Wednesday, 29 November 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
I want first to say that there were a number of typographical errors in my opening statement which had already been printed which had to be corrected. The corrected version has not yet reached the House but I understand it will be here in five to ten minutes and will then be circulated to Deputies.
Secondly: It does not provide, or mean, that just because a senior Garda officer testifies to his belief that a person is a member of an illegal organisation, the courts must convict unless the defendant proves him wrong. The court need not convict  even if the defendant adduces no evidence at all, let alone convincing evidence to counter the Garda officer's testimony. What the Bill provides is that the officer's testimony will be admissible evidence and, as with any evidence tendered to the court, it will be for the court to determine what weight is to be attached to it in the light of all the circumstances of the particular case.
Thirdly: It does not impose any prohibitions on newspapers, radio or television reporting, or any other reporting, that are not in the law already; and what it provides, in relation to statements likely or intended to interfere with the course of justice, is no more than a statutory restatement of part of the existing law governing contempt of court.
Fourthly: It does not provide, or mean, that a casual bystander or innocent onlooker at a meeting that is intended to interfere with the judicial process will be committing an offence, and this is so, and emphatically so, for the simple reason that, as part of the criminal law, the relevant provision is subject to the ordinary—and in this instance, I should say, elementary and fundamental—rule that a necessary ingredient in a criminal offence, and an ingredient that must be proved by the prosecution, is guilty intent or mens rea as it is called, unless the particular statute otherwise provides. And this is so fundamental that it is neither necessary nor possible to keep on restating it in Bills and to restate it in particular cases would only imply that it was not applicable in others, which in fact it is.
It is a strange commentary on the times in which we live, and on the abdication of responsibility by a number of people who should know better, that little more than 48 hours after a Government Bill designed to deal with a grave situation has been published, it should be necessary for me, as promoter of the Bill, to come into this House and to begin by trying to catch up with some of the erroneous, not to say irresponsible, statements that have gained currency.
We have heard quite a good deal in  recent days about free speech. I would invite the House to consider what free speech is supposed to mean in the eyes of some of its defenders. In an editorial criticising this Bill in The Irish Times of yesterday 28th November the following appeared:—
What are the facts? The Bill was published on Monday, without comment from me. The evening papers had it on Monday and the dailies yesterday—several editorials were written on it. Today, Wednesday, is my first opportunity to speak on the Bill and the daily papers will be back tomorrow and so will be able to comment on what I have said, if they so wish. What then, precisely, is meant by my being given a good start? I suggest that this House has an interest in noting the only meaning it can possibly have, and that is that the 24-hour stoppage by the union has meant that there has been that much less time for certain gentlemen to misrepresent the facts and to try to whip up hysteria before I, today, get the chance to come into this House and speak on the Bill. It is time that people, and especially Members of this House, take note of what is happening, as disclosed by this clearly-revealed wish that the public should be brainwashed before they are to be allowed to hear the facts.
The purpose of the Bill is to amend and strengthen the law dealing with unlawful organisations so as to enable more effective action to be taken in respect of membership and activities of such organisations. Experience has shown that there are serious defects in the existing law on this subject, particularly in so far as concerns proof of membership. Deputies will recall that I dealt with this matter at some length in this House on 16th December last on the motion for the Adjournment. I referred on that occasion to the allegations then being made, and frequently repeated since, that not enough is being done to deal with people who hold themselves out  to be members of unlawful organisations. I spelled out in detail the very real difficulties under the law as it stands and I regret to have to recall that on that occasion I was shouted down by some Deputies opposite— so much so in fact that Deputy Desmond interjected more than once to say that I should be allowed to continue what I had to say. I returned to the subject again on the occasion of the debate on the Estimates for my Department on 12th April, 1972.
The problem is that we have people who are self-confessed leaders and members of unlawful organisations but who, under the existing rules of evidence, cannot, save in exceptional circumstances, be convicted. I want at this point to make it clear that when I talk of unlawful organisations, I am not confining my remarks simply to the IRA in its different variations but I am including also organisations based in the Six Counties which are clearly unlawful under section 18 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939. These people have been able to broadcast their activities and propagate their beliefs and objectives in a way which has caused grave concern to our own people and to peoples in other countries whose attention has been increasingly focussed on Irish affairs in recent years. The duty of the Government in this situation is clear and beyond question. If the existing law is inadequate to enable the community to protect itself against those who are dedicated to the overthrow of the democratic institutions of the State, including this Parliament, then the Government must seek to have the law amended in such a way as to make it adequate.
Nobody should be under any illusion about the true nature of the problem with which this Bill is designed to deal. The men of violence at whom the Bill is aimed are the enemies of society. These people like to represent themselves in glowing terms as the heroes and martyrs of a holy war waged in the name of what they call patriotism. The reality is very different, very ugly and very sordid. The gospel of these people is a gospel of hatred and malice, and their only language is the language of  physical force. The citizens of Dublin saw in no uncertain way last weekend how that brand of “patriotism” finds expression in the maiming of the innocent and the wreaking of indiscriminate destruction on property.
The issue raised by the existence and activities of these unlawful organisations is stark and fundamental. The issue is whether we are to be ruled by the democratically elected Government and Parliament of this country or by a small unrepresentative and self-appointed group who, without any semblance of a mandate from the electorate, have arrogated to themselves the right to carry on a campaign of violence and bloodshed, and to dictate the policies to be pursued, in the name of the Irish people. What we as a community now have to decide—and specifically what the Members of this House have to decide—is whether our affairs are to be conducted according to policies decided on by the elected Government and Parliament or whether we are to succumb to conditions of anarchy and mob rule in which a minority that has organised itself into private armies can terrorise and impose its will on the law-abiding majority.
The policies and methods of the men of violence are rejected by the overwhelming majority of the people of this country as well as, I believe, by the overwhelming majority of the Members of this House. I think I am correctly interpreting the mood of our people when I say that they have more than enough both of the threats and of the actions of the members of these subversive groups. Unfortunately the Government's efforts to put an end to the activities of these elements have been increasingly frustrated by the defects in the existing law to which I have already referred. That is why this Bill is necessary and that is the background against which I now ask the Members of this House to examine calmly and rationally the changes in the law which the Bill proposes.
I turn now to the detailed provisions. The purpose of section 2 is to strengthen the hands of the Garda in their investigation of certain serious  criminal offences which are, for the time being, scheduled offences for the purposes of Part V of the Offences against the State Act, 1939. These include offences relating to malicious damage, explosives, firearms, et cetera. The section deals with the situation where a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that an offence which is a scheduled offence is being or was committed at a particular place. At the time of the offence or soon afterwards, he finds a person at or near the place of the offence. The member has reasonable grounds for believing that that person knows that the offence is being committed or knew at that time that it was being committed. The section enables the member, after informing the person of his belief, to demand of the person his name and address and an account of his recent movements. If the person concerned fails or refuses to give the information, or gives information which is false or misleading, he will be guilty of an offence punishable as mentioned in the section.
It is reasonable that a person found in such circumstances should be under a legal duty to help the Garda by giving his name and address and an account of his recent movements. The situation to which this section relates is, as the terms of the section make clear, a serious one and one in which, in my view, every law-abiding citizen would not only be willing but anxious to assist the Garda Síochána in their duty to apprehend persons responsible for serious crime. The section involves a minimal interference with personal liberty, an interference which, I suggest, is not only justified but necessary if the Garda Síochána are to discharge the duties which the community expect them to discharge.
Section 3 is designed to facilitate the proof of a charge of being a member of an unlawful organisation contrary to section 21 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939. It is not necessary to argue again the harm done to this country by the existence and activities of these organisations or the importance of bringing their members to justice. But difficulties  have consistently arisen in that persons who are in fact members—and, indeed, important members—of an organisation cannot be convicted of the offence because not enough admissible evidence is available to prove their membership beyond reasonable doubt. This may be the situation even though the fact that they are members is well-known to their associates, to the police and even to the general public. Most of these people are, of course, content, and even proud, that their membership should be widely known, but at the same time they and their advisers take care to avoid— and have for the most part been successful in avoiding—going so far as to provide what they recognise would be admissible evidence to convict them of the offence.
The section seeks to remedy this situation by means of two provisions for the admissibility of evidence of membership. The first—in subsection (1) (a)—provides that any statement or conduct of the accused implying or leading to a reasonable inference that he was a member of an unlawful organisation at a material time shall be evidence that he was a member at that time. So far, the subsection is in accordance with the ordinary common law rules of evidence. A person's conduct speaks for itself and may be proved in evidence both in civil and in criminal cases and inferences may be drawn from it. As far as statements are concerned, an admission by an accused person—like that of a party to civil proceedings—is evidence against him, the reason being the obvious one that what a person has said against himself is likely to be true. What is new is the provision in paragraph (b), which defines “conduct” for the purpose of the subsection as including an omission by the accused to deny published reports that he was a member.
However, it is important to note that this definition is applicable only in the context and for the purposes of paragraph (a) and it follows that an omission to deny such reports is to be evidence only if the omission was such as to imply or lead to a reasonable inference that the accused was, in fact, a member. If the accused has not seen  or heard of the reports, obviously his failure to deny them will have no significance. Again, he may think it best to ignore a false report in order to avoid drawing further attention to himself or simply because he is unwilling to take the trouble to deny it. But a moment's thought will show that there are some reports which any reasonable person would naturally deny if they were false, as when a respectable person is reported to be acting dishonestly or in any other manner which he himself would regard as reprehensible. In such a case his omission to deny the report will ordinarily, as a matter of common sense, imply or lead people to infer that the report is true. This principle applies with particular force to the offences under consideration, for there are some people who have been so often referred to in published reports as being prominent members, or holders of important offices, in unlawful organisations that they must be regarded, by reason of their failure to deny the reports, as holding themselves out as being members.
This is the principle which underlies the provision in paragraph (b) and, in the Government's view, amply justifies it. If anybody to whom the paragraph would apply should fear that he might suffer injustice because of a false report, his remedy is to deny the report, though the paragraph takes care to add that a denial shall not by itself be conclusive, since the denial may be purely formal and such that nobody could give it any credence.
If, for instance, a person is regularly invited to give in detail the views of an illegal organisation on some statement issued by the Government five minutes previously, a formal denial that he speaks for those for whom he is obviously speaking is hardly likely to carry any weight.
The second provision to which I have referred is in subsection (2) of section 3. The effect is that if a member of the Garda Síochána, not below the rank of chief superintendent, in giving evidence in proceedings for the offence of membership of an unlawful organisation, states that he believes that the accused was at a  material time a member of such an organisation, the statement will be admitted as evidence of membership. This subsection extends the common law rules of evidence, under which a witness's opinion as to a fact is admissible evidence to prove the fact only in certain circumstances—in particular, in the case of an expert witness. But in the view of the Government the provision is justified because of the evil against which the law as to membership of an unlawful organisation is directed and because there will be no possible danger that an innocent person will suffer injustice as a result of the provision.
If one looks at the realities of the situation, the fact that a senior officer has formed the opinion that the accused was a member of the organisation, and the fact moreover that the officer is prepared to swear to his belief in court, make it virtually certain that the accused was indeed a member. His opinion may be wrong but there are complete safeguards. First, the defence will be able to cross-examine the officer as to the grounds for his belief; and if the cross-examination shows that the officer has inadequate grounds for his belief, or if his credibility as a witness is shaken, then obviously his evidence will lose most or all of its value, and the judge would, in the exercise of his general power, direct the jury to ignore the evidence or, if there is no jury, himself ignore it.
I emphasise this fundamental point because it has been suggested, wrongly, that the chief superintendent's evidence is conclusive if the defence calls no evidence and—so it is alleged— some defendants call no evidence as a matter of principle. It is a fact that some defendants call no evidence—it is a situation where principle and expediency happen very often to coincide—but refusal to call evidence does not mean refusal to cross-examine witnesses and not only in theory but in practice the chief superintendent will be subject to cross-examination and, I have no doubt, severe cross-examination. That is how it should be. Additionally, of course, where he wishes to do so, the accused will be able to give and call evidence—if he  has any—denying his membership and it will be only if the court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was a member that it will be possible for him to be convicted. In view of certain criticisms that have been made of the section I must emphasise that it does not—and I repeat not—alter or affect the principle that an accused person is innocent until he is proved guilty. Moreover, the section in no way changes the rule that the prosecution has the burden of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. There is a precedent for such a provision in section 26 of the 1939 Act, which reads as follows:
Where in any criminal proceedings the question whether a particular treasonable document, seditious document, or incriminating document was or was not published by the accused (whether by himself or in concert with other persons or by arrangement between himself and other persons) is in issue and an officer of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of Chief Superintendent states on oath that he believes that such document was published (as the case may be) by the accused or by the accused in concert with other persons or by arrangement between the accused and other persons, such statement shall be evidence (until the accused denies on oath that he published such document either himself or in concert or by arrangement as aforesaid) that the accused published such document as alleged in the said statement on oath of such officer.
To sum up, the argument for section 3 (1) of the Bill is that a person who deliberately remains silent in the face of false reports about his membership of an unlawful organisation is not in a position to complain of an injustice when he has the power— and some would say the duty—to avoid by denying the reports, and the argument for section 3 (2) is that it does no more than take account of the facts of the situation and could cause no injustice. It is important to remember that a senior officer of the  Garda Síochána who gives evidence of his belief will, in the nature of things, be a man of considerable experience whose opinion will not be stated lightly. He will be a man whose duties over a long number of years will have made him an expert on that on which he speaks. In addition, he will by experience have had a unique training in sifting and evaluating information given to him by his colleagues or subordinates or obtained by him from other sources. Finally, as I have already pointed out, his expertise may be tested and his credibility attacked in the cold light of cross-examination.
Section 4 of the Bill makes statutory provision for the punishment of conduct constituting an interference with the course of justice. The safeguarding of the course of justice is, as every Member of this House is well aware, vital for the survival of democracy and civilised life generally. Yet it is a remarkable fact that in recent years some people have claimed a right to interfere with the proper course of justice by statements, protest meetings and even demonstrations outside courts in order to enforce on the courts, and on the officers of the law, their own opinions as to whether particular legal proceedings are rightly instituted or as to what should be the result of the proceedings. The section declares, in sub-section (1) (a), that:
A statement, meeting, procession or demonstration shall be deemed to constitute an interference with the course of justice if it is intended, or is of such a character as to be likely, directly or indirectly to influence any court, person or authority concerned with the institution, conduct or defence of any civil or criminal proceedings (including a party or  witness) as to whether or how the proceedings should be instituted, conducted, continued or defended, or as to what should be their outcome.
Subsection (2) of section 4 makes it a specific offence to make any statement, or to organise, hold or take part in a meeting, procession or demonstration, which is unlawful under the section and it goes on to provide for the penalty.
While the section largely speaks for itself, there are a few aspects which should be mentioned. Firstly, a “statement” will be within the prohibition imposed by the section only if it is a “public” one, and, similarly, a “meeting, procession or demonstration” will be within the prohibition only if it takes place “in public”. Thus the section will not apply to things said in private conversation or to private gatherings.
Secondly, the essence of the test laid down in paragraph (b) is that the conduct in question is intended or likely to interfere with the proper consideration, by the person or authority concerned with the proceedings, of whether or how he should institute, defend or conduct them. The person or authority may be the Attorney General or the Garda Síochána when considering whether to institute a prosecution or civil proceedings, the judge, the jury, the officers of the courts, the parties, their legal advisers or the witnesses. Any conduct intended or likely to prevent or discourage any of these persons from properly carrying out his duties, from putting forward or defending his interest in any way that is proper, or from telling the truth in his evidence will constitute an interference with the course of justice.
The provisions of the section reenact as accurately as possible that branch of the law of contempt of court which relates to comments on a case that is sub judice. Such conduct is ordinarily dealt with summarily by the court in relation to which the offence of contempt is committed. It might therefore be asked why it is necessary to create a specific statutory offence to deal with this kind of conduct.  The answer is that the extent to which these activities have been carried on in recent years, their increasing seriousness and the fact that they are frequently planned and organised for the clear purpose of subverting justice in relation to members of unlawful organisations make it right, in the Government's view, to prevent the activities by making them the subject of a statutory offence that can be prosecuted in the ordinary way and that is punishable with suitably severe penalties.
It is, moreover, right as a matter of principle that persons charged with this kind of conduct should not be left to be dealt with summarily by and on the initiative of the court concerned, which indeed may be, and often is, totally unaware of such activities, but by means of ordinary criminal proceedings. This will mean, on the one hand, that the ordinary processes of law enforcement will apply, with the initiative being taken by the Garda Síochána where the circumstances so warrant and it will mean, on the other hand, that the prosecution will have to prove their case in the usual way and prove it beyond reasonable doubt. However, subsection (3) provides that “Nothing in the section shall affect the law as to contempt of court”, because it is obviously right that it should still be possible for cases to be dealt with summarily under the present procedures, if that appears to the courts to be proper.
Section 5 of the Bill is technical. It extends the definition of “document” in section 2 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, so as to cover some kinds of documents which are not, or may not be, within the definition in that section—which simply provides that the word “document” includes a book and also a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, and also a pamphlet, leaflet, circular, or advertisement. Section 5 of the Bill extends the definition to certain articles which in effect are of the nature of documents but which may not be regarded as such in ordinary language. In particular, the new definition takes account  of recent inventions for the purpose of recording sounds, such as discs and tapes, or of embodying visual images, such as films and microfilms. The definition relates to various provisions of the 1939 Act, in particular the provisions of sections 10 and 12 concerning documents emanating from unlawful organisations and treasonable or seditious documents.
As I said at the outset, there has already been considerable speculation and comment in the news media concerning the provisions of this Bill. Much of the comment has been ill-informed. Some of it, indeed, has been palpably misleading. I want to say that there is no threat to individual rights and freedoms in this Bill. The proposals for amendment of the law which are contained in the Bill are essential for the protection of society and the institutions of the State. Nobody need feel any apprehension about the provisions of the Bill except those organisations and their members who are committed to the attainment of political objectives by violent means and who want to be free to engage in activities that are dedicated to the destruction of the Parliament, Government and institutions of the State.
I do not relish the task of preparing and introducing this kind of legislation at a time when there is so much other important work waiting to be done in my Department, work that would be of direct benefit to the ordinary people of the country. I introduce this Bill, not because I want to, but because circumstances demand it, and are clearly seen to demand it, and so I ask the House to support it.
That Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the ground that it contains matter which is unnecessary and excessive and which is repugnant to the basic principles of justice and liberty and the long-established fundamental rights of citizens.
The Minister, in introducing this Bill, divided his speech, if I may say so, into two parts: his justification for the  Bill, and his description of the sections in some detail. His justification for the Bill was based on two things: first, that the present law is inadequate; and secondly, that the state of this nation at this moment requires this measure. I agree that the state of this nation at the moment requires something to be done about it, but I disagree that it is such as to require the offensive provisions contained in this piece of legislation. At this point in my remarks I do not want to go into the reasons why the country is in the state it is in at the moment. I will make reference to that afterwards.
The Minister complains that the present law is inadequate. He fastens on one particular aspect of the present law to justify this sweeping measure. He makes the case that it is difficult to prove membership of an unlawful organisation. If he were making this case a fortnight ago one might have some sympathy with him, but events have caught up with the Minister's predicament, or alleged predicament and, over the weekend, we saw that the security forces of the State had captured what I might call a very big fish indeed. We saw that that person was convicted of membership of an unlawful organisation. I ask the Minister how can he now come into this Parliament and suggest that the law is defective, or that the law is in some way lacking? How can he come into this Parliament and ask it to support a Bill the like of which can only be found on the statute books of South Africa? What has been wrong so far has not been any defect in the law; what has been wrong has been a defect in the will of the Executive charged with the enforcement of that law.
Mr. Cooney: The object of the criminal law is to ensure that persons who break that law are apprehended and punished. This branch of criminal law is political in its personality.  Those who break it are guilty of what are called political crimes. In the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, as amended by the 1940 Act, a great number of offences are provided. Does it matter whether these so-called political criminals are apprehended for breaking one section or for breaking another section? Surely what should concern the Government is that they be apprehended and punished.
What I want to suggest to this House is that the Government have failed, and failed miserably, to implement and enforce the existing law. It behoved the Minister to spell out for us in greater detail than he did the ways in which the present law is defective, because he is asking this Parliament, which is the first guardian of democracy and of the rights of the individual, to pass a piece of legislation described rightly in our amendments as repugnant to the basic principles of justice and liberty. The Minister has not done that. He has not shown in the detail required by the exigencies of the situation, how the existing law is ineffective. It is not defective and I propose to give this House numerous instances of breaches of that law which have gone ignored by the Government. I am quite certain they have not gone ignored by the police force of the State. I am certain that the police have been inhibited in their enforcement of the law and in attacking the breaches they themselves observed.
Section 6 of the Offences against the State Act makes it an offence to set up a body of persons purporting to be a legislature. Is the Minister blind, or has he not read the newspaper accounts where a certain organisation has purported to set up mini Dála up and down the country, and where the propagators of these mini parliaments have gone on record publicly and frequently indicating that these parliaments will become, if they can make them so, the parliaments of the people? These statements are clearly in breach of section 6 of the Offences against the State Act. If the Minister suspects that any of those persons making those statements might perhaps be members of an unlawful  organisation, but he cannot prove membership of an unlawful organisation, why does he not prosecute them and put them in jail under section 6?
