Offences against the State (Amendment) Bill, 1972: Second Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 30 November 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 264 No. 3

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

To delete all words after “That” and substitute:—

“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.”

[544]Minister for Transport and Power (Mr. B. Lenihan): Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I should like to repeat what I was saying until I was interrupted regularly prior to Question Time.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Irregularly.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I should like to state the legal issues involved so far as I can interpret them from what Deputy FitzGerald said. Section 3 (2) is the section against which Deputy FitzGerald took the greatest offence, as did Deputy Cooney. I have studied this matter in the interval and it is quite clear that this is not shifting the onus of proof. It states quite clearly that the chief superintendent's evidence will be evidence, and no more than evidence. Evidence submitted in a court of law under the common law system is evidence that can be rebutted by other evidence. It can be rebutted by the accused. It can be the subject of cross-examination by the accused or his representatives, and it can be the subject of cross-examination by the court. Therefore, it is dishonest to suggest that the subsection in any way makes the chief superintendent's evidence conclusive. The very reverse is the case.

So long as we maintain the basic rules of common law procedures, which have been laid down over the centuries and still obtain, an accused man cannot be found guilty until the case against him is proved beyond all reasonable doubt. The onus of proof does not shift to the accused man, does not in this case because once there is a rebuttal by him the onus will shift to the chief superintendent involved to show more than his belief because of the obligation on our courts to ensure that the accused can only be found guilty if the case is proved beyond all reasonable doubt. So long as the basic principle of our courts is maintained that the accused can only be found guilty if the case is proved beyond all reasonable doubt, and the onus of proof is not shifted, and courts are always presided over by independent judges who will view the evidence [545] according to the principles I have just mentioned, in my view there is no legal breach of the traditional legal procedures involved in section 3 (2).

I have checked on this since saying it before Question Time. Section 4 is a statutory reiteration of what is already there in the way of the common law offence of contempt of court as it has been interpreted over the centuries. The rest of the Bill, as Deputy FitzGerald admitted, is agreed upon. In the context of that situation how do the Fine Gael Party justify themselves? They, more than other groups of people in this House, have consistently claimed, particularly over the past two years, that this Government were not taking strong enough action, that this Government were not facing up to the problem of illegal organisations. How can they take this attitude when we are now introducing the necessary statutory measure to remedy the situation because of the deficiencies in the existing code which prevented our law officers and our police force and, in particular, the senior officers of the police force, from taking decisions to apprehend and from pursuing that apprehension through the courts to a successful conviction.

The fact is that we have found over the past three years very real difficulties in dealing with the enemies of this Parliament, of the State. These were the practical difficulties that exist in our present criminal code and in some sections of the Offences against the State Act. I was asked by Deputy Cooney and Deputy FitzGerald to spell out here in Parliament where those deficiencies arose and what they were. That suggests an alarming absence of a practical attitude towards a matter of this kind. If in open Parliament we start to spell out the deficiencies in the existing criminal code, if we start to spell out deficiencies in regard to matters which frustrate the Garda authorities in their apprehension of people who are engaged in illegal activities, we are getting directly into the security area. We are giving direct encouragement to these people and making known to them, to the enemies of the Parliament [546] and the State——

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Any barrister could do that for you.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  ——precisely where the deficiencies are.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Order.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The decision to prepare this Bill and introduce it in this House was taken on the advice of the permanent law officers of the State, responsible not just to a Fianna Fáil Government but to the duly elected Government of the people. It was adopted by us by reason of the consistent experience of the law officers of the State over the past three years in regard to inadequacies that existed in regard to successful prosecution of the enemies of this Parliament, and the inadequacies that made for an impossible situation where they could not even be apprehended.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  How did you manage to get so many successful prosecutions in the Special Criminal Courts?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputy Desmond might allow the Minister to continue.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  This was the view of the independent law officers of this State, responsible to any Government elected by this Parliament, and the view was sustained by the advice of the independent Garda authorities, the national police force of this country. This is a matter at which we should look very seriously. Whatever Government are democratically elected are dependent on such independent people as are represented by an independent police force and independent law officers. What some Deputies lack are basic civics and a basic understanding of what representative democracy is all about and what politics is all about. If the Government get advice and, see on an assessment of that advice, and on the assessment of a situation that has obtained over three years, that due to [547] the inadequacies of the system of administration in dealing with——

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  You have a terrible nerve, because 18 months ago you were backing the Provisional IRA.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  In a revolutionary or quasi-revolutionary situation it is the duty of whatever Government occupy these benches to make a careful assessment of the situation, and we have made a very careful assessment of it. Indeed, Deputies here have criticised us for not jumping in immediately to deal with this matter. We decided to allow the ordinary processes under the ordinary legislation to proceed. The first step we took to deal with the situation was the inauguration of the Special Criminal Courts earlier this year. That was done after very careful consideration.

Since then we have been further advised as to inadequacies that enabled prominent leaders of illegal organisations to display themselves on the media and to display themselves publicly. As the Taoiseach said here last night, these prominent leaders were shrewd enough not to be involved in any direct action which could bring them before the ordinary courts. Faced with that situation, and similar types of situations arising out of the inadequacies in the legal system, we decided on the advice of the chief officers of the Garda force and on the advice of the independent law officers to proceed in this way and introduce this legislation.

I should like to say in conclusion, because I have covered some of this ground before Question Time, that this is a matter that should concern all of us in a far more serious way than I fear it has been taken to be heretofore, particularly by the Fine Gael Party. The Fine Gael Party, in my view, have walked into a hasty situation caused by their own internal problems. This is far too serious a matter to be taken on the basis merely of taking the mickey out of Fianna Fáil. That is not what this is about at all. What this is about is not Fianna Fáil or Labour or Fine Gael. What this is about is whether we are going to have government here [548] through people elected democratically or whether we are going to have government in the streets or elsewhere by people who have no democratic responsibility to the people of the country. This is what it is about. It is not about Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael or Labour. It is about government and where the responsibility of government lies.

