the causes that led up to it. This particular matter that I am dealing with has absolutely no relation at all to the matter that was raised at Question Time to-day. I only want to clear the air a little bit. I will deal with that later. These are the causes that led——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy must confine his remarks to the administration of the Minister's Department and things he is responsible for on the Estimates for his Department. He is not responsible for the matters that the Deputy is going into now.
Mr. Blowick: The conditions in the townlands led up to breaches of the law and they come under the administration of the Minister. Suppose there is a burst of crime in a particular place, of stealing bicycles, motor cars, bags, overcoats or anything like that, would not Deputies be allowed to come into the House and inquire into the causes and not alone that but suggest remedies?
Mr. Cafferky: If a decision of a district  justice is given without having due cognisance of what led up to the act in finding a person guilty, is not a Deputy entitled to question the Minister as regards that decision if in his opinion due cognisance was not taken?
Mr. Boland: If the debate is going to continue like this, it is a very bad precedent. I have no responsibility for the courts and as I pointed out the salaries are not voted; they are on the Central Fund.
Mr. Blowick: But it led up to a certain matter that comes under the jurisdiction of the Minister's Department and I am raising that now, Sir, and I claim the right to discuss it. I always like to agree to obey the rules of the Chair but I hold that I am perfectly within the rules of order of the House——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I do not want to rule in a way that will not conform with the Deputy's own judgment but he knows that on an Estimate he can only deal with the administration of the Minister's Department for the year under review.
Mr. Boland: If every court decision comes up here the situation will become impossible. I have no authority or right to interfere with any court decision. I think it would be a very bad thing if the Deputy were allowed to interfere with a court decision. I am asking for a firm ruling.
Mr. Blowick: There will be another place where that decision will be questioned and that is at a meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges because, while obeying the ruling now, I hold that the decision of the Chair is wrong, with all due respect.
Mr. Blowick: Very good. This will not be out of order. That if Deputies Commons and Cafferky were entitled to a month in jail for what they considered to be a particularly grievous case and a case in which two successive Governments for 25 years have deliberately asked 41 tenants to starve——
Mr. Blowick: Very well, but I will conclude with this remark that, if these two Deputies were worthy of a month in jail for their offences, the Minister for Lands, Deputy Seán Moylan, should be in jail for the rest of his days for his criminal negligence in his management of the affair.
Mr. Blowick: Very good, I will withdraw it here but I will certainly say it where I will not have to withdraw it. I want to clear up a certain matter. The Minister to-day, in reply to Questions Nos. 18 and 19, made use of certain words. He said:—
The Minister must have fully realised the importance and the significance of that statement. In other words, I take it that the Minister is using his position as Minister to make sure that a certain malicious injury claim will be paid in full to the claimant. He states that it was during an agrarian dispute. Where did the Minister get his information on that subject? I might as well tell the Minister, and I have an intimate knowledge of the place and the conditions there, that there was no agrarian dispute in that particular instance, nor is there yet, nor will there be an agrarian dispute about it. Where did the Minister get his information that there was an agrarian dispute there? What incidents or what facts have come to the Minister's notice that led him to believe that there was an agrarian dispute? He states: “in the course of which a house was burned”, clearly indicating that, as a result of the agrarian dispute, the house was burned. Would the Minister say what exactly was his information on that? Did he get his information from the Civic Guards in Castlebar? Strange to say, I do not think that he did or could. He is strangely silent on the subject now.
Mr. Boland: I merely rose to a point of order. My practice is to take a note of Deputies' questions and not to answer them by interrupting. I rose on the last occasion because I thought the Deputy was out of order. I am taking notes of his questions.
Mr. Blowick: The Minister answered a definite question. The position of a Minister of State is a fairly responsible one and we must take it that statements made by Ministers here and on platforms outside are as near the truth as is reasonably possible. In his reply, the Minister said that the presence of the Garda force was “intended to prevent breaches of the peace in connection with an agrarian dispute in the course of which a house was burned”. I ask him for an explanation of that. I will not wait for his speech. I shall give way to him if he has an explanation to offer. I am leaving the door open if he has given an answer on a matter of which he was not properly informed. That is a very serious statement in view of certain happenings. There is a claim for £5,000 for malicious injury in connection with this house which is alleged to have been maliciously damaged. Only one house in Balla was burned and local opinion is that it was purely accidental and was due to the short-circuiting of an electric wire. There is no agrarian agitation in the place, good, bad or indifferent. Has the Minister anything to say on the subject before I proceed?
Mr. Blowick: That is what he is trying to imply. That is what I want to get out of the Minister because this matter will not end here. The Minister may be called upon to prove or disprove his words later. Here is the time and here is the place. It is not a question of some days hence when he may be asked to do it. If he has been misinformed or if he has given an answer without due consideration to a very important question, he should say so.
 Otherwise, it appears that he is favouring a member of his own Party in a very underhand way. That is the way it appears to me. This is a very serious matter. The Minister is still silent. We shall hear him later.
Captain Giles: I congratulate the Minister on one aspect of the activities of his Department—that is, the absence of political crime. I think that political crime is practically finished here and that is largely due to the firmness with which the Minister approached his task. If we had had a molly-coddle in that position, we might have the same old crime to which we were accustomed during the past 15 years. There are many matters which require attention in the case of the Garda. Deputy Martin O'Sullivan referred to one—the separation of Gardaí from their wives and families. I know of Gardaí who are 35 and 40 miles removed from their families. These men have been 21 or 22 years in the Garda and it is a crime against them and their families that they should be so situated. They are men with splendid records, and I do not see why they should be so separated from their families. Some allowance should be made for these Gardaí, especially in the case of men with good records.
One of the most notable achievements of the Irish Government was the setting up of the Garda force. I am satisfied, however, that, for the past ten or 12 years, that force has not been up to scratch. They are getting a bit sloppy and the force is falling off. Members of the force will assent to what I have said. When General O'Duffy and Assistant Commissioner Cullen were in charge, they had the force spick and span and it was really efficient. I shall not say that it was a militant force but it was a disciplined force. At present, it is a sloppy force and from the sergeants down, they admit that. They say that something is wrong. I hate to say that because I am a great admirer of the Gardaí but some tightening up is needed. I know that a number of the Gardaí are getting old and will soon be retiring. Perhaps  then the force will be put on a proper basis and the Gardaí will be a greater protection to the people. A vast amount of petty larceny in the country is going undetected. Of course, during a war there is always a certain amount of crime but too much petty larceny is being left undetected. The reason for that is, I think, that our Gardaí are more civil servants than protectors of the people. They cannot attend to their normal duties because of all the other work they have to do. They are doing this work when they should be walking the highways and byways protecting the people's property and homes. The Civil Service mentality in the Garda may be effecting a saving but it is a bad thing. I should rather see the force carrying out its proper duty—that of protecting the people's property and detecting crime. I think that it will do no harm to sound this note of warning. It will be good even for the Gardaí themselves. I think that they are satisfied that the force is getting a bit sloppy.
As regards the Garda barracks in the country, I am not satisfied that an earnest effort is being made to build proper barracks. Some of these barracks are badly needed. In some cases, the Gardaí are living in condemned houses. An earnest effort should be made to provide proper barracks, with four or five decent dwellings around them, for the accommodation of Gardaí. At present, they are living down bog roads, and byways, a long way from the barracks. That is not right. I know of Gardaí with four or five children who were brought to court and given four or five months to get out of their houses. The unfortunate men did not know what to do. They were running about from Billy to Jack trying to get houses, irrespective of whether they were condemned or not. That is extremely unsatisfactory. A Garda should be immune from that sort of thing. It causes him a great deal of trouble and Gardaí cannot do their work efficiently because they have too many private worries. Over a long number of years, our Gardaí were not paid sufficiently. To the ordinary man, their pay seems good enough but a large number  of our Gardaí have to supplement their pay by going into land or selling cattle or cutting turf and selling it. I am not saying these things for the purpose of creating a scare but because they are a fact. It is unfortunate that a Garda has to cut a cart of turf and sell it. I do not think that that is a good thing. If they require more pay, they should get it.
Captain Giles: I am not saying that he is off duty. What we want is a tiptop efficient force. We had it in the past and we could have it again. Our Guards should be satisfactorily housed and paid and let do the work of Gardaí and nothing else. Private business should not enter into it. As far as the Royal Ulster Constabulary were concerned, they had to keep to their beat and do their job. I am not going to say they were better than the present force, but I think they were more kept away from private enterprise.
I would like the Minister to see that the juror gets his travelling and hotel expenses. I know a man who came 25 and 30 miles and had to spend a few days coming and going as he could not afford a car. He was out of pocket and had to go round the town, begging hotel accommodation. When there is a big case on, hotel accommodation should be arranged for those jurors and they should not have to go knocking from  door to door at third- and fifth-rate houses, to try to get accommodation in the capital towns. I do not say they should be paid for doing the job, but they should not be out of pocket.
I listened very earnestly to Deputy Cafferky's remarks about the prison system and I am satisfied that reasonable reforms are needed, but I am satisfied also that prison is for punishment—and I do not say that in regard to Deputy Cafferky, who was a recruit at the time. I went from Arbour Hill to Mountjoy and the Union and to several prisons in England and Scotland. I went there often and I got as good a gruelling as anyone else. It gave me plenty of time to meditate on the things worth meditating on. I am satisfied that things are not bad now. I served in the first and second division in Mountjoy under the British system and it was not too bad at all. I know the Governor in Mountjoy, Seán Kavanagh, one of the finest humanitarian and Christian people in the land, a grand type of man, who would not like to see any man suffering unduly if it could be avoided.