Mr. Cooney: Section 7 of the Offences against the State Act makes it an offence to obstruct an employee of the State in the carrying out of his duties. Section 9 states that every person who shall with intent to undermine public order commit any act of violence against any member of a lawfully established military or police force shall be guilty of an offence. Were any of those people who demonstrated outside the Curragh Camp a short time ago, and who incited others to hatred against members of our Army, who physically assaulted members of our Army, prosecuted and convicted for those offences? If any of them happen to be members of an unlawful organisation, does it matter much whether they are prosecuted under this section or under the section dealing with membership of an unlawful organisation? They were in clear breach of the criminal law of the country and yet they went scot free.
We have had cases of incitement to disaffection by some of these people towards members of the Garda. I recall particularly an incident at the residence of the British Ambassador when a token game of football was played by way of protest against the occupation of Casement Park by the British Army. In the course of that protest, the gardaí on duty were invited to leave their dutiful posts and join in that activity. That is only one instance. Gardaí on duty where demonstrations and picketings were taking place have been subjected to abuse, calls of “traitor”, “shoneen”, “felon setters” and all the other cant and jargon of these elements. Does the Minister suggest to me that those people should not have been prosecuted, and prosecuted to a conviction for those serious offences? Again, does it matter whether they are prosecuted under this section or the section dealing with membership of an unlawful organisation?
If the Minister does not want to  use the Offences Against the State Act for that offence, he may use section 14 of The Garda Síochána Act, 1924, which provides that if any person causes, or attempts to cause, or does any act calculated to cause, disaffection amongst the members of the Garda Síochána, or induces any member of the Garda Síochána to withhold his services or to commit a breach of discipline, he shall be guilty of an offence. We have seen no prosecutions under that section in spite of many offences, and many public offences, committed under it.
Again I would refer the Minister to section 15 of the Offences against the State Act. This is the section which prohibits drilling or the carrying out of military manoeuvres or evolutions. Every Easter the Minister has only to look at the daily newspapers to see photographs of men of military rank in para-military uniform strutting the streets of this city, the city of Cork and many towns up and down the country carrying out activities prohibited specifically by section 15 and very often leading these parades are gentlemen known to the guards as being members of unlawful organisations but who, perhaps, cannot be proved as such. What does it matter? If they commit an offence under section 15, cannot they be imprisoned under that section? No. We have seen no action by the Executive in that regard either.
I witnessed such parades at Tyrells-pass on the occasion of the funeral of the Connaught Ranger Daly. I saw the president of one of the branches of Sinn Féin, the Provisional Sinn Féin, with a squad of men drawn up in military lines. I saw and heard him issuing orders to them, military commands. He was observed by members of the security forces and the Offences Against the State Act was in force but nothing happened. If the Minister suspects that a person is a member of an unlawful organisation, why wait until he has corrected, as he says, inadequacies in the law in regard to another section when he has clear power under that section to convict?
Again, at Bodenstown every year  we have not one but many parades and we are, perhaps, getting to the nub of the matter because the Minister dare not interfere with Bodenstown or he would be exposing some of the cant of his own party.
Again, we look at section 19 of the Offences Against the State Act. This is the section which gives power to the Government to declare certain organisations to be unlawful. At the moment there is only one organisation unlawful, the organisation known as the IRA, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann and there is some doubt as to whether the divisions of that organisation variously calling themselves and calling each other Provisional, Official, National Liberation Front, Provisional Alliance, Saor Éire—there is some legal doubt as to whether the suppression order in existence covers these. A judge recently in the course of a judgment—but, perhaps, he was only speaking obiter—indicated that the order as it stands is adequate. Why should there be any doubt about this? If the Minister is in earnest in tackling all these nefarious elements which he rightly condemned in his speech, why does he not make them stand up, why does he not clarify their position in the eyes of the law and their position in relation to the Offences Against the State Act?
Again, I wonder how difficult it is to prove membership of an unlawful organisation. We do not know because these things are necessarily hidden, necessarily within the knowledge, the understandably secret knowledge, of the members of the security forces but occasionally we see a straw in the wind which indicates to us that it might be possible, if the Executive had the will.
In recent proceedings in the High Court when an order was sought to quash a closing order in relation to premises at Blessington Street, Dublin, a detective gave evidence that a certain person whom he had cautioned some time previously in connection with a traffic offence admitted, apparently gratuitously, on the occasion of that caution that he was a member of the IRA. He was giving  this evidence in the context that he knew these premises were being used by members of an unlawful organisation. In cross-examination he was asked why was this person not prosecuted. His answer was: “That is a procedural matter. I reported to my superior officer” and he named the superior officer. But, no prosecution was taken and there, on an admission by that particular person that he was a member of the IRA, the State failed to prosecute for membership of an unlawful organisation and, with the chief of them already convicted, when here is an example from the guards themselves, unwitting perhaps, the Minister tells us that the law is inadequate.
Again, too, there is section 52 of the Offences Against the State Act, a section which was used widely and with great effect when similar troubles plagued this land some years ago. Under this section there is power to question persons in custody and require them to account for their movements and should they fail to do so they are liable to be prosecuted. I am not aware of one prosecution having been taken since this campaign started under that section. The person has to be in custody to be questioned but he can be taken into custody under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act which gives any member of the Garda, in uniform or out of uniform, power to arrest on suspicion that a scheduled offence has been committed or is about to be committed. There is no difficulty in getting those people, who, the Minister says, are well known, into custody and then the power is there to question them.
These are wide and drastic powers, not powers we are happy to have on the Statute Book of a democracy but when a democracy is faced with the dilemma of preserving itself and in order to do so impinging on individual freedom, it sometimes has to adopt harsh and seemingly Draconian measures but there is a limit to the measures a democracy is entitled to adopt in order to protect itself. I am suggesting to this Parliament, that has the duty of protecting freedom, that that limit is exceeded in this Bill and  I feel I have demonstrated amply to this House that the existing legislation is adequate if the will to enforce it were present.
Section 2 of the Bill gives power to a member of the Garda to demand the name and address of a defendant and also to demand from him an account of his recent movements. I think I have made it very clear that that power is already contained in sections 30 and 52 of the 1939 Act. If the penalties provided by the 1939 Act are thought to be too lenient it would have been a simple matter and entirely unobjectionable to ask the House to increase these penalties. Instead, we get an entirely new and much altered section.
We progress deeper when we reach section 3 of the Bill. It is an underlying principle of our legal code that a person is innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This section turns that basic tenet upside down. It devises a situation where a reasonable inference can cause a person to be found guilty. It goes even further and provides for a situation that a person can be found guilty of an inference made from an implication. It is an extraordinary piece of legislation to ask a democratic Parliament to put on its Statute Book.
In paragraph (b) of subsection (1) it allows an accused person to deny published reports that he was a member of an unlawful organisation. In itself that would appear to be in ease of a person accused but the tail of that paragraph goes on to read:
What is a defendant to do? If it is put to him that a statement has been made that he is a member, he denies it but that is not conclusive. What more can he do? How does one sustain a negative beyond issuing a denial?
Subsection (2), however, is the real nub of this Bill. Subsection (2) is what makes this Bill so totally and completely obnoxious. It gives power to an officer of the Garda not below the  rank of chief superintendent to state that he believes that an accused man was at a material time a member of an unlawful organisation and that statement shall be evidence that he was then such a member. That is a very positive statement of law. The Minister seeks to justify it on a number of extraordinary grounds but that statement of law brings into our legal system hearsay evidence to allow a person to be convicted of a criminal offence and hearsay evidence has been rejected consistently by our courts for many serious reasons. Hearsay evidence is what it means. A person is giving in evidence something he has heard from a third party. In this case have we any protection that what a chief superintendent hears may not be third, fourth or even sixth-hand reports? The Minister says these are men of integrity and repute and would not give evidence knowing it to be wrong. It is not their own evidence they are giving but evidence they have been given at, perhaps, sixth degree. How can they check back as to whether that evidence is accurate, misleading or plainly fraudulent? It is a notorious fact that if a statement is passed between people via two or three other people that by the time it reaches its intended destination, invariably it arrives garbled. Yet, we are to send people to prison on a piece of law permitting that to happen.
Hearsay evidence is excluded also, and rightly so, by our courts on the grounds that it leads to the possibility of fraud or mistakes. Again, I do not impugn the integrity of the senior officers of our Garda but they will be giving evidence that they have heard at secondhand and evidence which they may not necessarily get from colleagues in the Garda. They may be getting the evidence from informers. What protection has an accused against the ill-will of any informer who might be prepared to give fraudulent stories dressed with an appearance of truth concerning him to a chief superintendent?
Hearsay evidence is liable also to mistakes. One can imagine a situation where a detective could say to a chief  superintendent: “Mr. AB is a member of the IRA” and the superintendent relying perhaps on that experienced officer's hearsay goes into court and tenders evidence on the basis of which Mr. AB is convicted of the offence.
Again, in the case concerning the closing of the Blessington Street premises, there was an example which highlights the dangers of which I am speaking. In that case a detective giving evidence identified several callers to the premises as being members of the IRA. He did this, not on his own knowledge, but on information given to him by members of the Special Detective Unit. He said then that he recognised James McMahon of Belleek from the time that he, the detective, was on Border duty and from informations he had received. Defending counsel then produced a person whom they asked the detective to identify. The detective said: “Yes, that is James McMahon.” It transpired that the person in question was Michael McMahon who went into the witness box to say he was not a member of the IRA and never had been. Yet, under this section as introduced and which the Minister is asking us to pass, that mistake could have resulted in Michael McMahon being sent to Mountjoy Jail.
The Minister says that there is a protection in the fact that the chief superintendent will be liable to cross-examination and that his evidence will be on oath. I do not suggest for one moment that a chief superintendent would not have the highest regard for an oath but I venture to say that it is silly of the Minister to suggest that cross-examination of a superintendent could take place in which he was asked for the sources of his information. The idea of cross-examination is to test the credibility and strength of a witness and in a situation where all that the Act requires is a belief, not even a reasonable belief but presumably prima facie belief on the part of the superintendent, how can there be cross-examination to test the strength of evidence being given? In any event, so far as I am aware, all that a chief superintendent has to do  when he is being asked questions regarding the sources of his information, is to plead privilege and he will be protected from answering further. Therefore, despite what the Minister says cross-examination is no protection for a person faced with the consequences of this section.
Other than a simple belief on the part of the superintendent all that the section requires is a subjective assessment by him. He does not have to be able to show that his belief is reasonable. All he need say is that he believes and if a trusted and loyal colleague of his tells him that in his opinion such a person is a member of an illegal organisation, there is nothing to prevent the superintendent believing that to be the position and, with a clear conscience, going into court and saying that that person is a member of an unlawful organisation.
There is a further point to which the Minister did not advert in his remarks on this section although whether this was deliberate or accidental on his part, I do not know. The Minister made play on the status of the person who would be giving evidence, that is, a chief superintendent but under the Offences against the State Act all the powers of a chief superintendent can be exercised by a superintendent. Therefore, this section is much wider than it appears on its face. It does not take a great exercise in imagination or projection to envisage a situation where the Minister might come back here in six months' time and say that since there are only 23 chief superintendents in the State, their time is very precious and that they are not available to go to court to give evidence as conveniently or as often as required and that, therefore, he is asking us to make an amendment to the section to delete the words “Chief Superintendent” and substitute the word “sergeant”. The argument that would support the section in terms of the chief superintendent would lie equally to support the insertion of the word “sergeant”. That might bring it home to the House how unfair, unjust and essentially obnoxious is this particular section. It turns our legal system upside  down and it provides no protection for an accused person.
The Minister says that a chief superintendent's evidence will not be conclusive. If it is not denied, a court is coerced into accepting it and in his statement the Minister admits that there may be persons who will not be prepared to issue a denial. In that case it is futile of the Minister to deny that a chief superintendent's evidence will not be accepted.
The Minister suggests that an accused can go into a witness box and rebut what the chief superintendent says. That person is then open to cross-examination. He is then in a position of what lawyers call “jeopardy” and he is being forced into that position because of this section. He is being forced into a position that is not envisaged by our legal courts for a defendant. A defendant is not a compellable witness but in effect if he wishes to escape from the clutches of this section he becomes a compellable witness contrary to the basic principle of our legal system.
I would ask the House to make a declaration here that its first duty in this instance in regard to this particular subsection is, at the very least to the individual because this section is not necessary to preserve the security of the State.
Let us now consider section 4. The Minister's justification for this section, the constitutionality of which must be in serious doubt, is that persons in the recent past have sought to interfere with the courts. I suggest to the Minister that it is an offence already to watch or beset any place in the State and that prosecution could have been taken under existing legislation without the need to bring in this section. It is understandable to want to prevent any interference with the course of justice. That is not a principle with which anyone would quibble but the definition of interference in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) is so wide as to render the entire section objectionable. The word “deemed” is used. It reads:
A statement, meeting, procession  or demonstration shall be deemed to constitute an interference with the course of justice if it is intended, or is of such a character as to be likely, directly or indirectly to influence any court, person or authority concerned with the institution, conduct or defence of any civil or criminal proceedings...
For a moment let us consider that section in action. If, for example, a newspaper journalist in sympathy with the victims of thalidomide poisoning urged in this country that civil action should be taken for damages against the purveyors of that poison that person would be not in contempt of court because proceedings would not have commenced but that person would be guilty of a criminal offence under section 4 of this Bill.
Again, if lawyers or journalists issued statements, spoke at debates, wrote articles about some way in which the law was not being enforced they would be liable for prosecution under this Bill by reason of interfering directly or indirectly with the institution of proceedings. Any criticism of the Attorney General could be an offence under this Bill. Any section that is as widely drawn as that cannot be acceptable to a democratic parliament.
Section 5 is stated to be merely a bringing up-to-date section to take account of technical advances and to provide for recordings of sound and visual images to be classified as documents. The Minister did not tell us— I wonder does he realise—that that particular section, having regard to the other provisions of the Offences against the State Act, would permit evidence to be given in court of tape recordings made electronically of conversations unknown to the persons having those conversations. It would permit electronic eavesdropping to be admissible evidence in our courts. It would also permit recordings of private telephone conversations to be admissible in our courts. Is the Minister aware that that consequence seems to flow from section 5?
As I said, every democracy is faced with the dilemma of having to protect itself and protect its freedoms and, at  the same time, not allow those freedoms to be abused by persons who might be inimical to democracy. Democracy must arm itself with weapons to ensure that those freedoms are protected. This democracy did so. It armed itself with the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, and I submit to the House that I have demonstrated amply that the powers contained in that Act are entirely adequate, if enforced, to answer that democracy comes to no harm from the people abroad today who would harm it.
This party are not prepared to give to the Minister any more powers than he already has because this party for the last three years have been urging the Minister to exercise the powers which he already has. It would be inconsistent on our part to admit now that the powers were inadequate. We do not do so and any suggestion that we might do so or that we might be failing in our duty is not a valid objection. We have consistently pointed out that the power was there. We have consistently pointed out that all that was necessary was for the Executive to show a determined will to exercise these powers. The Minister has sought greater powers. He has sought these powers on a case which he has failed to sustain that the existing powers are inadequate. The new powers that he seeks are powers of such drastic novelty that they must be refused to him.
If he had come into this House with his hands clean in regard to his activities up to now, then one might have to look at his request or if he was a member of an Executive who had shown themselves to be sensitive to the rights of the individual then again we might have a different aspect on this case but unfortunately this particular Government have shown themselves to be insensitive to many of the things which are basic to democracy. They put through this House the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Bill. The clear undertaking was given that that Bill was aimed at and would only be used against subversive agitators indulging in squatting. We have seen it used against tenants in contention with landlords. We have seen it used to prevent a  person gaining admission to a meeting of a local authority. I have not the slightest doubt that if these powers are given to the Minister the temptation will arise, and the temptation will be succumbed to, use these vast Draconian powers against people for whom they were never intended.
It is pertinent to recall that the Offences Against the State Act was invoked against the farmers of this country when they sought to hold demonstrations within half a mile of this House. Yet subversives of every hue can come to the very gates of this Parliament and can obstruct members from entering, they can preach sedition and revolution at the gates and yet our Executive ignore them but when the farmers looked for their rights the Offences Against the State Act was invoked against them. I suggest to this House that an Executive who are insensitive to that degree cannot be trusted with the measures contained in this Bill, measures which go deep in infringing the very basic freedom which should be enjoyed and enjoyable in any democratic State.
It is pertinent too, to consider why the Government have failed over the past three years to take the actions they should have taken when, as I have clearly shown, they had the power to take those actions. The Government did not move because they were prisoners of their own origins. They were inhibited by their own history. It is only a couple of short years ago since half the Government were put out of office by the Taoiseach for reasons going to the security of the State, for reasons that we all know now, with hindsight, indicated that there was collusion between those members and some of the organisations which the Minister now says he wants to clamp down on. If that was the position within the Government, is it unrealistic to ask was it not also the position within the party as a whole and that the Taoiseach was aware that if he moved too fast and too soon he would provoke a rebellion within his own back benches? On many occasions when they could have spoken there was nothing but an ominous silence behind the Taoiseach. A party that is tainted in that regard  have no right to come into this Parliament and ask for the powers sought in this Bill.
There was a time in this country before when powers like this formed part of our statute law. I was waiting for the Minister to quote those powers as a precedent for this Bill. The Minister was wise enough not to quote that earlier legislation because that legislation was passed at a time when instead of a loyal Opposition debating the issue in Parliament the Opposition was abroad on the streets and fields of the country in overt attack on this very Parliament. The seeds which were then sown have from time to time continued to flourish in this country and that noxious growth is again evident today and I see, in the failure of the Executive to cut down those weeds effectively and early, their own history from which they cannot escape.
Mr. Cooney: It is window-dressing on the part of the Government to ask us to give them a power that turns the rights of the citizens, the very freedom we are here to protect into a nullity and I would ask this House, when it comes to decide how it votes on this particular matter, to decide in conscience if the Minister has demonstrated that the present laws are inadequate to justify this awful interference with individual freedom. It is a matter of conscience for every Member of this Parliament on which he must make up his own mind. If he feels that the rights of the individual are now threatened beyond a tolerable limit consonant with the necessity to protect democracy, then he must in conscience vote against this Bill. No case has been made, in my submission, for voting for this Bill and I ask this House to reject it.
Mr. Cosgrave: I second the reasoned amendment proposed by Deputy Cooney. In considering this measure I think it is an indication of the times and circumstances in which we live that public interest and attention are focussed on events and, indeed, often magnified and blown up out of all proportion, by comment and references in one medium or another. This piece of  legislation comes before the House at a very serious time in the history of this State. Because of that and because of the gravity of the situation I think it is important—although it is hardly necessary for one who has spoken so often and I think quite clearly on the subject of respect for the institutions of State and on my own as well as my party's attitude to matters of law and order, because, as the Minister remarked in introducing the Bill there is so much misrepresentation about it—for me to re-emphasise and restate the attitude of this party on this matter.
Indeed, I think it is essential that in present circumstances it should be both restated and re-emphasised. We are resolutely opposed to irregular and illegal organisations; we reject completely any idea of assisting or even tolerating them and we support any proposals necessary for the preservation and defence of the institutions of State. It is important, therefore, to make it quite clear so far as we are concerned that we reject totally the approach of all illegal organisations. In considering this measure it is important that we should examine it calmly and without the emotionalism focussed on it both in the media and by some commentators who have already adverted to it.
So far as I know, and I think Deputy Cooney has put this point clearly, we are not certain where the existing laws have been found inadequate to deal with the situation. It may be that they are not adequate and it may be that the legal advisers and draftsmen who are qualified to advise the Minister in this regard have found defects that have not been obvious to the general public or to Deputies other than those who are possibly practising in the courts. Because of the whole history of irregular and illegal activities in this country it is necessary to cover a certain amount of old ground. The most recent previous period in which action had to be taken against illegal organisations was in the 1950s. At that time with the 1939 Offences Against the State Act on the Statute Book, as it is now, the Government  of which I was a member prosecuted a number of persons and secured a great many convictions in the courts and sentences were imposed. These convictions took place in 1956 and in the early part of 1957.
These persons were prosecuted, as I understand it, under the appropriate sections of the 1939 Act. In March, 1957, there was a change of Government and later that year the Fianna Fáil Government which replaced our Government introduced internment and internment operated then as far as I remember for a period of a couple of years. A number of persons some of whom had already been prosecuted and whose sentences had expired and others were interned by the then Fianna Fáil Government. Some Deputies and some Deputies who are no longer Ministers will remember that: they were members of the Government at the time. Others who are members of this Government are, of course, also aware of it.
There are obviously two views about the method of dealing with this problem. One is that the courts should be used and people who have respect for the legal system prefer the ordinary courts, but experience here, in the main, I think, has shown that the ordinary courts find it difficult—I shall put it no stronger—to convict in these cases, and because of that two systems of special courts have been operated, in the early years and again in the war years, military courts; in between and at intervals, the civil courts and now, for the last eight or nine months the special criminal courts. I think it is true that since the Special Criminal Court has been established the rate of convictions has considerably improved, and I use that word advisedly. I have no sympathy, good, bad or indifferent, with those who try to subvert the institutions of State and then whinge about civil and other liberties when brought before the courts. My record on that is dead clear and quite simple and unambiguous.