In my view the Fine Gael Party in particular have acted entirely against the sort of reasoning and thinking that has always been predominant in that party in taking this attitude on this occasion. I am certain that this attitude is not representative of many people sitting in the Fine Gael Party opposite. This attitude is certainly not representative of the great majority of the Fine Gael Party supporters in the country.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Does the Minister speak for them? This is a new one.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I happen to be a practical enough politician to know the views of many of them. I happen to be practical enough to know a fair bit about the views of the majority of them. If the Fine Gael Party has misjudged the situation, let it be on their own heads. They have misjudged the situation and misjudged it gravely. The people are far more intelligent than many of us here and they see the situation quite clearly. There is no point in Deputy FitzGerald being ambivalent in the House or ambiguous and engaging in argument that can have it both ways. On an issue like this you cannot have it both ways.

The Labour Party fundamentally should also believe in this House and the representative democracy represented in this House and recognise the fact that our strength comes from the people and from their election of us to sit in this House and to contribute to its workings and that whatever majority group is elected in this House as a Government is there as a Government, is elected fundamentally and basically by the people of the country, responsible only to God. That is what basic democracy and representative democracy is about.

I started with the major Opposition [549] party. We will now talk about the Labour Party. The Labour Party should be equally concerned——

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Get down to the Bill. Do not deal with the political parties. The country knows about the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party. Let us hear about the Bill.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I dealt fully with the Bill before Question Time, before Deputy Flanagan came into the House. I am only coming to a conclusion now because of all this political waffle which was engaged in by Deputy FitzGerald earlier this morning. I am just replying to it and trying to come to a conclusion so that people in this House will realise the fundamental importance of what is involved here, that behind this Bill there is something more important; there is the importance of the people who, equally, make their choice as to who should represent them, not just an elitist group who, through newspaper headlines seek to get the notion over that they alone are entitled to represent the people. That is not what we want. Over and behind this Bill lies a fundamental purpose. Nobody will be affected by anarchy or disorganisation more than the people whom the Labour Party represent.

So, I would make an appeal to the House to realise, first of all, as I have stated in detail earlier on, there is nothing in the Bill that impinges in any way on the operations of our courts. The subsections of section 3, to which the greatest objection of is taken, is one subject to the rules of evidence, to the procedures of the court, which provide that no man can be found guilty unless there is a case made against him beyond all reasonable doubt and that as long as that fundamental principle is maintained, as long as the onus of proof is not shifted and as long as the matter is one for our courts, whether it consists of judges or jury, that subsection is fully clothed in all the protection given by the law.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Is it not a two-headed penny against the defendant?

[550]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I have dealt with that in very great detail already. Coming back to the fundamental point involved, which is the protection of everything in which we believe, in my view, the people themselves, if put to the test on this particular issue, will show themselves far more sensible and far more responsible than many parliamentarians in this House.

Mr. Foley: Information on Desmond Foley  Zoom on Desmond Foley  Like many other Members of the House, before last Monday and before receiving this Bill, I had listened and read and had come to no decision regarding the political implications and implications of an offensive nature against what have been alleged by the media and other sections of the community to be illegal organisations and which gave rise to this Bill. Monday came. The Bill was circulated. In a cool, reasonable and calculated manner, I assessed the contents of the Bill. I assessed it as a layman. I am not a lawyer. As a layman I assume I represent the bulk of the people.

One wonders as to the real reason for the introduction of this legislation. One asks in what way this type of legislation would be implemented and what would be the consequences of this legislation if it were implemented or if it were rejected.

This Bill embarks on a new era of legislation to suppress the activities of illegal organisations. In my opinion it will suppress freedom of speech, freedom of expression of opinion on the part of people who do not think exactly the same way as the Government think. I am completely opposed to legislation which is on a par with the type of legislation that we have condemned in Northern Ireland or the type of British legislation that we have openly condemned and about which we have expressed various opinions. Some of us were honest and truthful enough to express our opinions in public, for which we have been declared to be members or supporters of illegal organisations, just because we felt our opinions should be expressed in order to help the minority population who [551] have been down trodden and to show to the British Government that that type of legislation would not be tolerated in this free State. Here we are today discussing legislation which is even more distasteful than the type of legislation we have organised ourselves to condemn in the past.

I could not agree more with Members of the House who say that this legislation deserves full discussion. It deserves discussion so that the people may be truly informed regarding the type of political jobbery that has been going on between the various parties in this House. I have no wish to be personal but it is obvious that Fine Gael have made a better case in support of this Bill than have the Government. With the exception of Deputy Enright each of their spokesmen put forward reasons why the Bill is repugnant to them but they have expressed the opinion also that these proposals are not unnecessary and they have implied that if the Government had summoned the leaders of both the main Opposition parties and told them that they faced a problem in respect of which it would be necessary to introduce restrictive legislation to strengthen the Offences against the State Act, they would have agreed to co-operate.

In other words, the biggest bone of contention with Fine Gael is that they were not consulted prior to the introduction of the Bill so that they might have been able, by some type of backroom manoeuvring, to have ensured that the Bill would be introduced in perhaps a more sophisticated manner, that perhaps the lawyers in this House could have succeeded in putting the Bill before the laity in such a way that our practical knowledge would not be adequate to draw the conclusions which are easy to draw from it as proposed. That type of political jobbery should not be accepted by the people who should be told exactly about the kind of collusion that is going on among Deputies.

