Tuesday, 21 April 1959
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £67,800 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1960, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice, including certain other Services administered by that Office.—(Minister for Justice.)
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: When the debate was adjourned last week, I had just commenced to deal with a few matters relating to prisons. The amount of useful and valuable work performed by the prison staffs is something which I feel should be given a little more State recognition. The staffs of the various prisons have an extremely difficult job. Their job would be impossible if they had not the co-operation of the prisoners. Generally speaking, the prison staffs are made up of men of very great ability, with a very high standard of education, who realise they have a very great national duty to perform.
I wonder has the attention of the Minister been directed to the duties performed by the prison officers day after day, enclosed as they are in the prisons practically to the same extent as prisoners? In addition to the services they have to render to their superior officers, they must endeavour  by their example, by their words and their methods of teaching, to put the prisoners back on right and proper lines in life.
A good deal could be done, and it would be unreasonable and unfair on my part if I did not admit that a lot has been done in recent years, in endeavouring to avoid embittering the prisoner against life and in the endeavours to give him some hope so that when his sentence has expired, he will go out of the prison a better man than when he went in.
I hope it is in order to refer to a gentleman who is now in retirement— the Governor of Portlaoise Prison, Major Barrows. It was interesting to see the volume of correspondence which he received from time to time from ex-prisoners, expressing their gratitude and their thanks, and letting him know how they were getting on in the outside world. Men who spend anything from three to ten years in prison cannot be compared with those imprisoned in Mountjoy for a period of a fortnight to six months. Even in short-term prisons such as Mountjoy, an effort should be made by example and method, if possible, to change the mind and the outlook of the prisoner. That is not an easy job; it is indeed a rather difficult job. It is one that is comparatively easy in a prison where long sentences are being served. I am glad to say, it is realised by the majority of those engaged in the work that their efforts should be aimed towards directing the prisoner, so that when he leaves, he will not feel an outcast in the world. While he is behind the grey walls of the prison, he should be equipped with a trade, with a better understanding of good citizenship, and with a better education, if possible. His detention in prison should not be for the purpose of punishment, but should be a term in which he will be given the necessary facilities to look into and examine his life and to examine his attitude towards his fellow men.
In prisons where long-term sentences are served, efforts should be made to introduce reforms to rehabilitate the prisoner so that when his sentence has expired, he will be a better  citizen. There should be evening classes in drama and first-aid because it is very important that advantage should be taken of the opportunity to improve the character of a person in prison for a long number of years. Apart from drama classes and the exercise available to the prisoner in very limited prison space, he should get a thorough instruction in first-aid. In addition to that, all kinds of literature, on whatever subjects the prisoner may choose, should be made available and he should be given whatever time he may desire for the study of those subjects.
Sufficient stationery should always be available for him if he desires to undertake a course in mathematics, or if he wishes to refresh his mind on arithmetic, or whatever line of study or thought he may desire to follow up. Much good could be done, if a large measure of cooperation existed between the trade unions and the Department of Justice in that regard. There are competent tradesmen in the prison service and if a certain amount of cooperation with the trade unions existed, a young prisoner who has unfortunately to serve a long sentence, should be given an opportunity of being apprenticed to the prison tradesmen, whether carpenters, bricklayers, electricians or plumbers. I hope in saying that, I am not treading unduly on the toes of the trade unions.
When a man enters prison, he should not be looked upon as a complete outcast. As St. Thomas Aquinas said when an unfortunate sinner was being carried through the streets: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Credit is due to Deputy Everett and Deputy MacEoin as former Ministers for Justice, and to the present Minister, in that in the past 15 or 20 years, conditions have improved immensely in an attempt to make the prisoner a better man. That is a line of action which should not be changed.
In his contribution to the debate, Deputy Dillon dealt with juvenile crime. It is most unfortunate that young children should find themselves in the grip of the law so early in their lives. That is probably due to lack of control on the part of parents, or to  bad company, or perhaps to a little wildness or some wild strain there may be in a child who is not properly controlled. In my opinion, before those children are sentenced they should be medically examined, and whatever treatment is prescribed as a result of such examination, should be carried out. The Department of Justice should be slow to put the stigma of imprisonment on the character of such children who may only be wild. We know they do strange and wild things, but which one of us did not do something extraordinary or wild when we were young? We were fortunate in that we escaped falling foul of the law.
When children are committed to an institution the officers responsible for them are endeavouring not to punish them but to educate and sympathise with them. If a man gets a term of imprisonment or if a child is sent to an industrial school it is sympathy and attention he requires and I am glad to say that the outlook in the prisons and in these industrial schools has changed for the better in this respect. I hope that will be encouraged by the Minister and that the officers in charge will be given proper pay in recognition of their services.
The prison officers have a thankless job. It is a great calling for the man who likes his job and takes an interest in the prisoners, but these officers are underpaid. I would ask the Minister to examine this question during the coming financial year and to arrive at a new scale whereby there will be substantial increases in pay for prison officers. I am not making that plea because of the large number of prison officers who reside in my constituency but in respect of all the prison officers throughout the country. They have a very difficult job and it is not every man who is fitted to spend his life in the prison service. I hope that grievance, which has been outlined by the Prison Officers' Association and referred to at a recent annual conference, will be remedied by the Minister.
An effort should also be made to provide houses for prison officers. A number of houses are already provided for them in Portlaoise but all of them ought to be provided with a residence. I do not know how many prison  residences were erected under native Government. I presume all the prison houses erected in Portlaoise and at Mountjoy were erected when the British were in control in this country. Married prison attendants, especially the younger men who came into the service in recent years, ought not to be put in the embarrassing position of having to seek houses from the local authority. The provision of houses for all prison officers would mean that the houses they already occupy would be available for persons who fall within the category normally housed by the local authorities.
There is also a need to provide houses for the Garda. The numbers of the Garda have been cut down very much in the past few years. Whether it was the policy of the last Government or is the policy of this Government, it is unwise. However, I shall deal with that later. The question of housing for the Garda has been brought up in this House on more than one occasion. A number of Garda barracks have been erected throughout the country but these barracks have living accommodation only for the sergeant and his family. It is humiliating that a Garda should have to go from street to street looking for a vacant flat or room. Where you have five or six members of the force attached to a station, a site should be acquired by the Office of Public Works, and the Minister for Justice ought to make the necessary provision for the building of these houses on the one site. If separate sites were to be made available there would be legal costs involved in connection with the transfer of the sites, the title, and so on. Therefore, an effort should be made to acquire a site to build a number of houses according to the Garda strength in the district.
A substantial sum of money is already paid out in rent allowances to the Garda but it would be wiser to put that money towards building decent houses for them. It would not be a great strain on the Exchequer. A Garda, as an officer of the law, is to be respected as such. He must maintain a certain amount of independence and dignity which he cannot maintain if he is living in the corner of some  other person's room, if he has to seek permission to have his pram carried up the stairs or to have the back door of the flat opened to gain exit or entry. We are too long tinkering with this problem. No section of the taxpayers would grudge proper housing accommodation to the men who safeguard our lives and property, protection which is more than ever necessary at the present time.
The programme in respect of new Garda barracks has progressed very much but it is far from being complete. Throughout the country there are a number of disgraceful old shacks unworthy to be called Garda barracks. Many of them are unsafe and unfit for habitation and the Department of Justice, in consultation with the Office of Public Works, should present the Minister with proposals for an entirely new scheme of Garda barracks where required. I referred in the last day's debate to the remote country districts and I do not desire to repeat my remarks. However, I wish to refer to rural districts where Garda stations have closed and where Gardaí have had to leave because of the lack of accommodation. New Garda stations ought to be erected.
The present Minister, or some Minister for Justice in the future, will have to meet the Minister for Finance when the right time comes to deal with all these problems. Matters are so complicated and so knotted with red tape that it is not possible to do all one would like to see done in a short space of time. Nevertheless, a start must be made and I know the Minister for Justice is one who would like to see all these things accomplished. The question arises as to the money with which to do this work and there is little use in tinkering with this Estimate. We want to do the job right, provide the money, get the money and spend the money and give at least a measure of comfort to people we expect a return from, to people in that line.
I do not agree with the policy of closing Garda stations. That policy is asking for trouble and inviting crime. To close down Garda stations in wild remote areas is wrong. It might not  be too difficult to close down Garda stations where you think you have law and order established—but how was it established? Was it not established because the Gardaí were there and were available and were conscientious men who did their duty without fear or favour?
It is only when the Gardaí are gone —it is like mice playing when the cat is away—that you will see an inclination to crime. It will be in a small and petty way at first but it will lead to bigger things. The new policy places too much confidence and reliance on a public spirit that is not there to the great extent we may think it is. One or two disturbers can be responsible for the loss of the good name of a community. This is bad policy. It is unsound and unwise and in the long run, it will tell a sad tale.
Some time ago, I put down a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Justice in relation to the pay of members of the Garda. It seems strange and extraordinary that there are so many inspectors, superintendents and chief superintendents. If there is to be a pruning or cutting-down, why cut down on the men? There is the same number of superintendents and chief superintendents now as when the force was 1,500 strong.
A superintendent is in charge of so many stations. Right over him again is a chief superintendent and there are a number of chief superintendents in every area, whether they are grouped counties or otherwise. Is there anything the chief superintendent does that the superintendent cannot do? I have not been told whether or not there is, but, to the ordinary man in the street, it seems extraordinary that there are so many chief superintendents and superintendents. Has a chief superintendent any additional duties to do which the superintendent cannot carry out? It seems that the higher up you are in the Garda, the less you have to do. Everybody is looking at the ordinary Garda and inspecting him. People expect to see him on duty. His crime and evidence book must be written up; his patrol book must be written up; his duty book must be written up. He has  the sergeant and the inspector and the superintendent and the chief superintendent keeping an eye on him.
What are the duties of a Garda particularly in relation to the extraordinary salary he is getting? I am not casting a reflection on any chief superintendent; I am referring to the amount of work the men do and the sergeants do—I do not know exactly where the inspectors come in—and I should be interested to have a clear picture of the Garda. It falls to my lot to attend the district court and the circuit court. I am not in any way connected with the legal profession. I have escaped that catastrophe. However, I often have to attend court in another capacity. Some months the superintendent is there, while other months the inspector is there. What is the difference between the inspector and the superintendent?
For the purpose of the records and information, I should like to know how many inspectors there are in the Garda and also how many superintendens and how many chief superintendents. I think we have 26 chief superintendents. I do not know in what way the Dublin Metropolitan District is divided but in the country it seems ridiculous. We should leave the existing chief superintendents as they are. They all did their job. Most of them came from the bottom of the ladder.
I love to meet and talk with the old member of the Garda who joined in 1923 and 1924. He can tell the stories and he knows the job. He is the old-timer who came up the hard way and built up the police force we have to-day. When he retired, he was not fully rewarded either in pension or gratuity. These old-timers in the Garda were great men and are great men even to this day. I hope the younger members of the force will take a leaf out of the old-timers' book. I should like to know from the Minister why arrangements have not been made with regard to the old-timers— the first men. There are not very many of them left in the force because the past three or four years have weeded out a number of them. They have a good record of proud work  behind them and I hope the younger men in the force will follow in their footsteps.