The dilemma the Minister is in, and I think this goes to the very root of the dilemma which has characterised, certainly up to recently, this Government and that characterises—we must face  it—the attitude of many people in this country in respect of other matters to which I will refer in a moment is a dilemma arising out of our history. It is unnecessary for me in this debate to recount the circumstances of the last three to four years. I believe that what has been said here about the failure of the Executive to enforce the law is a fact. I think that what has happened —this is why I say “up to recently”— is that due to the speed of events and the extraordinary and tragic happenings, it is inevitable that in the rapidly changing scene, with the speed with which changes occur, the public may forget relatively recent past events because they are obliterated by some of the present day horrors.
Less than three years ago, as was mentioned here, there was a dramatic change in the Government. A number of Ministers were dismissed and others resigned. For months there was an investigation by the Public Accounts Committee and I think it is a sign of the circumstances and the whole atmosphere that surround the `Government that despite the recommendations of that committee, up to now no specific action has been taken, and this lack of resolution in ensuring that the law is being forced was symptomatic of possibly an honestly held divided view of events and the attitude that should be adopted in respect of the North of Ireland. I think the same is true of the attitudes of very many otherwise responsible and reasonable law-abiding people, that so far as events in the Six Counties or in the North of Ireland are concerned, people have a confused approach to what is legitimate so far as resisting authority, resisting the legitimate legal authority, is concerned and this is because of the intolerable way in which in the North of Ireland the Stormont regime operated for 50 years.
This has meant that people have a divided view and a divided attitude in relation to the legitimate authority where it operates in relation to other matters and, in particular, to illegal organisations. There is no doubt that the public are concerned and people are rightly worried, not only by the tragic and continuing loss of life in the  North of Ireland but by the fact that there has been in some cases evidence of a spill-over down here and it is because of that that it is our duty as a Parliament to ensure that the laws are adequate and the organs of State are supplied with the necessary power to deal with the situation.
We have tabled this reasoned amendment for the purpose of securing what we consider are certain changes, specifically or in particular, the amendment of section 3 (2) of the Bill. I believe it is important that the law should be strong enough to deal with the guilty but should not take away or abridge the rights of the innocent and as this section is drafted it goes beyond what was contained and what up to now has been effective in the 1939 Act. I know that some people disagree with the view I am going to express in respect of one organ. Everybody who respects the law recognises the authority of Parliament, of the Government, of the Army and the Garda. Some people have the belief that the news media and particularly RTE —I am not talking of the news section but of RTE as an authority —can almost do or say what they like. I reject that view. I reject the idea that people have the right to do or say what they like where the security of the State or the institutions of State are concerned. Freedom is undoubtedly a valuable thing but a general assumed unwarranted licence to say anything in any circumstances is quite another thing.
It is, of course, said that because people show zeal and enthusiasm one should not curb them. I do not think anybody wants to curb freedom of expression or the free relaying of news, but here again—this is not the time to discuss it but it is part of this whole situation and we cannot ignore the build-up that has occurred —the directive given in respect of certain matters was not specific enough. The authority should have sought clarification—they did—but they did not pursue their request for clarification for the simple reason—and here again is a conflict, if not of interest, certainly of function—that the vast majority of the members of the outgoing  authority as well as the new authority are Fianna Fáil—they would not deny it—and they wanted to remain on the authority and at the same time not over-embarrass the Government. In the end they embarrassed the Government and were shifted. This is a conflict of function.
The reason I mention this is that I think there is a danger that in the modern coverage of events through radio and television, in order to get first with the coverage and with the news, things can be over-dramatised. I reject the idea that there is a danger to freedom of speech in this country. There was one threat at one period in the life of this State when freedom of speech was threatened and the allies in that threat were Fianna Fáil and the IRA in the 1930s. It was resisted by this party and defended by the courage of the people. That was the only time it was really threatened, and it was saved. Communists and their fellow-travellers and soft-headed liberals are always talking about repression. Since the advent of television there was never such freedom of expression. People can almost say and be seen to say anything they like in almost any circumstances.
The events of recent years in the North of Ireland and their impact here imposes on all of us a duty to defend the institutions of State. Certainly so far as this party are concerned, we have always been prepared not merely to defend the institutions of State but to give, where necessary, all the powers and machinery in the technical sense to the Government. I have stressed for years the need to strengthen the Army and the Garda Force. In the last analysis there is only one way to defeat the threat to the institution of this State and that is by the forces of the State used to the maximum extent when necessary. I have no apology to make for saying that.
That has been the policy of this party since its foundation, and it will continue to be our policy in all circumstances. This is why we tabled this reasoned amendment. Deputy Cooney has gone through the sections  and it is not necessary for me to do so. In particular I wish to refer to sub-section (2) of section 3. Under the 1939 Act, as I understand it and, in fact, in an earlier portion of this section, at section 3 (1) it is stated:
Where an officer of the Garda Síochána, not below the rank of Chief Superintendent, in giving evidence in proceedings relating to an offence under the said section 21, states that he believes that the accused was at a material time a member of an unlawful organisation, the statement shall be evidence that he was then such a member.
This is not, of course, conclusive evidence. It is rebuttable. There is genuine concern that the phraseology of that particular subsection requires to be amended so as to ensure that there will be no danger of an innocent person being convicted.
There is a lot of agitation about liberty and freedom. There is this talk of repression. I have said before, but it is necessary to say again, that those who attempt to arrogate to themselves rights that nobody but this Dáil and the organs responsible to it have authority to take cannot seek or expect the same treatment as the ordinary law-abiding citizen. If people in these circumstances try to usurp the authority of this Dáil and this Parliament and the organs under it, that must be resisted with all the forces of the State mobilised to the maximum extent and used remorselessly to put them down. That has been our policy and will remain our policy. We want to pursue this remorselessly, no matter who uses it. We have never changed in that attitude.
There is a danger in the present circumstances of putting into Acts either powers that are possibly unnecessary  in the sense that they are already in existing legislation and have not been used, or because they put an innocent person at risk. I do not think that this particular power which I have mentioned here in its present phraseology is necessary.
The other aspect of the Minister's speech which I think requires elaboration when the Minister comes to conclude, is the precise differences that have arisen in respect of framing charges under the existing legislation, under either section 52 of the 1939 Act or under the other section. In the previous cases that were taken a number of organisations were described and named. I understand that because some of these organisations were not in existence or described themselves differently in 1939, or whenever the original order was made, it would require a fresh order to deal with them. There is another danger in this. This is the dilemma. It is the job of the prosecution to put the case against the accused. It is the job of whoever defends to put the defence, and it is for the court to decide. The alternative to prosecuting and arraigning people in the ordinary way before the courts is internment. I do not think there is any in-between arrangement. There is a danger that, if the Act is not specific and if its terms are not abundantly clear, we may be involved in something between an ordinary prosecution and internment.
The difficulty in this case is that the people have recoiled against internment because of the partial administration of internment in the North of Ireland, where it should have been impartial. It is a notorious fact that internment as operated in Northern Ireland was partial. It was prejudiced and biassed. In a matter of this sort if internment is to be used it must be used impartially. For these reasons, we want to make our case abundantly clear. For that purpose we have tabled this reasoned amendment as a recognised Parliamentary procedure to deal with a matter of this sort. It is possible to do it in the way in which this reasoned amendment has been brought forward.  I hope the Minister will reply to this point when concluding.
There will, of course, be opportunities on the later Stages of this Bill to deal in detail with each section. Our concern, as I said, is no less than that of the Government or the Minister to ensure that the law will be upheld and that every power required to uphold the law will be available. The way in which to get respect for the law is by ensuring that the law is enforced impartially. There is no doubt but that public unease has been due to the fact that up to relatively recently the Government have not shown the resolution they should have shown. If there were difficulties in securing prosecutions because of defects, then it was the Minister's duty and the Government's duty to put these deficiencies clearly before this House and before the country and I believe that responsible opinion would, in such circumstances, grant any necessary amendment of existing law or the enactment of new law.
This particular Bill is being considered at a time when people are anxious and concerned because of events, particularly of events in the North of Ireland and, more recently, events nearer home. There is no measure this House will not give if that measure is desirable and if it is used impartially to defend and protect and assure the people's rights. But the law must be used impartially and, above all, it must be seen to be absolutely necessary. We believe that the existing legislation—the 1939 Act as amended in respect of Part VI by the 1940 Act —has up to now proved adequate. It may be, as the Minister said, that there have been difficulties in getting convictions in certain cases. It is, however, a mistake to employ a measure of this sort to deal with events which are not a threat to the security of the State. It was a mistake, for instance, to employ the 1939 Act, as amended, against the farmers.
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not justify the breaking of the law by anyone. I do not approve of it. But it was a mistake in that particular instance to use a  sledgehammer to crack a relatively small nut. The threat posed by illegal and irregular groups is an entirely different matter and extremism in the defence of the institutions of this State can in this case be justified, but it must be justified on the basis that existing measures are not adequate and additional powers are specifically required because of known defects in existing legislation.
Deputy Cooney has referred in detail to the amendments we think desirable. That which causes the greatest anxiety is section 3 (2). There is no time limit on this particular section. There is, of course, no time limit on the 1939 Act either. It is a permanent piece of legislation. I do not think the provisions of the 1939 Act have been oppressive. I do not think they have in any way restricted those who want to agitate legitimately. No one wants to prevent people pursuing a legitimate cause. I said before—it is worth repeating— that this party fought its way back from nothing because of our will and our determination, fought its way back against many of the groups prepared to use illegal weapons. There are those who say that, if one agitates within the law, one cannot get places. I believe there is ample opportunity within the law. We have, however, seen movements which started out legitimately, like the anti-apartheid protest marches, which degenerated into a rabble and were a disgrace to all associated with them.
Mr. Cosgrave: That is a fact and that lost respect for what might have been legitimate and responsible movements with, in many cases, quite worthy aspirations. I do not believe there has been any repression here and I do not believe there is any danger of it. There is no real threat to freedom of speech except by the Government and illegal organisations which want to usurp authority. So far as I and my party are concerned, we will use every legitimate means and every legitimate power to put them down. We must, however, be assured that the changes requested are both necessary and justified and that the provisions will be  used impartially and with resolution to defeat any threat to the institutions of this State.
Mr. Cluskey: We, in the Labour Party, are totally opposed to this Bill. We realise, as we have realised in the past, that, having come to a decision after long and serious consideration, that decision will be used against us to the political advantage, if possible, of the Fianna Fáil Party. We realise that what we are doing today will be misrepresented by Fianna Fáil and others. We realise it will be presented as encouragement and support, tacit or open, for illegal organisations which attempt or advocate the achievement of political or other aims by the use of force.
As I say, we are totally opposed to both sections of the IRA and totally opposed to any organisation that wishes to impose its will on the Irish people out of the barrel of a gun or by a bomb. In the time ahead I hope that the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, particularly now when the vista of the chapel gates is fast approaching, will bear what I have said in mind.
We are opposed to this Bill for a variety of reasons. This Bill attempts to deprive Irish men and Irish women of their basic human right, the right in any democracy to a proper and correct interpretation and implementation of the law. If we look at certain sections of this Bill—some of them are extremely serious—if the Bill itself were not so serious, we would say that they were quite comical with regard to what they mean literally. Apart from the completely unacceptable nature of the Bill, whoever drafted it did no service to the Minister for Justice or the House. I will show that later.
Any statement made orally, in writing or otherwise, or any conduct, by an accused person implying or leading to a reasonable inference that he was at a material time a member of an unlawful organisation shall, in proceedings under section 21 of the Act of 1939, be evidence that he was then such a member.
 In paragraph (a) of this subsection “conduct” includes omission by the accused person to deny published reports that he was a member of an unlawful organisation, but the fact of such denial shall not by itself be conclusive.
In effect, that means that, if any of our good friends in the Press Gallery report a meeting at which I spoke in the following manner: “Frank Cluskey, member of the Provisional IRA, made a statement at such a meeting”, if I am not to leave myself open to conviction, I am obliged to write immediately to that paper and deny that I am a member of the IRA. The section also refers to a statement made orally. If I give a radio or television interview and the introduction is not given in my presence—and our friends connected with radio and television will know that this is quite a common practice; I gave a radio interview today with Deputy Cooney and there was no introduction to it in our hearing; this is quite normal, to save time and for other expedients—and if the man introducing the programme describes me as “Frank Cluskey, a member of the IRA” the onus is on me to take immediate steps to contradict that statement although I did not know it had been made. If I found myself before the courts under this section some four or five months later, it could be interpreted that because I did not deny it, I was acknowledging that I was a member of the IRA. That is some justice! Section 3 (2), which has already been referred to by previous speakers, provides that an officer of the Garda Síochána of the rank of chief superintendent, or over, may go into court and give evidence to the effect that in his opinion a person is a member of an illegal organisation and that will be accepted by the court as evidence—I accept what the Minister says, not as conclusive evidence, but as evidence.
 If the Minister wants to talk about abdicating responsibility I should like to know what precisely that section of the Bill is, if it is not a total abdication of responsibility by the Government and the switching of it not only over to the courts but over to the Garda. Under this Bill, which is introduced and advocated by the Minister, the courts are now to accept a responsibility which rightfully belongs to the Executive, and the Executive are now abdicating that responsibility. They are also proposing to hand over to a member of the Garda a responsibility and duty of the judiciary. The only people who have the right to form an opinion in the reaching of a verdict are the judge, or judges, or members of a jury. Here we have not only the abdication of responsibility to govern, which the Government were elected to do, and its transfer to the courts, but also a responsibility and obligation of the judiciary being transferred to the shoulders of a chief superintendent or other garda officers of higher rank.
In the section we have a complete departure from what has been accepted as a normal democratic right before any court in a democratic society: that the onus of proof is on the prosecution. If I am arrested and charged with an offence I have not got the responsibility to prove that I am innocent. The responsibility lies on the prosecution to prove that I am guilty. That is a fundamental principle of justice in any democratic society. There is another very important departure. In a normal society which recognises the democratic rights of the citizens, if I am charged with a crime, irrespective of how grave that crime may be, up to a capital offence, I can reserve my right—and this right is solely mine—to go into the witness box, take an oath, and give evidence.
That is my fundamental right. If I avail of that right and opt to go into the witness box I am subject to cross-examination. This right is being denied under this section. If a person does not chose to go into the witness box and deny that he is a  member of an illegal organisation— and for very many reasons people may not chose to do so, not necessarily because they are members of an illegal organisation—the court will accept the word of the member of the Garda Síochána who expresses his opinion which is accepted as evidence. I ask, what kind of court would it be?
Deputy Cooney referred to hearsay evidence. The Minister referred to the integrity and experience of members of the Garda, particularly of the high rank of chief superintendent. Like Deputy Cooney I am in no way suggesting or implying that a member of the Garda Síochána would deliberately mislead a court, would tell lies or would falsify but the fact remains that he is giving evidence of something that he has not witnessed. He is depending, and it has been stated in cases that he is depending, on the word of his informant. We have seen time and time again the man in charge of the Special Detective Unit, Superintendent Fleming, refusing to tell a court or anyone else the source of his information. Is a man now to be brought before the court and, if the thing is tracked down to its original source, to be convicted on the word of an informer who will not even inform at first hand?
Mr. Cluskey: I will refrain from doing so. I look forward to the Deputy's contribution. In the last three lines of section 4 we find that anyone who interferes in the proceedings or interferes in how the proceedings shall be instituted, conducted, continued or defended or as to what should be their outcome will be guilty if this Bill is passed. I do not want to bring this thing down to the farcical for it is far too serious a matter but if that section is passed the literal meaning of it is that if there is a programme such as “Ask the Experts”, where listeners phone or write in queries and if in his capacity as a legal man Deputy Cooney were on that programme and a listener wrote in and inquired what would be the best thing for her to do, that she was being prosecuted for non-payment of rates or for arrears of rent or for some outstanding bill and Deputy Cooney gave her advice——
Mr. Cluskey: The Deputy would have more knowledge of and interest in the lovelorn than in this Bill. Deputy Cooney would then be subject to prosecution under this Bill. If he advised her to consult a solicitor he would under this Bill be interfering in the defence or the outcome. That is the literal meaning of this.
Section 5 extends the definition of “document” in the original 1939 Act and states that “document” shall now include “any map, plan, graph or drawing”“any photograph,”“any disc, tape sound track or other device in which sounds or other data (not being visual images) are embodied so as to be capable (with or without the aid of some other equipment) of being reproduced therefrom...” Under the original Act, if certain things were not complied with, a person would be subject to fairly severe penalties. Under this Bill, if a person prints a document he is required to keep a copy of that document, to put the name and address of the person for whom he printed that document on the front or the back of that document and to retain it for a period of not less than six months and produce it at the request of a member of the Garda Síochána.  According to the wording of this Bill the situation will be that if I go to some part of rural Ireland on holidays and take a photograph of a tree or a lake or my child and bring and hand it into a chemist he must go through all that procedure. He must keep a copy of the photograph and must produce it on request within a period of six months and if he does not he will be guilty of an offence under the Offences Against the State Act.
I did not want to get down to the farcical because this is far too serious a matter but what I state is the literal truth. If this Bill becomes law I can be charged under the Offences Against the State Act because I have ordinary commercial records in my home that can be interpreted under this Bill as a spurious document. “The Dubliners” had better watch out.
Mr. Cluskey: They appear to be the only ones the Government are not anxious to get at. In this they are trying to get at everybody else. This Bill could only be described as a pollution of justice. We are treading on extremely dangerous ground when we try to interfere with the normal democratic procedures in this fashion. People are very worried at this particular time and there is a certain amount of justification for their anxiety but surely when there are forces in existence who are intent solely on undermining and destroying our form of democracy, this is the time when we should cling more than ever to that democracy. It is a time when we should let it be seen that our democracy works. Instead of introducing legislation at this time we should be rallying to the defence of our democracy but this Bill goes a long way to undermining it.
There has been much unrest in this country during the past three years. Perhaps to use the word “unrest” is to understate the situation but in this part of the island during the past week there has been a series of events that have perturbed and frightened our people, the ordinary law-abiding citizens. However, to exaggerate the seriousness of the situation would be almost as bad  as understating it. A frightened people cannot be expected to think very clearly. The number of work stoppages, of demonstrations and of meetings that have been witnessed during the past four or five days have given rise to much fear but we must be clear as to why these forms of protest took place. They did not take place because the leader of the Provisional IRA was arrested or because he was on hunger and thirst strike. No, there were a number of other factors involved. For instance, this Bill had been mooted by the Minister for Justice and there was the sacking of the RTE Authority which action caused a considerable amount of anxiety to law-abiding citizens. There was also the sentencing of Mr. O'Kelly because he saw fit to defend the ethics of his profession. These incidents, occurring within a period of a few days, caused the unrest among the people.
It would be a great mistake to overestimate the support for the men of violence or to think that all the people who have taken part in the various forms of protest were motivated by any support on their part for the gunmen. We know that we may be accused of supporting these elements but may I ask the Minister whether he regards the Association of Irish Priests as a subversive organisation or whether he regards the students in Maynooth seminary as being subversives? I have here a telegram signed by the secretary of the Navan Chamber of Commerce asking Deputy Tully, on behalf of that body, to oppose this Bill. Surely we do not regard these people as subversives.
The people are frightened but they may not be as frightened of the gunmen as they are of the powers being sought by the Government under a further extension of the Offences Against the State Act. It would be wrong to underestimate the dangers of the gunmen, not because of their numbers but because of their ruthlessness and because they have shown that human life is of very little value to them. Any time they have been challenged to ascertain how much support they have in the ballot boxes, they have shied away from the test. One of the happenings in the North should lead us  to be very wary in this part of the country. I happened to be in Northern Ireland in August, 1969, and when the British Army arrived they were welcomed by the Catholic community. The IRA did not exist in Northern Ireland at that time and it was not until the harrassment and oppression by the British Army began that the IRA began to gain support. Oppression breeds support for the IRA and if we are to continue with this type of legislation it will be the only possible way that I can see of the IRA gaining any support in this part of the country, not because people would agree with the methods of violence but because they would be opposed to a Government that would inflict this type of repressive legislation on them. They may be working towards different ends but the methods can be stranded together and in that way can be used as a cover for the men of violence. It is extremely dangerous to introduce repressive legislation.
It is all right to say that one is against violence or against the IRA and no doubt the Minister will wish to know what we intend doing about the IRA. We are convinced that if the Government had faced up to their responsibilities during the past three years we would not be threatened today by people whose desire it is to overthrow our democracy and who are prepared to use violence to achieve their political ends. Instead, we have had a policy of stop-go in so far as action against illegal organisations was concerned. There was a little harrassment or an odd prosecution here or there when it suited, not the country, but the interests of Fianna Fáil. As a result of these cat-and-mouse efforts the IRA became more powerful, more arrogant and more successful. Now we are faced with a threat that could have been avoided purely because the Government would not implement the law they had at their disposal because it did not suit their political ends to do so. Now when it appears that it does suit their political ends to do so, this is what is produced.