In his speech, the Minister for Transport and Power made the same accusations as were made by the [552] Minister for Social Welfare. His speech was on the lines that this is the place where there should be a sufficient knowledge of democracy to know that the Government proposals were the ultimate in democracy. The threat of a general election was made. All I can say in that regard is that my decision on this Bill will be based solely in accordance with my conscience and the threat of a general election will not inhibit me in the least in that decision which, incidentally, I have reached already in a cool and calculated way. I reached that decision without having any regard for my past political beliefs, some of which I hold yet, or of my past political friendship or maybe non-friendship with individuals within Fianna Fáil.

Both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice spelled out clearly that the incident in a Dublin cinema on Saturday last was the responsibility of an illegal organisation that is mentioned so freely here. It was scurrilous for two people who are lawyers to stoop to such depths as to say that under this Bill nobody will be judged guilty until he is proved guilty while at the same time saying that this particular organisation were responsible for the distressing havoc which was caused by that incident and which resulted in injuries to a number of individuals. That is a contradictory statement and it inhibits me from even proffering an opinion regarding these two gentlemen. I say to them that they should not throw stones at their own glasshouses. I do not expect that their accusation will be taken up by the organisation concerned but it is not the kind of statement that can do good to the morale of the people.

We have been told that a domesday situation has arrived, a situation in which the nation must now stand or fall and that this House must decide whether it wants IRA rule or the ordinary democratic rule by which we are elected. The situation has been blown up for a purpose. This Bill has been put before us so that the actions of the Government can be justified. For many years the Offences against the State Act has been on our statute [553] book and we have known it to be put into operation but the argument made in support of the present proposals is that that Act is too lax and cannot be utilised to the extent that we would wish in bringing certain people to justice. That, too, is a contradiction because Seán Mac Stiofáin was brought to justice and convicted under existing legislation although a fortnight previously the Minister for Justice said he had no grounds whatever for charging this man. An interview in respect of which there is some doubt as to its validity in court was used as a means of getting Mr. Mac Stiofáin. It was the means of catching the big fish but that gentleman was convicted on the strength of previous charges. He was held when the time was ripe. It was repugnant to the Constitution to have convicted him on previous charges.

We have agreed to change Article 44 of the Constitution so as to broaden the scope of that Article and so that we might cherish equally every child of the nation. Everyone will be free to express his opinion regarding the proposed amendment. We go out to the people and tell them that the proposal has been put forward in accordance with their wishes and that they now have the opportunity of sanctioning the proposal in the ballot box but we come back to this House and contradict ourselves by introducing a Bill of this kind.

I do not believe that this legislation is solely for the purpose of dealing with illegal organisations. If that were so I have no doubt but that it would get the full support of the entire House but it is legislation that will bear heavily on the ordinary citizens of this State. I shall give an example of this. Many of us frequent sporting events during the year and very often on leaving those fixtures we are handed various leaflets. I am sure they all have definite purposes in mind. For instance, I could be handed a leaflet saying: “I support the IRA”. I would most likely put that in my pocket as one does not normally throw litter on the streets. It could remain in my pocket for weeks. I could be stopped by a garda who might tap me on the shoulder and say: “I know you, Des Foley. [554] You are a member of an illegal organisation”. I would tell him I was not. That denial would be the normal reaction. When I am searched this leaflet is pulled out of my pocket and I am held in custody. The person thus detained is brought to court. The chief superintendent, who gets this information from the garda, through the sergeant and the superintendent, gives evidence that you are found with an incriminating document on you. That alone is sufficient to justify your conviction.

You try to cross-examine him and try to prove that you were not a member of an illegal organisation, that it was purely by accident you had that leaflet in your pocket. The chief superintendent can claim privilege. We have not been told by the Minister for Justice that he will not claim privilege. The chief superintendent's prerogative is to claim privilege on which you hang or fall. Of course, the justice might not accept this but in nine cases out of ten the evidence of a garda is a very important factor in a case. The fact that a garda can give evidence of this nature is a very serious matter.

If I was sure we could be safeguarded against those things it would be a different matter. I have taken this position as I see it, without any specific chip on my shoulder. Since my resignation from the Fianna Fáil Party I supported the Government in most measures that have gone through this House. I still retain friendship with many members on the Government benches. In the past I have endeavoured to be as fair as I could with myself with regard to legislation and in regard to particular items which have gone through this House. I oppose this legislation purely on the basis that such legislation is repugnant to the type of freedom which I expect my children, the people of this country and my constituents to have.

I have no doubt, despite my opposition, that this legislation will become law at some future date. If the people concerned feel that the threat of a general election can justify such legislation, then I say: “Let us have a [555] general election.” I do not say that I shall be back again to oppose any legislation which any future Government might bring in. If I do not return to this House, I will have satisfied my conscience and I will be able to sleep at night. That is more important to me than hustling through the lobby with a guilty conscience or living a life of sin afterwards. There are many Deputies on the Government benches who have doubts in their minds. I know this is true because I was one of them and I supported particular legislation which I found very difficult to support. I did so because I felt the crunch was there and it was necessary to support it in order to show our solidarity.

This is a time when the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice can be truthful with themselves. All the Government speakers have said there is a unanimous opinion in regard to this Bill. I know that is not so. The Minister for Transport and Power, whom I regard as a reasonably honest man, knows that there are doubts in the minds of some of the Deputies on the Government benches.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  There are some doubts in his mind.