I say it is a fair system. Anyone who looks for trouble should get it. We hear talk of the prisons which are full of hoboes who looked for trouble, but there is nothing about the people who had property stolen, or their necks nearly broken by thugs and thieves. We are told we must reform the prison system and have ball alleys and football fields for the prisoners. We should do no such thing. Let them sit there and reform and, if they have a conscience, they will have plenty of time to reform. I am not saying that for the juvenile criminal who is just starting off, but for the general run of prisoners our prison system is not so bad at all. I have no use at all for all this humanitarian nonsense talked about by these women with Pekes on a chain, whom we find writing about the prison system. They are the very people who would be quick to go for the Garda if their own dog were stolen. I do not want any of this mollycoddling. I have great regard for the present Minister. He had a tough job and we all know he has a good human heart at the same time.
 In regard to the stirabout, I want to tell Deputy Cafferky that I ate the porridge in prison and I suppose I spent ten minutes taking ten cockroaches out of every tin. Along with that, I was damn glad to scrape the cockroach, in case there might be any porridge left on him. I had a dirty plank bed in Mountjoy for three months and the same in a Scottish prison for another three months, making six months entirely, and I say it did not do me any harm. Our prisons are the cleanest, perhaps, in Europe. I remember the time in the North Dublin Union when I spent a fortnight there, when six comrades were executed in Mountjoy, and if I put my hand up to my neck I could take down 20 lice without touching my head at all. I slept with some of the dirtiest thugs from the slums, that the Black and Tans had been rounding up and putting in. I slept in a place for a fortnight with 350 men, where there was no lavatory, and the smell and the stench were colossal. Along with that, every second night the Black and Tans were machine-gunning us through the windows, to make us keep our heads down.
It is time that the like of Deputy Cafferky realised what we went through in those days. Along with 16 colleagues, I was put to do one of the most inhuman things ever known in any prison in Europe. There were 40 acres attached to Perth Prison and ten of us were yoked as horses to the plough and had to plough the 40 acres —I could bring anyone to the place and show them—and make drills, and grub and till them. We pulled the plough with collars round our necks and we were glad to do it instead of being locked up in prison picking oakum. If you know what it is like to pick oakum in a crowded prison, you know you would not stick it long. We were glad to be out in the open fields, although it was inhuman and unnatural work. When you compare those times and that type of prison with our Mountjoy, you find that the one is a hotel and the other is hell—and that is saying very little.
I never got a pick of meat any time during 12 months while I was in prison  and never saw a newspaper and did not know the Truce was on or that the Treaty had been signed, until I was told we were going home. These are some of the things we can look back on with pride now, as we were doing it for a cause and not as thugs and criminals. So I ask the Minister not to mind this humanitarian nonsense. If men commit crimes deliberately, with their eyes open, and our fellow citizens are the sufferers, let them get their merits. I do not want to give them what I went through, but give them the ordinary punishment in an ordinary manly way. If, as Deputy Cafferky said, we are making some of them come out and do worse things, let us put them in again for a longer time and if, when they come out again, they still do it, let us put them in again. There is too much of this mollycoddling and slop. I met some of those who were in and I remember a man who was in for a month and out for a month for drinking and he said to me: “It's not a very bad place at all; I am chopping wood all day and, honestly, I would rather be in than out—and I often did a good drunk to get in.” That is from a man who was in half his life. The prison system may seem too hard for the soft mollycoddle type of people, but for a tough man who does not give a damn for God or man it is not half hard enough.
I am glad that the political crime is easing off and I think we have reached the stage when there is a lot of commonsense now and the political platform is able to absorb all, whether it is an extreme group outside the House or inside it. That is a big achievement in our history and I am glad the Minister stuck firm, dug his heels in the ground and did the job well. We must give him every thanks for what he did. He has weeded out political crime, he has put on the yoke and put them on the platforms, and what more could he do?
Mr. Keyes: In the course of the debate, Deputies Coogan and O'Sullivan strongly appealed on behalf of District Court clerks for an improvement in their conditions and I heartily concur in their appeal. I wish to  supplement it by including Circuit Court clerks in the same category and I think their case is long overdue for attention. As far back as 1939, an establishment scheme was promised for unestablished clerks in District Courts. A few months ago, the Minister said here that the matter was under consideration. Perhaps the intervention of the war was responsible for its being put off, but it is a long time from 1939 to 1947 and there is still no improvement in the position of the gentlemen and ladies who carry out their work under conditions which are not a credit to the Department of Justice. Men who have given service to the country in the I.R.A. or in the Army or in the Volunteer Force during the emergency and are now in service as District Court clerks are getting £3 15s. 0d. while ladies are getting £2 12s. 0d. If you compare that with the present increases which have been rendered necessary by the increased cost of living, and where the Labour Court has had to operate and has functioned successfully, we find they have given increases which are justified for one reason alone, that is, the altered value of money. When you find builders' labourers getting 2/- an hour, or £4 14s. 0d. a week for a 47-hour week, and District Court clerks working for £2 12s. 0d. a week, what can you think of such a position?
Mr. Keyes: I am speaking of conditions in my own city, Limerick. It is a 47-hour week where I am. If it were a 44-hour week my case would be better still. The rates for a builder's labourer in Limerick entitle him to a weekly sum of £4 14s. 0d. That was decided by the Labour Court as being a reasonable and equitable wage in the present circumstances. It ought to be enough to urge the Minister to get busy on the preparation of whatever scheme he has in mind to improve and uplift the standard of the clerks in the District Courts. I suggest we ought to have some regard for the importance of the work performed by these officials; you cannot but have the greatest sympathy  for a man who is not adequately paid for the important work he does.
It must be remembered that those people have had to carry on during the emergency, when the cost of living increased far beyond their ability to cope with it. They must have suffered many hardships and they had no redress. There was no amelioration of their conditions in a very trying period. I make a strong appeal to the Minister to get on with this scheme that he has on hands. I trust he will, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, do all he can properly to remunerate those court clerks. Up to the present there has not been much justice in their treatment, notwithstanding that they are officials of the Department of Justice.
We have heard so much to-day about jails and prisoners, I do not propose now to go into that subject. Deputy Caffery has given us a résumé of his experiences in Sligo Jail. When it comes to my turn for a short stretch, I trust the Minister will send me to Limerick Prison. I do not think the conditions there could be quite so bad as the conditions that were depicted by Deputy Cafferky. I suggest that the Minister should not take the remarks of Deputy Giles too seriously; his descriptions went to extraordinary limits.
I will not deal now with prisoners, but I should like to know do Deputies ever consider those fellows who have been inside the prison for the best part of their lives—the warders and the other prison officials, who have given such long and faithful service to the State? Those are the people who have a very onerous and undesirable type of job to carry out. In the circumstances in which they live, they are more or less prisoners themselves. Looking at any of the Estimates that are before the House, I think I am quite safe in saying they are amongst the worst paid sections of our public servants. From the lower grades in the prison service, from the warders to the chief warder, I believe it cannot be claimed that they are even reasonably paid. It would be desirable, and it would be no more than  just, if the Minister were seriously to consider treating those servants in a better way, giving them something to meet the increased cost of living. I submit there is a reasonable and a just case for increasing the remuneration of warders and wardresses and prison staffs generally.
And now for a subject that has been referred to by nearly every speaker— that is, housing accommodation for the Garda. I still think that this is a matter that should have been attended to long before now. The present scarcity of building materials is not sufficient justification for any further delay in attending to it. If the Department of Justice wants to build houses for the Garda they would be well able, with the co-operation and assistance of the Board of Works, to mobilise materials just as readily as any of the private builders. The Garda urgently require accommodation, not alone in the cities and towns, but in the country districts. They are placed in a very unfortunate position when they are transferred from one area to another, because there is no provision whatever made for them in the important matter of housing.
They may go to the local authority looking for a house. Naturally, there is a great deal of jealousy on the part of citizens, who have their names on the list for God knows how long, and they resent the Garda coming from outside areas trying to get possession of any houses that may become vacant. We who are members of county councils or corporations are quickly told-off if we help a Garda to get a house. I am aware of a case that came up recently in Limerick where a Garda was prosecuted for over-holding. The unfortunate man had no other place to go. The landlady succeeded in getting the house. What became of the Garda, I do not know.
What Deputy Giles stated is quite true. The Gardaí are obliged to live in all sorts of unsuitable places. In the cities their position, though difficult enough, may not be quite so bad. Some of them may get the ear of the public authorities, but that is an unfair position in which to place them. There  is a manifest duty on the Department to provide sufficient houses in the cities and in the country for the members of the Garda Síochána, so that they will be in a position of independence and, if they are transferred from one district to another, the transfer will not hold half the terrors that it now holds, when a man has to enter a new area without any prospect of a house. I have known cases where men were transferred and they had to leave their families in the district from which they were removed. I have known a husband to be separated from his wife for years because he could not get a house in the area to which he was transferred.
The Minister should regard this as a matter of urgency. The difficulty of obtaining materials should not be put forward as a justification. They have as good an opportunity of obtaining those materials as the private builders. I hope we will not be told that this matter cannot be attended to because of the scarcity of materials. A proper housing scheme for the Garda Síochána is too long due and it should be attended to at once.
Mr. Cogan: There is one subject which has been debated considerably to-day, and it was debated also during the past 12 months, and that is prison reform. It is undoubtedly a delicate question to deal with. It is a question which must be approached with care because there is and there always will be in this country a tendency to exploit this subject for political motives. During the long period when the people of this country were engaged in what is now known as a resistance movement, prison conditions and the evils and faults of the prison system were thoroughly exploited for national reasons.
Since this country became independent, there has been a tendency to continue to exploit prison conditions for the same reasons, and in dealing with this matter there is a danger that some people may be led to exaggerate the evils of the prison system; they may be led by some people who are agitating  and using this subject for political motives to take up the case for prison reform without fully investigating the facts and without dealing with the matter in a detached way. There is also the danger that the Minister, and perhaps members of the House, realising that prison conditions are the subject of political agitation, may be tempted to resist all demands for any kind of inquiry into prison conditions, and any kind of reform. There is definitely a middle course, a course which I think ought to appeal to the Minister, and that is to find out as far as he can what faults, if any, exist in the system, and he should remove these faults as far as he can.