It is marvellous how some people in Fianna Fáil can identify the needs  of Fianna Fáil as the needs of Ireland. They consistently manage to do so. There are people who are concerned and there are people who are frightened. I have never indulged nor wished to indulge in civil war politics. Civil war was one of the greatest tragedies that ever happened in this country. The Fianna Fáil Government found it politically impossible to deal with the IRA over the past three years. It was possible to deal with them as far as our laws were concerned but the real stumbling block, the real barrier to dealing with the situation was the political advantage of Fianna Fáil over that period. I speak about the civil war for two reasons. I have never spoken about the civil war in my political life before but I am probably more qualified to speak about it than most people in this House for two reasons. I have been a member of this party since my early youth and this party was not born out of the civil war and did not take part in the civil war as a party and none of my immediate family took part in the civil war. We are now told by the Minister that this legislation is necessary to deal with illegal armies. The first illegal army in this country was formed and led by men on those benches some of whom are still on those benches and if some of them are gone their sons or nephews are on those benches. The mould in which the present day Provisional IRA was cast is the mould that Fianna Fáil made. Again, Fianna Fáil first, Ireland second.
I believe that this Government is incapable for those reasons of dealing with the IRA through any democratic means. The only chance we have is to have a general election. Let us have a general election. You cannot deal with what is, in fact, your political illegitimate son, the present day Provisionals. Go to the people. Let us in. We will deal with them democratically.
Mr. Carter: One always hears in a debate on a Bill of this kind statements which are more fanciful than factual. I heard the whole of Deputy Cluskey's speech and half of it could be said to be fanciful. It was wishful  thinking on his part and showed that he has not given any thought to the position which this country faces at the moment nor is he likely to do so in the immediate future. He talked about civil war, stepchildren and so on.
Mr. Carter: It is an ugly phrase and one which I do not want to repeat and one which he should not have used on the floor of this House. Civil war is only history to him. He is only quoting from hearsay anyway.
This Bill has been introduced by the Minister in good faith. Normally, he would have no wish to introduce such a Bill but we find ourselves in unusual circumstances. It seems strange to hear the Fine Gael spokesman say that we have adequate laws to deal with illegal organisations at the moment. It seems strange from the point of view of practical politics at any rate to suggest that the common law or, indeed, the criminal law can deal with the activities of illegal groups, illegal groups which we know are well-organised, well-financed, better than ever before, illegal groups which procure arms from any country from which they can do so. It seems strange to hear the argument trotted out by the leading spokesman for the Opposition that we are not enforcing the law that is there at present. I have heard this ad nauseam after every dinner and every outing which those spokesmen attended. But the public are listening in, too, and the public are becoming aware of the fact that those spokesmen do not ring true when they say this. I can call up as evidence the fact that when we tried earlier to strengthen the code of criminal law in this part of the country we did not find the necessary support in this House.
The second point I would make in this connection is that it was stranger still to find the Minister having to come to the House to clear the air and make a statement, first of all, on the import of the Bill and try to kill some of the super-speculation engendered by a number of people who are disaffected anyway and who never profess  to see anything good in this House or in the institutions of this State. One could agree with Deputy Cosgrave when he said that there are people here, unfortunately, who never recognised the institutions of this State under any Government. We are far enough away in time from the differences of the past not to recognise this. It is less than good to begin to talk of the men who have gone before us. They have made their mistakes; they also had their great points. We shall make mistakes and perhaps we have some good points also. Therefore, when we come to judge a Bill like this we should judge it on its merits and in relation to the time in which it is presented to this House.
I have heard a good deal of soft talk from jelly-bellied politicians in the media moryah representing certain interests of the Fourth Estate. This was alleged to be an onslaught on newspapermen and on the media, but is it not strange that the media so recently committed the indiscretion of going to some lengths to bring into focus the opinions of the most desperate men in the community? The Government are blamed for taking measures to deal with those in charge of the media. At the present time, having regard to the fact that we are so near—if you like—and yet so far away from solving this internal problem of Partition, it was strange, in view of the fact that for the first time in 50 years a Taoiseach was visiting Downing Street with reasonable hope, there should be a low campaign of this description fomented at home behind his back. The Government would not be a Government at all if they did not take action to curb those who knew what they were doing, knew the import of bringing violent men on the screen from North and South, men who for far too long have been dabbling in the affairs of government, so to speak, and who have for far too long thought that they represented the views of the people, not the Government.
Is it not enough, for example, that last week here Deputy Thornley expressed the view that the media had a role in excess of the Government? This statement was made on the floor  of this House and it shows the extent of the knowledge of some of its Members in regard to the whole matter of government and governmental institutions.
I agree entirely with Deputy Cosgrave when he says that the forces of the State should be behind the Minister at this point in time and should be seen to be fully armed not merely with weapons of defence but with law also. I fully agree that it is the only way in which we Members of this House, if we are to survive or if the institutions of State are to survive, can bring an end to the eternal problem I have mentioned which has afflicted us for 50 years and is calculated to cause what some people like to call patriotism mixed with a good dash of gangsterism. If people have split minds on this matter it is time they made up their minds finally and in such a way that they will see to it that when we are so near to solving the problem we shall not be broken at this stage. I have no hesitation in saying that there are many people here who, for one reason or another, would like to break the effort of the Government to solve this problem.
This is one of the amendments of the Offences Against the State Act. In the 1940s when an amendment was made to this Act we had a state of emergency, with war surrounding us, but I submit that the present time is no less dangerous than then from many points of view because, to my mind, while we politicians are trying to solve the problem the violent men North and South might get the opportunity of shooting it out and seizing power on both sides of the line. Therefore, it is time to bring home to the people the necessity for law, no matter how strict it may be. No person, unless he is a lawbreaker, need fear anything in this Bill. That is the message we should get home to the House and to the country. No person, unless he is a semi-criminal or a lawbreaker, need be afraid of the contents of this Bill. We always have amongst us the jelly-bellied politician. Someone mentioned priests here. You have jelly-bellied politicians amongst  the clergy, too, and do not forget it. It does not intimidate me for one moment that students from any part of the country would start walking and talking because that is all they will do anyway. It may be a laughing matter to some Deputies but it is not a laughing matter. It is an attempt to brainwash certain timid people in this community and we should reject it once and for all.
This Bill is not designed, as the Minister clearly indicated and as is clearly indicated in the Bill itself, to infringe the liberty of any person, unless it be that this person sets out to infringe the liberty of the State and the fuss which was generated about the sentencing of the news editor and the attempt made to propagate the notion that the Government had some evil ambition to trample on the right of the Press to comment or the right of our miserable media to comment should be exposed for what they are worth. We got along very well in this country in the past, even when the British were here, when we had not got friendly newspapers and when we had no media. The people of the country were able to make up their minds as to what was right and what was wrong in relation to the country as it then stood and I assume that at this point in time it will not be so easy to brainwash them as the media may think.
Be that as it may, I am submitting that those who professed to see trouble in this Bill, who set out to point out that we were going to circumscribe the liberty of the person have not proved it. They have not proved it on the floor of this House and have not been able to prove it outside up to now. No doubt they have gone a long way to try to pull it to bits and to take sections of it out of line and out of context, but it has not happened so far, and I have a shrewd suspicion that people here who have the interest of this part of the country at heart, who want to see its institutions preserved, who work in it, whose future lies in it, do not want at this point to see it wrecked by bombs, by rockets or by subversive activity. Whatever may be said of the Government—it is not acting as the Fianna Fáil Party in the House, although one  would think it was; it is referred to as the Government—or its leader, we have all the parties supporting the Government in the main and we have shown no reluctance at any time to face up to our responsibilities and to implement any law which we think is calculated to contain subversive activity.
I do not propose to go over the Minister's script, although I could do so if I wanted to, and to point to some of the statements which were made against it. We had a number of examples but we had one glaring example last Saturday night in the city of Dublin when we had imitators of their counterparts in the North laying a bomb and causing considerable damage not merely to the building but to life and limb which is more important. I want to know if those who speak so loudly against this Bill want to see an extension of this activity——
Mr. Carter: ——and want to tie our hands behind our backs because this is what it amounts to. These soft-bellied left wing politicians who profess to see no good in the legal code and who profess to see in this Bill an infringement of the liberty of the person—I wonder if they want to see an extension of this dastardly attempt to bring what is happening elsewhere into the heart of the city of Dublin. It may, perhaps, bring home to citizens of Dublin where the soft-bellied politicians would lead them in the end. We should find ourselves, as happened in many other countries, in the grasp of the strong fellows with the smoking guns. We should not wait for that to happen because then we should be too late to talk because the other fellow would shoot first and talk after. Fortunately, I suppose, we get the name of talking a good deal—we are politicians—but no matter how the guns roar, at the end of it all the politicians or people akin to politicians have to get around the table to talk with whoever will talk at the time.
Mr. Carter: ——to all branches of life in the State, it makes me sick because the people who speak like this know very well that this is not so. We are castigated here that we did not enforce the law, and no doubt we will hear more about this later on, but starting away back during the war, early in the war——
Mr. Carter: In 1939 we brought forward the Offences against the State Bill. It became law. There were amendments before the Bill was enacted. There was an amendment to it in 1940. I remember reading at that time about the fears expressed by its opponents. They feared that we were going to have a police State with knocks in the middle of the night, the tramp of policemen coming to the door, the cold hand being laid on the back of the neck of some unfortunate and he, in turn, being frog-marched off to the nearest detention camp. When I hear of this I go back to my younger years. My first reaction is to roll all this up in a ball and say it is a lot of bunk. One should not do this, because the apostles of this sort of propaganda often prevail on certain sections of the community that they are right and everyone else is wrong. We heard at that time lamentations about the dreadful fate that was about to befall the State.
 Subsequently, in the course of my duties in the Army I guarded those people in the Curragh and I often said to my colleagues: “I would love to be able to change places with them.” I am speaking from practical experience and not fiction. This does not come out of a storybook. The opponents of this Bill, whatever benches they may be on, will want more than stories from storybooks to convince either this House or the people that this is a superfluous Bill. It is far from it. We are speaking to the men with the guns. The guns bark first and the men talk afterwards.
I can wind up this argument by stating that no person need have any fear of what is contained in this Bill when it becomes an Act except those engaged in illegal activities and those engaged in forcible entry or shooting down innocent people, laying bombs or such activities. Is there any Deputy on any side of the House who wants to encourage such activity?
Mr. Carter: I thought I had “frozen off” the Deputy but I have not, and if he wants to come again I may do so. I do not want to. I am asking is there any Deputy who wants to see illegal activity sprouting and growing further? If there is, then he will vote against the Bill. If there is not, he will vote for it because in my opinion it is the quickest way that I know of killing off illegal activity and killing it off without infringing on the rights of the people who are not engaged in this type of action.
Mr. Ryan: If I were as convinced as Deputy Carter that this could deal with the illegal organisations and not interfere with the rights of the individual I would be very enthusiastic. I am convinced that this Bill is rich fertiliser for anarchy and will stimulate illegal activity and further rioting in the streets, maiming people and damaging property. I am against it. I propose to prove that in the course of my arguments.
If Deputy Carter is blind to what has happened in the North of Ireland over the past four years where the  price of excessive repression and abuse of the law has been death, anarchy, the destruction of society and the institutions which are meant to serve that society the rest of this country is not, nor is the rest of the world. One does not get people to respect the rule of law unless the lawmakers pass laws that can command the respect of the society they are intended to serve. There are two things necessary to get respect for the rule of law. The first is the enforcement of the law and the second is the acceptance of the law. It is because the law of this land has not been enforced over the past four years that we now find ourselves in the pit of anarchy. It is the Government's inactivity which has forced them into a situation of producing a Bill which, on the Minister's admission today, in some respects does no more than repeat existing law. It is done to create a camouflage for their own inactivity over the past four years. They say the law was unenforceable and inadequate. They now pretend, by this piece of deceitful pretence, to suggest that given this they can put right all that is wrong.
This Bill is bad. It is evil. It is oppressive, dangerous, excessive and open to abuse. This Bill, and particularly section 3 (2), is tantamount to internment, using the courts as a camouflage to the Government's intention. In the much-abused Offences against the State Act, 1939, it was provided that internment could not be brought into operation until such time as the Government made a proclamation declaring that the power conferred by Part VI of the Act was necessary to secure the preservation of public peace and order.
The power of internment is a dreadful power and one which should never be resorted to in any society until the process of law has entirely collapsed. Then it should only be used after the Government accept the collapse. That is what the Act of 1939 says.
The Minister today makes a similar declaration, but not as required by the Act and not as required by the European Convention of Human Rights which does not permit internment except when the security of the State and the very existence of the State are in  peril. I say that this is internment without trial because the process suggested in this is not one which gives an accused or a suspected person a fair trial and, internment simpliciter, will at least have the merit of being identifiable for what it is, a cruel Act, and this particular proposal, which is deceitful, by being deceitful, is bringing the whole process of law and law enforcement into disrepute.
We appreciate that the Government have some difficulty, mainly of their own making, and, like all governments that may have been in difficulties before in this country, the present Government has within it, may still have within it, supporters in this House, people described by the Taoiseach as people who were not above the taint of suspicion that they were involved in a conspiracy against the law to import arms into this State for the purpose of using those arms unlawfully. This is why the Government have been reluctant to enforce the law, because they depended upon, and still depend upon, the support of their own subversives, of the people who have the taint of guilt on their hands. We saw those hands today, those guilty hands, those hands with, in the Taoiseach's words, the taint of guilt upon them; they did not applaud the Minister for Justice when he sat down. Deputy Haughey and his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil back benches did not applaud the Minister because they did not believe in the Minister's intenation and they did not want to help the Minister in his alleged intention of crushing the forces in this land that would destroy our society and, with it, the people in it.
It is simply not good enough to have to sit here and listen to the rubbish we had this evening from Deputy Carter, suggesting that it was only Left Wing Pinks who were opposed to this Bill. This party throughout their whole history—and this was acknowledged by a most unlikely admirer of this party recently on BBC television, Mr. Seán McEntee—are a party who have always stood for and fought for, even when it was unpopular to do it, the institutions of this State. We do that still today, not because the institutions of  this State have any particular merit as institutions—what merit they have is the merit of protecting individuals— but because we have a twin obligation in this House, in this democracy of ours, an obligation we, in the Fine Gael Party, have never shirked, the obligation to protect the institutions of the State and the rights of individuals.
The health of any State is the sum of individual rights. Tamper with those rights, belittle them, as Deputy Carter did, and you belittle your own society. You damage your own society. You interfere with its rights. You do not hold them in the regard in which you should hold them and that means that the institutions do not hold them in regard either and everybody suffers as a consequence. Damage done to one is damage done to all. That is a principle that is unfortunately not respected in this Bill.
This Government are not faced, as Governments were in the past, with subversive opposition in Parliament. They are not faced with any parliamentary subversion so far as the present Opposition parties here are concerned. That is why we can uphold the rule of law and insist upon the rule of law being respected. That requires that fundamental principles are not trampled upon and that, even if they have to be temporarily put to one side, the Government ensure that this is done so that people will know that there is an emergency and the people will watch the situation so that, when the emergency is over, they will see to it that these Draconian powers are taken back from the Government.
In our amendment, as originally tabled, we expressed as a ground of opposition to the Bill the fact that the dangerous powers conferred by this Bill would have no duration in point of time. There is no limit upon the right of any Government at any time, even at a time when no emergency exists, an emergency such as now exists, to use these powers. The powers given under this Bill will be everlasting powers and will remain fully operative until they are removed from the statute book. The powers of Part VI of the 1939 Act are operative only when there is a declared  emergency. But that will not be the position in the future. A person can be convicted on the belief of a police officer of the rank of superintendent upwards. I notice in the Bill it is provided that this power to give evidence on the basis of belief alone is a power to be conferred on chief superintendents, but section 3 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939, provides that any power which can be conferred on a chief superintendent may, by order of the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, be conferred on a superintendent. Therefore, where you see “chief superintendent” in this Bill you must read “superintendent”. I noticed that the Minister was at pains to explain that the evidence to be offered would be superintendent's evidence, not chief superintendent's evidence. An omission, deliberate or accidental? It does not matter very much. It is just one of the true things in the Minister's speech.
The Minister was at great pains to paint a picture of the responsibility and the integrity of officers of the Garda Síochána. He was quite right to do that. We have no wish, and no inclination, in our party to besmirch the character, reputation, skill, devotion to duty and courage of members of the Garda Síochána of all ranks. We are very lucky to be served by such an independent, courageous, dedicated and hardworking police force. But the very image any member of the Garda Síochána has in a court is a threat to an innocent person. This is not to criticise the system; it is simply to draw attention to the reality, to the weight that most people, particularly courts accustomed to hearing evidence offered by gardaí, tend to attach to that evidence. There is a particular weight and credibility attached to evidence offered by members of the Garda Síochána.
Now the most dangerous person in any society is probably the sincere, dedicated servant who is convinced of his own absolute rectitude, who has no degree of doubt about the probability of any error on his part. There is great danger, judging by the picture so vividly depicted by the Minister  today, that evidence of members of the Garda Síochána will be accepted, no matter what rebutting evidence is offered by an accused person. As Deputy Cosgrave said, we would have no occasion to weep if any guilty person was to be caught by this legislation, who could not be caught by any other legislation, but it is not necessary to have this threatening, intimidating, dangerous and excessive legislation to catch 99 per cent of those who are wreaking the harm and the damage and the evil in our midst at the present time.
Deputy Carter suggested, as I mentioned earlier, that it was only the dangerous Bolshies who did not approve of this. Does he include amongst those the Social Democratic and Labour Party? Does he include the Nationalist Party in the North of Ireland? Does he include Mr. John Brooke of the Unionist Party who says the legislation is immoral?
Mr. Ryan: He is qualified to know what is immoral legislation. His institution practised it for long enough. Deputy Andrews need not be so smart. These are the kind of people Deputy Carter described as Lefties and he cannot have it both ways.
Mr. Ryan: The Parliamentary Secretary cannot shout me down in this Parliament. I will not permit it. I have the right to speak for the people who sent me here and no Fianna Fáil lackey, the Parliamentary Secretary or otherwise, will subdue the right of free speech so long as the Fine Gael Party are around. No matter how long Deputy Andrews points his finger at me I will not get tired of preventing  him from interfering with my freedom of speech.
Mr. Ryan: There are world-wide organisations which are concerned with ensuring universal respect for human rights. Human rights are superior to national rights anywhere. They are the rights of man and no Government, no society, no State has the right to trample upon human rights. We are obliged by international conventions not to derogate from our obligations to give people a fair trial. We are obliged by international conventions not to find people guilty before they are convicted. This Bill is tantamount to saying that people are guilty and must prove their own innocence.
We are also required not to deprive people of their liberty without due process of law, except in the case of an emergency which must be identified by the Government by a declaration notified to the European Court of Human Rights. The Government have tried to steer as close to the wind as they could, but I believe they have gone over the precipice. Therefore, this legislation is threatened with destruction first of all in our own courts as being unconstitutional, and in the European Courts and possibly elsewhere.
Have we to wait until the Government get this vicious legislation before they will act? One fears that is the position and that, until they have this open cheque, they will not face up to their responsibilities and will not use the multitudinous powers already available to them to deal with subversion in our community. This Bill is a repetition, to some extent, of existing law and, where it is not a repetition, it makes the existing law more dangerous. The Fine Gael Party, as Government speakers have acknowledged, have called again and again for several years past, for the enforcement of the law. We are satisfied that the law is already adequate to bring about a state of peace and order in our midst, and throughout the whole island in so far as we have any control over what happens in Northern Ireland.
 Therefore, it would be inconsistent with what we have already argued over the past three years were we to give support to this Bill. We say the law is already adequate and, therefore, we cannot lend our name or our votes to this piece of camouflage which is set up in order to justify the Government's misconduct when they had power to act in the past. I will conclude by repeating my conviction that this legislation, if passed into law, will provoke more insecurity and more violence and more damage to our society than would be provoked if it were not. The remedy is to use the existing law.
Mr. Ryan: It is not necessary to pollute those laws in the way now proposed. There are many instances of the gardaí being prevented from executing their duties. I do not want to recite them all, but one which is worthy of mention is one in which a whole village not far from Dublin was besieged by members of the IRA. The whole village of Rathdrum was brought to a standstill while this unlawful army robbed a bank. They escaped to the hills and were later surrounded by the forces of the State, who were prohibited by Government interference from capturing them and bringing them to justice.
Mr. Ryan: Within the past few months Members of this House, and judges, and the Taoiseach, and the Tánaiste, have had their houses picketed by members of illegal organisations. It does not matter whether they are members of illegal organisations  or not. They were picketed by people who were trying to influence improperly Members of Parliament in the discharge of their duty. None of these people was arrested by the gardaí because the Government had told them not to do so.
Mr. Ryan: Even when Members asked the gardaí to enforce the law they were told their instructions were not to do so. Yet, last night although there was no change in the law, 70 people could be picked up all of a sudden and brought to court this afternoon, because the Government have decided to enforce the existing law. Why have they not done that for weeks and months and years past? There have been innumerable occasions when people in public places have unlawfully carried and used guns in the presence of members of the Garda, recognised by members of the Garda, and they have not been prosecuted. Why? That is for the Government to answer before they ask us to give them this measure which they will use, no doubt, in as selective a manner as they have used or not used the powers available to them before now.
Deputy Cooney reminded us today that contrary to the Offences against the State Act, legislatures have been making proclamations and issuing invitations to Members of this House and Members of the Government to attend. Was there any prosecution? Was there any attempt to collect information which could lead to a prosecution in relation to these unlawful assemblies? No, there was not. Yet all these powers are on the Statute Book and freely available at any time. It does not require the declaration of a state of emergency to bring those powers into operation.