The 1923 and 1924 men who joined the Garda and who had the difficult job of establishing law and order should be given some special recognition, as the first members of the force, now that they are ending their days in retirement, some of them beyond the sea, as many of them sought work when they retired from the force because their pensions were not sufficient. Many of them had their family difficulties and family responsibilities and it was not easy for them to get along when they retired. In view of the very limited number of such men, I think we ought to do something about it.
When the existing chief superintendents retire or die, I suggest there ought be no further appointments; that is an expression of opinion. Unless the Minister for Justice has some extraordinary reason for continuing the grade of chief superintendent, the taxpayer and the ordinary Garda do not see the necessity for the grade of superintendent and chief superintendent at the same time.
The Department would be well advised not to cut down on the number of Gardaí and not to close Garda stations. If there is to be a reduction in the numbers in the force, I suggest the Department should begin at the top. When the present chief superintendents retire, pay them well, give them proper recognition, give them a pension which will enable them to complete their days in contentment and happiness but do not make any appointments in their place. If we want to economise, let us save where saving will have the least possible adverse effect on the community. One way in which we can save is to cut down unnecessary appointments—and we have quite a number of them in the Garda and the Garda services.
I shall not refer to the plain clothes force, beyond saying that their job is even more difficult still. It takes a different type of man—a man of a certain standard of education with a liking for the police force and police work— to undertake the plain clothes side of  the business. I do not think they, either, are sufficiently paid.
I do not feel obliged on this occasion to refer in detail to the transport section of the Garda but I do want to say that the officers of that section are as fine a type of men as are to be found in any part of this country and are not paid in relation to the amount of work they have to do in driving patrol cars or being in charge of State cars. No man ought to know better than the present Minister for Justice the valuable contribution made by the members of the transport section to this State down through the years. These men are prepared to stay out all night, to sit long hours and even days waiting. They have to care for the cars and know the mechanics and movements of the cars. They have to live up to a standard even higher than that which the ordinary Guard has to observe. For those reasons I would ask that special attention and consideration be given to these men.
I would be the least worthy person to comment in any way on the courts and I shall not comment on them in any way. It is nearly time a change was made with regard to the titles of justices and judges. We have reached the stage when we all have respect for the law and for the men administering the law and this business of addressing “My Lord” and saying “If it please your Lordship”, “If it please your Worship”, and so on, should be eliminated. This form of address, “Your Lordship”, and appealing to “His Honour” and asking “His Lordship” to consider this, that and the other, came to us from the British and even though we are now trying to adopt the British system of election, a matter which does not come within the scope of this Estimate, we might be well advised to drop the British system of titles for judges and justices. We can have honourable judges, we can have plain, understanding judges and we can have the judge who is steeped in snobbery. It is rather degrading for any Irish professional man or citizen to have to bend his head or his knee in court and address his fellow citizen as “Your Worship,”“Your Lordship”, “Your Honour” and ask if it pleases him to consider this, that or the other.
We know that there must be some distinction drawn between the courthouse caretaker and the judge but the use of these forms of address is carried too far. It is high time that there was an investigation into the manner of addressing High Court judges, Circuit Court judges and other judges, particularly the snobbish type who love to hear themselves so addressed.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I would ask the Minister as Minister for Justice to consult whoever has responsibility with a view to having these forms of address altered so that it will be less humiliating for those who have business in court. Such a change is long overdue.
I want to refer, if I may, to a matter in connection with judges and justices for which the Minister has responsibility, namely, the question referred to by the Parish Priest of Kilnamona, County Clare, at the Christus Rex Congress, of political pull in law appointments. It is extraordinary that although for other public appointments there is an interview board, examination papers and a certain code of regulations, when it comes to the appointment of a judge or justice, whatever Party is in power appoints the favourite. I want to refer, if I may, to the statement made by Father Cosgrave that the appointment of judges and district justices is in itself an injustice because they are chosen by political patronage. Surely we have reached the stage where a man ought to be considered, apart from his political outlook and belief, on merit. Every political party maintain that their man was appointed on merit and that, on merit, their man was entitled to the vacancy. We have known cases in which former members of this House were appointed as district justices, not because of their qualifications for the Bench, but because of the fact that they were members of this House, honourable members, and  equally honourable members of the Bench, I am sure.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Might I endeavour to enlighten you, A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, by saying that in this connection the Department of Justice were asked to make a comment, particularly with reference to Father Cosgrave's speech, and the Department of Justice replied that they had no comment to make.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I do not see that Father Cosgrave has any authority as to the relevance of this matter to the debate. What I am concerned with is Article 35 of the Constitution which states:—
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I will take the Minister's word on that and will be guided by the ruling of the Chair but I would ask that some effort be made to find alternative means of making those appointments.
Gen. MacEoin: On a point of order, I do not think we can leave it just like that. When a vacancy arises the Minister for Justice has responsibility to bring the vacancy to the notice of the Government and in that sense he has a responsibility in the initial steps for the appointment of a judge.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Flanagan was not commenting on the bringing of notice to the attention of the Government. He was  referring to the appointments and the manner in which they were made. According to the Constitution, the appointments are made by the President.
Mr. Traynor: I want to repeat that the Minister for Justice has no responsibility for the appointment of judges. Despite what Deputy MacEoin has said, the appointments are made by the President on the recommendation of the Government.
Mr. Traynor: He may bring to the attention of the Government the fact that there is a vacancy. That is the only responsibility he has, but members of the Government probably will know that as soon as the Minister himself. Vacancies are generally caused either by retirement or death.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: We shall try it on that but we shall not get away with it on that either. Nevertheless, the whole position of appointing justices and judges, in plain language, has a strange smell and the fact that the President's name is linked up with the matter does not make it any cleaner.
I want to deal with one other problem before I leave the Garda. I want to refer to a new ruling which has been made, whether with the Minister's approval or not I do not know. It is the question of preventing members of the Dublin Metropolitan Selection Committee from having special leave to attend meetings to discuss their own affairs. I think it is unconstitutional to prevent members of the Garda from meeting to discuss their own affairs and their own standard of living.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I am suggesting that the Dublin Gardaí bitterly resent a decision made by the Commissioner which, they say, will prevent them, or seriously hamper them, from holding these meetings. Assistant Commissioner Francis Burke, in a letter says that the members of the committee must not be given leave of absence to go to their meetings. I think that is wrong.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: It may be a matter for the Commissioner but I think it is wrong and unreasonable and something which the Minister for Justice should bring to the notice of the Government. It is something which he should not allow the Commissioner or the Assistant Commissioner away with.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I do not want the Minister to commit himself one way or the other; he is an honourable man—and I want it to go on record that I said he is an honourable man— but I want to ask him is it fair to prevent the members of the Selection Committee attending meetings? They can attend meetings during monthly or annual leave but they will not all be on monthly or annual leave together, therefore they can never have a meeting to appeal to their representative body to improve their conditions.
Surely the Garda cannot be trampled upon in that way. There must be someone here who can air this matter in this House. They should not be trampled upon in this manner. I am sure the letter has been written without consultation with the Minister for Justice, but whoever wrote the letter— it is written on the instructions of the Commissioner, as the Assistant Commissioner did not take it on himself to write it—I politely tell him that it is wrong to prevent Guards from meeting to discuss their problems and he will not get away with it. I think if the Guards are to be trampled on in this way every Guard in the country should protest. There are young men in the force now who are not going to be trampled on in the same way the old timers were. The old timers were too honourable and too law abiding.
To stop the Guards from discussing their own problems, from meeting to discuss matters which affect their lives and those of their families and to deal with their own work and general standard  of conduct, is wrong. The permission to have meetings during their monthly or annual leave makes sure they can never have a meeting because they will not be all on leave together. For the Minister to state that he has no say in the matter is something which may be believed by the Deputies— realising Parliamentary procedure and realising that any Minister can be tied up with red tape—but the Guards themselves will not believe it. I think it would be better to have the Garda Representative Body meet the Minister occasionally as it did, but if any committee which appoints representatives to the Gárda Representative Body is to be denied the right to meet, surely it would not be unreasonable for the Minister for Justice to talk to the Commissioner and to say to him: “Give them two hours off or four hours, or give them half a day off. They are dealing with their own work.”
If a Deputy has a committee meeting to attend in Room 106, or anywhere else, he is not expected to be here, and I think in the case of the Guards they should not be prevented from holding their meetings. This high-handed act is looked at distastefully by every Guard throughout the country. I suppose if it had not been for the amount of publicity given to it in the newspapers this matter could not have been raised here to-day. I would ask the Minister to look into this matter sympathetically and not to be too lenient so far as the Commissioner is concerned because it is not the Commissioner we want to please but the Guards in order to have a contented police force. A contented police force is required to safeguard life and property. You cannot have that protection if you have a disgruntled police force.
I ask the Minister, therefore, to get the Commissioner to lift this ruling which is resented by the Guards and to allow them to attend their meetings whenever they like. The selection committee in the Dublin Metropolitan district is not going to meet every week. It would not be unreasonable to give the members a half-day's special leave to attend those meetings. It is not the whole force  that attends the meetings but merely a few who are appointed by the rank and file. To prevent them from doing so will lead to discontent and unrest in the force and we want to avoid that. Deputies on this side of the House are as anxious to avoid such a state of affairs as the Minister is. I raise this point in the most friendly spirit; not for the purpose of criticising the Minister but for the purpose of criticising an unjust order. I do not want to criticise the Garda Commissioner. I do not know whether the Leas-Cheann Comhairle would allow me to do so.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The Minister is responsible. I want to tell this to the Minister. I do not think that any of the old-time members of the Garda, like Mr. Woods or even Commissioner Burke himself, any of the men who came up the line from the day they put the uniform on first, would issue instructions such as these. I am not saying that Mr. Costigan has not the right to do what he likes.
Mr. O'Malley: On a point of order, five minutes ago the Chair made a certain ruling, that the Minister had not any function in the specific matter now being debated by Deputy O. J. Flanagan, and since then he has completely ignored that ruling.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I pointed out to Deputy Flanagan that the Minister was responsible for the administration of his Department and that it would not be in order to dis-  cuss or criticise the Commissioner or any other official.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I am sure that if I had offended the Chair, the Chair would have directed my attention to that; and if I have I most humbly apologise, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Anyway, Deputy O'Malley was in the bar or elsewhere when I was speaking.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: May I now proceed? May I also direct the attention of the Minister for Justice to whoever issued these instructions—I do not know who issued them—because if the Minister for Justice is responsible here, it is as well that we should take the opportunity of pinning the responsibility on him, much as I dislike doing it as I do not think he is the person concerned. Nevertheless, according to Parliamentary procedure, one has to do so. These instructions have gone—
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I would finally ask the Minister for Justice, now that I am leaving that point, to take this up with whoever issued it in his name or on his behalf, and make arrangements to allow the Guards to meet. That is all I want.