I have not the honour or the privilege to be able to speak of prison conditions with inside knowledge. I did, however, take the trouble to wade through a volume written by a man who did penal servitude. I must say that that book appeared to give an honest account of the prison conditions as they exist. It would appear to me to be a fair and reasonable account of prison conditions.
I must say that, reading it in a fair and detached way, there was not in that book many very serious charges brought against the prison authorities. There were statements that prison buildings are out of date. I think most people will agree on that subject but you cannot tear down and rebuild prisons every second year. There was also one matter which appeared to call for reform. It is a rather small matter—the conveyance of prisoners in public vehicles and in the eyes of the general public. Some privacy should be afforded, as a matter of ordinary justice and fair play, to prisoners and, particularly, to first offenders. There was also another matter mentioned which certainly did appear to be wrong and that is the lengthy period for which prisoners are confined to their cells during week-ends. It may be that confinement is considered necessary in order to give warders some time off, but I think it is a matter which should be inquired into. I think a reasonable amount of recreation should be afforded to prisoners at week-ends and  on Sundays particularly. Viewed from an objective and detached standpoint, I think it will be admitted that there is a case for some reform in our present system, but it is not a matter which can be effected in one day or in one year. It is a matter of a long-term policy which should be carefully planned and carried out in easy stages.
I would not refer to this matter at all if it were not for the fact that, in common with probably every other Deputy, I received a communication from some organisation in America which claims to be very deeply interested in our prison system. The organisation, I might mention, calls itself the Connolly Memorial Committee and the communication is signed by a person named Gerald O'Reilly. The writer states:—
Mr. Cogan: “Americans,” they say, “have been deeply aroused over European concentration camps.” People may be particularly sensitive about the treatment afforded to prisoners but my first reaction on reading that document was a feeling of deep resentment that an organisation outside this country should set itself up to condemn our prison system. I should like to have been in the position to question this organisation as to whether the prison system in America is so perfect that an organisation in that country can afford to throw stones at us. I have never been a political supporter of the present Government and never intend to be.
Mr. Cogan: But in common with every citizen of this country my reaction to any attack on this country by outside people, is to defend our institutions and I question the right of any outsider to condemn our prison system. We may have an inefficient Government at the moment but, as a  nation, we can deal with and solve all our problems including the problem of the treatment of those who violate the law. I want to make it clear that as far as I am concerned—and I think it is the view of most Deputies—I feel that there should be no privileges for any section of the community. There should be no particular privileges for those who break the law for political reasons as against those who break the law for ordinary reasons. Neither should there be any privilege for any members of this House who commit offences against the law. There should be one law for every citizen irrespective of class, creed or occupation. That is the only basis upon which justice can be administered. Our justices should be absolutely independent to give their decisions without fear or favour, regardless of who may be brought before them for trial.
There is one matter which often puzzles me and I have some experience of cases in this connection. While I believe the justices and the courts are absolutely impartial and independent, I am often inclined to wonder if impartiality exists in connection with the prosecution of offenders. Are we absolutely certain that any man who violates the law will be prosecuted? I have known cases of people in connection with whom definite investigations were made by the Guards and the Guards definitely decided that prosecutions were necessary. The prosecutions were not instituted. In one particular case I know of, a case of a very serious offence, a prosecution was not instituted because the person against whom the investigations were made was alleged to be in infirm health. I do not know whether that excuse would hold for every citizen but I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that there is absolute impartiality in regard to whether prosecutions are instituted or not.
Before I leave the question of prison reform I should like to deal with a reference made to the fact of prisoners being divided into two classes, first offenders and hardened criminals. It was suggested that there should be special treatment for first offenders as against hardened criminals. It is perhaps  desirable, if possible, that the two classes should be segregated and kept apart; but it must be remembered— and I think it was made clear by the book to which I have referred, I Did Penal Servitude—that many of the most serious offenders, even murderers, were first offenders, and it is therefore rather difficult to bring about a segregation, whereas many of the alleged hardened criminals were only in for minor offences which they continued to repeat, probably, as Deputy Giles said, because they enjoyed prison life. There ought to be a fair and just system for all prisoners. The hardened criminal has his rights as well as the first offender. The first offender, even though his crime may be very grave, is usually a man who can be reformed, a man who was a good citizen until he committed the offence, however serious, and a man who, with fair and reasonable treatment, is likely to become a good citizen again in the future. When I speak of fair and reasonable treatment, I do not mean any form of mollycoddling or anything like that; I mean justice and fair treatment, with opportunities to develop his character, to improve his mind and to improve himself physically. All these are urgently desirable in our prison system.
With regard to the Garda, we are approaching the time when a very large number of members of that force will be retiring on pension and now is the time to consider the kind of reform which Deputy Giles suggests, that is, a raising of the standard of efficiency and of the conditions of entry into the force. It is also the time at which we should consider carefully all questions relating to justice and fair treatment for those who are going out of the force. As we know, the regulations provide that, in order to obtain the maximum pension, a Guard must be 25 years in the force. The regulations also provide that a man must retire on reaching the age of 57. That means that any man under 32 years of age when he joined the force is in a position to serve the 25 years and get the maximum pension, but, at the time the force was established, a number of men, a very small number, who were  over 32 were taken in and it is impossible for such men to serve for 25 years. In such cases, a certain relaxation of the regulations should be granted. It would not apply to a very large number, because, as we all know, very few men over 30 were recruited into the force.
Another matter which calls for comment—I was not here for the earlier part of the debate and do not know whether it has been referred to already —is the remarkable heroism of two members of the Garda in dealing with a criminal who had broken into a house in Dublin. Those men acted very promptly and vigorously, and both of them, as a result, suffered very grave physical injury. It is right that Deputies and citizens generally should pay a tribute to our public servants when, in the public interest, they risk their lives, and, as a result, lose their lives or suffer grave physical injuries. We have a long tradition in this country of condemning the police. That was necessary at the time this nation was occupied by a foreign Power, but we have to change over from that and we must always be ready not only to assist officers of the law when doing their duty in difficult circumstances but to applaud them when they make an outstanding sacrifice in the public interest. Those two members of the Garda are entitled to public applause.
Mr. Cogan: I am quite sure the Minister's sense of justice will be strong enough to see that no rule or regulation will stand in the way of these men getting their rights. The question of the provision of housing accommodation for members of the Garda has been raised here every year since the Minister took office and it has already been dealt with by several Deputies. The matter has become particularly urgent now for two reasons: first, that during the emergency very little housing accommodation was provided for anybody and there is consequently a great dearth of housing accommodation in every district, and, secondly, that there is now some opportunity of obtaining materials for the  provision of the necessary accommodation.
What I am afraid of is that the Minister may not be fully aware of the gravity of the injustice under which Guards suffer, particularly in remote country districts and small villages. In big urban areas, there is a wide variety of houses for different types of people, but in a rural area there is only one type of building, that is, for workers, for people who come under the Housing Acts providing for subsidised houses. Guards in general are not eligible for such houses, and in any case the demands of workers for housing accommodation are so great that there would be resentment in any district, if a Guard were to obtain a worker's house.
In small villages there is very little private building for letting purposes. Nobody undertakes that work. It is done in the big cities and towns, but not in remote villages and Guards are in an entirely different position from any other type of persons seeking housing accommodation. Business people in these villages usually have housing accommodation attached to their shops and the local authorities provide houses for workers, but there is nobody to provide for the Guards, and, even if they had the capital, they cannot undertake the purchase of a house, or the reconstruction or the improvement of a house, because no Guard knows from day to day or week to week when he may be transferred to some other part of the country. They are, therefore, a class apart. Their need is urgent and there is no reason why the State should not undertake to provide the necessary housing accommodation without delay.
Mr. Cosgrave: The first matter I want to refer to is the increase in the pay of the members of the Garda. The House generally, while reluctant to face higher expenditure, realises that the increase in pay recently granted to members of the Garda is entirely justified. We can never expect the proper highly efficient services which the House and country expect from the force if the members of that force are inadequately paid and any suggestion that the pay given to these men is insufficient  to meet their requirements and that consequently they are obliged to engage in any form of commercial activity outside their Garda duties in order to supplement their income is one which the House should treat seriously.
It is undesirable that members of the Garda should not have sufficient to meet their essential needs or that their pay should be inadequate to provide for their requirements. For that reason I deplore any suggestion that the members of the Garda should have to depend on any source of income outside their salaries and wages to supplement their pay to defray the cost of maintaining themselves and their families. If the Minister finds that the increases recently granted are insufficient to defray the ordinary needs of the members of the force or that they fail to meet the present high cost of living or to provide the Gardaí and their families with a sufficiently high standard of living that would allow them to maintain an independent position as members of the force, he should not hesitate to call on the House to meet further expenditure in order that the members of the force may be satisfied, contented and sufficiently provided, so far as financial status is concerned; with the ordinary needs and with that independence which the members of the force should have.
I should like to pay a tribute to the two Guards, Flynn and Tighe, who displayed such fine courage and devotion to duty in an attempt to apprehend two armed criminals who carried out a robbery in a publichouse in Rathfarnham. Their display of courage was not merely a fine example of their own devotion to duty but represented clearly the spirit and general conduct displayed on many occasions by the Garda force and reflected the general standard of devotion to duty which the public know they can expect from that force.