Why have they not been brought into operation? Because there are still subversives on the Government benches who are keeping the Government in office. Now they are endeavouring to blackmail the country, having brought it into the pit of anarchy and mischief in which it now is through their inactivity. They are trying to blackmail  us into bringing in laws which would make this a totalitarian State. They will not get them. Even if it meant a general election instantly, and a wiping out of the Fine Gael Party we would go down in history——
Mr. Ryan: ——because we stood up for the rule of law. The cynics and the sneerers and those who do not give a damn about human rights professed every conceivable form of subversion when they were out of office, and in office they set themselves up as holier-than-thou people who never sullied their minds, their hands or their feet with any form of subversive activity. This is the price we have to pay for the history of Fianna Fáil from which they cannot escape. That is why I was touched, as I believe many people must have been touched, when Mr. Seán MacEntee, on television recently, acknowledged that he and his colleagues were wrong in having civil war in this country because that helped to sow the seeds of the harvest that is still being reaped in this country in the mutilated bodies that still barely live, in the dead bodies that lie in graves, in the property that has been destroyed and, above all, in the twisted minds of young people still growing up through this twist and damage that has been done to their character which leads us, 50 years after we have achieved our freedom, to have to listen to a Government wanting to put on our statute book something that no other country in the world would dare introduce today, except perhaps South Africa, and in South Africa they have even said that if they had the powers of the Special Police Act in the North of Ireland they would be happy, that their powers are not really as grievous. What must they feel today when they see the sovereign, so-called democratic, open free society in the Republic of Ireland bringing in a piece of legislation which the most extreme right wing of the Unionist Party have found to be immoral? It is a shameful day for Dáil  Éireann that we should have to listen to the kind of excuses made for such bad legislation. We do hope the Government will think wisely before proceeding further with this matter.
There may be some areas requiring strengthening. They can be strengthened without performing any more evil. But far far better would it be to postpone this Bill for three or six months and enforce the law in the meantime and, if that were done there would be no need for this legislation because the proof would be there that the law was already sufficient. The process of introducing this began last week before a member of the IRA was convicted of being a member of that organisation. That was about three weeks after the Minister for Justice said it could not be done. It is about eight months since he sent me a letter saying it could not be done and expressing the view that the Provisional IRA in 1972 and the Official IRA in 1972 were possibly not the same organisation as had been proscribed in 1939. If that be so, why did the Minister not use the power available to him in the Act of 1939 to proscribe the Provisional IRA, 1972 edition and the Official IRA, 1972 edition, or any other organisation of 1972 vintage or any other vintage which he regarded as being a subversive organisation? This will have to be done if these weaknesses are there.
We have been told that the Minister and the Government were labouring over the summer to produce a very difficult and comprehensive Bill to deal with this emergency. Methinks the mountain has laboured and has brought forth, not a mouse but a rat, a very dangerous, cornered rat, which is ready to jump upon the liberties of our people. That is a shameful and disgraceful situation. Perhaps the picture appeals to the sense of humour, twisted or otherwise, of the Parliamentary Secretary.
Mr. Ryan: Those with the blood of innocents on their hands, those with the twisted minds of generations on their responsibility, should not be casting out remarks of shamefulness. These words come lightly from Fianna Fáil Ministers and junior ones in office talking about responsibility and shamefulness and so forth.
Mr. Ryan: They do not know the meaning of it because, if they knew the meaning of responsibility they would have enforced the law in the last four years instead of running away from their responsibilities. If they recognised them, why did they not enforce them? If they did not recognise them they should not be in office. They cannot have it both ways.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: This Bill is a fraud. It is not needed for the purposes it purports to be needed for. Deputy Cooney, in the very fine, remarkable speech with which he opened for the Fine Gael Party, has demonstrated that and Deputy Cluskey in a very fine statement from these benches also. I do not propose to cover the same ground as they have done. I do not believe that is necessary. But, I do want to get one thing on the record, that is, Deputy Cooney in his statement gave a number of examples, and they were impressive examples, of cases which the Government had the power to cope with and have the power to cope with clearly under the existing law. He gave details of such cases. I want the Minister to deal in detail with those cases and explain to the Dáil why he did not see that the law was enforced in relation to these cases. He has a duty to do this when he comes before this House and demands new, exceptional, drastic, extraordinary legislation. He needs to account to us for what he has done with the legislation he actually has which includes the very wide, drastic powers available to him under the Offences against the State Act, powers far wider than most governments in western Europe or in North America  possess and which he has not been using.
Fianna Fáil have discovered the IRA menace in 1972 and Deputy Carter is now pounding the table about it. There was precious little pounding of the table or anything else last year. I will come back to that.
The Government do not need these extraordinary powers for the purposes for which they purport to need them. What do they need them for then, because we must assume they do not act without a purpose? Their purpose is not always, or even often, their avowed purpose but they do not act without a purpose. They are—we concede that to them—a rational Government though the ends they pursue are not the ends they claim to pursue.
Why, then, this Bill? What are its real objects as distinct from its ostensible objects? I would list them as three. The real objects of this Bill are (1) to refurbish the Government's law and order image. This is all connected with images. It is a cosmetic. The objects are (1) to refurbish the Government's law and order image; (2) to provide a retrospective alibi for the Government's inaction to date and (3) to try to put the Opposition in a position where their responsible concern for the rule of law can be misrepresented as covert sympathy with law breakers. These are the three real purposes behind this Bill. This is why it has been introduced and I want to discuss them. I do not intend to take up much of the time of the House. We are not making any effort to protract the debate although we could do so. We are simply making the points we want to make and we will make them as concisely as we reasonably can.
As regards the first objective, to refurbish the Government's law and and order image, there really is a big need for that. In his opening statement the Minister said that the Government's duty is clear—to bring in this law. When did it become clear that it was the Government's duty to do something about the IRA? Was it clear in 1969 or in 1970 or 1971? Was it clear to them in the first six months of this year? In all these  periods and particularly from the onset of the Provisional IRA's ghastly offences, beginning early in 1971—18 months ago—the threat of these organisations has been very clear and the powers in the Government's hands have been very clear also. Their curious reluctance to use those powers has been noted by every observer both in this country and outside. Suddenly the Government's duty becomes clear. It is very clear that the people are extremely fed up with and revolted by the IRA and in particular the Provisional IRA and their continuing campaign. The Government are aware of that and wish us to refurbish their law-and-order image. That image needs some refurbishing.
A Government party Deputy has implied that the Opposition over here are sympathisers with bombers and he inquired whether there was any Deputy in the House who would justify, approve or in any way condone or support the activities of these organisations. There is a Deputy in this House who was a Minister for Finance during the period 1969 to 1970, during which time large sums of public money appropriated by the Dáil for the relief of the distress in the North were applied to the creation of distress in the North by the supply of weapons and ammunition to people there whom we believe to have been the Provisional IRA. The Provisional IRA were put in business by members of that party, including some who are still members of the party and including some who will probably vote for this Bill thereby indicating and stigmatising its hypocrisy.
I will illustrate that this sympathy still continues. Last summer in one of the few interventions that he has made in this House since 1970, Deputy Haughey interrupted a speech of mine. In passing I had quoted some words of Yeats about living where motley is worn. Deputy Haughey interrupted me repeatedly, calling on me to complete the quotation. I did not choose to complete it at that time but I will complete it for him now and illustrate its implications now that the Government and the  party to which he belongs and of which he is vice-president are on their law and order jag. The completion of the quotation were those words of Yeats referring to the 1916 deaths: “All, all are changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born.” What is the relevance of that terrible beauty to the events of our own time? Where is this terrible beauty being born? What can that be but a reverence in a romantic and exalted sense to the IRA campaign? Of course it is that. The sympathy with those organisations is still among some people over there and, of course, in refurbishing the Government's law and order image, that is also a function inside their party. Mr. Haughey is to be obliged to humiliate his republican principles by voting for this Bill.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I have pleasure in restoring him to that. There were all these long months and the years of first actual collusion with the Provisional IRA, helping to set them up, providing them with a propaganda machine, encouraging that split in the Old IRA which produced this new, most virulent and destructive strain among them under the guise that it was a good, clean, Catholic non-Marxist form of IRA and which would be active only in the North. There are a lot of people over there who sympathise with that point of view. Some of them will probably be honest and vote against this Bill while others probably will not.
That period of collusion, of helping to set up the institution in respect of which they now pound the table and say it is a terrible menace to the State, was followed by a long period from May, 1970, until now of turning the blind eye to the activities of the IRA. What IRA? There was no menacing crisis then. There was no clear duty on the part of the Government in respect of the IRA. The Government's duty became clear only when it began to look as if the Provisional IRA were being beaten and that is part of the reason behind this. Suddenly  the Provisionals have become a terrible menace, justifying the most extraordinary legislation but when they looked to be in pretty good shape as they did for a long time, and when the Government Press was suggesting that they were winning, there was no move against them. The Government's law-and-order image needs refurbishing indeed and this Bill is an effective means of doing that. We do not underestimate the Government's ability. We would be foolish to do so. There are purposes behind this Bill and these purposes are astute.
The second reason for the Bill about which I wish to say something is to provide a retrospective alibi for the Government's inaction today. That is important. It is central to the purposes of the Bill. The Government have been telling the public and telling the British Government, when they get a nudge from that quarter— they have been getting some strenuous nudges recently—that they have been doing their best to get the IRA but that under the existing law, although it includes the drastic Offences against the State Act, they cannot get any evidence against them. They are saying that our Special Branch comprise some of the most astute minds in Europe but that they cannot find any evidence connecting Mr. Seán Mac Stiofáin with the Provisional IRA.
I would like to say a word about that. Are we to believe that before the Kevin O'Kelly interview there was no comparable evidence concerning that gentleman's connection with that organisation? I do not believe that and neither do I think that anybody else in the country believes it. The Government moved against Mac Stiofáin when they judged the time to be ripe politically to move against him. The charges were prepared, the evidence was there and he was convicted. We are not against the Government's decision to move against the IRA. The point we are making is that the Government can make such moves under the existing law, that they do not need these extraordinary new laws which are capable of indefinite extension to do what they could have  done at any time under the existing powers.
Deputy Cooney has provided plenty of evidence for that. The purpose of this is for the Government to say in answer to the British that we are moving against the IRA now but that we could not have done so until we had this new legislation. In other words they are saying that this new legislation sets free their hands. This is what I refer to as a cosmetic operation in favour of the Government's image. They are telling their critics, including the British critics, that they have been doing all they could under the existing law but now when they are about to look for real results they need to justify their past stand by bringing in this legislation. That is a large part of the purpose of it.
The third purpose of this legislation is to place the Opposition in a position where their responsible concern for the rule of law can be misrepresented as covert sympathy with lawbreakers. We have heard that as we had expected. In this Chamber within the past 30 minutes Deputy Carter presented the classical black and white Fianna Fáil picture: “We stand for law and order. You, if you oppose this Bill, are against law and order. You are the friends of the bombers. You favour people who planted that bomb in O'Connell Street.” We are going to get that. That is the full treatment we are going to get. We have already got it in this debate. If the Government have to go to the country, as they may over this, we will get it at the hustings but each and every one of us, including the many Deputies on this side were criticising and denouncing the IRA when those gentlemen over there were either entirely silent or covertly encouraging those bodies. We are now going to be painted into the corner: “You are the friends of the IRA”. They are going to be pushing that around.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Deputy Carter's attempt to taint us with sympathy or support for the people who planted the bomb in O'Connell Street or the people we think planted it, whoever did it, is an absolutely despicable charge. It will, of course, be passed over silently by the smoother men on the front benches over there who affect not to have heard those black-guardly charges when they are pushed out from over there. We will get this.
Nothing could be more removed from the truth than the idea that we favour the IRA. Deputy Cluskey got that on the record at the beginning of this debate. I voted for the Prisons Bill. I voted for the transfer of certain prisoners into military custody. We did not attack the setting-up of the special courts. I myself publicly argued that in circumstances where there is or can be intimidation of witnesses and jurymen there is justification for courts sitting without a jury. We said that and some of us incurred considerable unpopularity for saying it. It was not a position that could have been adopted by people who sympathised with the IRA, who supported the IRA, who were in collusion with the IRA. The IRA themselves have handsomely acknowledged that by their references to some of us and what we have said. We are not going to be tarred with that brush now. Nobody will believe the attempt to depict us in that way.
I believe the whole Opposition was prepared to concede any necessary strengthening, virtually the whole Opposition, of the Government's  hand and if what the Government wanted was a real strengthening of their hand—I do not think they do need it; they have all the power they want—the Taoiseach, Deputy Lynch, could have called on Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Corish and said: “We need this” and if what he proposed was reasonable, and he could discuss the matter confidentially with them to show that he did need it and just exactly why he needed it, I believe we could have had the Government's hand strengthened to the necessary and reasonable degree by consensus and that that would be immensely better in relation to law and order, the security of the State and the future of our institutions, the safety and security of our people, than what the Government now propose to do, to rush this Bill through, whatever its defects, by their naked majority if on this issue they have a naked majority and we do not know who is going to vote with them.
They have been playing, as they have done before in different ways, Fianna Fáil politics with the security of the State and the lives of the citizens. They did that in the past in one way. They did it by collusion in the period 1969 to 1970 when the Taoiseach is supposed to have not known what certain Ministers of his Government were doing, what they were up to, and they were supposed not to have known what happened to that £40,000 of public money that was misappropriated. They played Fianna Fáil politics in that way in those days. For a long time after that, in fact, up to this autumn, they played Fianna Fáil politics with the security of the State and the lives of the citizens in another way, by turning a blind eye to the IRA saying:
“What IRA?” and: “The menace is greatly exaggerated” implying that it was only happening in the North, it would not spread down here so what about it? It was a period when several Deputies over there, including at least one Parliamentary Secretary, were expressing, in the corridors of this House, sympathy with and admiration for the actions of the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland.  That is a fact and I do not think anybody will contradict me on it.
Those two ways of playing Fianna Fáil politics with the security of the State—first collusion and then turning a blind eye—are used up. Law and order is the thing now. Why? Because the Government know that the popular mood is strongly for law and order and when that mood is there the Government will move into that area and, if possible, try to discredit the Opposition within that area, become the party of law and order, forget the Republic. The Republic is no longer where it is at. We will hear very few republican speeches from over there for some little time to come. It is now law and order.
Speaking of law and order, we do not believe that this Bill is a way of supporting or asserting law and order. It may support a kind of order in the sense that internment did. It does not support law but, in fact, brings it into disrepute because it obliges the court to convict people without what is regarded as evidence in common law. It is no way of asserting law and order to try to assert order without law or by serious encroachment on the legal tradition within which we live, and this is a tremendous encroachment, particularly sections 3 and 4 of this Bill, on what we regard as law, as the long legal tradition of this country.
I want to be very clear about this. I believe the State in defending itself, in defending the security of its citizens and of democratic institutions, has a right to curtail certain freedoms. It has a right to curtail them only to the extent that is absolutely necessitated by the extent of the threat in question. I agree we have here a very serious threat, a continuing threat, to security and to life but the Government, we contend, have always had the powers, including drastic emergency powers, to deal with that situation and that they have not done so is not due to any lack of this legislation which they suddenly discovered very near the end of 1972 is the key to the situation, the only way of dealing with the IRA. No. They had the powers and they are now making a quite unnecessary encroachment  on the ordinary laws. I think they have made the Bill deliberately as drastic and repellent and repulsive to anyone concerned with civil liberties as they could have made it in order to force the Opposition into the position where they had to oppose it. We had to oppose it. When I received the text of that Bill, I did not have my mind made up in advance that anything coming from over there intended to deal with the IRA must be opposed automatically. I did not. I read the Bill with care. I read it in the beginning with hope that it would be a serious Bill, that it would seek for the Government such powers as I thought I could reasonably support their having because I realise fully the extent of the threat to the security of the State and I do want to help the Government to have such powers as they actually need to deal with that. I showed that by my vote on the Prisons Bill and by many, many public statements. But I read sections 3 and 4 of that Bill and I said: “I cannot possibly, without utterly discrediting myself, do anything save support a stand by our party, which was a unanimous stand by that party, against this Bill.”
I think the Government had that in mind, a combined operation: refurbish our own law-and-order image and throw the odium on the Opposition of supporting legislation which we will then maintain to be absolutely necessary for the security of the State and the protection of the lives of its citizens. The motive that is behind this Bill is a low, party-political motive and not the high motive of defending the security of the State which the Taoiseach will assert at the hustings throughout the nation with all the bland plausibility of which he is such a master.
We also have this in mind: this Bill gives extraordinarily wide powers, powers possessed by no police force in western Europe or in North America or in any of the countries with institutions similar to our own. This is intolerable. It is not good enough to tell us that our gardaí are a fine body of men and, of course, they will not abuse these powers. In  common with almost every other Deputy I have a great regard for the gardaí: I think they are one of the best police forces in Europe. They have a decent regard for people, with the odd exception that you will find in any police force or body of men. I would have as much confidence in them to wield such power as in any other body but I would not give powers capable of that degree of abuse to any body of men for two reasons, first, because the possession of drastic, arbitrary power is in itself a corrupting thing. Acton says: “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This is not absolute power but it is a very big shot of power suddenly to give to a chief superintendent.
We may say that the Garda as they are now would not abuse this power. I believe that; I do not think they would abuse it. I do not think our chief superintendents would abuse these powers now but this Bill, if we make it an Act, will be law for a very long time. Unless a new Government comes in to repeal it, it could be law for a very long time and we do not know what further drastic changes may come in the whole context in which we live, a context where democracy, the rule of law, our traditional freedoms are threatened from two sides. They are threatened by the illegal organisations, by the IRA and most notably by the Provisional IRA which this Government and the governing party have done so much to set up and which is, as Deputy Cluskey so well said, the illegitimate son of the Fianna Fáil Party.
That is one set of threats, from out there, from the illegal organisations, their threat to our institutions, to our liberty. But there is a second threat and we must never lose sight of both threats. The other threat is the overreaction of this Government in this most recent phase of their activity when they suddenly become converted to law and order and particularly order—their own kind of order; their erosion, their intrusion and destruction of the degree of autonomy legitimately and rightly possessed by RTE  and now these drastic powers reverting the onus of proof in certain criminal cases. In these ways our democracy and our freedom are being eroded and curtailed, cramped, constricted and distorted so that we do not know, if this process goes on, in five or ten years' time just what kind of police force we may have. We do not know either what the relation of the Government party to the police force may be; powers that would not be abused this year or next year may well, in future circumstances, be abused and the abuse might come pretty quickly.
When this House voted for the Broadcasting Act, 1960, for example, did anybody imagine that section 31 would be applied in the way it has been applied? Did anyone think that a Minister in a Government could set a trap for a whole authority, in the form of an ambiguous directive, could refuse clarification of that directive, and could then sack the whole authority when in his opinion that directive had been contravened? I do not believe anybody thought that power could be so used under section 31, but legally the power existed and the Government shrugged off the convention which had hither to been supposed to regulate this relationship with the authority.
That is part of the reason why we cannot support this Bill, why we must oppose it and try to get over to the public the reason why we are opposing it—not because we have the slightest sympathy for the IRA, either wing of it, not because we deny the threat to the security of the State which they represent but because we regard the Government as having failed in their duty in this matter and we regard them as now compensating for their worse than failure—their collusion— by invading our democratic freedoms by weakening the law and order of this State under procedures which purport to defend it.
The Taoiseach: My intervention will be short and is made mainly for two reasons: first, to endorse in every word and every sentence the introductory speech made by the Minister for  Justice here this afternoon. Secondly, it is made to indicate so far as my coming into the House at this stage can do so, that every member of the Government and every member of our party is fully in support of the measures in this Bill, no matter how much those who oppose it with bitterness, even almost with threats, will say, that it is an O'Malley law, it is a Fianna Fáil Government law. I want to say categorically and emphatically that I shall not permit any individual member of my Government to be pilloried by those who have taken to the streets under banners of different guises, with different trade union and other labels on them.
We have been asked why we introduced this measure. Deputy Cooney indicated that he thought it was not necessary. Deputy Cruise-O'Brien, whom we have just heard, said that it was because we wanted to wrong-foot or embarrass the Opposition Parties in some way in relation to the possibility of a general election. I suggest they have already wrong-footed themselves, Fine Gael by their shilly-shallying support or non-support of the measures in the Bill and the Labour Party by identifying themselves directly with the Provisional IRA organisation——
The Taoiseach: The suggestion is that we have contacts with the modern IRA. This party is a direct descendant in the persons of many Members sitting here of the Old IRA, the true IRA, and that Old IRA would have nothing whatever to do with those who now claim to be IRA.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: On a point of order, there is a complete misunderstanding. It was Deputy Cluskey said  this and his point was that the Taoiseach's Government in 1969-1970 created the Provisional IRA.
The Taoiseach: I do not think that is a point of order. Nobody interrupted the Deputy while he was pouring his little bit of contumely across the floor of the House. While he was personally assailing me, nobody interrupted him and I heard what he was saying, so the Deputy might have the good manners to listen to me for a while. I am not going to attack Deputy Cruise-O'Brien, personally or otherwise. What I am saying is this, that members of his party have closely identified themselves with the Provisional IRA movement only as recently as last Sunday.