I now turn to the question of the unsolved murders. A good deal of uneasiness prevails throughout the  country as a result of the many murders which remain unsolved. Many queer rumours are in circulation that I do not want to mention here this evening. The Minister ought to give the House and the country more information in this regard. It seems to be a most extraordinary state of affairs that, in one of the big towns, at 9 o'clock at night, a man should be murdered in his shop and from that day to this no suspect has been thought of in the minds of the Guards. It seemed a more extraordinary situation still that a farmer, after disposing of his livestock at a fair, should be brutally murdered and from that day to this no one has been arrested in connection with that crime. That does not reflect credit on the Garda, but that does not say that the Garda are to blame. I am reliably informed that down the country, where these investigations are being carried out, certain officers of the Garda in Dublin are given instructions from the top which are driving the men on the spot from following up the clues that would lead to a successful capture. I made an offer to the Minister. I wrote to him on this, as I do not live too far away from where some of these crimes were committed.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I will leave that to Deputy Haughey's friends. I have very clean hands in that respect. I will leave it to his friends, and he does not have to go outside a very wide circle. It seems to the men on the spot who are carrying out investigations that the instructions which come from the top do not tally with local knowledge and local conditions. I wrote to the Minister for Justice on this—a long letter. I venture to say that there is one superintendent serving in the Garda, well known for detection of crime, well known as one of the brightest police officers, not only in Ireland but in Europe; and if the Minister for Justice and the Commissioner had a discussion on these unsolved murders and, even though it might be outside Garda regulations to put a superintendent in another  superintendent's district, if they would say: “Here are the files connected with that crime, investigate it and see what result you can get,” I would be prepared, and am prepared, to give the Minister for Justice the name of the superintendent——
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: ——who would be prepared, if asked, I am sure, to undertake thorough investigations in any of these areas. From the amount of confidence which the general public have always displayed in the detection of crime under the same superintendent, I venture to say that before long there would be some results. I am very sorry to say that the amount of criticism and uneasiness amongst the general public in this regard is not without foundation. If I may accuse the Minister for Justice, directly or indirectly, there seems to be a certain amount of misguidance which is coming from Dublin, not from the country.
I should like to ask the Minister another question in connection with these murders. Has capital punishment been abolished in this country? Are there to be no more hangings for murders here? Will the Minister make a complete statement, in order that this House and the country may know the position exactly?
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: You had a hangman to hang one of your townspeople—not very long ago, either. Political crime is one thing; cold-blooded murder and robbery is another. That must be stopped, life must be saved, property must be saved. If a cold-blooded robbery and murder  is carried out, and if the Guards decide on a certain line of action——
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: That is what Deputy Haughey may think. I am talking about highway robbery and brutal murder, cold-blooded murder, that we have seen in the case of Wexford, in the case of the Cratloe farmer and in the case in County Kerry. The people must be protected from robberies. One has only to take up the daily newspapers covering Deputy Haughey's constituency and one sees that all over Dublin terrible robberies are taking place. Shop windows are being smashed and the contents grabbed. A betting office was raided yesterday and ransacked and a certain amount of money taken out of it. Banks have been robbed, people have been held up and people are being watched while being paid.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: In so far as robberies are concerned, it is the duty of the Government to act. Deputy Haughey may sneer and laugh at his constituents' windows being broken and smashed. That is what we may expect from Fianna Fáil.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Fianna Fáil never had respect for life and property. Deputy Haughey is standing up now to advocate a position in this city where  peoples lives can be taken, their money taken and open violence and murder declared upon them and he will sit here and make a laugh and skit of it. I want it to go on the records of this House that whilst I am making an appeal here to save life and property, and to stop murder and robbery there is a Fianna Fáil Deputy sniggering and jeering, and his name is Deputy Haughey.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Deputy Haughey wants a state of affairs in this country that will enable hooligans to enter people's houses, open their tills, take their money, if necessary, kill them, and get off scot free. If that is the type of mob law Fianna Fáil want in this country, they can be sure it will be bitterly opposed.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I have no objection to Deputy Haughey speaking. I should be glad if Deputy Haughey would get up and let us hear the speech he would make in favour of the robbers, thieves and plunderers. I should be glad to hear that because, if you have Deputies defending cold-blooded murder, they should be encouraged to get up and speak.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I hope I have got a sense of humour, but sometimes my sense of humour is inclined to explode. I know Deputy Haughey and members of his family maybe a little too well to say the things I might be provoked to say but, if I say them in the course of the debate, no matter how hurtful they may be, I hope Deputy Haughey will accept them in the spirit in which I accept the ugly remarks he made now. I shall show the Deputy if he opens his mouth again. I shall tell him something he and his family will not like to hear.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: You will hear it. I shall not be prevented by any Deputy from making a speech against murder, robbery and plundering. I shall make that speech and there is no Deputy on the Fianna Fáil Benches, who could get up and advocate cold-blooded murder, going to stop me expressing my view.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I addressed a question to the Minister for Justice before the Deputy over there got angry. I asked was hanging for murder stopped in this country. It was an ordinary straight question and it is a question the Minister ought not get alarmed about. What another  Government would do is beside the point; we are dealing with the Government in office now. I am afraid murders have now reached such a stage in this country that we must take the necessary steps to prevent them. I am not going to advocate that a man guilty of cold-blooded murder and robbery should not be hanged. If the courts of this country decide on a certain procedure, I want to know what reasons the Government have for overriding the decisions of the court in those cases. They have the right to do so but we shall find ourselves in an extraordinary position if this is allowed to continue.
There have been more murders in this country than good, honourable citizens care to think about, and the Government have a duty in that respect. They must be put down and they must be stopped. The Guards must get help, the courts must get encouragement and, therefore, it is up to the Government to review the whole situation. Life is important. People have only one life to live and it is difficult enough for them to live it well and in some security, without their having to fear—an old man or woman, an old age pensioner or blind person—going to bed in their own houses, in the safety of the four walls of their homes. I think it speaks badly for protection and for public spirit, and this situation ought not be allowed to worsen. Murder must be punished; robbery must be punished, and must be stopped.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I apologise for repeating myself but I am so anxious to have something done about this that I cannot overestimate the importance of it, so far as the general public are concerned. I have dealt with the question of the solving of crime. The record is not too good and I want to make reference, if I may, to the activities of “teddy boys”. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there may be “teddy-boy” activities displayed in this House on occasion.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The growth of the activities of “teddy boys” is due, in my opinion, mainly to the unemployment problem that exists in this city and elsewhere. I feel that there have been disorderly movements and disorderly organisations that even the Garda themselves are afraid to attempt to disperse. On how many occasions did we hear of Guards being beaten up by ordinary civilians and I am sorry to say, while I do not want to criticise the judiciary again, those responsible did not get sufficient jail sentences.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The Minister is responsible for law and order and he should take steps to see that rowdyism and hooliganism are stopped. That is part of his job and that is what we expect from the Department of Justice. There is any amount of law in this country. There are heaps of law, reams of law, but there does not seem to be as much justice. If I may, I want to enlighten the Minister about some of the hooliganism that is taking place.
His attention had been directed to the fact that a monument erected in county Louth was maliciously damaged and destroyed. There was a statue of Seán Russell erected at Fairview, Dublin, which was first smeared with tar and oil. It was then painted green and finally, on the third occasion, the right arm was broken off from the elbow. There was a Celtic Cross in the Republican Plot in Dundalk Cemetery also damaged. In Deputy Moloney's constituency, a memorial to the late Charlie Kerins, God rest him, was destroyed and another in the Republican Plot at Cahirciveen was destroyed. In the Phoenix Park, there was a monument of General Gough and that also was blown up. People may have their own views about those things, whether they ought to be blown up or not, but, if anyone is to blow them up,  it ought not to be hooligans, “teddy boys” and scoundrels out to raise disturbances. Memorials have been destroyed in many places. Cemeteries have been entered and tombstones damaged and this has been taking place for a number of years. Somebody is responsible for that but we do not see anybody being caught and put in jail.
It is a matter of indifference to me whether it is a memorial in my own constituency erected in a Republican plot, or one to the men who died in the 1914-1918 War. There were many of them, highly honoured and respected in my constituency, and we take off our hats to the men who died in the 1914-18 War as we take our hats off to the men who died on all sides from 1916 to 1922. It is disgraceful to think that in 1959 there are hooligans in this country who would try to belittle the dead by pulling down the memorials erected in their honour, endeavouring to blow them up with illegally obtained explosives—and that includes the Gough Monument and any other monument. The activities of such hooligans are no great credit to a country where law, order and justice are supposed to prevail.
I would ask the Minister to circularise the Guards in order to look for the support of the general public and to ask every citizen who stands for law and order to see to it that whoever is responsible for explosions, for wrecking memorials and for attempting to plunder graveyards should be punished with the full rigour of the law. An effort should be made to stop that conduct, once and for all. I am sorry that there has been reason to complain in that respect, but the reasons are well founded. Recently there was a meeting of the National Graves Association in Dublin and the chairman made reference to the matter. We used to have and still have, a lot of people who loved to see Nelson in O'Connell Street, Gough on his pedestal in the Park and all the other memorials. These memorials have been there long enough and I do not see why they  should be disturbed by hooligans now. I would ask the Minister to take the necessary steps to see that this kind of conduct will be ended. These people all had to die the same way and face the same God. The same respect should be given to the dead who died for one cause as to the dead who died for another cause.
It is all right to appeal to people to lock their windows, safeguard their skylights and lock and bolt their doors, but if a robber wants to enter a premises, a skylight, a window or a locked door will not stop him. It is all right to appeal to the general public for co-operation in that regard, but it is a difficult thing to get. It is extremely difficult for a business man not living over his premises to be on watch all the time. If there is a cutting down on the Guards, you will not have enough Guards to keep an eye——
I want to come now to accidents. It is no wonder the general public are alarmed at the number of fatal accidents that have taken place, particularly in recent years. We know that until the end of time accidents will happen, but the number of people who have lost their lives through accidents in recent years is alarming. Again, I am not blaming the Minister for those accidents. I want to direct attention to views expressed to me by members of the general public. Every Deputy is alarmed at the situation, and I know that no person is more anxious to try to rectify the deplorable position than the Minister. I think it is true to say that almost 50 per cent. of the accidents are brought about by drunken drivers. In his own way, the drunken driver is a murderer on the roads. Steps will have to be taken to clear the roads of drunken drivers. If necessary, the Guards should be given  more powers to deal with the menace of the drunken driver. The Minister should make his views known to the Courts that those under the influence of drink who drive motor cars should get long jail sentences, that during his term of imprisonment that person should not be allowed see a cork, and that, when he comes out of jail, his licence should be taken from him, no matter what the circumstances are.
In most cases where a drunken driver was responsible for an accident and there was loss of life, the drunken driver probably escaped himself and the sober person lost his or her life. The drunken driver is one of the greatest menaces we have today. One would imagine that as a result of the statements made by the Minister, statements in this House and examples made in the Courts, the number of drunken drivers would be growing less, but there are more drunken drivers on the road today than ever. I do not want to go into the question of the cutting down on Guards, but it leads back to that again. If the Guards are not there to deal with the drunken driver, who will deal with him? You will not get a sufficient number of public-spirited citizens to come forward and say: “That man is drunk; he should be brought before a doctor and examined,” and I am sorry to say that in many cases, before a doctor is found, he is cold sober. The evidence of the Guards ought to be sufficient. A Guard has a responsible job; he knows a sober man from a drunken man, as we all do.