Mr. Foley: Information on Desmond Foley  Zoom on Desmond Foley  It is very unfair to ask those people to hustle through the lobby in support of a Bill which they feel is not in accordance with their conscience. This Bill could be withdrawn. If that was done, we would have a significant new era with regard to Fianna Fáil thinking. If in our opposition to this Bill we have made a small contribution towards safeguarding the future rights of the people of this country, then I am willing to make that sacrifice, irrespective of what it might be.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  I do not think it is possible to consider this Bill without casting our minds back over the past few years since the violence broke out in Northern Ireland. We indict the present Government for creating the Provisional IRA, for fomenting the trouble in Northern Ireland, for supplying the arms, for speeches by the Taoiseach encouraging the people [556] to initiate violence in Northern Ireland and for creating the Voice of the North which encouraged the people to take to violence on the streets. This is the Government who are trying to scare the people of this country because they say we must take measures against the violence in our country. This is the Government whose members were involved in gun running, who created the trouble in Northern Ireland, who financed it and who have the audacity to come before us with this repressive legislation to preserve them in power.

It would be a sad day for this country if we allowed such legislation to pass through this House. There is a very close analogy between what is happening in this session of the Dáil and what happened when Hitler created the panic situation in Germany. Last night we saw the barriers and the mustering of the police force. This was done to create in the minds of the people fear and consternation so that the Government can introduce and pass whatever legislation they like. There is a very close analogy here to Hitler's regime. We all know the holocaust which resulted. All the workers of this country should remember that. We will have a Fascist Government if this legislation is allowed to pass through this House. I do not think we should be intimidated by the fear of an election. Let us have the election, let the people decide that there will be no repressive legislation and that we will remain a democratic State.

This is the same Government who denounced the Special Powers Act in Northern Ireland, and who denounced internment. This is the Government who, by means of the Prisons Act, introduced internment into this country. They have a whole range of repressive legislation, dating back to the Criminal Justice Bill preceding this Dáil. We had the Prohibition of Forcible Entry Act, with an assurance from the Minister that it would only be used against subversives. We saw it used against corporation tenants in Dublin city who were within their rights in protesting. We had the Prisons Act, which is an indirect form [557] of internment. We have had criminal courts introduced by them. Now, to bring us further along the way to fascism, they introduce this Bill and seek to intimidate us and force the Opposition parties to agree with them until they produce a fascist state here. We have had all this repressive legislation when there is so much other legislation needed—legislation on housing, the social services, consumer protection, unemployment and price control. Those things are urgently needed, but we have a Government callously disregarding them and deciding again that they must fortify their position and have no opposition to them in any form.

This Bill gives the Government the right to lock up people who protest against any Bill of the Government. Three weeks ago I spoke in Belfast to the Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations. They said: “Would it not be great if something could be done to have a ceasefire?” I contacted the organisation and asked them if they would have a ceasefire. For pleading with people to bring about a ceasefire I could be put in jail under the terms of this Bill. I could be accused of being a member of an illegal organisation because I would speak to people and plead with them to bring peace to our country. That is what is embodied in this Bill, which the Minister says is necessary for law and order.

I was amused to hear the Minister for Transport and Power saying that they introduced this Bill on the advice of the law officers. This is a serious statement to make and I should like the Minister to clarify it. Does he mean that the superintendents decided, that they are deciding the law for this country? The Minister said he took the advice of the law officers and introduced this at their request.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  On a point of order, the superintendents are not the law officers. The law officers are the independent people under the chief state solicitor's office.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  Would it be the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána?

[558]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The chief state solicitor and the state solicitors throughout the country are the people who decide whether or not a charge is to be taken on the basis of evidence which they receive from the police force. They are two separate institutions. The Deputy may not understand it but there is a very real distinction between the law officers and the police officers.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  Did the commissioner of police ask them to introduce this?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I am talking about the chief state solicitor and——

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  I am asking a question. This is a serious statement.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I was talking about the permanent law officers who advise every Government and they are structured under the chief state solicitor. These are the people who direct whether or not a prosecution should take place.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  This Government tried to abolish PR to consolidate their position and they are calling for the introduction of PR in the North. This is the hypocrisy of this Government who are hellbent on consolidating their position so that it becomes impenetrable, so that it assumes almighty powers, so that there will be no opposition there.

It is interesting that the Government should say that the IRA are a threat in this country when the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice told Mr. Health and the British Government that the IRA did not exist here. I should like to know whether the Minister really has the interests of the country at heart when they gave police guard to members of those illegal organisations. It is very difficult to understand it and I would like the Minister to clarify it.

I should like to ask the Minister and the Taoiseach did they not interfere with a court of justice here when a member of an illegal organisation was released on instructions from the North. I know this to be true. This is the Government who say they cannot [559] get convictions, that they have not enough power. They admit that one of the sections, section 52, of an Act on the Statute Book, the Offences against the State Act, is in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights. Has the Taoiseach come in to repeal that section? No. We may find ourselves defendants before the European Court of Human Rights instead of plaintiffs. Did the Minister for Justice have legal advice as to whether the Bill before the House is in contravention of this Convention? We already have on our Statute Book an offensive draconian Bill that dates back to 1939. How can we attempt to say we are a democratic State when we have such an obnoxious piece of legislation? The Minister is asking us to go one stage further and give him more repressive powers. I would rather quit this country, resign from the Dáil, than put my name to this Bill or feel that I was identified with it in any way. It would be a terrible travesty of justice to have the like on the Statute Book. I would lose respect for this House if I saw the parties of this House support it.

The Taoiseach has callously, deliberately and cynically exploited the situation for his own ends. He has tried to engender fear. The Government did not think the conviction of the member of an illegal organisation recently would take place. This Bill was prepared because they thought the conviction could not be obtained. It backfired on the Government. It did not go according to plan. Now the Minister for Transport and Power comes in and appeals to Fine Gael and Labour to be responsible and support this. Again it backfired on them. They were sure Fine Gael would ignore the fact that this was a fascist piece of legislation. They were sure Fine Gael would fall for the traditional thing, the trap of law and order. Fine Gael said: “No, we will not have that. We will not have totalitarianism. No matter what the cost, we will not have totalitarianism.” This is where the Government slipped up again. They were counting on the Fine Gael vote. They said: “We know [560] that Labour will oppose us but we may get Fine Gael with us”, and they did not bargain for men in Fine Gael who felt it would be repugnant to the ideals of democracy to support such a piece of legislation.