The Taoiseach: We do not want to see men die either, but when it comes to a situation like this, we decide to carry out our trust as a Government for the people and not to renege our trust, not to abdicate our responsibility or authority. Is that not what Deputy Thornley wants us to do?
The Taoiseach: The suggestion is being made that we introduced this piece of legislation to embarrass the Opposition in the event of a general election. We do not care how we embarrass the Opposition or in what way the Opposition suggest to us that we are trying to wrong-foot them. We have introduced this legislation only because we believe it is necessary in present circumstances. Deputy Cooney, to give him his due, did try to give a reasoned statement as to why it was not necessary. It was, in my opinion, a well-prepared and what I might call theoretic legal speech suggesting that because section so-and-so said one thing and another section said another thing, what is your problem? Our problem is this, that we are the people who have to implement the law on the ground, so to speak, not the Opposition. We have to stand up and be counted; we have to stand over whatever we do; and we have had to try to implement the law in the interest of the country over the past three years and in certain particular instances it has been found that it was not sufficient as it stands to do what the people want us to do in relation to illegal and subversive organisations.
The Taoiseach: This is one of the flaws in Deputy Cooney's argument. He referred to section 52 of the Offences against the State Act, which is the section that enables a member of the Garda Síochána to ask a person as to his movements in certain circumstances and if that person refuses to give an account of his movements then “he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to imprisonment” for a certain term. This Act was passed in 1939 before we became members of the Council of Europe and before we ratified the European Convention on Human Rights. We are advised now  that this section is contrary to the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and that if we acted on it, any person who was convicted under it and sent to prison or in any way disadvantaged would have a right of action before the Court of Human Rights against us.
The Taoiseach: Nobody suggested today that anybody who was speaking was speaking rubbish. Deputy O'Higgins has come into the House for the first time so far as I know during the entire day three minutes ago.
The Taoiseach: He has not observed the manner in which members of our party treated the offerings from his side of the House. Again I appeal—let me make my case as Deputy Cooney was allowed to make his case at length. I should say with reference to Deputy O'Higgins that I saw him coming in only a few minutes ago. I was in the House for some hours today and he was not in.
The Taoiseach: I am coming now to section 52. Deputy Cooney says that we could operate as effectively against members of illegal organisations on the basis of that section, in conjunction with section 30, and therefore this measure is not necessary. I have given an indication why it was not possible for us to operate section 52 and we have been operating section 30, whereby persons suspected and not  even having been suspected, could be arrested and detained for 24 hours and if necessary, on the certificate of a high Garda officer, the period to be extended for another 24 hours. We have used that section continuously in the recent past. Within the time limit available it was necessary to bring a charge against a person in these circumstances.
In many cases we had to let off those who were arrested under section 30 and it was not possible to bring a charge because of lack of evidence or because the evidence available would not stand up in court and therefore we were, as I might even say, humiliated by having arrested people known to be members of the IRA, people who had given Press conferences and who had paraded themselves as members of the IRA. As the House is aware, known leaders of the IRA were, because of the deficiency in the present legislation, acquitted by the courts and that as recently as last week.
May I come to the point which Deputy O'Higgins has made? A prosecution was successful against Mr. Mac Stiofáin last week. It was successful, but only on evidence of the contents of an interview recorded on a tape that was played to the court for 45 minutes. Most people heard and everybody knows by now the contents of the limited broadcast of what was contained on that tape. There was evidence far above what would normally be available to a court.
The Taoiseach: I will come to it in a minute and I hope you will be proud of your activities. There was evidence there for the court, a fair court of trial—far more evidence than would normally be available in similar cases—so that there is no point in making the case that because one conviction was got as recently as last week, this Bill is now unnecessary. It is necessary and that kind of evidence would not be available and normally is not available in prosecutions against those people who are well-known to be members and leaders of the different branches of the IRA.
 Deputy Cooney also said that we had other means of enforcing the law against those people who hold themselves out as setting up opposition parliaments. Deputy Cooney did not go far enough because it is only when these people purport to legislate, I am advised, that they come in conflict with the law. At the moment Dáil Uladh and Dáil Chonnacht are just talking-shops. They do not presume or purport to legislate for anything. They have not, to that extent, infringed the law. That is my advice.
Deputy Cooney suggested that we have not taken action against demonstrators. There were demonstrations in different parts of the country, and particularly one outside the Curragh in the middle of the summer, when people attacked physically members of the Defence Forces. As Deputy Cooney knows, prosecutions have been brought against those people. Convictions have been got and sentences and other penalties have been imposed. At this very time there are many more of these cases standing adjourned in District Courts in different parts of the country because it was not possible to bring them further before now, for one reason or another. There have been convictions. Is it not obvious that when 500 or 1,000 people come armed with sticks and other weapons to an area like the Curragh, and outside police stations, that it is impossible for the Garda or the Army to arrest or apprehend every one of them? The leaders of those people are not those up in front. They are not the people who carry the sticks or stones. They are carefully behind and when it comes to getting up on the platform they are seen, but without sticks or bars in their hands. I suggest to Deputy Cooney that it is not possible to arrest all those people and, in so far as it is, it is the “small fry” who are arrested, leaving the “big shots” behind.
The main argument against this Bill, as it stands, is that the contents of subsection (2) of section 3 gives these extraordinary powers to members of the Garda Síochána. I am not going to go into the legalities of this  to any extent. It is a long time since I practised law and it has become considerably rusty as a result, but I remember that when evidence is given by anybody in any case, civil or criminal, it is evidence that may be accepted or rejected by the court. That is exactly what is happening here. The chief superintendent, if he goes into the box and says that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, AB is a member of an illegal organisation, that may or may not be accepted. It can be just as readily rejected as accepted by the courts. It is not conclusive and certainly does not have this Draconian content which is being suggested. I do not want to say more about the details of the Bill. The Minister for Justice will deal with it in summing up, in so far as it has been attacked in any great detail.
Before I leave this, I took a note while a Deputy was speaking earlier today in reference to the Mac Stiofáin case where it was suggested that this legislation was not necessary now in the light of the result of that case. Even since then, another well-known IRA person—or, perhaps, I should say another well-known person who is believed to be a member of the IRA, a lady, has been charged with incitement and membership. She was acquitted on the membership charge notwithstanding her fame in these activities. She was convicted on the incitement charge and got a sentence which dated back from the date of her arrest and terminated on the date of judgment of the court. That is a fact and is an indication that a person of that calibre and of that fame in the organisation got off scot-free on that particular charge.
It has been suggested that it was the lack of will on the part of the Government which has caused the ineffectiveness of the law and if this Government had the will to invoke the law as it stands, then it would not be necessary to introduce this piece of legislation. I suppose we can interpret that as meaning “if they have not got the guts”. We have the guts to introduce this Bill. How does one square that with the suggestion that we had not the will to  do these things before when we have the will to do this now? Would it not be far easier for a person who had not the will to rely on the law as it was and continue to put the Garda and others in the position of seeing case after case being brought and acquittal after acquittal being given in the courts? We have the will and will continue to have it. The people opposite cannot have it both ways.
The Taoiseach: There is two-way traffic in Fine Gael. The members of the Fine Gael Party in particular have been saying from time to time that in so far as we want help from them we will get it. On the 13th April, 1972. Volume 260, No. 2, column 174, of the Official Report Deputy Cooney, referring in particular to Mr. Mac Stiofáin, says:
He is described as Chief of Staff of what I would call the woman beaters, the Provisional IRA. Again, the fact that our Government will tolerate this is indicative of their philosophy and indicative of the approach, the softly, softly approach, which they have towards these people. They seem to be always looking over their shoulder in some fear that, if they take action against these groups which are subversive and which have threatened this democracy they are not being true to themselves and they are in some way being anti-national.
I would hope that, in the course of this debate, many more Deputies from the Minister's party will rise here and encourage him to take firm and positive action in dealing with these subversive organisations.
... if this Government can come to this House at some stage and say “we went through trial by jury; witnesses were intimidated, juries were intimidated, and we had to introduce special Criminal Courts. We did that; we charged people, but the scale of the problem is such that we are now threatened with civil war and the only solution is internment”, the Government will get from this party support in that action—then and only then; but it will get that support when necessary because this party has always stood by any Government no matter how much it is opposed to it, which acting properly and with due process, seeks to protect the liberties and lives of our people and the society in which we live.
There is a serious situation in this country. We do not want to impose internment. We are not intending to impose internment in this Bill, but we want to do something far less and we want the help from the Fine Gael Party that they promised through so many of their speakers. Deputy Cosgrave on many occasions—and I have several quotations from his speeches— has said as Leader of the party that he will give us whatever support, by way of new legislation, if necessary, is needed to deal with this problem.
We are now looking for that support and it is, apparently, going to be denied us. We have indicated and, indeed, we have proved the difficulties we have, difficulties Deputy Garret FitzGerald spelled out so eloquently. We went through everything. Our courts have not been effective. Juries have been intimidated. Witnesses have been intimidated. The Special Court itself has not been successful because, as I indicated, the rules of evidence prevented that court from bringing in convictions against known leaders of the IRA. Therefore, having proved our difficulty—I can assure Deputies opposite that it has been a serious difficulty indeed—we had no alternative but to take steps to cope with the difficulty.
 As I said at the outset, we are the people who are operating this legislation on the ground. It is we who have to stand over everything we do and, not being able to do what we should do in the manner we would like for the protection of our people, we are asking Dáil Éireann to help us to ensure that we will have the necessary means of protecting our community. The people against whom this legislation is directed have been active in many parts of the country, but particularly in the North. They have turned their guns now on the security forces of this State. Everybody knows they have. We have had a close experience of their bombs. Not in Belfast and not in Derry but in Dublin people have been maimed. But that is not the only reason why we should introduce this legislation. The lives of the people in Derry and Belfast should be, and are, as dear to us as are the lives of innocent people in Dublin.
These people, as I say, have detonated their bombs within a few hundred yards of this House. Will they next turn their rockets on targets in this part of the country? The fact that they have done it in another part of the country, a part over which we do not, unfortunately, exercise jurisdiction, should be sufficient reason for us to take effective action to curb now these activities to the best of our ability.
Deputy Cruise-O'Brien very rightly said that freedom was not unlimited. Liberty is not unlimited, but the safety of citizens must be unlimited. If what has been happening is allowed to go on, how can we, without adequate powers for dealing with the situation, guarantee in so far as we can the safety of any citizen? In my statement yesterday I referred to what we regarded as a threat presented by the situation generally, apart from the incident to which Deputy Thornley referred. I said that the issue in the present case—I can expand that by saying “the issue at the present time”—is nothing less than whether Parliament, Government, the courts and the law have all  to surrender to an unlawful organisation. The challenge to the institutions of the State is direct, deliberate and unmistakable. The Government have no choice but to meet it. We propose to meet it and we want to be helped in meeting it by passing this legislation.
Mr. Sherwin: I am not as experienced as other Members and I am in some doubt as to what is likely to happen in relation to the vote which, I presume, will be pressed at the end of the Second Stage. Am I to take it that there will be two votes, one on the Fine Gael motion and one subsequently on the question that the Bill be now read a Second Time?
Mr. Sherwin: Before I came into the House this evening I was asked to meet a deputation at the gates of Leinster House. The deputation was comprised of a group of ladies from the Derry area. They presented a petition to me and I should like to put that petition on the record. The petition is in relation to this Bill.
Mr. Sherwin: It is addressed to “Mr. Jack Lynch, Eire Prime Minister”. There are 13,867 signatures. “We protest in the strongest possible terms against the setting up of military courts and repressive laws, the arrest and imprisonment of fellow Irishmen and women as a stab in the back against the oppressed people of the North. This you are doing in collab-eration with the British Government and history will prove you and your henchman, O'Malley, to be traitors to the Irish nation.”
Mr. Sherwin: These signatures were collected in the past two days in Derry, which is outside the jurisdiction of this Dáil. I am merely quoting what is in the statement. It goes on to demand that Seán Mac Stiofáin be transferred immediately to an intensive care unit and out of the Curragh concentration camp.
Dr. Gibbons: On a point of order, would the Deputy inform us were any of those women included in those who were refused a meeting by Seán Mac Stiofáin and his comrades when they came down here some months ago?
Mr. Sherwin: Instead of the Bill now before us, we should be discussing the abolition of the Offences against the State Act, 1939. If it was ever justifiable to withdraw a fundamental right from the people of Ireland—and I doubt that it was ever in order—it is not in order now.
Mr. Sherwin: If it was justifiable then, there was an emergency situation. It was during the war years. Practically 30 years have passed since this emergency was declared. Are we saying that a state of emergency still exists? Apart from a few incidents that have been provoked by the Government, there are peaceful conditions in this part of Ireland, the so-called free part of Ireland.
Mr. Blaney: Is there any possibility that the Government who are seeking to put laws through the House in order to keep order, as they say themselves, would keep a little bit of order and allow the odd person who does not say “Yes” to them to say what he has to say?
Mr. Sherwin: There is no justification for the continued operation of the Offences against the State Act. There is no justification for the special courts. There is no justification for muzzling RTE. There is no justification for the Prisons Act. Certainly there is no justification for this Bill. Recently the Minister for Justice, on television and other media, referred to the difficulties in achieving convictions in our courts. When he was asked what he would do about it, the general tone of his reply was that he was finding it very difficult to produce legislation which would help him, but that he was working on it, and hoped he would be able to introduce this legislation within a month.
The Minister said this Bill does not give the powers which the great majority of the people who are protesting and will continue to protest against it believe it does. He said the only innovation is the provision in relation to the evidence of the chief superintendent. After all, we are talking only about a particular chief superintendent. His evidence is to be admissible. If the difficulties the Minister was talking about to the British television audience, and other audiences, are to be surmounted by this legislation, surely we must accept that the inclusion of the admissible evidence provision is very significant? It is not just an extra little piece of evidence that can be brought in because all other matters must be related to it, and related to the judge's decision. In framing this legislation the Minister wants to select which individuals in our society are to be put behind bars and locked away. The Government are setting about doing that.
 The Government may have to interrupt the housing programme to house the number of people who object to this Bill, and to house the people the superintendent and the Department may wish to remove from our society. I charge that the Government have been engaged in a deliberate campaign of trying to provoke a situation in which the people of Ireland will accept that this legislation and the continued use of the Offences against the State Act are justified. Since the Taoiseach visited Chequers a little over a year ago, this type of provocation has developed to the point at which it is today.
These people in Derry felt three years ago that they had a second guarantor ready to back them in a doomsday situation. The Taoiseach said that we have no jurisdiction, unfortunately, over the people within the Six County area, but I wonder does he mean it? They are now looking at what we are doing in this Parliament. They remember the Taoiseach said on television that he would not stand by and allow what was happening then to continue. These are citizens under our Constitution. What are they to think when they see us proposing legislation which goes beyond the Special Powers Act in the Six County area? There are two differences. Within the Six County area Her Majesty's Government operate, and within the Twenty-Six County area a native Irish Government operate. That is a hell of a difference, but unfortunately we have reached the stage where it makes no difference. I daresay that my voice will not be heard too strongly——
Mr. Sherwin: I want to get this on the record. I am still a junior in the political field and if matters were expounded by people who are older than I, and longer in politics, perhaps their voice would carry more weight, but I will leave it to my constituents in Dublin South-West, and to the rest of the people, to decide who will be listened to now. I consider it is a lie and a lie that is being promoted by  the Government, being promoted by the so-called Opposition in this House and a lie being promoted by every journalist that refers to the IRA as being a threat to the security of this State. I do not accept that the IRA have proved themselves to be a threat to the security of the State. What I would say is that they are certainly a threat to the security of the Six County area, which has no parliament at the present time because the people saw to that, which is, in fact, in a warlike situation declared by Mr. Maudling.
I remember incidents like the incidents in the Ballyshannon area where the Government ordered members of the Garda to force themselves into a situation where they might antaganise a protest meeting, a public meeting, in order to get the justification necessary to be able to introduced legislation similar to that introduced today. The Government have failed to do it.
When the Taoiseach was preparing to go to speak at the Oxford Union debate he knew he was going to speak to the British Premier the next day. He knew very well he could not face the British Premier, especially after the Munich talks, without doing something in relation to what instructions he certainly was given on that occasion.
Let us understand very clearly that Seán Mac Stiofáin, unfortunately not now, was up to his arrest the No. 1 British enemy within the Six County area and the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, was, indeed, told this by Mr. Heath, although Mr. Heath did not seem to so regard him when he had Seán Mac Stiofáin and other members of the IRA movement within the Six Counties and operating within the Six County area over in England with him not too long ago.
The Taoiseach surely must have agreed that if he were to strike a blow, in the collaboration that is obviously going on with this Government and the British forces in the Six Counties, he must go to the top and he must arrest the man who, as I say, has been regarded by the British as the No. 1 enemy.
Let me digress here slightly and  say that a couple of weeks ago there was the 50th commemoration of the death of Erskine Childers. I am not quoting from the Sunday Press but on that day the Sunday Press had an article giving details of how it came about that Erskine Childers was arrested, how it came about that he was convicted. That article referred to the fact that this man was an Englishman. It talked of the British propaganda at the time that this man was a British spy and it also made mention of the dubious nature of his involvement at the time. All the propaganda was geared to convict Erskine Childers and to execute him. Without meaning to imply any remarkable parallel between Erskine Childers and Seán Mac Stiofáin, let me say that recently and over the past 12 months, the calculated attempt to influence the people of Ireland, North and South, that Seán Mac Stiofáin was a British spy, that Seán Mac Stiofáin was an Englishman and therefore how could he be on the Irish side, shows great similarity with what was said of Erskine Childers. I do not think people could say anything about Erskine Childers or his patriotism towards this country.
It is not unfair for me to say that Government Ministers and, indeed, Fianna Fáil Deputies, have been going around the country over the past 12 months whispering of civil strife, whispering of what would happen if the IRA took over the country. This is all part of a deliberate attempt to foment trouble in this country. As I have said, in my opinion the IRA, in spite of all the provocation, did not in fact show themselves to be a threat to the security of this State. Indeed, when Deputy Cooney mentions mini-Dáils, et cetera, he is making the same mistake as other people have made in confusing what Sinn Féin is and what the IRA is.
I should like to clarify a matter, that the IRA would cease to operate, would cease in fact to see their existence to be necessary, in the event of a 32-county election and whatever government the voters would elect would be the government that any citizen of the 32-County State would support.
 Let us not try to fly the kite that when the IRA have succeeded in their operations within the Six County area, in a war that Mr. Maudling has declared against the Irish people, that after that is demolished they will turn on the 26 County State because let us understand clearly that, whether we like it or not, in the event of the Six County situation being complete, we will be in the situation that an entire new Ireland can be produced and can be developed and can be in a position to elect its own entire Government.
The Taoiseach's actions in stabbing the Citizens Defence Committee in the back in May, 1970, initiated the violence within the Six County area because, let us take our minds back to the situation that existed at that time. The British Army had just arrived within the Six County area and the British Army were clearly in the position of trying to keep both sides of that community at peace. The British Army up to that point in time had not taken sides. But, facts are facts and the fact is that when John Kelly was arrested by this Government, this native Government, the violence of the British Army showed itself very clearly. I do not know the reasons for the Taoiseach's actions and his Government's actions in attempting to spread this violence over the whole country. When I asked the Taoiseach yesterday, by way of supplementary question as to the threat to the security of the people of this country if Seán Mac Stiofáin should die——
Mr. Sherwin: ——the Taoiseach certainly did not answer my question but he referred to the 600 and 700 dead in this country. He did not say the 600 or 700 dead within the Six County area, over which we have no jurisdiction. He did not call it, as he usually calls it, Northern Ireland. He did not separate or try to separate the deaths for which the British Army the SAS and British spies and forces within  the Six County area were responsible. Indeed, we have them in this community of ours as well. He did not separate the deaths publicly proclaimed as the responsibility of the UDA and other extreme Protestant forces within that Six County area. He clearly gave the impression, or tried to give it, that the whole 600 or 700 deaths in this country were at the behest and willingness of the IRA. That is a very dishonest and a very wrong attempt for the Taoiseach to make in this House.
Mr. Sherwin: I would ask Deputy FitzGerald, how many, and to what extent would violence exist if the IRA did not face the B Specials and the RUC in the defence of the people? Let your minds go back to the statements of the Catholic minority within the Six County area who endorsed that defence. They did not have at their disposal the Saracen tanks and the other equipment and ammunition that was available to the British. They were forced to resort to other forms of warfare to fight the war that Maudling had declared. In the face of the offensive operations of the British forces they had to be offensive also.
Mr. Sherwin: If this Bill is enacted it will not be necessary to prove charges in order to obtain a conviction. This proposal is more sinister than internment which at least is honest in so far as it is a declaration that the authorities wish to have certain persons removed from society and placed without trial in an internment camp. This Bill purports to give a fair trial but the Government know that it will give them the power, on the evidence of a chief superintendent to say that a man is a member of  an illegal organisation and to imprison him on that account. In other words, the Bill provides a dishonest means of introducing internment.
I wonder whether any members of the Fianna Fáil backbench who, since 1969 and indeed, in a couple of instances prior to then, boasted of the help they gave to the Catholic nationalist majority of the Six Counties, could prove before a court that they were not members of an illegal organisation if a chief superintendent were to say that by virtue of their handing over shotguns or rifles they could be described as having been members of the IRA at that material time. How can any one of us prove that he is not a member of an illegal organisation?