I shall now deal with the rather high figures, in fact alarmingly high figures, for crime. It is a matter for some congratulation that there has been a reduction of 1,600 cases in the number of indictable offences in 1946 as compared with 1945 but when one examines  the report of the Commissioner of the Garda it is obvious that the figures for both indictable and non-indictable offences in 1945 and 1946 are still far higher than pre-war, certainly far higher than the earlier years. While it is customary to attribute the increase in crime to the effects of the war, we should not allow ourselves to be blinded to the fact that a determined and sustained effort must be made by the Garda Force and by all responsible for the detection and punishment of crime to reduce the present incidence and that every effort must be made to maintain indictable and non-indictable offences at as low a figure as possible. While the people of this country, for historical reasons, have on many occasions been reluctant to deal with criminals or to support the Garda and the civil authorities in maintaining proper respect for the law, nevertheless, no matter how active, industrious, determined or devoted to their duties the members of the Garda may be, ultimately, the sanction of public opinion is the greatest authority and the greatest weapon for the detection and punishment of crime. Unless we can get the sanction of public opinion firmly behind the detection and punishment of crime and firmly behind all measures that may be necessary in order to reduce the number of criminals and the effects of leniency in dealing with these matters, we cannot expect a reduction either in the number or in the seriousness of the crimes committed.
We have dealt with almost every matter in the course of this discussion but there are two points that I wish again to draw the Minister's attention to. With other Deputies, I think the time has come for an inquiry into the prison system. While one view or another may be expressed as to the actual conditions under which prisoners are obliged to remain while in prison, nevertheless, considering the prison system here and examining the various reports in other countries on prison reform, it would seem that while we, taking one country with another, bear favourable comparison with these countries, we should now establish a committee to inquire into prison reform  and prison conditions. We should do that, not merely from pressure of particular cases. It would be wholly undesirable that this House should be influenced by pressure of an individual case or of particular cases when brought to the notice of the House. We should investigate impartially with a commission established, having on it representatives of many interests, including the Church, and people interested in juveniles, in child welfare, and all people who take an interest in the administration of justice. That commission would consider the effects which prison life has on people sentenced to terms of imprisonment, in many cases for comparatively minor offences, but who, nevertheless, are obliged for a period to remain in contact with more hardened criminals.
While I realise that, in so far as it is possible, there is at the present time a great degree of segregation and that more hardened criminals or habituals are separated from those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in prison for a particular offence, it would be desirable, and it would reassure public opinion, if an impartial inquiry were held into the desirable reforms which might be made in the present prison system and how far it might be possible, by a change in prison regulations, or in practice and procedure as adopted in prisons, to reform certain offenders. Not merely should it be the aim in passing sentence to provide a punishment, it should also, particularly so far as less serious offences are concerned, be the aim to reform the individuals and to make them useful and better members of society.
I need not reiterate the various arguments in favour of prison reform and the various arguments which might be advanced to influence the Government to set up such a commission. The arguments are generally well known. There are various authorities of one kind or another—certain publications by individuals who have had experience not merely here but in other countries—on prison conditions. These indicate that it would be desirable that such an inquiry should be undertaken.
With regard to prison conditions, representations have been made to me  on behalf of the staff. It is well known that no matter how carefully or efficiently a prison may be conducted, the responsibility for the care of the prisoners and the running of the prison devolves on the governor and the various members of his staff, particularly the warders, who deal directly with the prisoners. The representations that have been made to me show that the warders in general are not satisfied with their present conditions. Some of them consider that the pay is inadequate. I suppose that everybody, no matter what position he is in, has that view. They also consider that the rates of increase, after so many years' service, are not sufficiently high. They think that the rate is too low and the number of years too long, and that the rates should be raised and the number of years reduced, or else reduce the number of years for the existing rates. I think the Minister should ascertain the views of the warders on this matter.
I am informed that at the end of 1945 an application was made to the Army for suitable personnel who were prepared to enlist as warders, and that as a result a number of men about to retire from the Army, or who had served during the emergency, accepted the terms offered and enlisted as warders in a temporary capacity. I understand they were informed that, if after 12 months their service was found to be satisfactory, they would be likely to be retained in a permanent position. After 12 months some of them were informed that their service was satisfactory, and that, subject to passing an examination, they would be retained. When their services were enlisted originally, although it was to be on a temporary basis, no mention was made that at the end of the period they would have to undergo an examination.
Mr. Cosgrave: I have a copy of the  circular. The information, if not conveyed to them individually, was published in the form of a notice. The information that I have is that there was no mention made of an examination. They may not have been informed of the particular tests that they have to pass before they could be made permanent in their positions. However, a test was laid down. Certain subjects were made obligatory and certain marks were allotted for each subject. In the particular cases brought to my notice, these men were found to be deficient in their knowledge of Irish. During their period of Army service they had not kept up their knowledge of it to the minimum requirements. In some cases they had no contact with Irish since they left school. Consequently, their knowledge of it was not as proficient as it should be. Unfortunately, while they were suitable in every other respect, this obligatory subject prevented them from being appointed permanently. I suggest to the Minister that in a case like this, if it is considered necessary to make a particular subject obligatory, a period of education re-education should be afforded to enable these men to improve their knowledge of Irish and to acquaint themselves with the terminology used in the course of prison duties. That would give them an opportunity of making themselves proficient. According to my information, they did not know that this subject would be obligatory when they enlisted and, consequently, took no steps to improve their knowledge of Irish. I also suggest that, by and large, ex-Army men are most suitable for the position of warders. They are men who have had a strict discipline and training and would be eminently suitable from the physical point of view. These men, so far as my information goes, feel a sense of grievance by reason of the fact that a test was laid down at the end of their 12 months' probationary period.
I also have a complaint as regards the hours of duty in the prison service. In the Civil Service the time allowed for meals is taken into consideration in the working day. Of course, in the case of the Civil Service there is only  the one meal—the hour for lunch or dinner. The complaint in the prison service is that the hour or one and a quarter hours for lunch is not included as part of the working day. That means the staff have to work nine and a half or nine hours instead of eight hours. I think that is a matter the Minister might have examined, and ascertain the views of the warders in the various prisons on it.
Finally, I want to refer to a matter which has been raised here on many previous occasions. I refer to the position of court clerks. I do not propose to go over the various reasons there are for increasing their salaries and providing pensions for them. Even those unacquainted with the functions performed by the District Court clerks —the same applies to some extent to the Circuit Court clerks—must realise that they are responsible to a considerable extent for the efficient functioning of the courts. They enable both litigants and professional people who have business in the courts to carry out their duties. At times they have to carry out their duties over protracted periods. For these and the many other reasons that might be advanced, I suggest to the Minister that their present rates of pay are entirely inadequate. Most of them have only received a bonus on their existing salaries. They have received no increase in salary which was fixed many years ago. They have no certainty of a pension at the end of their service, and, consequently, many of them are obliged to look elsewhere for employment if they can find suitable positions. They are competent and experienced people, and it would be undesirable if the courts were to lose their services. If a person qualifies as a court clerk and is rendering efficient service, it is in the interests of the courts and of the public that his services should be available for as long a period as he is able to serve. Any increase given to these officials would be well merited. It would compensate them for the losses they have sustained and for the difficulties under which they are labouring at present. In view of the responsible duties they perform, I am sure the House will agree that the Minister should make  every effort to satisfy their demands by giving them an increase in their salaries. He might also consider the position of the Circuit Court clerks. They also perform their duties efficiently. Unless they are paid suitable rates of wages it will, I suggest, be difficult in the future to secure suitable personnel for these positions.
Mr. Moran: I want to make an appeal to the Minister on behalf of a body of people who may be called the Legion of the Lost — the Circuit and District Court clerks. For the past eight years, on the Estimate for the Minister's Department, I have been asking that something should be done for these people. Some of them are now getting old. At least one of them in my own county has retired within the last three months. There are other men who have given over 40 years' service, and are still on a temporary basis in the Circuit Court offices. Perhaps it is not the Minister's responsibility, that there are other Departments involved, but, after all these years and as this matter has been raised in this House time and time again, it is, I think, more or less generally agreed by the different Deputies in this House that something should be done to bring these people to the same standard and put them on the same conditions as their colleagues are in other parts of the public services. I would like to know when the Minister is replying whether men who are now over 50 years of age and who are in the service of the Circuit Court and Circuit Court offices are going to be passed over. There is a rumour abroad that men over 50, notwithstanding their service over all these years, are not going to be included in the proposed measure that the Minister is going to bring in and it has caused a considerable amount of unrest and I might say consternation amongst these staffs throughout the country. These people comprise, of themselves, a very small body and there is a danger of their being overlooked. In view of the loyal and efficient service they have given over a great number of years and as this matter has been omitted here for a number of years—probably due to one type or  other of Departmental delay and possibly other priorities before them— they did not get an opportunity of being dealt with. I think they should now be brought into whatever scheme the Minister has in mind. It certainly would be the height of foolishness if these men, without pensions and without due provision for their old age, after loyal service since our own courts have been established in this country, were not included. The very same goes for District Court clerks although I realise that it is possibly a much more difficult problem for the Minister because their areas differ and their responsibilities differ. But the Minister should realise that in these modern times the law is becoming very complex and the District Court clerk's job is increasing daily. He has many new duties to perform. There are new laws and regulations being made and he is supposed to be there as a chief factotum for all Gardaí and all the rest of them who come in to him. He now finds himself working every day and many nights too, where formerly he could possibly perform his duties on a couple of days a week and many of the District Court clerks who were formerly recruited as temporary now find that their jobs are very much whole-time and at least there should be a possibility of drawing up a scale whereby provision would be made for the men whose work keeps them occupied whole-time. A number of these men have been working for years in a temporary capacity. Some of their areas have been changed but the tendency has been to increase their areas and responsibility and, undoubtedly, their responsibilities are increasing daily. They are responsible for sums of money and their responsibilities generally have increased throughout the years.