The Minister has the Special Criminal Courts and, as Deputy Desmond said, he has had 85 per cent convictions, over 120 convictions. I would like to know what further powers he wants in the light of that information. I could not lend my support to this Bill and I would encourage the workers of the country to oppose it. I am delighted to see responsible bodies realise the dangers inherent in the Bill, realise the danger to democracy. The Maynooth students and other people have come out against it at great inconvenience to themselves. Workers in factories have come out to oppose it, as also have chambers of commerce in various parts of the country. I think it is a great tribute to our people that, when they see a danger to democracy, they decide to stand up and not have it passed.

This is one time when Fianna Fáil will not delude the people or fool the people with their scare tactics and will not exploit any situation in which to introduce and have passed such a draconian measure as this which could only be equalled in South Africa. It would be a sad day if we were forced to support this, because it will be used not against subversives but against legal organisations, such as the National Association of Tenants' Organisations. Already the Minister for Local Government has decided callously to disregard their requests for meetings; but when they decide to march in protest against injustice, he will use this Act against them if we allow it to pass. There is no doubt about this and the precedent for it was the Forcible Entry Bill which was used against people in Coolock some time ago. This Bill could be used against women's organisations marching in protest against spiralling prices and inflation. It could be used against anyone.

The Minister says that a chief superintendent would have to say so, but a justice would be inclined to take the [561] word of a chief superintendent and I pity anyone who would try to put up a case against the word of a chief superintendent in court. I would not fancy my chances because I think a judge would be bound to take the word of the chief superintendent, who as the Minister said, is a man of vast experience. The Taoiseach said that if a chief superintendent gives evidence against a man, it does not automatically mean that the judge will convict; but I would be prepared to say that he will be 90 per cent on the way to conviction. A chief superintendent may not necessarily go on information he has but on information supplied to him by a sergeant, an inspector or a superintendent. He may act on that information and give it to the judge, and a person of proper standing in the community, without any connection with any illegal organisation, may find himself in prison.

I could not imagine people supporting this and the only way to decide the issue is to make it an issue in a general election immediately. The events of the past few days have made me think that the Government again want to create fear and worry amongst our people. At present they are allowing the creation of another martyr and being a realist, I do not think we should have another martyr in our country. I do not think we need martyrs at the moment but the Government's disregard of the situation is evidence of the fact that they are not caring what happens to our country. This is party political interest above anything else and the interests of the country must transcend the interests of any party. They should be aware of this fact but their callous disregard of it makes me feel that it is party interest and nothing else, and even the Taoiseach who is supposed to be Taoiseach of this country and not just the leader of his party should bear this in mind.

The powers being given to the Minister in this Bill are not quite appreciated by the public and I would ask the Minister to debate this Bill as an election issue on television before the public, to explain exactly what is in it, with a member of the Opposition. [562] I do not think the people are quite aware of the tremendous totalitarian powers being granted to the Minister and he has an obligation to explain it before the people decide on this issue. I would ask him to have an election on it. It is important because it is an election on whether we have democracy surviving in this country or whether we have a state of totalitarianism. We want law and order but we want enforcement of the law and, if that is done, order will follow. They are not going to intimidate us into abdicating our rights to ensure law and order. I do not think we will stand for that blackmail or for the smear which will be levelled at both parties because we are trying to prevent totalitarianism in this country. We would be in dereliction of our duty if we were not to oppose the Bill which should be made a general election issue.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  The Offences against the State (Amendment) Act of 1972 is perhaps the most vital and most important piece of legislation this House has undertaken to examine since we have had the responsibility of our own government. At the outset, let me say that whatever the views of Members of this House may be, we are all at one in so far as violence is concerned. There is nothing to be deplored more than violence. The moment we contribute in any way to violence we cease to be Christians. Not only should we be opposed to violence within this State but, as Christians, we must be opposed to every aspect of violence throughout the world. Because many of us are influenced and inspired by our Christian outlook we have taken a strong line and a determined view on this Bill.

I appreciate that people who are not members of a political party have a major decision to make on a Bill of this kind. It reminds me of the position in which I found myself some 30 years ago when I was a young Member in this House. On the evening of the dissolution of the Dáil I had to make up my mind about how I should cast my vote on a Bill which I did not think was in the interests of the [563] country. Even though the vote I cast on that occasion was the vote that put the Government out of office in 1944, I left this House with a clear conscience. Although I had no guarantee I would return here I considered I had performed a noble and just act and so long as I was at peace with myself I knew I had justified my membership of this House.

There is nothing so difficult to live with as an uneasy conscience. Therefore, a Bill of this kind must be examined by every Deputy and each one of us must realise that he will have to live with his conscience. The laws we enact here mould the society in which we live and will affect the society in which our children and grandchildren will live. I am satisfied that this Bill is just a traditional step in Fianna Fáil legislation, from the legislation in the late 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s up to the 1960s to which Deputy O'Connell referred. The policy of Fianna Fáil is power, the greed and gluttony for power, and their wish is to oppress and lock up anyone who speaks against them.

If we have responsibility to legislate here, equally we have the responsibility to ensure that there will not be any curtailment of the freedom and liberty of the individual. Let no one on the Government side say that Fine Gael are not anxious to assist in any serious difficulty that may arise. This party have done this and will continue to do it but not to the extent of taking away the liberty and the freedom our people enjoy.

This kind of Bill will lead to a situation where our existing buildings will be insufficient to accommodate prisoners. At the moment Ireland has the unhappy record of having more people in mental hospitals than any other country. Are we going to couple that with a record-breaking number of prisoners, people who are not prepared to toe the Fianna Fáil line?