Mr. Sherwin: It appears that with the assistance of, perhaps, a free vote on the part of Fine Gael and others, this Bill will go through. Maybe some Fine Gael Deputies will be lost and, consequently, will not be here to vote. This is a clear opportunity for the two main Opposition parties to do what they threatened to do at other times and that is to remove this Government from office. I am sure that Fine Gael in particular will endeavour to avoid this opportunity of forcing the Government to resign because they do not want an election. I challenge them now to do what they ought to do as an Opposition. There is very little opposition in this House to this proposed legislation. The difference would appear to be merely a matter of timing. The Fine Gael spokesman on Justice said that there were adequate measures within the Offences against the State Act for the bringing of convictions. Therefore, there is no real difference in the approach of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. It is a disgrace to this House that the only real opposition to the Government and their acts is coming from those people who are now outside the gates.
It is typical of what has become an  outstanding characteristic of the Taoiseach's administration that the Government cannot introduce internment openly. Up to the time of the arrest of Seán Mac Stiofáin their attitude was that if we do not do anything, we cannot do anything wrong but the Taoiseach had to meet Mr. Heath and had to report to him on what action he had taken since the Munich meeting. He had to let Mr. Heath know what he was doing by way of collaboration with the British forces in the Six Counties. The Government's attitude on these matters has been never to do anything in a straightforward way if there is a crooked way of doing it. If it is the Government's purpose to endeavour to avoid the outcry that would follow the introduction of internment in the Twenty-six Counties, I wish to tell them that they are not succeeding because the people who are outside the gates this evening and all those people from factories in my constituency who walked to this House yesterday evening to ask me and other representatives from Dublin South-West to oppose the Bill are all aware that this legislation would provide the Government with the means of introducing internment.
The Bill as proposed is an infringement of fundamental rights in that it dispenses with the need for proof in order to obtain a conviction. The measures that are proposed under this Bill are more repressive and more dictatorial than is internment and this is a matter that should concern every one of our citizens. Following the enacting of the Prisons' Bill, there was the setting-up of the special courts and this was followed by an announcement from the Minister for Justice, which has been put into effect since, that those who oppose the Government policy of full scale collaboration with the British are to be harassed by the police. This Bill is a major step in that direction. On that point I asked the Minister for Justice recently whether he would be prepared to make a statement about a search carried out recently in the house of a member of my party in Cork. Very arrogantly, the Minister's reply  was “no”. That is the answer I got after waiting for two weeks and when I agreed to accept a written answer. The individual concerned is joint general Secretary of Aontacht Éireann. Can I interpret the search on that private citizen as implying that Aontacht Éireann is an illegal organisation?
If this Bill is passed we will have acquired the same status as Greece and communist countries. The Garda, not I think that they are too happy about the situation, are being unashamedly converted into part of the political establishment. I should like to raise here a recent debate in the House of Commons on the thoughts of a British Army officer by the name of Kitson on how Government and security forces should collaborate with one another. The British House of Commons did not endorse what this man was saying. They rejected this man's thoughts. They were described by that Parliament as the elements of a police State. We have gone beyond what even Mr. Kitson was suggesting. We are on the brink of a police State. Progress towards a full scale police State has been taking place for over two years and this is a giant step in that direction.
It seems to me and, indeed, to the Leader of my Party, Mr. Kevin Boland, that this has been initiated by the Tánaiste who blatantly attempted to interfere with the course of justice in the arms conspiracy trial in 1970. At that time when five people, including two Members of this House, were awaiting trial on a charge of conspiracy, the Tánaiste, with complete disregard for the elementary principles of justice, went on television and attempted to prejudice the mind of every potential juror in the country by describing two former Ministers as conspirators. Section 4 (1) (b) of this Bill reads:
A statement, meeting, procession or demonstration shall be deemed to constitute an interference with the course of justice if it is intended, or is of such a character as to be likely, directly or indirectly to influence any court, person or authority concerned with the institution, conduct  or defence of any civil or criminal proceedings (including a party or witness) as to whether or how the proceedings should be instituted, conducted, continued or defended, or as to what should be their outcome.
Bearing in mind what the Tánaiste did in 1970, if this Bill becomes an Act I wonder would the Tánaiste now be regarded as blatantly interfering with the course of justice. In fact, even without this Bill I think what he did was against the law. He said these things when these men were awaiting trial and by implication three other persons awaiting trial were also classified as conspirators. The law was, as is not unusual under the present Government, selectively applied. The Tánaiste was guilty. He was not charged, nothing happened and he got away with his stunt. The course of justice was, in fact, proven and the jurors, in accepting the evidence presented to them in court, did come up with a decision which did not suit the Tánaiste, which did not suit the Government. These men were found not guilty of the charge of conspiracy despite the fact that prior to the case coming into court the Tánaiste had described them as conspirators. This was no less than contempt of court.
From that time on the Government, mainly through the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice, have been complaining about the restrictions placed on them by the laws of evidence, the difficulty of proof, the system of trial by jury—we have got rid of that—and the independance of the judiciary. We have had trial by jury done away with. We now have the three judges in the Special Criminal Court. Following that there is the problem of securing convictions because the Government want these people out of the way. They cannot prove it in the normal way, so they have to bring extra provisions into the law to prove that these men are what they claim them to be. This is what the Government are doing in this Bill.
It may be too late when the public realise what the Fianna Fáil Government are doing. When these safeguards are gone it will be too late because  the very difficulties the Minister for Justice speaks about are the fundamental rights of the people. Trial by jury for selected offences has been abolished because juries persisted in deciding cases in accordance with their oath in bringing in true verdicts based on the evidence rather than bringing in verdicts as demanded by the political powers that be.
The rule of law within which even the Dublin Castle regime was able to operate in dealing with the forerunners of the present subversives is being set aside in 1972. If this Bill had been enacted one week ago every journalist in this city would be in clear breach of section 4 by virtue of their action in going on strike in support of Mr. O'Kelly. Mr. O'Kelly has been convicted and his case is on appeal. I know the matter is sub judice but the point I want to get across is that if this Bill was in operation last week every journalist by virtue of this fact could be held to be guilty and could be locked up. Presumably the striking journalists would be likely to have the minor penalty imposed—£200, or at the discretion of the court imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both such fine and such imprisonment but I wonder what about the members of the Executive of the NUJ. Would they be liable for the heavier fine of £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both such fine and such imprisonment? It is reasonable to assume that the NUJ took this action because they believed it to be called for by the circumstances and that their action would not have been affected by the fact that it would make them liable to these penalties. The question is: would these men have had this law invoked against them? I am sure not but the intention of the Government in enacting this repressive, politically-motivated legislation is to apply the law selectively. The Government will decide who is amenable to it and who is to be immune from it. It can safely be assumed for instance, that the Tánaiste will still be free to use the television service in his efforts to prejudice further trials. It can also be assumed that his action against the law will not lead to the use of section 31 against him.
 This repressive legislation may or may not be used against the ordinary citizen. Why is it that the law which sufficed to suppress the United Irishmen and the Fenians is not sufficiently repressive and sufficiently capable of being loaded against the oppressed people in the Six Counties to satisfy the Fianna Fáil Government? I think external forces are at work here, that external instructions are at work and that we must comply “or else”.
I do not know what problems we shall have in the EEC but if we must do these things for money, for extra payments to keep the people of the west of Ireland happy, it is not worth while. It is not worth it to have that type of commitment to Her Majesty's Government for support in a European Parliament for subsidies to help the farmers of the west. I am certain that the authorities in Europe care little about the farmers of the west and about Ireland's problems. I appreciate that I am going on to another subject but I am merely indicating that we are bending our knees and continuing to bend our knees, not to the Irish people but to foreigners.
In order that the Taoiseach should not be ticked off by Mr. Heath, Seán Mac Stiofáin is now in the Curragh in a very grave condition without the best that medical science can offer. I should like to make a strong appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, on any grounds, so long as it gets through to the Government, that they should see it as their duty to avoid any situation that will increase the dangers within the Twenty-six Counties of civil strife. I am convinced that the arrest of this man was a provocation calculated to react on or produce a reaction from the IRA elements in this community. I hope that despite this provocation, despite the unjustifiable actions of the Government, the IRA will continue to direct whatever operations they have within the occupied part of the Six Counties. I make no apology for stating that in my opinion the IRA are the only force that the Irish, Catholic, nationalist population of the Six Counties—where we cannot do a damn thing to help— have standing between them and the  Thompson machine guns of the British Army and, as Deputy Blaney has reminded me, of the UDA and the other extreme Protestant armies in the Six County area.
It is not unfair for me to suggest that Deputies were pretty much annoyed that they could not get this Bill prior to last Monday. They got it on Monday but I question whether the British Ambassador received it on Monday or prior to that. I should like to know if the details of this Bill which we are going through the motion—that is all it is—of discussing were discussed in London recently when the Taoiseach met Mr. Heath.
I do not desire to extend my time in speaking on this Bill but if this legislation is not to be selectively applied where will all the criminals be housed? Where will they be imprisoned? People are protesting now and will continue to protest massively against this unjust law after its enactment, if it is enacted, if the President secures the decision of the High Court before he signs it. They will protest and demonstrate against the decisions that will be made in accordance with this law without evidence. This law will fail. It sets out to make every citizen who respects freedom a criminal. In such a case the lawbreakers, the Government, are in fact the real criminals. If this law passes, every right-thinking person must have contempt not only for this Parliament, not only for this Government but for the law in its entirety. This Bill is worthy of the Greek colonels' regime on which the present Fianna Fáil Government are modelling themselves.
Mr. Donegan: I want to begin my contribution by repeating what both Deputy Cooney, our spokesman on Justice, and the leader of our party, Deputy Cosgrave said at the beginning of their speeches. Fine Gael do not need to say it but on such a serious occasion as this we must say each time we speak that we stand for law and order. We are the party that do not need to say that; our record over the years proves this to have been the case. I shall not bother  scoring petty points but perhaps it is not too petty a point to say that there were times when other parties who have been in Government many times have not always adhered to that idea. But Fine Gael, whether it lost them votes or gained them votes, always stood for law and order.
The 1939 Offences against the State Act has a list of provisions which were read out today by Deputy Cooney and other contributors to this debate and I do not intend to refer back to very many of these provisions. But it was the view of our party in deliberating this matter that there were sufficient powers within the provisions of that Act, as continued by the amending Act of 1940, to mean that if the Government wanted to act against unlawful bodies in this country from 1969 on or at any time because the Act was never repealed or never by order put aside, they could have used this legislation to keep order in the country. It is just as if I did not pay the tax on my car. I would arrive in court at a certain stage, having been caught, and would be duly dealt with. The truth is that in the entire period before 1969 and the time of the riots in the Bogside in Derry and the troubles since then the Government disregarded all sorts of unlawful comings together, all sorts of unlawful meetings, all sorts of printing of unlawful documents because it suited them politically to do so, but they always had the power. That power was always there and it was used by the inter-Party Government in 1956-57 when I was here as a Deputy and after we left office in that year, the succeeding Fianna Fáil Government again used the 1939 Act to introduce internment. That is the fact of the case. Nobody in the House of whatever view who stands up to make a contribution to the debate can refute that self-evident fact.
There the Government stand in this position, that they used this parent Act of which this Bill is merely an amendment and had the power, if they so wished, to act against all sorts of unlawful bodies and all sorts of unlawful acts perpetrated by people or  groups of people. I do not want to get into an argument with Deputy Sherwin because he has a certain point of view which I do not think is very common in the House and as far as I am concerned, he is fully entitled to have that view but we cannot disregard the fact, that in the past 48 hours and certainly in the past 72 hours, we had a policeman killed by a rocket and a doctor's son, a boy of 14, being driven to school by his father, shot dead in presumably an attempt, as I would hope, to shoot his father because it is bad enough to turn a gun on an adult but to turn a gun on a 14 year old boy in the presence of his father seems to be the lowest thing anybody could do. We have also had two people killed in the Bogside in an explosion which could have been an activity in the production of gelignite or some of these things which apparently can be made from fertiliser and such. This has been happening since 1969.
I was in the Bogside in that year with the late Deputy Sweetman, Lord rest him, and Deputy Clinton. We went around that area and saw the havoc wrought there, accompanied by Mr. John Hume. We met Mr. Ivan Cooper and various other people and then went to Belfast and saw what had happened in the Shankill and in the Falls Road. The damage done at that time constituted quite clearly not only a danger to the people of the North of Ireland but grave danger to the people down here and it would immediately have brought to mind in the deliberations of any responsible Government whether or not sections of the 1939 Act should have been used forthwith. Again, there may be people who would say that at the time they should not have been used but certainly the matter should have been considered, and from that time on whoever occupied the seat now occupied by the Minister for Justice should at all times have been considering what way the 1939 Act should have been used and would properly have been used to stop bloodshed in this country, in whatever part of it.
The Taoiseach made great play with the fact that he could not get  convictions in the courts and in what I am going to say now I want to make it quite clear that I am making no charge, no suggestion of a charge, against any district justice or judge. I say that if there is dissatisfaction with any of these gentlemen, the whole patern of whose behaviour is meant to be at a level which is above influence by anybody, there is machinery in each court of the land by which such a gentleman can be interviewed and steps taken. In other words, if there were district justices who were not doing their duty from 1969 on and if there were cases in which convictions should have been got, there is the head of the district court before whom a district justice guilty of such behaviour could have been arraigned and a discussion held about it. The same would hold for the circuit court and I understand it holds also for the High Court. This was not done. The machinery was there but this was not done. If there was anything wrong with the courts, anything wrong in relation even to juries, the meaning of the position of head of the district court, the President of the Circuit Court and the other heads of the court is that even on the question of a jury situation, there could be discussion between the judge in the case in which the jury acted in a rather extraordinary way and the head of the court and this could have meant that the Government could have entered into it.
Mr. Donegan: I am not. What I am saying is that there is provision by which the Minister for Justice at the time could quite easily even on such a questiton as whether a jury had or had not acted properly have had a discussion between the head of the district  court and the justice concerned. I am not saying that there was anything wrong with the justice. I am saying that the opinion of such a justice could have been got in relation to a decision of a jury. No such decision was taken by the Minister at any time.
We now have had the Special Criminal Courts for some months and I understand that there have been over 100 convictions out of 140 charges, so it has not been going so badly. The sentences imposed by these courts have been pretty stiff and such as to bring to anybody's mind who would have an unlawful act in mind a little doubt as to whether or not he would take the risk. I want to know why is it the Government want this amendment Bill now. The Taoiseach came in here and I thought that at the start of his contribution he was extremely weak. He talked about the Fine Gael amendment to which I will come later and said it was a shilly-shally amendment. I think he attacked a member of the Labour Party—two of them but certainly one—in a manner which was not very much in keeping with the office he holds. I go no further than that because I am quite sure the Labour Party and the Deputies concerned can defend themselves, but it is my considered opinion, and I feel I am entitled to say so in this House, that he is perpetrating an untruth when he says that section 30, backed by section 52, of the Offences against the State Act, 1939 is contrary to the Convention on Human Rights and that they have had to bring in this Bill in order to change the situation.
I should like to quote section 52 which supports section 30. Anybody who wishes can read section 30—it is a long section and it would be unfair of me to read it out—which gives a right to a garda to question a person as to his movements. This is supported by section 52 and the Taoiseach said, and is recorded as having said, that section 52 is contrary to the Convention on Human Rights. I must read out section 52 and then the section which supplants it, section 2. Section 52 of the Act of 1939 sets out:
 (1) Whenever a person is detained in custody under the provisions in that behalf contained in Part IV of this Act, any member of the Garda Síochána may demand of such person, at any time while he is so detained, a full account of such person's movements and actions during any specified period and all information in his possession in relation to the commission or intended commission by another person of any offence under any section or sub-section of this Act or any scheduled offence.
(2) If any person of whom any such account or information as is mentioned in the foregoing sub-section of this section is demanded under that sub-section by a member of the Garda Síochána, fails or refuses to give to such member such account or any such information or gives to such member any account or information which is false or misleading, he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
Now listen to what supplants this and consider whether the Convention of Human Rights in Strasbourg would consider whether the Convention of the House as more repressive or more in contradiction of human rights than what I have just read out. I contend that it is far more repressive. Section 2 reads as follows:
(b) has reasonable grounds for believing that any person whom he finds at or near the place at the time of the commission of the offence or soon afterwards knows, or knew at that time, of its commission, and
the member may demand of the person his name and address and an account of his recent movements and, if the person fails or refuses to give the information or gives information that is false or misleading, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200 or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
How can the Taoiseach come in here and say that section 52 would be more in contravention of the Convention of Human Rights at Strasbourg and that section 2 of the Bill before the House would not be so? I wonder if the reason for having section 2 of the Bill before the House to supplant section 52 was so serious, if in fact it was in contradiction of the Convention of Human Rights and the Government were so advised why was it not included in the speech of the Minister for Justice? The Minister for Justice came in with the Bill knowing it had been subjected to criticism all around the country over the last few days and he knew that he was going to get a rough ride, as newspapers said, and if so respected a body as the Convention of Human Rights could prove his case in respect of section 2 why did he not say so? Why was it that the Taoiseach could come in here and start his contribution, in the worst of form and in bad humour which improved as he went on, and state this? Why was it left to the Taoiseach to do that? Why did the Minister not show his cards to the Opposition in this regard?
I come to the further part of the Taoiseach's speech, nearing its conclusion, when the Taoiseach made great play, having at the start of the speech referred to the Fine Gael amendment as shilly-shally, of the fact that Deputy Cosgrave in particular, Deputy FitzGerald and Deputy Cooney of this party had given full guarantees on previous occasions that we would support any measure that would bring law and order to this country. They did so, and the Taoiseach's quotations  were quite correct. The Taoiseach did not give any of Deputy Cosgrave's quotations because he said he had many quotations from him. He would have if the people who look after his filing did their jobs properly. The Taoiseach would have many quotations from Deputy Cosgrave saying that anything which would give law and order a fillip would get support from the Fine Gael Party.
In the last few months Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Corish have had consultations with the Taoiseach in relation to the North of Ireland. There is extant in this House an all-party committee on the North of Ireland and the implications of unity for the whole of Ireland. There was the machinery, if the Taoiseach wanted the full backing of this House, without any of the trouble which he has today, whereby all he had to do was to ask Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Corish to come in and he could say to them “here in private and in consultation with you two gentlemen are the reasons why I need certain things put through this House”. The Taoiseach did not ask for the co-operation and, therefore, there is not much point now in his criticising these people if he is not getting that co-operation.
This is not a party political matter. It is probably the most serious matter which has come before the Dáil since its inception, or even before earlier Dála. It was the duty of the Taoiseach not to introduce a Bill giving the minimum period before the Second Reading, particularly a Bill which might or might not be accepted in the present national circumstances, when 600 or 700 people have been shot. I do not mind whether it is an unfortunate Protestant boy or girl or a member of the IRA who is shot. I would feel more sympathy for a non-member of these bodies. I do not mind which side the shot person is on. The tragedy is that 600 or 700 people were shot.
If there is a national emergency now there was a precedent for calling in Deputy Cosgrave and Deputy Corish. This has been done many times over the past few years. There is an all-party committee on the North of Ireland. If the Taoiseach wanted this legislation  through and to get more power, all he had to do was to call in these two Deputies. This is clear evidence that the Taoiseach is interested in the survival of Fianna Fáil, not in the nation. I want to say that it is my considered opinion that he was never interested in the nation but he is like 99 per cent of the Fianna Fáil Party in being more interested in the continued survival of the Government of Fianna Fáil. They remind me of people who put Fianna Fáil on top, God second and themselves third. That is the way some of them act.
The Taoiseach acted in this matter, which is a matter of the gravest national emergency, in a party-political way. He need not come in here with a white face and a whining voice during the first five or ten minutes before he warmed up, and complain because he did not get absolute agreement with everything he has put before this House. The Taoiseach's talk about the Fine Gael amendment being a shilly-shally amendment requires me to remind the House what the amendment is. It says:
“Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the ground that it contains matter which is unnecessary and excessive and which is repugnant to basic principles of justice and liberty and the long established fundamental rights of citizens.”
If we, in 1956-57, could get convictions, if we could put people in jail then, which is not a nice thing to have to do, and if the predecessors of the Taoiseach could intern people in the succeeding Dáil what more power does he want? Can he answer that? We say there is much that is unnecessary and excessive in this Bill and which is repugnant to the basic principles of justice and liberty and the long-established fundamental rights of citizens. It is clear there are such things in this Bill.
I would back the Taoiseach and his party with my own party and would be very nearly tempted even to ask the permission of my own party to  go across the floor of the House on the question of legislation which will bring about an end to hostilities and to the senseless killing of people. I lost my seat in 1957 and one of the reasons why I lost it was as follows.