I would like the Minister to bear that in mind when dealing with these men and when dealing with Circuit Court staffs and I hope the Minister will tell us that he is going to deal with them very shortly. We have been pleading for them for a great number of years and we are getting rather tired of appealing again and again in connection with this very urgent problem.  I hope, when he is dealing with Circuit Court staffs, that he will give clerks who are on the point of retiring —many of them with over 20 years' service will be retiring this very year —some indication as to whether any provision is going to be made for them. These are two very urgent pressing problems that I would ask the Minister to devote his mind to. Possibly, like all these matters, it is a matter of finance and of coming to some agreement with the Department of Finance. These people's grievances are of such long standing and these people, in the main, have been so patient hoping and expecting that the Minister will, year after year, meet the case that they justly put up that I think it is now time that the Minister should take definite steps to indicate to them what their position will be. It is very difficult for them and a number of them are coming to the stage when they will have to retire and a number of them whom I know and with whom I have been in touch in the West of Ireland feel very disturbed and very worried about it and I would like the Minister to give an indication as to when it will be possible to deal finally with the matter.
The question of the land registry in this country is another matter to which I should like to refer. I think it comes under the Minister's Department. I do not know how far the Minister shares direct responsibility in the matter but there is no doubt about it that the recent increases in the land registry charges have come as a great shock particularly to the small farmers throughout the country because they are the people who are suffering. They have found that under the new scales and under the land registry practice the stamp duty has been increased by hundreds per cent. and the poor people who are entitled to put their title in order find that they are faced with the charges. I do not know what would justify these charges. Possibly the Minister for Finance found it was an easy way of getting more revenue, but to my mind the question of allowing a countryman to put his title in order should not be dealt with from that point of view at all. On a man's transfer of his title to his son, when  the son marries, he finds that instead of paying approximately 15/- his bill for that transaction outside professional charges is going to cost £3 10s. 0d. or £4. The Minister will find that when these poor people discover that it would take so much money —which they erroneously think is taken by the solicitor—to put their titles in order they will refuse to put them in order. If that is going to start, and already it has started because they find it too expensive, the Minister or his Department or some Department will certainly be faced with a very serious situation.
There is no provision in the law as it stands at present to compel anybody to become a registered owner of his own lands and if an owner dies and if his son refuses to take the necessary steps to put his title in order there is no provision made for that, and the successor in title can settle on the holding without putting the title in order. If he finds it so expensive as a result of the increased stamp duty or the increased fees of the land registry, he sits back and does nothing about it. The Minister or his Department will be ultimately forced to do something about the position because they will find that nine-tenths of the small registered holders will simply leave their titles as they were in their grandfathers' time. When they do some wrong on their neighbours or some question arises which results in the bringing of an action, the judge may find that the plaintiff has a proper title and is the registered owner of his land while the defendant's folio bears his grandfather's name and he refuses to do anything about it. The judge will not be in a position to rectify those folios as regards area, or anything else. That position has already commenced to develop in the country as a result of these charges and it will continue unless the Minister does something about it. I want to inform the Minister that there has been widespread dissatisfaction about these increases in land registry charges. The sooner something is done about them the better. In the case of large valuations, these charges might  not matter so much. The people concerned would have other assets and, when they died, somebody would have to take out administration or probate, as the case might be, for other reasons. But, in the case of a man with a registered holding the valuation of which is £5, there is no particular reason why he should do anything except for the purpose of putting his title in order. When faced with the increased land registry fees, he would think twice about that. He may refuse to do it, as a number have refused recently.
The Minister indicated a considerable time ago that the jurisdiction of the District Court was to be changed. We have heard nothing about that recently. We are anxiously waiting to learn whether it is proposed to increase the jurisdiction of the District Court and the Circuit Court. If that is to be done, there is a feeling in the country that, if possible, High Court actions from the country should be heard by the High Court on circuit. The complaints throughout the country of the increased costs in the courts are mainly due to witnesses' expenses. I should like if the Minister would endeavour to have affixed in all courts proper lists, so that cases would be taken on the day for which they are listed. That was the practice adopted by many judges. But the practice is not universal and, sometimes, you find that cases listed for Tuesday may not be reached until Wednesday or, in extreme cases, until Thursday. Professional witnesses have to be summoned for the first day and their expenses are accumulating day by day, with the result that costs to the litigants are much increased. It is far more satisfactory to have a reasonable number of cases, allowing for settlements, fixed for each day and thus have only one day's expenses of professional witnesses to be met.
I must say that the High Court on circuit has given universal satisfaction. Its operations have been welcomed by both practitioners and litigants in all the counties, so far as I know, and it is doing a very satisfactory job at the minimum of expense. We also feel that if a Bill is being introduced by the Minister, he should provide for the  High Court on circuit dealing with High Court actions which would be outside the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, since we have the machinery to bring these cases. Cases involving more than £300 must go to the High Court. Running-down cases may have to be commenced in the city. Nobody may know exactly when they will be taken. They may be listed for a particular day and may not get a hearing on that day. That may go on for a few days. When you have to bring doctors and professional witnesses up from the country, it means a great deal of expense to the unfortunate litigants. The plaintiffs in these running-down actions may be poor people who have not the wherewithal to pay professional witnesses. Many professional witnesses demand their expenses before they will leave their homes. The way to get over that difficulty would be for the High Court on circuit to deal with High Court actions arising in the area.
An increase in the jurisdiction of the District Court is long overdue. Nobody in his senses can understand why a district justice should not be able to deal with a £2 trespass case in which a question of title is raised. If it is a question of a right-of-way to a bog or a field or a question of a fence in which a question of title is raised, the action must go to the Circuit Court and engineers, mappers, and counsel have to be engaged. That involves enormous expense to both sides. If the district justice is capable of deciding a simple question of trespass, he is equally capable of deciding a simple question of title, which is mainly a question of fact. If a district justice is capable of trying an assault action up to £10, why should he not be capable of trying an assault action up to £50?
Mr. Moran: After a number of years' experience, it is admitted by everybody that the District Court system has been very popular, serviceable and inexpensive. There is room for all the courts to perform their own functions but, if the Minister has in mind the reduction of the cost of litigation, he would be well advised reasonably to increase jurisdiction of the District and  the Circuit Courts. In that way, he would be meeting a great demand throughout the country. I understand that changes of this type were considered by the Minister a considerable time ago. Possibly, the Minister could give us an indication as to when that job can be done because such information is anxiously awaited in the country.
I understand that some references were made in this debate to the cost of certain Garda reinforcements down in Mayo in connection with agrarian trouble there. I want simply to give my view of the matter. Many people in Mayo want to see the law enforced and many people in Mayo are delighted that the law has been enforced. Many people in Mayo, when they discovered that property was being wantonly burned and that they were to be faced with tremendous costs and expenses through malicious injury claims coming before the courts——
Mr. Moran: The people of Mayo I represent do not want to have to pay any more of this type of compensation and do not want to be blistered by any further malicious injury claims. I want the Minister to see that the law-abiding, respectable people of Mayo are adequately protected against this business and will not be called upon, in addition to paying high rates, to pay further malicious injury claims, due to any lack of adequate protection. I know the Minister and his officers are doing a good job and a difficult one, when some of the people might, in the heat of the moment, be misled and advised to break the law made by this House. The people of Mayo will have common sense enough, when that is  clearly pointed out to them and particularly when they are forced to pay for the depredations of other people who have been badly advised and who set out to burn and drive and knock down fences and so forth throughout the county. I want to make my position clear. I want the Minister, in so far as is possible, to protect the lawabiding citizens of Mayo from these malicious burnings of the type mentioned.
Mr. Moran: The question of legal reform and codification has been mentioned here many times and it is being done elsewhere, as the Minister is well aware. I know it may be a very expensive problem to deal with, but the longer it goes on the more expensive and more difficult it will be to tackle. If something could be done in the way of starting in a small way, with a small committee, I think a start should be made, as there is ample material available at the Irish Bar to deal with this matter. If the Minister would take his courage in his hands and set up a small committee to make a start on this enormous problem, he would probably find as the years went by that a good deal of progress would be made. It is a great tragedy—and if the Minister were in another line of country he would find that out—to find you have some laws still extant here that have been completely wiped out by our neighbours who started them and that they are completely obsolete.
In the case of pure realty, where the owner of the realty dies intestate, we find the blackguard of the family can turn up and claim it, irrespective of the other members of the family and of the position at home. It is in cases where claims have been made in respect of pure realty and where an heir-at-law has inherited to the exclusion of the other next-of-kin, that you realise the pity and shame it is that some parts of our law are left in such a backward state. I know the Minister's answer may be that it is a very technical job and one requiring very high skill and  that it may be expensive, too. However, I do not think it is a job that would be beyond the Minister, if he put his mind to it. I would ask that a small committee be set up forthwith to deal with law reform and the urgent problems I have mentioned. As time went on, possibly we could get down to the tremendous job of codification that all the people connected with law have been calling for, for a great number of years.
Mr. Commons: There is not a very great increase in the amount of money demanded in this Vote and we can safely say that whatever increase is asked for is going into a very worthy cause, namely, the salaries of the Gardaí, who deserve a higher rate than they have been getting for many years. Nevertheless, we must always bear in mind that there are very many people who have even worse salaries than the average Civic Guard and I must say that to the shame of the Government and of the system under which we work at the moment.
I believe there can be quite a lot of reforms in the different branches of the Department of Justice, from the courts down to the humble court clerks. It has been pointed out that reforms can be brought about. I am not a lawyer and do not like to meddle with a problem I do not know something about, but I believe we could simplify the court procedure. I remember reading some few months ago where a crowd of able lawyers and senior counsel decided amongst themselves that the time was well overdue when this revision should be brought about and something new should take the place of the cumbersome legal system we had and the Acts which may be yet brought into force, though passed 300 or 400 years ago.
In regard to those who enforce the law, the Civic Guards, the increase in pay is definitely welcome, especially in the case of new recruits, and will not be begrudged to them by anyone. During the past year, there has been a large recruitment for the Gardaí and, let me say in favour of the Minister for Justice, the men have been picked on their merits. I can vouch for the  fact that there has been very little, if any, political influence of any kind as far as my locality is concerned. Young men have been brought into the Gardaí and everything has been taken into consideration. If a young fellow has a good athletic record, he gets a certain number of marks and average education will do. That gives the poor man's son a chance of getting in at the bottom of the ladder and trying to climb to the top in the years before him. Whatever other criticism I may have of the Minister and the Department, I can definitely have none as far as that is concerned.