This Bill will lead to the deprivation of individual rights and liberties. It will lead us to a loss of freedom, to prison camps, and eventually may lead us to the situation where we will [564] have extermination camps for people who do not believe in the doctrine and outlook of Fianna Fáil. This Bill will not do anything to help us to mould a better society. It is the kind of Bill Hitler tried and succeeded in passing prior to the establishment of the gas chambers in Germany. He created a feeling of insecurity in that country so that the citizens were dependent on him alone for their rights, liberties and existence. It was done in exactly the same way that Fianna Fáil have attempted here, to cow the people and to threaten them with tanks, bayonets and with stripes on uniforms. We have seen an example of this recently in this country.

The Government tell us that this Bill and their actions in recent weeks are intended to deal with the men of violence. Were the former RTE Authority whom they dismissed last week men of violence? We were told that they were dismissed in the interests of State security. Each of them was a respectable law abiding citizen but the authority would not take dictation from Fianna Fáil. They would not abuse their position to implement a doctrine they knew was not in the public interest. These were men of goodwill, of peace and of justice. However, the man of justice who will not carry out the dictatorial acts of Fianna Fáil is not respected any more and is judged to be a man of violence who must be suppressed.

This Bill can be used in many ways. The Government tell us that this is an emergency and that the security and institutions of this State are in danger, but I should like to know why a time limit has not been put on this Bill. Why does the Bill not provide that the Act will be law until such time as the emergency has passed and the dangers to the security of our institutions eliminated? That is not in the Bill. If enacted, this legislation will be part and parcel of our permanent legislation. It is not a temporary measure for an emergency. There is nothing in the Bill about the IRA: there is reference to illegal organisations but if Fianna Fáil want to proclaim any organisation illegal they can do so with a stroke of the pen or [565] even with a buzz on the telephone to the Garda authorities and all others concerned. They have their own ways and means by which they will capture in the web of their ill-advised, ill-conceived, suspicious and dangerous legislation anybody they wish to capture.

If there is any type of emergency in Ireland today it is the emergency of unemployment and high living costs but there is no Bill here to deal with 80,000 unemployed. There is a Bill here to restrict the rights and liberties of the people and to enable the Government to put whoever they like whenever they like behind prison bars.

Perhaps the Minister would answer this question: since this Bill does not convey to me that it is entirely designed to deal with the IRA—I do not believe it is—what happens in the case of those who are anti-EEC? If we participate in a meeting, express an opinion decrying the activities of the Brussels politicians, will that not be an offence against the State? Can it not be described as an offence against the European Parliament, an offence against the legislation enacted in Brussels?

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  The Deputy knows——

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  The Deputy knows nothing about what I am talking about. He had a good happy day at his son's wedding yesterday. He should enjoy that for the next week or ten days. I have never interrupted the Deputy.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I beg the Deputy's pardon. I was trying to bring him back to the path of truth.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I know the mood the Deputy is in. After such a joyful day we could expect some applause from him, even on this Bill. I want to ask the Government is it not a fact that to plot against Brussels or to participate in activities or meetings to demonstrate or protest can be regarded as an offence against the State or its external policy? As it stands, not having specified the IRA—I repeat I [566] do not believe it is intended completely to deal with the IRA—this Bill could also cover women's lib, and farming organisations. The only time ever that drastic action was taken was the occasion on which Fianna Fáil threw the farmers into prison and kept them there.

Again, it may be said that his legislation can be used against trade unions if any trade union decides to organise, hold meetings, demonstrate and protest loudly. Or, in the case of civil rights, where it is usual not only here but in various countries abroad for those who believe in civil rights to protest and demonstrate in demanding such rights, this Bill can be used. As the Bill is framed, if the housewives of the country turned up outside a courthouse to object to an unfair court decision during the hearing of a case by the Department of Industry and Commerce for excessive prices reported by the housewives, is it not a fact that under this Bill they would be interfering with the course of justice although this would have nothing to do with bringing down the institutions of the State? This legislation could be used to have them arrested and imprisoned.

There is provision in this Bill regarding statements or meetings “constituting interference with the course of justice”. I think this is a dangerous and unnecessary provision and should not become permanent legislation. A person who makes a statement, organises, holds or takes part in any meeting, procession or demonstration that is unlawful under this section is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding £ 200, and if convicted on indictment, to a fine not exceeding £ 1,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

All my speeches on the EEC Bill and other Bills recently have been mainly devoted to showing that Parliament has been losing power and have been directed towards gaining respect for our Parliamentary institutions. How does the Minister for Justice expect the ordinary people to have respect for a Parliament which imposes such legislation on them which endeavours to remove the democratic [567] rights of the people and include fines or imprisonment of this kind for organising or taking part in any meeting, procession or demonstration? This Bill is not clear. This Bill could very readily be put into operation for the arrest and imprisonment of all who disagree with Fianna Fáil. That is not the worst and most serious part of the Bill. Section 5 reads:

The definition of “document” in section 2 of the Act of 1939 is hereby amended by the insertion after “advertisement” of the following:...

Under the Offences against the State Act, 1939, the Government have every clause and every section they need to enable them to overcome every difficulty. Everything they required to safeguard the institutions of the State they have under the present law. They did not use it, and they have been told that by Fine Gael and Labour. There must be another reason why they want this addition to the legislation.

The Minister for Justice states he has been considering this Bill for almost a year and particularly since last August. In all my years as a Member of this House, it is the first time I have got a Bill without an explanatory memorandum. If he has been six or 12 months preparing this Bill, why has he not published an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the purpose for which he was introducing the Bill? The Minister is falsely and maliciously creating the impression that there is a big law and order problem in this country. What did Fianna Fáil do about it for the past five years? Is this a panic measure? In my opinion, the Government know they are going to be beaten in this House and this Bill is an excuse from Fianna Fáil to have a general election. I want to assure the Minister for Justice that the Members of this House, even those who are behind the Minister, view this Bill with great concern.