I do not want to anticipate or criticise the decisions of district justices and judges, but is it unreasonable to ask the Minister for Justice to make known his views in future to the Judiciary, whether it be the district justice or the circuit judge? While we know the courts are independent, the Minister should ask them to impose the severest possible sentences on drunken drivers; and it will then be up to the Minister to see that they never get their licences back.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The Minister and the officials of his Department are fully aware of the seriousness of this matter. It would be entirely wrong to say that every accident on the roads happens because of drink.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Accidents occur when people are sober. Where such accidents occur, I am convinced that they are due either to carelessness or to overspeeding. In cases in which cyclists have been killed, subsequent examination of the bicycles has revealed a complete absence of brakes, and other defects. Lorries parked on main roads at night have caused accidents. I suggest the Ministers should consult with his colleague, the Minister for Local Government, and ask him to circularise local authorities, instructing them to provide lay-bys on main roads so that lorry drivers, travelling long distances from Dublin to Limerick, Dublin to Cork, Dublin to Sligo and so on, will have some place to pull in when they are tired.
In the past, a number of fatal accidents have occurred through private cars driving into the rear of lorries parked at night. There were two on the Dublin-Carlow road. In one in which there was a survivor, the evidence was that the survivor was looking out but never saw the rear of the lorry parked on the road. Parking on the main roads should be prohibited. No county council will object to providing lay-bys. They are urgently necessary to-day because of the tremendous increase in the volume of heavy lorry traffic on our main roads. One accident involved  the death of a man, completely sober, who was driving his children home from school for their mid-term holidays round Hallow Eve. He drove into a lorry parked on the road and he and the other occupants of the car were killed outright. That accident was due not to drink but to carelessness in the parking of a lorry on the side of a main road.
Facilities must be provided for parking at night and money should be made available from the Road Fund for that purpose. I know the Minister has no responsibility for the Road Fund, but he might usefully consult his colleague, the Minister for Local Government, in regard to the suggestion I have made. If even one fatal accident is avoided by the provision of lay-bys, it will spell an improvement in the present situation.
I cannot see that driving tests would be any advantage. A bad driver will be a bad driver, irrespective of who his coach is. A good driver will be a good driver because he will be cautious and careful all the time. I see people driving in this city and it is due to the mercy of Providence that they are not killed. I saw an old lady recently of 75 to 80 years of age driving a Morris Minor in the city. I was convinced she would not reach her destination without killing somebody. I thought it disgraceful that such an old lady should be in charge of a motor car.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I am a fair judge of a good, hardy old lady's age. I would say she was nearer 80 than 70. Perhaps there is something to be said for tests, but there are better drivers on the road than some of the people who are teaching others to drive. I am as careful a night driver as the next. Like most country Deputies, I am on the road all hours of the night. It is my experience that drivers will not dim their lights. There are certain motorists who have no regard whatever for the on-coming driver. The Gardaí should be empowered to examine cars  and see that the dimming devices are functioning. Accidents have happened because drivers have been dazzled, due to the failure of inconsiderate motorists to dim. The Safety First people have done a good deal to inculcate good manners in driving and possibly more lives would have been lost, were it not for their efforts. Some lorries are equipped with a spotlight and the drivers of these are never happy unless they have the spotlight on full power. Steps will have to be taken by some competent authority to ensure good manners and consideration on our roads.
With regard to parking, the Garda have a very difficult job. I have often found myself in conflict with authority over parking. I have told the Garda that I am going into a shop merely for five or ten minutes, and I have never found any member of the force unreasonable. The trouble is that, if one stops, the next says he has an equal right. That is how parking regulations go by the board ultimately. Motorists will have to be educated. There is an organisation—the Motorists' Association—which has done a great deal of good.
An effort must be made to educate motorists themselves to bring home to them the necessity for care and caution and consideration for other users of the roads. No matter how good or strict the Guards may be or how serious the decisions of the Courts may be, unless the drivers are sufficiently public-spirited to co-operate in exercising care and caution we might as well whistle jigs to tombstones as to make appeals in this House.
If there is to be any restriction on the issue of driving licences—I do not want to anticipate the Minister's decision—there should be a question on the application form: Do you drink? I am bitterly and determinedly opposed to drunken driving; I hope that sometime sufficient action will be taken against drunken drivers and that, it will be so sweeping and severe that the menace of drunken driving will be completely eliminated—if necessary by revolutionary means. The Minister will have the backing of the general  public in putting drunken drivers off the road and keeping them off.
I am far from being a killjoy. I admire a man who can take and enjoy a drink but the man to whom I refer is the man who can hardly walk but yet wants to display to everybody his skill as a driver and when practically “in the horrors” gets into a car and drives off. The Garda have done good work in dealing with some of them and I hope they will devote all their energies throughout the country to capturing drunken drivers, making an example of them and putting them off the roads.
I have not dealt with the amount of duties imposed on the Garda but, if I may, I want to ask the Minister for Justice and the House, is it not the primary duty of a Gárda to administer the law as he finds it and do his duty in accordance with the instructions of his station sergeant? Does the Minister not think that it is a little unreasonable to expect the Garda to carry out school attendance duties? To administer the School Attendance Acts in certain parts of the country occupies the full attention of a Gárda. In other cases, he has to deal with weights and measures and the Food and Drugs Act. He must go around after milk cars with a little can taking a sample of milk. He has farm statistics to deal with. He must go out with his bicycle and big ledger asking the farmers: “How many acres of this and that did you sow?”
Why should all those additional duties be piled on to the Garda? I could never understand why the local authority could not enforce school attendance, look after weights and measures, and the Food and Drugs Act, and why the County Committee of Agriculture could not take proper statistics of crops grown in the district. A Garda has the important duties of protecting life and property, doing patrol work, detecting crime, and keeping various Garda records. I think he is asked to do too much. Instead of looking after drunken drivers, detecting robberies and protecting life and property he is asked to go after the boy who does not go  to school and catch the fellow who has put water in the milk. Frequently, it turns out that there was no water put in the milk but because the cows were not eating the proper grass there was a little deficiency but the result is District Court proceedings and probably a fine.
The Minister should consider relieving the Garda of duties such as those connected with school attendance, weights and measures, food and drugs and statistics. I am not reflecting in any way on the manner in which they have carried out their duties. They have done well. A certain Garda sergeant, not in my constituency, told me that from the time he joined the force to the present day the volume of forms and leaflets coming to the barracks for his observations had been increasing to an extent he never anticipated. Not only are they Garda but they are civil servants in the full sense of the word and must make copies of this and that and keep files on this and that. One would expect them to keep a file on the activities of an alien in their district, but to go around after Tommy Robinson because he is not going to school is I think a waste of Garda time. If Tommy Robinson gets a slap and feels that he should mitch from school the next day and a report goes to the Garda barracks, a Garda should not be asked to leave his important duties to go after Tommy Robinson.
Time and again the Minister for Justice and his predecessors have been approached about the pensions payable to widows of Garda sergeants. The records will show that I have referred to the matter in this House on every possible occasion and I have said the widow of a Garda sergeant is in a different category from the ordinary citizen. The allowances paid to widows of Gardai are entirely insufficient and it is time the pension scheme was recast for widows of Gardaí, detective officers, sergeants and superintendents. A decent pension should be given. Many of these men died in harness; very many gave most of their lives serving their country with sincerity and devotion.  Many Garda who have passed away were old I.R.A. men and it is deplorable that their widows should be left with so little to rear a family and observe a reasonable standard of living. It is most degrading if the widow has to step down as many have been forced to do.
In the 16 years that I have been a member of the House I have approached Ministers for Justice on several occasions when Garda sergeants died suddenly with no money saved, leaving a number of small children. Inside a month the widow must leave the Garda barracks even though she has no home and no place to go. The old saying is that unless you have your own friends, you have no friends. When people are up in the world they have many friends, but when they are going down or when they are down, nobody wants them. It is the same in all walks of life. “The devil a lot of good her husband was” may be what people say when the conversation turns to his widow, but when he was alive he was “a good, decent fellow”. That is what happens instead of the exercise of true Christian charity. In cases where a sergeant dies I think a reasonable time should be given to allow his widow to get accommodation. It is, of course, clearly understood that the new sergeant must move into the Gárda barracks and take over the living quarters.
I cannot say that the Department have ever been unreasonable. In the three or four cases with which I was intimately associated—and they were grave cases of hardship—I found the Department sympathetic, but there was little they could do. I would ask the Minister for Justice to solicit the sympathy of the Government in the recasting of an entirely new system of widows pensions for the widows of Gardai, sergeants and superintendents. It is long overdue. The allowance is small and the widows have to pay for the education of their children and to provide for themselves. They have to pay rent for living accommodation when they are left without the breadwinners who have served the State well. No matter what case can be made  for widows in any other section of the community, I feel a special case can be made for the widows of Gardaí. The late Deputy Alfie Byrne spoke in this House on numerous occasions, and he always stressed the importance of a special scheme of higher pensions for the widows of Gardaí. I trust that something will be done in that respect.
In addition, the Minister would be well advised to consider increasing the Garda rent allowance. I mentioned that earlier and I do not propose to repeat one iota of what I have said. The existing rent allowance is rather small and it is time that it, too, was reviewed. The boot allowance should also be increased. That has not been reviewed for a considerable time and it can do not harm to give, in addition to the allowance, another pair of boots.
The Department of Justice give a grant to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I have a feeling they give that grant, but I looked for it in the Book of Estimates and I could not find it; I know I read it in some document. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals may be looked on as a collection of old women who devote their time to cats and dogs. That has been said in this House. I shall not criticise the collection of old ladies who comprise the society. Theirs is a most worthy job. The members of the Garda who have taken on the responsibility of dealing with the ill-treatment of animals have done a good job and they and the society should get recognition from the Department of Justice.
In addition, not only should an annual grant be given to the society, but on the statistics furnished, they should get a bonus, and the central executive of that society should be empowered to share some of the substantial grant with the country branches. Many of us have seen the way in which the unfortunate travelling section of the community have treated and are treating dumb animals. That is one reason why I think it is a good thing that we have the N.S.P.C.A. They may cause us annoyance now and again by running with stories to the Garda; but we have all seen cases of animals being yoked to a cart and,  streaming from the ragged harness, the blood of the animal. We have seen that on more than one occasion and the Garda who takes action, or the association that looks after these animals and prevents their ill-treatment, deserve the admiration of the Department of Justice. I trust whatever grants are given will be increased. The valuable work undertaken by that organisation richly deserves credit and admiration.
In the course of the debate, reference was made to the expenses of court witnesses. We have had the same problem down through the years. It is most unfortunate that a person should be summonsed to court and asked to remain for one, two or three days, away from his work and other duties, without being sufficiently paid. The rates of pay for State witnesses are entirely insufficient, and it is high time they were substantially increased, so that a witness coming forward voluntarily to give evidence, or on subpoena, will not be asked to do so at a financial loss to himself. We have all known people who have had to attend court and were obliged to be in attendance for more than one day at great financial loss to themselves and their families. The time has now come when State witnesses, and witnesses who are obliged to attend courts for which the Department of Justice are responsible, should be paid sufficiently so that they will not be out of pocket on the expenditure involved.