In regard to transfers of Gardaí from one station to another, it is claimed by the Department and the Government that that is a wise thing to do, as to leave a Garda or a sergeant in some place for a number of years may make him too intimate with certain people and hostile to others, so it has been thought that an occasional shift around is for the good of the locality and the policeman concerned.
Here we meet with the trouble which the Civic Guards, the sergeants and everybody else meet with, just as well as the Government—that is, the trouble of housing. The housing problem is so acute, houses are so scarce, that a Civic Guard, on his moderate salary, can ill-afford to get a house when he moves from one place to another. It is true that in places a Guard may be leaving a house and the incoming policeman may get first preference, but then there is the matter of taste to be considered, and occasionally the incoming Guard may not be anxious to take over the vacant house.
I remember last year, in my first contribution to the debate on the Vote for the Department of Justice, I suggested that the Minister, at the earliest opportunity, should build blocks of houses in every town and keep some of those places exclusively for members of the Garda who are shifted backwards and forwards from district to district. This system of having Government-controlled houses was adopted years ago by prisons authorities. We find that in the prisons all over this country there are a few houses which are handed  over first to the governor of the jail, then to the chief warder and then there are two or three or nine or ten houses as the case may be according to the size of the jail, and they are used by the warders. When a warder retires the house automatically becomes the property of the Government and it is turned over to some other warder who may be living in an outside house.
That would be an easy way out of the difficulty of housing the Guards. If that simple system could be put into operation, it would ease the minds of policemen when they are shifted from one station to another. I appreciate that for the past few years it was practically impossible to attempt any venture like this and I am offering it only as a suggestion for the future. If the Minister were to adopt that system, it would serve a very useful purpose and satisfy quite a lot of people.
The next thing we come to is crime. Some people say that crime is in the blood; a father may be a criminal, his son may be a criminal and even the grandson may be a criminal. We do not know whether that is right or not. I come from an area where we have a very small amount of crime. It is a rural locality. I got the facts within the last few weeks and I find that we have an average of 23 persons in that large section along the western seaboard — Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and parts of Monaghan—who may be regarded as prisoners. That is a very small number to hold in jail from such a vast area. We find crime more in the cities, especially juvenile crime.
In the cities juveniles have more chances of becoming criminals. I think juvenile crime can be blamed on two things. The first is the absolute necessity which prevails in many poor, humble homes. I will not say I am perfectly right in that, but I saw, no later than yesterday when I was coming into the city, one example which may be worth relating. Apparently out of pure necessity a young lad made the first move in a criminal life. I saw that young lad climbing on the back of a slowly moving lorry and he chucked down sods of turf on the roadway, then he collected them and ran with them  into a house, where his father and mother probably had no money to buy the turf and probably were not able to have a fire. That may or may not be the case.
That young fellow, seeing his first step in petty theft so successful, will probably be encouraged to do other things of a similar nature. He will be encouraged to steal bigger things and then, when he reaches 15 years or 17 years, he will follow a life of adventure and he will begin to steal in his own interests. I am glad to say that 95 per cent. and even 97 per cent. of the people who are in poor circumstances would definitely flog a youngster who was caught doing a thing like that. Those people deserve every credit. Most of the fathers and mothers, even though they may be hungry and have no fire, would not tolerate their youngsters stealing. If the parents knew that the turf the youngster brought into the house had been stolen, they would flog him almost to death. There is no doubt, however, that such small beginnings help to make the juvenile criminal and, once started on that career, it is very hard to stop him.
Then we have the type of criminal who comes from a bad strain, bad blood. He will go definitely out for a life of crime and to alter that criminal and make him reform is a very hard job. It is debatable if it ever could be done.
We are told that crime has increased. It has been proved that in the cities it has increased much more than among the rural population, but that is quite natural, because in the cities large masses of people are gathered together and it is only to be expected that petty theft, pocket picking, jewellery snatching, house and shop breaking, will be carried on in the larger centres of population. These things happen in the everyday lives of the younger and the older generations in the towns and cities. To bring about some system of reform of those criminals is the task of men who have dealt with criminals, who have been over criminals for years. It will take  men of that type to carry through any system of reform in the case of first offenders and severe punishment for those who insist on committing crime.
As regards our jails, I do not intend, like my colleague, Deputy Cafferky, to say much about them beyond what I have seen of our prisons, and I will put that as briefly as possible. I think the prisons in Eire are definitely 100 years behind the times. They are old, dilapidated and cold. There is no comfort for the staff of the prison or for the prisoners. I can safely say, and perhaps others who have seen the inside of a prison will agree with me, that every man inside the walls of a prison can be regarded as a prisoner, from the governor down. As regards the staffs, the off-time hours they have, even if they go abroad, are of little use to them. The close association of the prisoners and the warders tends to bring about the feeling that they are all under the same roof and one should not look down upon the other, as they are all practically carrying one brand.
As regards the prison staffs in Eire, nobody can complain in any way about the manner in which they carry out their duties, and that must be definitely said. So far as my association goes with governors and warders, I have found them all right, but the regulations under which they work are definitely all wrong. These regulations must be altered and prison reform must be brought about if we are to make any effort at the reformation of first offenders and the proper punishment of those who insist that they will be criminals and will go to jail simply and solely for the sake of being there and being able to boast about it when they come out. There are men who boast that they have spent so many years of their life behind prison bars. Old jailbirds have been known to fly into a rage because another prisoner boasted that he could prove he spent some months or some years longer in jails than they did. If one man spent 14 years of his life in jail, it would anger him to hear that some other crook had spent 15½ years of his life there.
Prisoners of that type cannot be put  in the same class as the youth who, in a moment of weakness perhaps, will steal a bicycle or a little money. My belief is that first offenders who have been found guilty of petty crimes, which nevertheless are crimes, should get a suspensory sentence and a chance should be given to them to see if they will reform within a period of say 12 months and make restitution for the value of the property which they have stolen. It would be much better to deal with first offenders in that way than to compel them to associate with the hardened type of criminal in jail, as such an association can only have the result of breaking down their morale. I have heard it said that when a man is convicted of an offence for the first time and is sent to jail his thoughts there are devoted to one or other of two things. He either gets repentant and decides to turn over a new leaf, or else he starts plotting and decides that when he comes out, he will commit another criminal offence but by entirely different methods from those which he employed in committing his first offence so that he will be able to lead the authorities up the garden path. Whether that is right or wrong I do not know but I think there must be something in it when we remember the number of prisoners who are in and out of jail continually. To keep more or less innocent first offenders in close contact for six or perhaps 12 months with hardened criminals will definitely bring these first offenders to the same level. I believe, therefore, that there should be some system in each prison under which first offenders would be kept in one section where every effort would be made to reform them and the hardened criminals kept in another section.
I will say that the quantity of food allowed to each prisoner, no matter what his offence may be, at present is not sufficient. It is not a very nice thing to keep men from the time they get up in the morning at 6.30 until they go to bed at 7.30 or 8 o'clock continually with empty stomachs. It merely means that they are carrying forward a good healthy appetite from one meal to another. They never get sufficient food and there is continual “grouse” as to the amount and the quality of the food which they get. Deputy Cafferky suggested that a different type of utensils might be utilised and I fully agree with him. Even though it may cost a little extra, I think if there was an arrangement under which the prisoners could eat in one hall or room and if a better type of utensil were provided, it would make those of them who can be reformed realise that they are not enemies of society, that society will not oust them for all time, that they can take up their place again in the world and, perhaps with a little effort, carry on as good model citizens.
Another matter to which I wish to call the attention of the Minister is the degrading type of clothing which these men have to wear. There may have been an excuse for that during the emergency when the quality of cloth generally was of an inferior type but there cannot be the same excuse in normal times. It is absolutely amazing to observe the change which takes place in the appearance of a man after he has changed from his own clothes, which he was wearing on entering the prison, into the prison suit. I think some effort should be made to provide prisoners with better-fitting clothes and clothes which might be a little warmer. The same remarks apply to prison shoes. The shoes are definitely not of a good standard. What is the object of compelling a prisoner to wear a bad suit of clothes or a bad pair of shoes and compelling him to work under such conditions. I will admit that they do not do much work. To those who say that prisoners have to work hard in jail, I would reply that the average man does as much work in a day, or a day and a half outside, as the average prisoner will do in a week. I have personal experience of that and I shall not allow anybody to contradict me. The fact that a prisoner is compelled to wear bad shoes or bad clothes leaves him liable to disease. He may contract turberculosis, pneumonia or influenza and in the long run the cost of treating these diseases will be much more than the cost of supplying him with proper boots and clothing in the first instance.
 Turning from the prisoners to the officials who have to supervise the prisoners, I think that much could be done to improve their conditions also. They have their “grouse” and I think that when you find men or women in this country grumbling, there is generally some grievance which gives rise to that grumbling. For the past five or six years, we have had complaints from many people, but I think the warders in our jails have every reason to complain as to their conditions. One regulation in existence at the moment prescribes the hour at which these men have to be inside the prison walls each night. I think the hour is 11 p.m. I think it is unfair, especially to the younger warders, who may like once or twice a week to go to a dance or to visit a cinema, to compel them to be back at 11 o'clock. If an extension could be given of an hour or an hour and a half even for two Sunday nights every month or for two or three week nights every month, it would be welcomed very much by these warders.