Section 5 refers to anyone who is found with any map, plan, graph or drawing or any photograph. Have we reached the stage now that if we want to exercise freedom of expression we must have in our possession a gilt-edged [568] photograph of either the Taoiseach or Uachtarán na hÉireann as a means of keeping out of prison? Is it not a fact that most motorists in the country carry a map?

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Seán Sherwin  Zoom on Seán Sherwin  A map of Ireland.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  A road map of Ireland. There are people who draw their own maps: engineers, mappers, sketchers, surveyors, and if they are found with a map in their possession it will be used as evidence against them. If there is an engineer high-spirited in his belief, who is associated with any political movement and if he has in his possession or in his car, sketches, graphs, maps or drawings, if the police so wish under this legislation, they can be used in evidence against him.

“Any photograph”—any photograph of what, is it any harm to ask the Minister? Some people carry around various types of photographs. I have been carrying around for a good many years a photograph which I treasure very much, a photograph of the late Charlie Kerins, who was executed by Fianna Fáil some years ago, which his sister gave me very shortly after his death. If that photograph was found on me, is it not sufficient evidence to convict me under this Bill?

I have in my possession communications from persons who are seeking Christmas parole. These communications are addressed to me in a most personal and confidential way. If a Garda superintendent believes that I am associated with these people I cannot clear myself; yet I am not associated in any way with the political or social activities of these people or their organisations. I know them personally and I know them to be dedicated to a cause, rightly or wrongly, and we must respect that. If we are to have a country of free expression of thought, belief and political opinion, we must not clamp down on and throw into prison people who differ politically from us. That is why I say section 5 of this Bill is a section which one would expect to be drafted by Fidel Castro or by a legislator such [569] as Bulganin. This is undemocratic in all its forms. How can Fianna Fáil think they can say that this country cannot exist unless we have a law passed that every person who has a map, a photograph or a plan in his possession which, in the opinion of a garda, is not on him for a good reason can be thrown into jail? In my opinion this is a Bill which this House must throw out if we are worthy to be called a democratic institution. We must throw out this Bill. It has nothing to do with law and order. It restricts the right of the individual. That is why I regard it as destructive.

The Bill is evilly designed. It will not bring peace to the country. The more we oppress, the more we imprison, and the more we conspire against the public and create suspicions in the minds of Garda officers, the more speedily we must become a nation of violence. This Bill will encourage violence and bring violence where it is unknown at present.

If Fianna Fáil are serious in their efforts to reconcile all groups within and outside the State, this Bill is harmful to those efforts. The terms of this Bill are far more severe than the terms of any Bill ever introduced by the puppet Parliament of Stormont. Even with all the measures introduced to date in the Six Counties by Mr. Whitelaw, there is no legislation dealing with the serious problems of that province that has the same teeth, the same bite and grab and greed for power and for the setting-up of dictatorial attitudes in every respect, as this Bill has.

This Bill whittles away the rights of people. It is the worst piece of legislation ever introduced. Nothing like it was ever introduced in a British or Northern Parliament. In no democratic state, where legislation is enacted by the votes of the citizens, have the citizens been presented with a piece of legislation which was so damaging and dangerous to freedom, liberty and democracy.

I want to ask the Minister for Justice, in connection with section 5 of the Bill: if a person is found with any disc, sound-track or other device or a [570] film, a microfilm or a negative—and we have numerous people employed in the services of RTE who have films and tapes because of their anxiety to see that freedom is exercised in broadcasting and on television—will that person be suspect? According to the Bill, they are liable to penalties if the superintendent so directs. This Bill will be responsible for the breeding of common informers and touts, fellows who will got easy money for bringing in information. The Bill will put neighbour against neighbour because of personal or public spite. It will be no trouble to say that a person has a photograph or tape. The anonymous letter is a most dangerous medium of communication by which superintendents or Gardaí officers, however sincere they may be can receive notes in confidence giving what looks like factual information but which may be maliciously compiled for the purpose of damaging a neighbour or a friend, and which may be used as evidence to convict an innocent person.

This Bill will be a haven for all those in this country who have benefitted from the funds of the Secret Service. The Bill has so many dangerous aspects that there is only one comparison I can make, and that is the statement which Mr. Mansholt made about the EEC when he said that it had many, many heads. This Bill has many, many heads and all of them are dangerous to a free society. It is designed to sow the seeds of violence, distrust, destruction and dishonour. It is a bad piece of legislation.

Is it not a fact that danceband leaders and electricians are usually to be found with flex, wire and microphones? If they play at a political function or in order to raise funds for a political purpose and if information is supplied by an anonymous letter writer that such a person is exercising his rights illegally and improperly in so far as the institutions of State are concerned, are such persons not immediately convicted because they have in their possession a flex, a microphone, tapes and the usual paraphernalia that the leader of a dance band carries around with him?

There is no provision in this Bill [571] to safeguard the innocent citizen or to specify who the guilty citizen will be. The Bill covers everybody. We are all suspect. This Bill represents an attempt to establish here a police State. God knows, none of us wants a police State, a State in which we must seal our lips, not speak to our neighbours and look upon the police as our enemies. The normal thing is to look upon the police as our friends, the custodians of law and order, there to protect life and property and help us in our difficulties. If this Bill is passed in its present form there will no longer be any degree at all of co-operation between the Garda authorities and the general public.