I see in the Book of Estimates that a sum of £330 solid cash is voted as an annual subscription to the International Police Commission. I know nothing about the International Police Commission. I should like to know something about it, how long we have been a member of it and how does the annual subscription amount to £330? Does that include the expenses of a delegate or two attending the annual meeting of the Commission, or does the £330 we are asked to vote go as a contribution from this country towards this Commission? What are the benefits of the Commission and what is to be had from it? For example, now that we contribute £330 by way of subscription to the International Police Commission, is there  anything they can do about giving expert advice on the solving of unsolved crimes?
If we are a member of the International Police Commission, I should like to know, if the Minister for Justice will tell us, where this Commission meets and how often? Do we send a delegate or two? If we are voting money in this House, we are entitled to know the purpose for which it is voted. What is the purpose of the International Police Commission? Have we got any benefits from membership of the Commission by sending a delegate, if we do send one, to the annual conference, if there is such a conference?
The Minister for Justice may have dealt with that on another occasion. I have to confess that I was not aware of it until last Sunday evening when I had an hour to spare and, reading through the Book of Estimates, I discovered this grant of £330 to the International Police Commission. It immediately crossed my mind that through this Commission, we might get some expert advice on the solving of crime. Would the Minister instruct our representatives on it, if any, to raise the failure to solve some crimes at the next meeting, and see if any expert advice or expert assistance be gained, or if our police force can be improved in any way?
Is it true the Minister has under consideration the purchase of a number of police dogs? I am told a number of police dogs are about to be purchased and that the cost of the proposed police dogs will be twice the cost of Tulyar. For what purpose are these police dogs required? Is it intended to cut down the number of men in the force and replace them with dogs? Is it intended to have a set of dogs tied up in each station? Are we to be told that the dogs will be on duty tonight and that the men are off?
I know there is a file in the Minister's office in relation to the purchase of police dogs and that this question came up before. Whether it was favourably considered or not I cannot say, but I believe the question of their purchase has now reached the stage of  active consideration. Perhaps the Minister would tell us how many dogs are to be purchased; at what cost and from where he proposes to make the purchase; will the dogs be fully trained. where they will be maintained, and other details. Perhaps he would also tell us what qualifications the dogs will possess. I am sure he will not purchase them without examining their qualifications. We should also like to know whether it is proposed to purchase these dogs during this financial year or to defer their purchase until the next financial year. Whenever he does propose to purchase these dogs, I hope he will be in a position to answer the numerous questions he is likely to be asked about them.
I do not know if police dogs will be such a success in this country. It is all right for the Canadian mounted police to have police dogs or to have them in vaster countries than this. However, I shall be glad to hear from the Minister whether he has reached any decision in this regard and any other information he can give on this question.
I wish to make reference to the condition of our courthouses. There are courthouses in parts of this country and they are not fit for dogs. There is a courthouse in Portarlington in which there is no seating accommodation. The bottom of the witness box has fallen out entirely and the windows are broken. There is another courthouse in my constituency where there is cardboard and part of a tea chest in the windows. There is a broken chair from which the justice has to deliberate and decide. There is no witness box, no place for the general public, for the witnesses to sit or for solicitors to take notes. When are we going to have decent courthouses? Courthouses are a necessary evil but, if we must have them, let us not have pig houses. I do not know whether the local authority is responsible for courthouses——
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: This crux arises again. If you raise this question at a county council meeting they will tell you: “It is not our job to repair the courthouse for the district justice. Let the Department of Justice do it.”
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I know, but I am pointing out that this is one of those cases in which the buck is passed from one to the other. The county council say it is not their responsibility to provide accommodation for district justices, solicitors, witnesses, and so on.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The Minister will agree that county councils do not own courthouses, that some of them are leased from private individuals. It might be no harm if some communication were addressed by the Department of Justice to the local authorities asking them to provide seating accommodation for the justice or at least to provide a witness box and seating accommodation for the witnesses. I have seen old people giving evidence in accident cases at a district court in Portarlington and they had to stand for an hour and a half during the hearing of the case.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I wish now to make reference to the Land Registry which comes within the scope of the Minister's Estimate. The Land Registry is a very important office and one to which most Deputies from time to time have occasion to make representations. The Land Registry is efficient, speedy and most attentive but, like most State Departments, the office is slightly understaffed.
I would ask the Minister for Justice, if it is possible, to try to increase the staff in the Land Registry because, although most people may not realise it, it is a very important office. In the case of every sale that takes place, every holding that is exchanged, every folio that has to be examined, the Land Registry has to be consulted. They are able to get through the volume of work that goes into the Land Registry with reasonably good attention, caution and speed. I do not know whether it is because of representations I may have made. I do not know whether every Deputy has experienced the same speed in the Land Registry. My experience is that they have done their job well but I am told they are handicapped because of lack of space.
I want to refer to the Registry of Deeds which also comes within the ambit of the Department of Justice. At the Registry of Deeds, there are copies of deeds dating back to 1708. These old deeds are kept at the top of the building where a staff is engaged on certain important research work. When a person is on research work he must have peace and quiet. What happens? While the officers are deeply engaged on research work on those old deeds going back to 1708, right through where they are working come the staff of another section of the building, some whistling, some singing, some humming and others carrying on conversations on subjects they were discussing and engaged upon in the other part of the building. Immediately, therefore, the officers who are busily engaged on the research work are interrupted to such an extent that they cannot concentrate entirely on the important work they  have to undertake. A corner is partitioned off in one of the rooms, which is the main room at the top of the stairs, where a transcript of deeds, and so on, is prepared. Any person in the research department can easily overhear the reading out of the contents of those documents. If one of them wanted to be inquisitive enough, he could jot down the details of such documents if he wished.
The whole situation relating to the Registry of Deeds requires immediate attention by the Minister. The private financial affairs of a doctor in the suburbs of Dublin were made known because of lack of proper facilities from this partitioned-off corner of the big room at the Registry of Deeds. That is a serious situation. It should not have happened that any man's business and financial affairs should be shouted around and, even if they were not shouted around deliberately, were shouted around in such a way that those engaged on the research work could easily hear the financial affairs of an important Dublin doctor and his title and the titles that were available in the Registry of Deeds. The whole atmosphere of the place is wrong.
A complaint was made by an English research student some time ago to the effect that he and some others could not devote their energies or get down to proper research work there because of the disturbances. I do not know the title of the various ladies' rooms nor do I care, but there is supposed to be a room there known as “the powder room”. Parading to it go the ladies—right through the research room and back again. Is there no other means of entering and leaving the powder room than through the research room?
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I am a Deputy doing my job. The job of an active Deputy takes him to many very strange quarters. I do not know if the Minister for Justice has ever been there. I am not suggesting that the Minister for Justice should go to the  powder room but I would ask him to provide an alternative means of entering and leaving it rather than have the ladies parade, whistling and singing, through the research room in the Registry of Deeds.
I also want the Minister for Justice to examine the partitioned-off corner of the big room where typing goes on concerning people's private affairs. Whatever blemishes or flaws may be on their deeds can, when under discussion, be heard outside. I would ask the Minister to have that corner made sound-proof so that whatever goes on there cannot be heard by the research workers outside. I urge him to go there some time. The only time the research workers can work is from 12 noon to 2.30 p.m. when all the others are at their lunch. That is the only time there is peace and quiet in that office. I would ask the Minister, if it would not be too much trouble or inconvenience, to look into the matter for himself. I am sure the Secretary of the Department would have no objection.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I believe the Minister fully; it is hard for any Minister to have a spare evening. However, it would be well worth his while, for his own information, to look into what I have said. He will find I am not exaggerating. I can be accused of many things but I cannot be accused of gross exaggeration. Therefore, I plead with the Minister to examine that office and to see if there is anything he can possibly do with a view to improving the position there.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The Minister answered me and said he is busy. I know he has been and is busy but I urge him to take half an hour off and to look at this room and see if he can find a way of directing the queue of ladies for the powder room through some avenue other than the research  office. I shall raise the matter again this time 12 months, if I am still here. If there is a change in our method of election, we do not know how things will work out but if I am here, I shall ask if there have been any developments in this matter. Perhaps the Minister will not mind if I address a communication to him and—for the third time—I urge him if at all possible to pay a visit to the place.
There is an aliens section in the Department of Justice. They are a very busy section and keep a watch and careful tab on the activities of foreigners in this country—some of whom are most undesirable and some of whom are most desirable and very welcome. There should be a curb on the entry of aliens to purchase land. I would ask the Minister to examine the entire code of permits for aliens who apply for permission to reside here and who are anxious to purchase large tracts of land.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: In connection with aliens' permits, I would ask the Minister not to be as liberal as he has been and to restrict them to the fullest extent possible. The life-blood of our country is leaving and emigrating and we should bear that in mind rather than make our country a happy hunting ground and a paradise for aliens from the four corners of the earth. I trust that some attention will be given to that matter.
I also trust that in the case of any alien in this country who is regarded as undesirable, whose activities are engaging the constant attention of the police, the necessary arrangements will be made forthwith to have him immediately deported. I should like to know from the Minister, if he has the details available, the number of aliens who have taken up residence in this country on permit since this time 12 months ago. The House should be given annually by the Minister for Justice a more detailed report relating to aliens, including name, address,  country of origin and the profession or occupation they are pursuing in this country.
I cannot say that I have any serious complaint to make about the Aliens Section of the Department but too many aliens are being allowed to take up residence here and to fill good jobs for which Irishmen would be well fitted. The aliens in question may have certain technical qualifications that the Irish do not have but there should be some curb put on the admission of aliens. Where aliens are discovered to be engaged in any form of racketeering or profiteering or other activities which give rise to suspicion on the part of the guards, steps should be taken to have such aliens immediately deported.
I want to deal with the question of immodest literature. I do not propose to set myself up as a judge of what is good literature and what is bad literature. We all can have a joke and a smile when we see a funny postcard or even a smutty postcard, but I should like the Minister to indicate what action has been taken and is being taken by his Department in connection with the bad literature that is dumped here from England. I have in mind particularly the immodest literature that fell into the hands of a number of school children not too long ago in Ballyfermot, Dublin. I should like to know from the Minister if prosecutions have been brought against the people who were discovered to be responsible for bringing in immodest pictures, immodest postcards and immodest books for the purpose of weakening and demoralising the innocent minds of the young people.
To the horror and disgust of certain clergy, certain Catholics and Protestant churchmen, a stream of bad literature is continuously flowing into Dublin and is being circulated by those who have filthy minds and filthy hearts, in an effort to corrupt the morals and the innocence of honourable boys and girls. I do not know if the Minister has seen any of these documents but I would ask that action be taken in cases where it has been discovered that a newsagent sells immodest postcards.
There is a difference between immodest  postcards and funny postcards which one can read and enjoy as a joke. There is the dirty, filthy postcard and the dirty filthy literature, the immoral literature, which is let loose by an organisation for the deliberate purpose of corrupting the minds of young people. I am sure that matter is engaging the attention of the Minister. It is a matter that should engage the attention of every Irish Catholic. Every Irish Catholic who sees bad literature on display or immodest pictures or postcards in the hands of young, weak-minded boys and girls, should take it upon himself to seize it and to burn it publicly in the street, O'Connell Street or elsewhere.