The next suggestion which warders make is that when moving prisoners from one jail to another, a warder should be entitled to wear his ordinary clothes and should be supplied with some identification badge, which he can use to prove his authority—a badge like that used by the secret service or the United States Federal Agents, as the case may be. He should not be compelled to wear his uniform so as to attract the notice of everybody who is passing because it is true of our people, and will be for years to come, I suppose, that the sight of a prison warder fills them with wrath. They say immediately: “He is a prison warder and no good. His job is to keep Irishmen in jail,” even though the warder may be far better than those who criticise him. If these two concessions could be granted: first, an hour longer to remain out during their off-hours, and, secondly, permission to wear ordinary clothing when going to courts to collect prisoners or removing prisoners from one jail to another, the Minister would go very far towards satisfying the wants of some of these prison warders. I heard no complaints as to warders' pay.
 They seem to think they were fairly well paid. Of course, more money would probably be asked for, but these concessions would be sought much more eagerly than any concessions in relation to cash.
The matter of the facilities for recreation in prisons is one which will have to be improved. The continuous walk in a circle for three hours at one time and for two and a half hours at another will get on the nerves of anybody. It serves no useful purpose and I suggest that in each jail a handball alley should be erected or a small football field should be provided. I personally would prefer a handball alley, or two, so that where 20, 30 or 40 men are in prison—or 200 or 300, as in Mountjoy—they could have handball tournaments and would have an interest in something other than this continuous walking round in circles, which merely serves to make them cranky and tends to develop in them a hatred of society. I understand that a handball alley has recently been erected in Portlaoighise and I hope the Minister will continue on that line and provide similar facilities in other prisons, even in Sligo, the humblest and smallest prison in Éire. If his inspector goes into Sligo Jail he will find that, for £50, he could erect a beautiful handball alley, because the side-walls are there already. Such a facility would do much to brighten the life of the poor individual who has to spend a year, 18 months or two years, or even two weeks, inside prison bars. Further, an inside recreation hall should be provided, because it is wrong that men, if they have a handball alley, should have to play handball on a wet day. If a game like basket-ball, as played in the Army, were introduced, it would be very useful. Little competitions could be organised in the jail and the warders would be only too willing to supervise them. Games of cards, with whist drives and darts competitions and concerts—it is all these little things which in jails are the great things.
 I understand that in England this reform has been brought about. I do not know whether that it true, but in the book I Did Penal Servitude it is stated that prisoners have been allowed cigarettes—three, four and five a day. The first thing the Minister will ask is: “Why we should give cigarettes to criminals? We could give them to eight out of ten prisoners, but there will always be two to whom we cannot give them, because, if they get matches, they will set fire to mattresses and so on.” It is, however, worth the chance because there is no doubt that any prisoner who is anxious for a smoke will provide himself in some way with a smoke. The Minister spent a longer period in prison than I and he must admit that smokes will be produced. A cigarette butt may be thrown unthinkingly on the ground by a warder who should not be smoking on duty and who fears that the Governor is coming upon him. That butt will be picked up and smoked by a prisoner. To those of us who are habitual smokers, it is understandable that to a man in jail a cigarette is something which does him an amount of good, and I have heard prisoners say that they would go without their break-fast or their dinner for a smoke. I believe that to be true, and why, then, should we deprive them of this little luxury?
It was said by Deputy Giles that we are coddling these prisoners and that if we keep on at it, we should be running hotels instead of jails and queues of criminals would be lined up outside waiting to get in. I do not believe that. There are types who will always be in and out of jail and who frequently will have to go to a jail through very little fault on their part, but, instead of grinding them down and keeping them cut away in such and awful manner from what they have been used to, an effort should be made to go at least halfway towards easing their lot. I understand that in Portlaoighise, although it may have its faults and although things have happened within the last year there that I shall hate while I live, definite improvements have been made. We have been told that a radio has been installed and several types of games are being allowed, with the  result that life generally there has been fairly well improved, but there is still a lot of room for further improvement.
I listened with interest to Deputy Moran on the subject of land registry. He is perfectly right. The number of people who have allowed their titles to land to lie there simply because the charge for registering is too high is amazing. The solicitors of Ireland have a very bad name at present because everybody thinks it is the lawyer who takes all the money and walks away with a man's £5, £6 or £10, when, in reality, it is the stamp duty which the Government demands which is responsible. It is unduly high and could easily be reduced to suit the poorer type of person dealing with a small holding or a small house.
Mr. Commons: I know of an instance in which it was refused in respect of a valuation of £150. The next matter is the matter of jurymen. I regard it as very unfair that jurymen who sometimes have to stay away from their homes for two, three or four days should be made to do so without compensation. Everybody else in the court is paid, and I think they should get at least their travelling and out-of-pocket expenses. No Deputy would begrudge them their out-of-pocket and travelling expenses when they are brought in to decide cases. If the Minister introduced a Vote for the purpose of paying jurymen, nobody in the House would object to the money being granted.
Deputy Cafferky overlooked one matter with regard to the Circuit Courts. I understand that the number of Circuit Courts will be increased and that the number of places where they hold their sittings will be increased. Several complaints have come from Swinford, County Mayo, that Circuit  Court cases in that locality are heard in Castlebar or Ballina, a distance of 20 miles on each side of the town. It would be of great advantage to the people of the locality if a Circuit Court sitting could be held in Swinford town. That does not mean that there is an immensity of litigation in that town but, when there is a Circuit Court case, it should be heard in a central place. The distance of almost 20 miles to Castlebar or to Ballina is too great. A progressive town like Swinford should have a Circuit Court sitting of its own. I hope the Minister will take that into consideration.
Mr. Commons: There is another thing that I mentioned last year and which has been forgotten by everybody else and it is only right that somebody should mention it, that is, political crime and political prisoners. Last year, on this Estimate, some of us, in our simple, quiet way, appealed to the Minister, now that times are normal again, when, perhaps, hot tempers have cooled down, and when men whose foolish ideals got the upper hand of them so that they decided, maybe foolishly, that they would try to use force of arms and had to be, as the Minister thought, punished, to have these men treated as political prisoners and, if possible, to have them released. I am sorry to say our appeal fell on deaf ears. I am sorry to say that an incident happened last summer which definitely stinks in the nostrils of the majority of the people of this country. I refer to the death of the man on hunger strike in Portlaoighise Prison. Two wrongs will not make a right and I do not intend to scold the Minister or to say anything about that case. But there are other men, and I think the Minister would not be sorry but would be proud later on, when so many political  prisoners have been released in the past year or two, if he released the few that are remaining. It would be an encouragement to our neighbour across the water, where a number of Irishmen are held as political prisoners, to release their prisoners and to forget the whole thing. If men had ideals, they are not criminals. Political crime and ordinary crime are two different things and should not be treated on the same basis. If a man must be kept in custody until his blood cools, then he should be treated differently from the man who has to be punished for embezzling thousands of pounds or for manslaughter or murder.
I wish now to refer to the matter which I raised by way of Parliamentary Question to-day with regard to happenings in Mayo at the present moment. I put down the question because I was forced to do so because of intense police activity in my locality, activity which I do not like and activity which has but one meaning, that is, an effort to point out that the Clann na Talmhan organisation in and around the locality must each and every one of them be regarded as a criminal or as a law breaker. We have agrarian and land troubles in Mayo. The Minister may not know that. I do not think he had ever charge of the Land Commission.
Mr. Commons: I am just coming to the reason why I had to put down the Parliamentary Question. The fact that a large farm in the locality had been purchased by a foreigner caused intense dissatisfaction amongst the people and, for that reason, an immensity of Gardaí have been brought to the town where I come from. Their time is devoted simply and solely to going about—not terrorising—I will say that for these men. I have had them raiding my own house; they have raided the houses of our supporters in our locality; they have taken men and interrogated them and one of the questions they ask is, “Are you a supporter of Clann na Talmhan? Did you vote for So-and-So at the last election?” I regard that as going a bit too far.
Mr. Commons: And I put down this question. The Minister in answering it, said: “It is intended to prevent breaches of the peace in connection with an agrarian dispute in the course of which a house was burned”. I wonder where did the Minister get his information. I am living within a mile of the locality and I can assure the Minister that if I knew who burned the house I would have brought him to justice and I would have told the Guards or told the authorities because, while I and my colleagues stand for the division of land and for agitation, in an effort to get land divided, we definitely do not stand for anarchy and it is anarchy to raze a valuable house to the ground. But what proof is there, I ask the Minister, that this house has been maliciously burned or destroyed? There is no agitation for this land in question. There was none at the time that this house took fire. That house took fire last September and about six  weeks ago somebody painted notices on the road warning grabbers, etcetera, to keep out but we have here a definite statement from the Minister—“an agrarian dispute in the course of which a house was burned”. I want the Minister to understand that there are two claims, each of £5,000, lodged in regard to this. I do not want to pursue it as the matter is sub judice, but I wonder was it the Minister's intention, when he made that statement, to help out his former colleague and former great supporter, Senator McEllin, to get his claim and to fleece the people of the constituency of South Mayo for the £10,000?
Deputy Moran, speaking from behind the back of the Minister, got into a frenzy with regard to what he thought about law breakers, of what the people thought about them and of how the people of Mayo decided that law breakers should be treated. I believe that anybody who is caught burning a house, even though he does it in the name of carrying on an agitation for land, should definitely be brought to justice. I would like to remind Deputy Moran of this—I am sorry he is not in the House—that he is the last person in the world who should say that people should be penalised for causing an agitation or for knocking houses down because we had to tell him in the course of the last by-election—we had to tell him to keep him quiet—that his predecessors had knocked down and burned quite a lot of houses.
Mr. Commons: I did not want to do it, but Deputy Moran made the accusation that I and Deputy Cafferky should be in jail, and that it was perfectly right to put us there because we agitated for land for the common people. I should much rather agitate for land for the common people than have it said of me that I had 40 or 50 houses knocked down by the crow-bar brigade, and have that handed down to  me as my family history. I think it is much more respectable to agitate for the land for the common people.