Two unfortunate young boys called South and O'Hanlon went up to Rossleigh Barracks and got themselves shot in an IRA activity. The following Monday there was a meeting of Louth County Council. I was a member. I was not at that time as politically astute as I am now. Standing Orders were suspended and a motion of sympathy was proposed with the relatives of the two men. I dissented; I was the only dissenter out of 26 members of the council. I argued that if two young boys had been killed by a motor car outside the county council offices that Monday morning there would have been no vote of sympathy and what we were doing was in fact providing an incentive and giving encouragement for more young boys to go up to the North and get themselves shot. Naturally I was heavily criticised in my constituency. There was a wave of sympathy. There was an election and I lost my seat. At the funerals of Mr. South and Mr. O'Hanlon there were no fewer than 13 Fianna Fáil Deputies. They did not lose their seats and, mark you, responsibility is something they should accept now and not use this House for party political purposes, trying to make people think that they are the angels and the saints and the others as Deputy Cruise-O'Brien said, are the devils in all this. I would go to the ends of the earth to stop the IRA, the UDA and every other subversive group anywhere in the country. I would back Jack Lynch in going to Chequers and making whatever bargains he wanted to make.
Mr. Donegan: The Taoiseach. I regard all this exercise here today as just so much window-dressing in preparation for an election. Why did the Government not want this legislation two years ago? Why did they not want it after the deaths of 13 people in Derry? Why did they not  want it when 40,000 people marched in Newry? I was there along with other Members of this House. The Government did not want it then because an election was not nigh. The time is nigh now. It may be next May. It may be next week.
The proper procedure for the Taoiseach would have been to call in Deputy Corish and Deputy Cosgrave and, I am perfectly certain, with 18 years behind me in this House, that full co-operation would have been forthcoming. However, if the ambition is to put party first, then proposed legislation must be scrutinised in every line, and have every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed.
Mr. Donegan: Let the Parliamentary Secretary mind his party and we will mind ours. We got our agreement. You have the unknown quantities, sitting there behind you, one from your own constituency, God help you.
I want to return to the Bill now. All the Government need do is take the existing legislation and implement and enforce it. If they do that they will get results. They would have had results years ago if they had done that when they should have done it. We had Deputies saying in this House today that nobody's house had been picketed by an unlawful organisation. My house was picketed for three hours. It did not worry me. I knew most of the fellows on the picket. None would, I believe, have hurt me or my family. But it was not so pleasant when one was away from home and returned to find that these people had been there. The squad car arrived and naturally I asked the men to come in and sit down by the fire. But it is a little disconcerting when one's ten or eleven year old daughter asks: “Why have you the guards in talking to you?” That was not so pleasant. The same night the Minister for Education's house was picketed and last week Deputy Hilliard's house was picketed. Not a thing has been done about it though  the 1939 Act gives the authorities full power and there is a penalty of six months imprisonment. I do not want people behind bars. I know at least half of them. I asked them on the occasion I mentioned: “For God's sake, go away”.
Had the Government wanted to take action when there were 500 dead they could have taken it. The legislation was there. Why do they want special powers now because there are 600 dead? As far as I am concerned, the deaths of one, or ten, or 13 are as important as 600. Consider how this Government, who now try to convince us that this legislation is necessary, have behaved. People have set up in various places institutions which they call “Dala”— Dáil Uladh, Dáil Connacht, Dáil Mumhan, Dáil Laighean. They allege these are proper institutions and the writ of this Dáil no longer runs. Quite clearly, that action is an offence under the 1939 Act.
Again, how many are there who can raise their hands and say they have never been offered a paper that certainly preached, if not outright sedition, such criticism of the State and the Government that went far beyond the definition of normal criticism and, at the same time incited to violence? Maybe I myself am guilty. Out of curiosity I have bought such a paper dozens of times. I know a Deputy who had occasion to go to the North quite recently and on his way back he suddenly bethought himself that there were several copies of a certain publication in the back of his car. If he had not stopped and removed them maybe he would have ended up in Crumlin Road jail.
All these things proclaim that the Government had the power but did not use it. They did not appoint the special criminal court until this year. Were they waiting until the concentration of headstones reached the stage at which something had to be done?
I say, without fear of contradiction, that what is agitating the Government is the fact that they have to face, first of all, a presidential election and,  secondly, a general election quite soon. My hope is that the latter will come as a result of the vote on this Bill. The sooner the better because I believe we will be able to prove to the people how craven this Government are in their political operations.
The Fine Gael Party have always been synonymous with law and order. The origins of Fianna Fáil were different. For a period they did not come into this Dáil. I do not say this in criticism of them. I am not interested in the past. They were involved in a civil war against the then legal Government, Cumann na nGaedheal. Inevitably that brings them closer to the IRA. They are affiliated with and very much in favour of the Old IRA. I am in favour of the work of the Old IRA for Ireland but not of the new organisations. Whether they like it or not, whether it be through brother, son, uncle, third cousin, fourth cousin or friend, the Fianna Fáil Party in this House tonight are the nearest party to the IRA.
Because the Fine Gael Party were forced into the position of being the Cumann na nGaedheal Government repressively putting down the Irregulars, or what was virtually the founding situation of the Fianna Fáil Party, they are synonymous with law and order. We cannot get away from that. The youngest Fine Gael county councillor who gets up to make a speech at his first county council meeting talks about law and order. Maybe he does not gain votes but that is what he talks about. Because the Labour Party are the Labour Party they are very interested in the rights of individuals and in civil rights. All over the world Labour Parties, or parties that are more Socialist than other parties, are more solicitous for the rights of individuals and for civil rights, for the simple reason that they are needed by the downtrodden.
These are the three ingredients of the Irish stew. The Government Party are closer than any other party to the IRA. I do not think they could deny that, even taking into account the events of 1969 and the Arms Trial.  Because of their beginnings the Fine Gael Party are very close to law and order. The Labour Party, of necessity, must always be most solicitous for civil rights and the rights of the individual. There will probably be a shot at an inter-Party Government in the next couple of months. Would not the most wonderful thing a Machiavellian Taoiseach could do tonight be to split the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party, if he could? Would that not be the greatest move that ever was made? And as well as splitting them to do it in the name of law and order.
These are the people who were involved in the most difficult party political situation themselves with several of their Ministers sacked in 1969. Since then they have not done their job on law and order, notwithstanding the fact that they had the legislation available in the shape of the Offences against the State Act, 1939. Would it not be the greatest political move anybody ever made?
Would it not have put—not to refer to him as he is now—Taoiseach de Valera in his most Machiavellian mood to shame? It will not succeed. In our reasoned amendment Fine Gael are not against what is required by the Government, when they can prove on Committee, that for the immediate restoration of law and order and the end of the activities of the UDA, whether in coming across and blowing up a fertiliser store in Donegal, or the activities of the IRA in blowing up something else somewhere else, or any other unlawful organisation——
Mr. Donegan: The reason why we have not got law and order is that they are in office. That is the answer to that question. I am deliberately not saying  that any of these organisations shot anybody, because to kill somebody is a dreadful thing to do. Anything that is required the Fine Gael Party will give, but we want to be shown why. I know that in the heel of the hunt the Labour Party will have the same idea. If the Government think that by a piece of window-dressing they can split the Opposition and, at the same time, whitewash their own failure to deal with the IRA and unlawful organisations over the past number of years, they have another think coming to them.
Mr. Corish: The Taoiseach's initial remarks were quite predictable and were forecast by speakers from these benches. He insisted that this was a Government Bill and not an “O'Malley Bill”. It is about time we saw some evidence of Cabinet responsibility. We remember a recent case where a senior Minister in the Fianna Fáil Cabinet did not disclose certain vital information to the Taoiseach, which was of great consequence at a certain time.
The Taoiseach was predictable when he criticised members of the Labour Party and suggested they were in some sort of association with the Provisional IRA. He was not even gracious enough to accept the statement by the Deputy from this side of the House that he had no association with and no support for the Provisional wing of the IRA. The Taoiseach accused the Labour Party, by inference if not directly, of being pro-IRA. We predicted this type of accusation when the Bill was introduced. It is a short time since the Taoiseach and members of the Fianna Fáil Party were saying the opposite about the Labour Party and were describing them as anti-national and as felon-setters. We are entitled, therefore, to say that the Taoiseach's only interest in intervening tonight, when he spoke about the Labour Party, was to cause mischief.
The Taoiseach should remember when he talks about members of a political party that, in a very critical situation about three years ago, Deputy Blaney, who sits in the back of these benches, was a Minister in the Fianna Fáil Government and he  was making sounds and speeches which were not in conformity with the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party. All he got from this now tough Taoiseach was a slight reprimand when he met him in the corridors of Leinster House. We also remember that Deputy Blaney could be contained in that party as an ordinary member when, in accordance with what he believed was right, he was making speeches that were not in accord with the speeches being made by the Taoiseach. No action was taken. The only way this tough Taoiseach and his organisation could deal with Deputy Blaney was to catch him out on some technicality about a national collection for the Fianna Fáil Party.
People in the South are concerned about the activities of illegal organisations. Members of the House who said that they had been intimidated by pickets have cause for concern. I had pickets on my house. I had intimidating phone calls. I am a public representative and I must expect these things, as long as the demonstrations are kept within the law, and as long as violence is not done to any person, whether it is somebody from my family, or Deputy Donegan's family, or Deputy Treacy's family, or anybody else's family.
I do not think the Taoiseach tonight did a service to the country when he talked about the people being scared. His was a scare speech in itself in order to try to stampede the people of the country into giving their support to this measure which we regard as being oppressive.
I do not under-estimate the threat of the IRA either in the North or in the South. The position of the Labour Party has been made abundantly clear over the last three years on the North and on the activities of the IRA and there is no other single party in the House who have made such efforts, particularly with the British Labour Party and the British Labour Government in order to ensure that peace would come to the North of Ireland. No later than two weeks ago, because we are concerned and  because we do not play political tricks, we went to London and saw the members of the British Labour Party there and we saw Mr. Whitelaw in an effort to ensure that the plebiscite which he says is to be held early next year would not do the harm that we believe it would do.
There are some people who have suggested, maybe unconsciously, that there was consultation between the Taoiseach and Deputy Cosgrave and myself on this Bill and on other matters in recent times. I want to say categorically that I have had no consultation with the Taoiseach, nor did he ask to consult with me, on these matters. The only consultation I had with the Taoiseach in recent times was on the format of the referendum in connection with the Constitution that is to be held next week.
This Bill, as has been stated by two of our speakers, is a drastic departure from the rule of law. I was appalled to hear the suggestion from the Minister for Justice today when he implied that the newspapers were whipping up opposition. I know it is a very nice thing as a politician to say nice things about the Press but I do not think we could accuse the Irish newspapers or the Irish media of whipping up opposition against this particular Bill for some foul purpose. They acted in a very sane and logical way. They had their protest for one day. They came to Leinster House in an orderly fashion and with great courtesy and with logic in their arguments they presented to the three parties in the House what we consider to be a reasonable and a logical document. If the Press wanted to make mischief in connection with this Bill they could well do it.
I resent also the inference—he was not quite coherent when he talked about it—by the Taoiseach that certain trade unions were giving support to illegal organisations by resolutions they may have passed or by people demonstrating over the past 24 hours. I do not think anybody can accuse any union in this country of being in league with or giving support to the  Provisional IRA. It is a shame that the Taoiseach should take this occasion to suggest that they marched or passed resolutions for some sinister purpose which might lead us to believe —and I hope it will never be the case—that some of these trade unions or the trade union movement on a particular occasion will be regarded as a subversive organisation and will be treated in accordance with the measures that are proposed in this Bill which we hope will not be passed either this week or next week.
The newspapers are reflecting public opinion and the leader writers are reflecting public opinion. We thought we were right on occasions and have been faulted by the Press. We were probably wrong. So have Fine Gael and so have individuals. So have members of our party. The Fianna Fáil Party will have to learn to take criticism from people whose job it is to reflect public opinion.
The kernel of this measure is that it is, as I said, a drastic departure from the rule of law and one is deemed to be guilty until one proves oneself innocent. It has been suggested by the Fine Gael Party here that there may be some amendments. These proposals are so direct and so naked I am afraid they cannot be amended and I do not think we would be able to consider any sort of amendments that would make it acceptable to us or acceptable to a majority of the Irish people. As I said, it is a major departure from established practice, a very serious departure.
Mr. Corish: Up to recently the Minister for Justice did not complain of inadequate powers. He mumbled about it in some speech in August of this year. What has changed the situation? If he wanted powers or thought he wanted powers to deal with a certain situation or with certain organisations, the time to do it was about two or three years ago.
Let not the Minister, let not the Taoiseach, think that those who protest against this Bill are people who are necessarily supporters of the Provisionals or any wing of the IRA or  any other subversive organisation. There is widespread public alarm. As was quoted today by Deputy Cluskey, there was a telegram received by Deputy Tully asking the Labour Party to vote against this measure. This is the view of very many people in this country, people who seriously value civil liberties, as I say, not necessarily, as the Taoiseach tried to say in what I described as his predictable comments, from the people I have mentioned. That telegram came from the Navan Chamber of Commerce and I am sure there are other organisations who feel as we do about this measure.
We are dealing with illegal organisations and, as far as the Minister is concerned, intimidation of courts of justice and the securing of evidence for conviction. As far as the intimidation of courts of justice is concerned, the Minister has adequate powers. The courts that have been established are adequate. They are operating freely and I think they are operating fairly. They are dangerous enough but there are no grounds for saying they are not getting the evidence. There are many examples of convictions being sought and secured.
It is surely not being suggested in this day and age that the Garda are not capable of getting or not equipped to get normal evidence. Of course, the Government, having failed to deal with the IRA for the past three years, now seek to excuse themselves for their past inactivity by saying they have not sufficient powers. As I have said, the time to take action was the time when people were murmuring within the Fianna Fáil Party. Again, let me emphasise that this party were consistent and always have been consistent in their opposition to those who would use violent means, either in the northern part of the country or down here in the Republic.
Mr. Corish: That sort of excuse will not wash so far as we are concerned and, I hope, so far as this House it concerned. Our claim is that the Government were not restricted by legal problems but by political problems and that is the reason for  the inactivity on the part of the Taoiseach who pretended here tonight to be so tough. The difficulties were within their own party. It is not for me to go over that matter. The arms trial was more than an embarrassment to them. In a comment which he made after returning from New York, the Taoiseach indicated that he still did not believe there had not been a conspiracy. Despite that, he did not take action against those members of his party who continued to make their militant speeches as they had been doing during their time as members of Fianna Fáil. At that time I suggested that if the Taoiseach was convinced that these men had been engaged in any sort of conspiracy, his duty as Leader of his party and as head of this State was to seek their removal from Dáil Éireann. However, he pussy-footed with them and all the signs are that one member who was involved and who was dismissed may now be offered a post in a reshuffled Cabinet. If that is so, shame on the Taoiseach.
Mr. Corish: I have not as much information as the Parliamentary Secretary. I do not know which page of the Evening Press he is reading but if he is relying on that source for his information, he is not with it so far as this discussion is concerned. Up to recently there was the question also of the disposal of the money voted by this House for the relief of distress in the North. I recall a boast the Taoiseach made when he said that this Bill was not an O'Malley Bill but that it was a Bill which has the full backing not only of the Government but of the entire party.
Mr. Corish: All right, I accept that. Our decision also was unanimous. However, the Taoiseach did not think of Cabinet responsibility when the report of the Committee of Public Accounts was published recently and which suggested very clearly that a member of the present Cabinet withheld information from  the Taoiseach which was vital at that critical time of the dismissal of the Ministers.
Mr. Corish: So far as political problems are concerned, the Government brought this on their own heads and on their own heads be it if they insist on pushing through this legislation. The danger is in making it too easy to secure convictions and in giving the police powers that are much too wide, powers which I believe the Garda do not want.
Our main objection is to section 3 (2). This subsection smacks of internment. I do not know what might have been in the minds of Fianna Fáil about two years ago when they threatened to introduce that section of the Offences against the State Act which provides for internment. They tried to make a deal at that time with the Labour Party but when we insisted that there be a discussion on that particular Act we were outvoted by members of Fianna Fáil. To illustrate the insincerity of the Taoiseach at that time he wanted us to do a horse trade.
Mr. Corish: The procedures proposed go against all established practices. If the Bill is passed it will damage the integrity of the courts. This is our big objection. Under this Bill information would be accepted as evidence which would not otherwise be accepted because statements by a chief superintendent—and there are a limited number of them—or somebody of higher rank would be accepted as evidence. That is a form of evidence that up to now would not be admitted. To say the least, it is somewhat thick to say that a mere belief by a chief superintendent or somebody of higher rank can be accepted as evidence that a person is a member of an illegal organisation.
This Bill is lowering the standard of justice. The democratic institutions should not be damaged in the name of the preservation of democracy. The Taoiseach tonight in a very scrambled type speech during which, in my view, he lost his cool, tried to give the impression that the Bill is aimed at the preservation of democracy.
The Bill has all the characteristics of Fianna Fáil legislation. I remember the repressive legislation of 1941 or 1942 in relation to the wages standstill order and there has been other such legislation right up to the abortive Criminal Justice Bill. It is to the credit of some Fianna Fáil members that they opposed that Bill. We remember the unfortunate Minister for Justice at that time, Deputy Ó Móráin, trying to extricate himself from the provisions of that Bill at an Ard-Fheis some three or four years ago. This Bill has all the characteristics of the Forcible Entry measure in respect of which we were promised amendments but which have not yet been brought forward.
The implications of these proposals are very clear. Representations have been made by the Press concerning it in respect of section 4. Their chief worry is that under this section they could be involved unwittingly because of some report or statement.
 With all due respect to the Minister, to his advisers and to the Parliamentary draftsmen, having read the Minister's speech and having listened to him put forward various qualifications and describe all the safeguards in the Bill for the preservation of civil liberties, I prefer to take the advice of Deputy Cooney who analysed the Bill line for line in a far better manner than the Minister described it. I prefer to take his word for the dangers in the proposal rather than take the word of the Minister on the safeguards contained in the Bill.
Mr. Corish: I do not speak for Deputy Cosgrave any more than he speaks for me. I do not know whether the Minister for Lands speaks for the Minister for Justice and neither do I know whether Deputy Blaney spoke for him when he was in the back benches and Deputy Blaney was a Minister and making revolutionary speeches about the North.
Mr. Corish: The boot was on the other foot a few weeks ago when we were all being described as being anti-national. The Minister is in funny humour now but he was not so funny while making his statement earlier.
Mr. Corish: Would I be incriminating myself by having such a document? While I am on section 5—this is the concern of quite a number of us in Parliament—could we have any  guarantee from the Minister, because all the sounds and all the evidence, I will not be able to give direct evidence of this, are to the effect that our telephones are being tapped—will the Minister in his reply give an assurance to this House that telephone calls to and from Deputies' houses or offices are not being tapped?
Mr. Corish: As far as illegal organisations are concerned, the Minister must admit our consistency in the face of attack, an attack from his own party. I had this note down before and I was justified in having it down and believing that it would be said, that we would be accused of favouring the IRA and being against law and order. The boot was on the other foot about two weeks ago when we were being described as being the opposite.
Mr. Corish: Does the Parliamentary Secretary remember the morale of the people of this country at the time when the Taoiseach, Deputy Jack Lynch, dismissed two Ministers for allegedly conspiring to import arms into this country to give to the IRA?
Mr. Corish: We deplore violence from any side whether it be the IRA, the UDA, the UVF, Vanguard or anybody. Deputy Seán Sherwin may have spoken with sincerity today but if he thinks that the method which he seems to advocate will achieve the unity of this country he is very much mistaken. As far as that is concerned, I think the approach of my party is the best approach of any of the parties here. People have paid lip service to the expressions reconciliation, dialogue and all this sort of thing. We are the only party in this House who have tried and tried hard to have dialogue with the ordinary people in the North in order to provide for reconciliation because we regard the activities of the IRA, the UDA, the UVF and Vanguard as activities that are tearing the northern part of the country apart. We also say that if the IRA or any of the other organisations I have mentioned, the UDA, UVF or Vanguard, extend their activities down here they will also be tearing this part of the country apart.
They laughed at Conor Cruise-O'Brien when he talked about a backlash but there is evidence of that backlash there. The backlash has come because of the activities of those people in the Six Counties. The backlash has come from the activities of these people who had the support of members of the Fianna Fáil Party. Whatever steps the Government take or any Government take, we will support what we consider to be the proper steps in accordance with the rule of law but we oppose laws which we believe to be oppressive and this law which we believe to be oppressive. We will continue and there are dangers, there are dangers within one's party, let me  freely admit it, and if you have no troubles in your party they are all fools or angels. We will continue to walk the narrow path between attacks on democracy by the Government or by illegal organisations. This we have done for the past 50 years.
The Civil War was mentioned. I do not want to talk about it but we are in the same tradition of the Labour Party that has been represented in this House over the past 50 years. We have never been engaged in violence; we have never advocated violence; we have never been involved in violence. The Government have got themselves into this crisis and they cannot involve all of us in trying to extricate themselves from that. It is up to the Government themselves, therefore, to clean up their own house and not to be doing as the Taoiseach, Deputy Jack Lynch, was doing tonight—trying to throw as much mud as he could at the Labour Party, as he did, regrettably successfully, in June, 1969.
Mr. Gallagher: The time at my disposal is very short. I hope I can come back in the morning. I have known Deputy O'Malley for quite a long time. I have had reason to visit him and to try to impress upon him the lawlessness that was going on in this State and also the activities of illegal organisations. I know the frustration with which he met me. He told me that owing to the inadequacy of the law he could not secure the convictions he would wish or, indeed, secure the arrests he would like. The speeches from the Opposition this evening were of a very political nature. If they think that the Minister is just having a verbal battle with them and that he is just doing this for fun——
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