The attention of the Minister has been directed to this evil on more than one occasion, but I have never seen any statement made by the Minister or any officer in the Department as to the action that has been taken to prevent the spread of such literature. Is there no power and authority in this country to close down completely a newsagent or house that engages in the sale of immodest and bad literature? If not, the sooner such power is vested in somebody, the better.
We have a great deal to be thankful for and a great deal to be proud of. More than ever before we need Catholic action. I am not using this House as a platform to advocate religion for political purposes but the sooner Catholics realise that they have a duty before God not to sell such literature and a duty not to read or encourage such literature, the better.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: This serious problem was brought to the notice of  the Minister by the Church authorities not too long ago. I should like the Minister to make some short statement on the matter. Bad as the practice of spreading evil literature was in the past, it exists in this city today and I would appeal to the Garda and to everyone concerned to be more alive to it and to co-operate with the authorities in stamping out this disastrous practice that could have a most demoralising effect on the young people.
I want to ask a final question of the Minister. It relates to the growth of Communism. As the Minister's Department is the Department responsible, I want to ask him if he keeps under close observation, in consultation with the Garda chiefs, persons who are known to be advocating and endeavouring to organise Communism in this country in a small way. I do not know if all Deputies are aware of the very limited activities which are being carried on but we all know, and we know to our great delight, that no matter what efforts are made to advocate Communism they will fail. Thank God for that. But there is an element which is advocating a movement secretly, particularly amongst unemployed persons, where Communist propaganda is being published and Communist expressions are being used. They are endeavouring to bring about a Communist outlook over a very wide area, particularly amongst people who do not think for themselves.
I ask the Minister to alert his Department to the entire question of the growth of Communism. Even though Communist activities may not be very great in this country I would urge that a close watch be kept on those suspected of circulating Communist doctrine and those attempting to have confidential meetings with a view to upsetting both State and Church. If there are people so suspected by the Guards I trust that the Minister will make himself familiar with them.
In dealing with this question of  Communism and literature, I feel that the Minister must have read the document which Deputies received from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Most Deputies received copies of that document. It was a disgraceful publication and a disgrace to any Catholic who would receive it or allow it into his house.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I think the Minister should ask the Guards to make themselves familiar with whoever is responsible for issuing such a document. Not alone was that document resented by the Catholic community but by Methodists, Presbyterians and members of the Church of Ireland. Steps should be taken by somebody to curb the spread of such documents.
I do not propose to detain the House any longer. I have made my contribution to this debate; I may have caused a good deal of amusement, gaiety and laughter to those on the opposite side of the House but I made my comments seriously and honestly in the hope that the Minister for Justice may think on what I have said and that he and his officers will take note of the matters I raised.
May I say that I have always found the officers of the Department of Justice courteous, obliging and helpful. Whatever the shortcomings the Minister may have—we all have our shortcomings—he is one of the few members of the Government who is approachable. At least you can exchange views with him and talk with him, unlike many of his colleagues. I hope that the utterances I have made will not be taken merely as criticisms of the Minister's activities  and those of his Department for, on the contrary, I make this contribution in the hope that some of my observations will be taken seriously by the Minister and will be looked into by him.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor): It will be agreed, I am sure, that the discussion has now ranged over almost every item in the Estimate and it has covered three sittings. As a result I have had an opportunity of reading the debates, of reading what each Deputy had to say and what he was interested in, and of taking notes which enable me to provide a detailed answer. I propose in the course of my reply to deal with the matters in the sequence in which they were raised and therefore I shall begin with Deputy McGilligan.
He appeared to criticise my opening statement on the grounds that it differed little from the statement I made last year. Whatever truth there may be in that, the fact remains that there is little change in the items which go to make the Estimate and we can deal only with the items which are contained in the Estimate. From my point of view, the only change that can be discussed is the rise in the price of goods which may be purchased, either by the Garda or by any of the other offices which come under the Department of Justice, the increases in pay for the Garda, gratuities and pensions, increases in the pay of Civil Servants, and so on. How it would be possible then to deal with an Estimate of that kind in a manner that would not be the same as in other years passes my comprehension.
Deputy McGilligan also criticised me for not giving what he regarded as a sufficient or true analysis of the causes of the increase in crime that had taken place, and implied, if I understand him correctly, that I should have produced some kind of plan to combat it. He himself appeared to be satisfied that the increase is mainly attributable to economic conditions. I should like to point out that crime waves occur in the most prosperous countries, including waves of crime against property. In these countries  they have not been able to give a satisfactory explanation of crime waves; they have not been able to halt them. I do not know how the Deputy expects me, or my Department, to do what those with very much greater resources at their disposal were unable to do. I do not profess to be an expert but I do know that the causes of crime are many and varied and the first to admit that are those who have made the closest study of the subject. I am far from denying that poverty can be a contributory cause of crime. What I do deny is Deputy McGilligan's insinuation that the increase in crime in the last few years is attributable to a general worsening of the standard of living of the people, whether they are unemployed or otherwise.
The Deputy asked for the figures for indictable-crime in the Dublin Metropolitan Division. The 1958 figure was 10,294. The Deputy quoted the 1957 figures as being 8,750, but this was a provisional figure, later corrected to 8,472. The increase was 22 per cent., or 3 per cent. higher than the average for the whole country. Other Deputies suggested that the reduction in Garda strength was a factor or, if not, that it would in future lead to an increase in crime. I shall advert later to this matter, when I come to deal with the question of Garda strength.
I was also asked about the Solicitors Bill. Following discussions with the Council of the Incorporated Law Society, a number of fresh amendments have been prepared for insertion in this Bill. These amendments will mean considerable recasting of the Bill and will be in substitution for those already tabled by me. A draft of the amendments, in more or less final form, has been forwarded to the Council of the Society and when agreement is obtained I shall have the amendments circulated at once. I should like to say here and now that what I shall propose is an amended Bill acceptable to the Incorporated Law Society and representing the considered views of the Society. I have no intention of forcing on the Society a Bill which they do not want and to which in fact they object.
Mr. Traynor: It is very doubtful if we could have it in this session. If it is possible, it will be brought in. I have doubts about it. The same Deputy also inquired about the Charities Bill. A final draft of this Bill is now available, but further action has been postponed in order that we may deal with a much more important subject, namely, the establishment of the Courts under the Constitution. I have directed that this latter legislation be given top priority in my Department and I can assure the House that we are progressing as rapidly as we can.
Deputy McGilligan also asked why the cost of food in prisons had gone up and whether there had been a change in the diet of prisoners. There has been no change in the diet. The advance is largely attributable to an increase in the price of potatoes and vegetables and in the price of meat. He also asked a question about the Licensing Bill. The Licensing Bill has taken much longer to have examined than many of us originally could foresee. It is circulating at present through the various Departments of State and when it is returned we may be in a position to submit it to the Government for final discussion.
Deputy McGilligan also raised the question of penal reform. Penal reform and prison reform are two different things. I tried to point out to Deputy McGilligan that, as far as prison reform is concerned, the conditions in the various prisons under our control had improved, to my mind, out of all imagination. I pointed out that they have spring beds  now in the prisons and they have four meals a day.
Mr. Traynor: They are good meals, at that. They are allowed now to associate after the day's work has been finished—a thing which never happened until recently. In some respects we might be carrying that too far. Deputies may have varied views on it. The fact of the matter is that conditions in prisons today are certainly not what they were some time ago.
Penal reform is a completely different thing. It could not be carried out in this country as in, say, Great Britain, for the simple reason that we have not got the prison population to enable us to do it. In fact, if we attempted to carry it out, we would probably have more prison officials than prisoners. Therefore, it is not possible to operate it in the way some Deputies may feel it should be operated.
Quite a number of Deputies referred to drunken driving. Deputies will recall that I said in my opening statement that I had rejected all petitions for the removal of a driving disqualification imposed for drunken driving. Deputy McGilligan asked whether I had intended my words to be taken strictly and went on to imply that, though I had remitted no disqualifications for drunken driving, I had shown an excess of clemency to drunken drivers who had suffered other penalties. Of course I intended my words to be taken strictly, but there is nothing to hide. Since I took office, I have altered the sentence of the court in four such cases and in none of these cases was the trial judge or justice opposed to mitigation. I can assure the Deputy and the House that there were good reasons for my decision in each of these cases. If his object is to create the impression that drunken driving is taken lightly by the Department of Justice, I would just merely like to say that he is trying to mislead the public.
 Arising out of that fact and out of what Deputy Flanagan has just said, I want to say that, as far as I am concerned, the line of action which I have taken is a line of action which will continue. I have been under heavy pressure to remove the suspension of licences for drunken driving. I have had to resist all those requests, in many cases from persons of some responsibility.
Several Deputies raised matters concerning road traffic. For the most part, however, they were matters for the consideration of the Minister for Local Government. This applies in particular to Deputy Dr. Browne's suggestions for driving tests and blood tests which, of course, would require legislation.
Deputies Coogan and Russell both suggested that members of the Garda should occasionally call to schools and give lectures to school children on road safety. There may be something in that, though I must say that, as Minister for Justice, I should be very loath to agree to add one more duty to the Garda, who have enough on their hands as it is. Despite what Deputy Coogan says, I am inclined to think this is the province of the teachers rather than of the Garda, and that regular short talks by teachers would be both more useful and more appropriate. One way or another, it would be a matter for the Department of Local Government, in the first instance, as the Department responsible for road traffic matters, to consider this proposal.
Deputy Corish referred to what he calls traffic chaos in certain provincial towns and implied, I think, that the position could be improved if the Commissioner of the Garda would take a stronger line with local authorities. Undoubtedly, what the Deputy was primarily referring to is the parking and waiting regulations in these towns. I think the Deputy is correct in assuming that the Garda pay very careful attention to the views of the local authorities in determining in what streets parking should be prohibited and, as a result, parking may be permitted in streets where a smoother flow of traffic would result  from a prohibition. As long as this is not carried to excess I must say that I cannot but agree with the Garda view that the people of the town, through their elected representatives, should have a say in such matters and, if local people are prepared to put up with occasional traffic jams in the interests of trade, their views should receive full consideration.
Reference was made to accommodation in Garda stations by Deputy Corish and other Deputies. All I can say is that we are making every possible effort to secure financial authority to go ahead with the improvement of quite a number of stations in which we think accommodation could be improved.
The closing of Garda stations was one of the items to which a large number of Deputies addressed themselves. I should like to say at once that I share the view commonly expressed that there is no substitute for the man on the beat. Motorised patrols are a useful auxiliary but cannot replace the man on the spot, though mechanical transport can be usefully employed in sparsely populated areas to prevent wasteful foot-slogging and to bring men from place to place for the purpose of undertaking foot patrols. Time and energy is wasted when men have to walk or cycle for miles through uninhabited tracts of mountainous country to get to the places where they can be best employed.
There are other ancillary uses to which motor patrols can be put but, as I say, the man on the beat is indispensable. I agree, too, that where there is a Garda station the people in the neighbourhood have an added sense of security and I can understand how they feel when a station is closed or its strength reduced. The existence of a Garda station in any locality is a sort of insurance against crime and disturbances of the peace.