Mr. Commons: With regard to the Minister's statement, I notice that it is hard to ruffle him. I will not say whether I like him or not. That is immaterial to him. He does not worry about it. I certainly do not like the administration that he has carried on during the past year. With regard to political murder crimes and other types of crime, I cannot say that he is doing his best, but I can assure him of this that by his statement here, that this house was burned down, he has made a present of £5,000 to his former colleague Senator McEllin, and a present of another £5,000 to Mr. Denis E. Browne whose address we do not know.
Mr. Commons: That is a matter for the Land Commission. I do not intend to say any more. You have allowed me to get in a lot. My chief interest is in the prisoners—the political ones—and again I would ask the Minister to do something for them in the way of prison reform. If he does, he will satisfy everybody who has ever had any association with prisons in this country.
Mr. Dillon: Deputy Commons has no reason to apologise for irrelevancies because in a long experience I can say that I have seldom heard a more prudent or a more moderately expressed speech on matters on which many feel very strongly. I found myself in great sympathy with much that he had to say on the question of prison reform. Lest this point should escape my memory, I want to say that I support most cordially the representations which have been made by Deputy Commons on behalf of prison warders who are required to be back at the prison gates at 11 o'clock at night. Such an arrangement is fantastic. In the 19th century it was the practice in certain old-fashioned shops in rural Ireland— the staffs then lived in—to require them to be in at night at 11 o'clock. There might be some excuse for it in those days, but that has long ceased to be the custom.
It astonishes me to hear that the  Minister could consider approving of a regulation which requires mature men, under pain of dismissal, to be in at 11 o'clock at night. I think that the demand made by Deputy Commons was very inadequate—namely, that the hours at which the warders would be required to be in would be extended on a couple of nights a week. I think it is fantastic that they should not have the right to be out until midnight, or after midnight, without let or hindrance, provided they send a notification to the appropriate official. There should be no question of allowing them to remain out so long as they are on duty at the appointed hour in the morning.
In my opinion there ought to be no restriction whatever on the free movement of mature men. Of course, if some fellow stays out night after night and renders himself unfit to take up duty in the morning, the thing to do with him is to sack him. It would be an absurd position for any employer to take up, that after his day's work the employer should have the right to regulate the private life of his employee and determine whether he might go to a dance or walk the hills. I hope the Minister will be in a position to say, when replying, that this archaic arrangement had escaped his notice, and that he will now have the matter put right.
There are two questions which I would like to ask Deputy Commons, because, as I say, I was much struck by the moderation and prudence of much of what he said. He made a very moderate and carefully-phrased appeal for the political prisoners. May I ask him what does he mean by political prisoners? Are we still at the stage in this country that if a man draws a gun and murders a Civic Guard in the public street and says that he did it for a political reason, that he is to be given preferential treatment? Does the Deputy think that?
Mr. Dillon: Why not? I accept your good faith as an Irishman, but I regard such a doctrine as absolutely indefensible and intolerable in any civilised society. If the Garda Síochána of this country, who are public servants —who are the children of our neighbours—are to stand in perpetual peril of being shot down in the public street and murdered, and if the person who murders one of them is to be transmuted by this Parliament into a national hero as a person with such lofty ideals that he has raised above the law—that he is a man in a class by himself—how can you expect any respectable man to serve in the uniform of this State?
Mr. Dillon: I want to say that without qualification of any sort or any description and unless this Parliament is prepared to go on record as taking the view that if a person in cold blood and with deliberation murders a servant of the State in the course of his duty that that murderer should receive the punishment appropriate to a murderer, the maintenance of civilised Government in this country is impossible. Therefore, I find myself at profound variance with Deputy Commons. What astonishes me and what, in some degree, causes me alarm is that I believe he is perfectly sincere and it shocks me to find that somebody capable of thinking as he thinks about other matters could conceivably display that confusion of mind—justify murder on the ground that some individual citizen chooses to describe it as being done in pursuit of his ideals.
Deputy Commons very readily says: “Can you blame a man for his ideals?” When he says that he is thinking of  the ideals of extreme nationalism of this country. Suppose he finds other ideals which are held just as fervently and violently as they were. Suppose he finds a person blinded by religious bigotry—convinced that Catholics are enemies of the State, enemies of liberty. Does he say that in such a community any person who draws a gun and murders a man because he is a Catholic should be excused and that he does it for his ideals? If every man is to be a judge of his own justification the conduct of us all will become in all probability very strange. There is a moral law which says: “Thou shalt not kill”—and to that moral law there are well-recognised qualifications where the State acts of itself or by its agents. I know of no law that entitles a man in cold blood to go out and murder his neighbour who is the servant of the State in the course of his duty and then claim the title of an idealist and claim exemption from the law.
Mr. Dillon: Deputy Commons spoke of land hunger and he and Deputy Cafferky feel strongly about that particular topic in connection with the particular part of Mayo from which they come. Have Deputies in this House yet begun to realise the source of land hunger at the present time? One of the most abundant sources of land hunger in this country at the present time is the universal knowledge that if the State can be induced to acquire my holding for distribution——
Mr. Dillon: Nonsense! I am referring to land agitation and the consequent crime that may derive therefrom in the County Mayo. C-r-i-m-e, and the Minister for Justice is responsible for crime. What is the cause of crime? That is what I am arguing. If we hold out to any body of people the inducement that if they resort to measures sufficiently violent they can secure for themselves the right to purchase their neighbours' land at one-half the price of that land, how can we ever put an end to land hunger in this country? If I covet my neighbour's farm in Ireland now and can induce the Land Commission to acquire it, divide it into two holdings, and sell it to me, for every acre of that land the value of which is £40 I am only asked to pay £20.
If we had a system in this country of buying publichouses and selling them to the purchaser for one-half of what they cost would not we have a publichouse hunger and would not we have urgent demonstrations started, and crime committed to prevent anyone buying a publichouse lest thereby the Government might be deterred from buying it and selling it to the fortunate allottee for one-half of what it cost?
I remember saying in this House 15 years ago, when the Land Act of 1931 was introduced: “You are going to create a situation in this country in which you will have a perennial and recurrent land hunger in pursuit of which crime will be committed, agrarian outrage will be promoted and a rotten pantomime of the land war upon which we look back with pride enacted, not in defence of the right of honourable people to live on their holdings, but enacted to give effect to the jealous, covetous nature of those who want their neighbour's land and want it at half price.” So long as the law of this State provides that the Land Commission can acquire land, pay £40 an acre for it, and sell it to the allottee for £20 an acre we will have land hunger of a fraudulent and specious type, we will have agrarian crime and outrage and— if it goes on long enough—we will have every barony in this country reft with feud and hatred, created by that appeal  to the natural covetousness of some people who would go to the end of the world in the hope of getting something for nothing.
Mr. Dillon: This matter is extremely important and to-day the Minister himself made reference to it in the reply he gave to a question in this House. Why is it that, when you approach the root of an evil in this country, everybody thrusts his head in the sand and says: “Talk about anything but do not talk about that.” There is the root of the evil. Deputy Keyes goes into hysterics when you mention it.
Mr. Dillon: One cannot get it into that man's head that, while generations of us stood for land purchase, no sane man ever said that the whole land of Ireland should be bought in parcels for £40 by the community and sold to individual allottees for £20.
Mr. Dillon: I am trying to drive home to people that the source and root of agrarian crime in this country is the perpetuation of a land war and that nothing the Minister or the Gardaí or anybody else can do will stop that until you go to the root of the matter and end the evil. Seventy years ago the representatives of the people pointed that out. “Buckshot” Forster sent in the soldiers but you cannot end agrarian crime until you put an end to the source of the evil. That was demonstrated by our representatives to the British House of Commons. The British tried the military, the police, “Buckshot” Forster and everything else——
Mr. Dillon: I am trying to persuade the more wooden-headed Deputies that we had agrarian crime many years ago and that a mighty empire threw all its forces into an attempt to suppress it. Our fathers and grandfathers told them from the beginning that they could double their forces and that the thing would go on until the cause of it was abolished. After years of agitation, they abolished the cause and there was no more agrarian crime. I am reminding the House—I was reared in the atmosphere of this business—that certain steps were taken in this House which I said, the moment I saw them, were going to lead to a recrudescence of crime. That recrudescence has taken place. Many Deputies want to turn their backs on the cause of the crime. They want to turn out the soldiers. The Minister is trebling and quadrupling the Gardaí in the area. All the silly remedies to which “Buckshot” Forster, who was an extremely respectable old man——
Mr. Dillon: A kindly old fellow, most anxious to do what was right and moved by exactly the same sentiments as those expressed by Deputy Moran to-day. Listening to Deputy Moran talking about the enforcement of the law, the protection of law-abiding citizens and the assertion of the rights of private property, I could hear echoing down the years the accents of that mild, respectable old man, “Buck-shot” Forster. Both fell into the same error. Poor old Forster was anxious to be popular in Ireland. He was sure that the people would grow to love him when they got to know him and he was a bitterly disappointed man when things did not turn out as he had thought they would. He often told my father that he had been estranged from the Irish because they never understood him. All he wanted was to  restore peace and quietness, the same as Deputy Moran. But they both went about it in the wrong way.
Mr. Dillon: I suggest to the Minister that he should learn from the experience of those who went before. He can maintain law and order provided his colleagues in the Government will collaborate with him and not be punching holes in the walls against crime which he so skillfully erects, which holes he has to fill. There are several matters on this Estimate to which I want to draw attention. Again, Deputy Commons gave me the cue. He referred to the publication, I Did Penal Servitude, a dirty, lying, slanderous, fraudulent publication by a mean hound who  slanders prison officers and libels them in the knowledge, acquired by his experience during well-deserved punishment, that the prison officers are prevented by prison regulations from having recourse to the civil courts for their remedy. A decent, respectable man—a warder who is easily identified —is grossly and vilely libelled in that book. I think I am right in saying that the moment the paragraph was drawn to this man's attention, he applied for permission to issue a writ for libel but was informed that, in the general interest of the prison service, that course was not permissible. I move to report progress.
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