On the other hand, we must have regard to our limited resources and to the fact that this country is freer from crime than almost any other country in the world, and much more so than our nearest neighbour, which is a country of much greater resources. In  fact, there are much fewer crimes and more policemen per thousand of the population in rural Ireland than in rural Scotland which offers a fair comparison. If crime were rife and there were constant disturbances of the peace, then I would say we would have to spend money on increasing strength, and that the moneys required would have to be found, whatever the difficulties. But the circumstances are very different.
This is well illustrated by Deputy Wycherley's own constituency. He complained about the reduction in the strength of the station at Inchigeela to that of a single Guard. During the five years prior to its reduction to a one-man station, not a single indictable crime had been reported to the Garda in the area. That is a very important fact to understand—that during the five years prior to its reduction to a one-man station not a solitary indictable crime had been reported.
Mr. Traynor: Therefore, I would not be justified, and the Commissoner would not be justified, in keeping a station there with five men for whom, practically speaking, there was no work. That applies to most of the stations which have been closed throughout the country. There may be a couple of exceptions—I shall not dispute that—but the decision to adopt a policy of closing stations was taken by my immediate predecessor and taken, I understand, on the recommendation of the Commissioner and of his staff. I think it would be entirely wrong for me to interfere with the judgment of these officers, who are all experts, and to oppose their points of view, unless I had first-hand evidence that the acceptance of their recommendations would be undesirable and, so far, I have not had any evidence of that type. Any cases which have been submitted to me by the Commissioner for authority to close have, undoubtedly, been cases which I could not object to, and I was satisfied that the precautions which the Commissioner was taking in  respect of the policing of the areas concerned were, to my mind, sufficient.
A number of Deputies raised the question of promotion in the Garda. I presume that what they had in mind was the promotion of Gardaí to sergeants, which is reserved by law to the Commissioner, rather than the promotion and appointment of officers, which is a matter for the Government. No matter what system of promotion is adopted, it is inevitable that there should be talk about favouritism, and so on, whenever a senior man is passed over.
Deputies may be interested in the length of service of the 25 Gardaí whose names appear on the most recent promotion list for filling vacancies in the Dublin Metropolitan Division. Five of the 25 had 15 to 20 years' service; 16 had 10 to 15 years' service; three had 6 to 10 years' service and only one had between five and six years' service.
It is doubtful if it would be possible to devise any system of promotion which would give satisfaction everywhere. We all know that there will always be men who will think they have been unreasonably passed over, but these promotions are made after the most careful type of examination and while we may hear complaints of one kind or another about victimisation, I am perfectly satisfied, from my association with the Department and with the Commissioner, that promotions are based on the superiority of one Garda over another and that there is no question of victimisation, or anything of that kind.
Deputy Booth complained about the appearance of Portlaoise Prison from the outside and made some rather scathing comments about it. The only thing I can say is that I do not think any architects have ever gone out of their way to produce an entrance to a  prison that would have the artistic elements all over the country praising it. As far as I can see—and I speak from experience of the entrances to English prisons as well as Irish prisons —the architecture is practically the same in every prison. I think it is intended to convey a grim type of portico, intended to make you feel this is not a place you should enter and that if you do enter and get out, you will make sure you will not enter again. We are not concerned with what the outside looks like; what we are concerned about it what goes on inside. Tonight, Deputy Flanagan praised what he knows from his own personal experience——
Mr. Traynor: I am not suggesting the Deputy served a sentence. I know the Deputy visited the prison for the purpose of seeing what the conditions were like and that he was very pleased with the conditions.
Mr. Traynor: However grim or forbidding the outside may be, what takes place inside is what really counts. If Deputy Booth has any doubts about what I am saying, I shall issue an invitation to him to visit the prison.
Mr. Traynor: A number of Deputies raised the question of the vote for the Garda. In reply to this, I would mention that a proposal to amend the law so as to accord the Dáil franchise to members of the Garda is under examination by the Minister for Local Government and a decision in that matter will be made shortly.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan: If there were an agreement, could the Minister arrange to have a decision taken before the Presidential election so that the Guards could have their vote? We would raise no objection on this side.
Mr. Traynor: We would have to bring in legislation, and the Deputies know the length of time legislation takes. I do not know when the local government elections come along; but I do know they would not be in a position to vote in respect of either the referendum or the Presidential election, much though we might like to be able to bring them in. Personally, I would have no objection to their being brought in to vote on either of these questions, much less the local government elections.
Deputy Barrett raised once again the question of the repeal of the Malicious Injuries Acts. I have carefully considered this matter. My attitude is the same as that of my predecessor. Any legislation to codify or amend the Acts is a matter for the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government. My duty, as I see it, is to ensure there is some form of protection for people whose property is damaged or destroyed as a result of criminal activity. Whatever be the origin of the malicious injuries code, it must be realised that at the present day it represents a very valuable form of communal insurance for those who suffer damage to their property, and nobody has been able to assure me that if the code were abolished, insurance companies would be willing to undertake the risk at reasonable premiums. In fact, all the information I have is to the contrary.
The question of Cork city jurors was also raised. I have already informed Deputy Barrett that we are bringing in legislation to deal with that. It is  another of these small pieces of legislation which we think we may be in a position to bring in before the end of the year.
Another question that got a considerable amount of ventilation was the portrayal of scenes of violence in films and newspapers. Several Deputies referred to the depiction of scenes of violence and brutality in films, newspapers, magazines and so on. The suggestion was made that children should be excluded from films of that type. But, as other Deputies pointed out, films are not the only offenders: and I doubt that they are the chief offenders. Besides, the question of the grading of films is a very difficult one. There are good arguments in favour of grading; but it will be remembered that there are two sides to the question. Grading will undoubtedly lead to the exclusion of children from films to which they now have access and which are not perhaps entirely suited to them; but it would also inevitably, though not necessarily, immediately lead to an alteration in the standard arrangement for the censorship of films for adult audiences. Besides, as is well known, the “adult only” label would in itself attract the susceptible adolescent. Those at some arbitrary age, not necessarily connected with emotional maturity, would have uncontrolled access to films hitherto branded as taboo, not to mention the fact that for those under age it provides a constant temptation.
The difficulty essentially is that people differ so much in their make up, interests and so on, that there is always the problem of the over-susceptible person who is to be protected by State action only at the expense of reasonable freedom of choice to the general adult public. In my opinion, Deputy Giles put his finger exactly on the problem when he pointed out that this emphasis on crime and violence is all around us in all media of entertainment, perhaps especially in the comic strip. For that very reason, it is futile to think of trying to combat it by censorship of one kind or another. I agree with him that it is a matter which can best be tackled in the Churches and the schools.
 Deputy Dillon made particular reference to what is known as the “horror” film. I have seen the report to which, I think, he referred. One might, perhaps, gather from it that there is some new development in this line. I gather that that is not so, and the particular company mentioned has been operating for some time. It may be that there is a greater concentration on this type of film today and that we are in for a spate of them in the future. I have a great deal of sympathy with the Deputy's point of view, but I would be more inclined, perhaps, than he is to say that really horrific films should not be permitted to be generally shown even to adult audiences. I am having the matter further examined and, if there is evidence that the commercial exploitation of horror films is likely to become a menace, I shall have to consider then whether amending legislation is necessary.
Deputy Dillon asked that, where children are sent to Marlboro' House on remand, facilities should be provided for psychiatric examination where that is requisite for the information of the district justice. I am glad to be able to inform the Deputy that such facilities are in fact provided, and have been for several years past. There is a panel of doctors with special qualifications in this field, to any one of whom the district justice may send a child for psychiatric examination and report. In the last year, 80 children were examined for the Children's Court in Dublin in pursuance of this arrangement. As far as inquiry into family background of young offenders is concerned, that is done by the probation officer attached to the Courts, The information obtained by the probation officer is very helpful to the Justice when he comes to make his decision.
I should like to endorse Deputy Everett's praise of the good work being done in St. Patrick's by the Governor and staff, the chaplain and a most energetic visiting committee. I myself visited St. Patrick's a short time ago and I was greatly impressed by what I saw; conditions there are excellent and a humane atmosphere prevails throughout. But I should like to  emphasise that the necessary discipline is also maintained.
“I want to tell the Minister that rumours are reaching me that a practice is growing up of members of his Party making representations to the Garda for the purpose of deterring them from launching prosecutions against their political supporters.”
Similar suggestions were made by some other Deputies on the same side of the House. Needless to say, they were not substantiated. I should like to say categorically that, so far as I am aware, there is no foundation for these suggestions and that I believe them to be baseless. At any rate, I have had no complaints from the Garda authorities that there is, or that there ever has been, such a practice. I have heard the same complaint being made against members of the Opposition when the Party to which I belong was out of office. It has been my experience that, whatever Party is in office, charges of the kind are made by the other side. If a Garda has entered a charge in the station records, he has, so far as I know, no power to withdraw it and, if a summons has been issued, it cannot be withdrawn at all. Nevertheless, I wish to say here and now that, if there were such a practice as has been suggested, I would not lend myself to its encouragement, no matter which Party was involved.
Deputy Moloney suggested that the retiring age of Gardaímight be extended to 69 or 70. At present it is 63. It is not intended to extend the age beyond that limit. In my view, it is a pretty late age at which to be asking men to take on the type of service that Gardaí have to do in the cities and large towns.
The Deputy also suggested that the present Garda division should be enlarged so as to enable the number of chief superintendents to be reduced. No opportunity of effecting economies in strength, whether of officers or men,  is being lost sight of; but the prospects of achieving any substantial reduction in officer strength do not appear to be promising. Indeed, such a reduction might reduce efficiency unduly.
Deputy Moloney also suggested that a panel of temporary officers should be drawn up to relieve district court clerks who want to go on vacation. The cost of providing substitutes for all clerks, except by utilising the Garda, would be quite prohibitive. There are a small number of assistants but nothing like enough to supply a substitute for every absent clerk. The pool is not large enough and it would be difficult to make it large enough without extravagance. I endorse everything Deputy Lindsay said about the valuable services performed by members of the Garda when called upon to act as substitutes for district court clerks.
Deputy Lindsay asked about law reform. We are going ahead with the work as speedily as possible. At present we have on hands a very complex piece of legislation providing for the formal establishment of the Courts. The Deputy is aware of that. It is being given priority. After that, I hope to proceed with the Charities Bill which has been brought to the stage at which the final draft is ready. Other Bills will follow later.
I shall ask the Registrar of Deeds to examine the suggestion made by Deputy Lindsay that memorials and requisitions for negative searches should be typed. That would require an amendment of the law. The insistence on scrivenery is to secure a permanent record, writing being regarded as being more durable. Some of the records which are in existence at the moment are over 200 years old.
Deputy Lindsay also referred to the reduction to a single Garda in the strength at Mulranny, Ballycroy and Blacksod. Each of these districts has been practically free of all serious crime in recent years. In fact, in the five years before the reduction in strength took place, only one indictable crime had been committed in  Mulranny, two in Ballycroy and five in Blacksod. Since the reduction took effect, I have received no representations which would suggest that there has been any increase in crime or that the policing of these areas has been impaired.
Deputy Sherwin referred to the practice, which he says is prevalent, of landlords refusing to accept rent, with the deliberate object of causing arrears to accumulate to a point where the tenant has no prospect of ever being able to pay them. I am aware of this abuse and I hope to include a provision in the Rent Restrictions Bill now being drafted to put an end to it. But the Deputy might suggest to the people he has in mind that a very useful way of avoiding the difficulties to which he referred would be for them to put the weekly rent into the Post Office Savings Bank. By that means, they would have the rent and, in addition to the rent, they would have a little interest on their money.
Mr. Traynor: There are post offices practically everywhere. A woman who wants to avoid the danger of eviction is only playing into the landlord's hands if she spends the money and has not got it when he asks for it. If she puts it into the Post Office Savings Bank she not only has it available when the need arises, but——
Mr. Sherwin: I know a woman who sends her rent but never gets a receipt. It costs her money because she has to send it by postal order. It costs her an extra 2/6 a week to send it and the only receipt she has is the postal order counterfoil. She never gets a receipt from the landlord. She has beaten the landlord at his own game, but she has to register the letter, get a postal order and go through all that procedure to make sure that it can never be said that she is not paying her rent.
The question of paying jurors was raised by Deputy Esmonde. This question has been considered by several of my predecessors but, while much can be said in favour of paying jurors at any rate their out-of-pocket expenses, a fresh burden on the Exchequer would be involved. In the Juries Bill, which I hope to introduce shortly, I hope to reduce the inconvenience and expense of jury service by sharing the burden among a larger number in certain areas but particularly in Cork city, and by not requiring jurors who live very far away from the courthouse to serve at all.
Deputy Esmonde also asked about the supply of a district patrol car to Wexford town. I have made inquiries about this and I am informed that the Garda authorities consider that the Detective Branch car, which is already allocated to the town, is sufficient for the supervision of the area. At the time the Deputy last made representations in this matter one of the cars in an adjoining district—New Ross— had been withdrawn temporarily, but since then it has been replaced. The car in New Ross and in each of the other two districts—Enniscorthy and Gorey—in this Division may be moved to Wexford or any other part of the Division should the necessity arise.
The Deputy also inquired if Summer Time was put back this year. The answer is “no”. The information I got in reply to my inquiries will, I am sure, interest a number of Deputies. Summer Time begins each year—unless a special Order is made to the contrary—on the day after the third Saturday in April, or, if that happens to be Easter Sunday, on the day after the second Saturday. It began this year on the usual date, namely, the day after the third Saturday in April.
Deputy Kyne spoke about children being questioned by the Garda otherwise than in the presence of their parents or some adult who would protect  the child's interests. I readily accept that this is something which could lead to abuse and that, on that account, it should not be indulged in as a normal practice. Where I disagree with the Deputy is that I cannot accept his contention that in no circumstances whatsoever should Gardaí question a child apart from his parents. I am of opinion that it is highly probable that the effect of an absolute prohibition would be to interfere with, or defeat, the interests of justice in particular cases. First of all, circumstances might arise—do, in fact, arise—in which inquiries must be made immediately if they are to succeed. Secondly, cases do arise in which parents are hostile to the Gardaí—if they are asked to be present they will simply tell the child to say nothing. The Deputy assumes that it does not matter much in either case, since the offence is a trivial one. I do not understand this suggestion. There is no reason to think that these circumstances arise only in trivial cases. On the contrary, the case may well be a most serious one. I shall, however, consider carefully the Deputy's suggestion that there should be some special restriction on the taking of signed statements from children alone, where the matter involves criminal proceedings.
Deputy O.J. Flanagan referred to the closing of the Garda station at Ballickmoyler. The landlord of the premises occupied by the Garda at this station was unwilling to renew the tenancy. I do not think there was any question of eviction.
Mr. Traynor: The Garda evacuated the premises on the 19th March. Efforts to find suitable alternative accommodation in Ballickmoyler have proved unsuccessful and arrangements for the erection of a new station are being considered. I want to emphasise that it is not the intention to deprive Ballickmoyler of a station permanently. Pending the erection of a new one the area will be policed from the adjoining stations of Carlow, Ballylinan and Wolfhill.
 Ballickmoyler subdistrict is practically free of serious crime as the following figures show: Indictable offences in 1954, 11; in 1955, 1; in 1956, nil; in 1957, 4, and in 1958, 1. There is no great urgency at the moment. We are making arrangements to have a barracks erected there.
The old annual complaint about tinkers was made on this occasion as it has been made on every occasion that I have had the honour to introduce this Estimate. Several Deputies referred to the problem. I can very well understand their doing so for I am keenly aware of the serious damage and annoyance which tinkers cause everywhere they go.
It was suggested in the debate that it should not be impossible for my Department to draw up a code of rules to regulate the behaviour of these people. Unfortunately, the problem is not to draw up a set of rules—that would be easy—but to enforce them.
May I mention, briefly, the difficulties that arise when one gets down to making concrete proposals? There are something of the order of 7,000 tinkers on the roads. If we prohibit camping on the roads, we force them to camp on private property. If we restrict them to sites approved by the local authority—and can enforce such a restriction—we create, in the selected areas, permanent “colonies” of tinkers. What about the residents in the neighbourhood who will find themselves pestered day in, day out, and whose property will depreciate in value?
How can one get over the fact that, if one serves a summons on a tinker, he is apt to be gone to the next county before the case comes for hearing? Are we to arrest them and keep them in custody—for minor offences—until the case comes up? How can we deal with trespass, which is a civil wrong only, when the owner of the trespassing animals is not a mark for damages? We could, of course, make trespass a criminal offence but this would be a major change in our law and would certainly have serious repercussions  on the relations between neighbours in rural Ireland particularly. I cannot see any Minister proposing such a step and I cannot see the Oireachtas accepting it.
Are we to prohibit them altogether from keeping horses or allow them to keep only a limited number, purely for their own transport, thereby depriving them of one of their honest means of livelihood? How can we enforce the School Attendance Acts if we do not actually take the children away from the parents altogether? Will any Deputy advocate that we do that, even if the Constitution would permit it?
I do not assert that it is much consolation to know it, but I think it, at any rate, no harm to remind ourselves that we are not the only victims. My information is that neither in England nor in Scotland have they been able to make much progress towards solving the problem. I mention Scotland particularly since conditions there are not dissimilar to our own. Of course they have the same problem in the Six Counties. In those circumstances, I regret I cannot be too optimistic about providing a solution.
Actually, one of the solutions put forward and subsequently knocked down is one which I proposed myself. I gave considerable attention to the statement made by Deputy Manley in the course of a previous debate on the Estimate and I went into the question pretty thoroughly. I was informed by my officials that this was a matter which had been considered over a number of years, and that no solution could be found for it. Ministers who preceded me asked the House to suggest a solution but no solution was suggested, because the problem appears to be almost insoluble.
I made the suggestion that fields convenient to towns could be purchased by the county councils or other local bodies concerned, and that instead of allowing these people to camp on the roadside wherever they wished, they should be compelled to camp in those sites. Those sites would, in fact, be types of stations through which the tinkers would pass  on their journeys through the country. That was turned down as not being possible, because, first of all, I was told no county council or local authority would pay the money which would be involved and, secondly, the people contiguous to the fields to which I refer, would be very far from thankful for having these people as their neighbours as they would probably be the first to be robbed. The whole procedure would be abhorrent to the people who would have to live in close proximity to them. These are the sort of problems we are up against.
As I have said, the Department have been seeking a solution and Deputies who have raised this matter from time to time have been asked to suggest a solution, but it appears that, so far as these itinerants are concerned, there is, in fact, no solution. The only hope is that they will move along, and keep moving, and not stay too long anywhere. I am repeating what my predecessor repeated before me, that if any Deputy can produce anything in the nature of a solution for this very difficult problem, we shall be delighted to have it thoroughly examined.
Deputy O.J. Flanagan spoke for two and a half hours this evening. I hope he does not expect me to deal with everything he raised because, if I did, I should have to speak here for another hour or more.
Mr. Traynor: He suggested that we should do away with quite a number of senior officers of the Garda. He made special reference to chief superintendents. The Deputy must surely realise that if we were to cut down even by half—there are only 27 chief superintendents in the country—we would cause stagnation in promotion, apart from the fact that we just cannot do it, because each chief superintendent may be regarded as being in charge of a county. It would not be possible to cut down the number of chief superintendents because, apart from anything else, as I pointed out, it would cause stagnation in the Garda from the point of view of promotion.
 There are 127 superintendents in the Force. They are in charge of districts and there may be five, six or eight districts in a division. A chief superintendent is in charge of what is known as a division and, as I said, the superintendents are in charge of the districts. They are helped by the inspectors whose duties are to help the superintendents and to carry out numerous types of duties which the superintendents themselves are not able to carry out. Superintendents and chief superintendents are supervisory officers while inspectors are, in fact, N.C.O.s. I do not know whether or not Deputies are aware of that fact. I only discovered it myself since I went into the Department of Justice. Inspectors are N.C.O.s who carry out work of an important character on behalf of the superintendents.
Deputy O.J. Flanagan also referred to some kind of committee of Garda which was making representations of one kind or another until the commissioner stepped in and made some decision which prevented them from doing so. In the course of his speech, the Deputy referred to the Representative Body which leads me, anyhow, to believe that he knows there is such an organisation. That body deals with all the problems of the Garda, and the other body to which he refers must be a non-statutory body and it should make its representations through the Representative Body.
The Representative Body can make representations to the Commissioner or to the Minister. I meet that body twice a year and discuss their problems with them. The body or committee to which the Deputy has referred should have brought their grievances to the Representative Body and not try to deal with them themselves.
On the question of the unsolved murders, to which Deputy Flanagan referred, we ought to leave that matter out of discussion because, as I said in my opening statement, investigations into these murders are continuing and are far from being closed. We should not say or do anything here that might interfere in any way with the investigations that are being carried out. It may be only an unfortunate coincidence but it is only a short time ago that I was able to point out to the  Deputy, in answer to a question he asked in the House, that the record of the Garda in respect to the solution of murders was 100 per cent. I do not think there is any Force in the world that could show anything even like that success.
Mr. Traynor: It may be an unfortunate coincidence that there are two, or maybe three, unsolved murders at the present time. It is something we all regret but I want to assure the Deputy that the Garda are as active today as they were when these crimes were first committed. The Deputy made a suggestion that there is an officer somewhere in the Force who could solve these murders. Is that what the Deputy was suggesting?
Mr. Traynor: That seems to me to be a suggestion that the Garda are trying to prevent the solution of these crimes. There is an innuendo that there is an officer somewhere in the Force who will not be allowed to operate to solve these murder mysteries. That is an unfortunate suggestion. As far as I know, the most expert officers of the Force are engaged on all those murders. They have even sent off special emissaries, if you like to call them that, to each area to make inquiries amongst the Garda in these areas and to report their findings specially to the Commissioner.
The other matters to which the Deputy referred were matters which could have been dealt with by correspondence. They will be reported in the debates and we shall undertake to have them examined. If replies are necessary to any of the points raised they will be given.
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