This is a most dangerous Bill. It confers quite extraordinary powers on the Garda Síochána. In all my time in this House I have never seen such powers conferred in any measure brought before this House. There is power to question any person found at or near a place at the time of the commission of an offence or soon afterwards. Such a person can be convicted because a member of the Garda Síochána believes something. I cannot understand the Minister saying that the legal advisers to the Government recommended this provision, particularly after considering the legislation, according to the Minister, for a considerable period of time, in order to save the institutions of this State. This Bill places on the police an onus placed on no police force in any democratic state.

This Bill must be thrown out of this Parliament. It would be thrown out of any democratic parliament anywhere in the world. Democratic parliaments are pledged to safeguard the rights of citizens. I take grave exception to section 2, which seeks to make a fundamental change in our law. With one or two exceptions, no person is obliged by law to provide any information, even his name and address, to any member of the Garda Síochána. This right to silence is designed to prevent a person incriminating himself. Under this measure if a person refuses to give information, a very serious offence indeed is committed. [572] This Bill takes away the fundamental right to silence. The Bill creates a new offence. The Bill is a two-headed penny to be tossed up against the defendant and the defendant will have no hope of redress. A person who has no legal adviser immediately available to him and who is unfamiliar with the law has only one weapon, silence. This is a powerful weapon in the case of the weak. It is one of which the weak should not be deprived.

All a member of the Garda Síochána has to do is to believe. The most serious part is that the offence need not be committed in the State. An emigrant could come from England from a place where an offence was committed and if, in the belief of a police officer, he was near that area, he could be convicted although the offence was committed outside the jurisdiction.

In many aspects of our lives many of us use our own judgment, and very often our own wise counsel, our best judgment is wrong. What happens if a Garda officer is wrong in his assessment and, by mistake, a person is sentenced because the belief of the police officer was not well-founded? The citizen he believes to be guilty of the offence, whether it was committed inside or outside the State, may be penalised on the wrong belief of a superintendent or a member of the Garda. From time to time even our own best judgment is wrong. We can all admit that. The best belief and the best judgment of a Garda officer can be wrong on some occasions. Even if it is wrong on only one occasion, and if a man or a woman is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, that is a complete miscarriage of justice and it cries out for vengeance. No man should be fined or imprisoned on the belief of another man, particularly the belief of another man who is a paid officer of the Government. That is bad law and bad form.

Under the original Act of 1939 it was an offence to be a member of an unlawful organisation. As is usual in our criminal law, the onus is on the prosecution to prove conclusively that [573] a person is a member of an unlawful organisation. On the passage of this Bill this right which a citizen has will be whittled away from him and the dice will be loaded against him, or against anyone any member of the police force believes is associated with what he considers to be an unlawful organisation.

I object strongly to section 3 (1) (b) which implies that silence could lead to prosecution. It is criminal to have it in any Bill that by his silence a person can be prosecuted. In the general election which we hope will take place before Christmas——

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  It will be very interesting to see what Santa Claus will bring to the voters for Christmas.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Listen to the men who are condemning violence. Look at them. They have blood on their hands, four years of it.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Hector Grey will be inundated with Fianna Fáil candidates all lining up for Santa Claus outfits so that they can parade in the customary red coat and white beard to make the promises which are usually made at election times.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Their Christmas present is 644 dead.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  That was your present.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  What about the people who lost their lives in Northern Ireland? You are arch hypocrites.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  It is worth putting this on the record because people will be interested in this. There are Deputies in this House who are taking this legislation as a cause of laughter. At around 5.30 this evening Fianna Fáil Deputies were in stitches of laughter at a law being passed to impose jail sentences on people of this country without the proper process of law.

[574]Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The Deputy's approach is very different from what it was on Monday last.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  This is too serious for laughter.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  The Deputy should explain his change since Monday last. Tadhg an Dá Thaobh.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Minister will send out fewer Christmas cards this year.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Legislation of this kind is too serious for laughter.

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  I am not laughing.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  I hope it will be duly noted that a Bill of this type which deprives citizens of their right to a fair trial and proof of guilt before conviction has been the cause of merriment to members of the Government party.

This legislation could lead to serious consequences and especially the section to which I referred dealing with conviction on the belief of another person. This is not a law which will gain respect or support. If I remember correctly subsection (2) was part of the Criminal Justice Bill. The penalties laid down for any person who makes a statement, or who organises, holds or takes part in any meeting or demonstration, are exceedingly savage: on summary conviction a fine of up to £ 200 or imprisonment up to 12 months, or both; on conviction on indictment a fine of up to £ 1,000 or imprisonment up to five years, or both. That kind of sentence is savage. “Savage” is a mild word for it. An effort should be made to bring the Government down on this Bill. I am convinced that when the vote is taken a majority of the House will reject the legislation presented to us in this way.

This Bill is playing into the hands of the enemies of the House. If we are keenly concerned about preserving and strengthening our democratic institutions and creating public trust and confidence in them and support for them, it will not be done by a Bill of this kind under which a citizen can be convicted and imprisoned on the belief of another.

This Bill has been introduced [575] simply because Fianna Fáil thought they would get away with it. It is my opinion that when the Taoiseach was with the British Prime Minister last week he either conveyed to him a copy of the Bill or assured him that he would introduce such a Bill. This Bill is to make Mr. Heath happy. This Bill must be the subject of an appeal to the people. Legislation of this kind ought not to be carried by this House without consultation with the people. The Government should now realise that the day of reckoning has come and that this is an opportunity to consult the people. They must explain to the people why they did not administer the law as they had it and, secondly, the purpose of legislation of this kind.

This is the most damaging and dangerous Bill ever introduced in this House and I, therefore, recommend its rejection on the grounds that it restricts the rights and liberties of individuals and goes practically all the way to the setting up of a police State here which will breed violence where we have peace. This is most dangerous legislation. We want co-operation between the Defence Forces and the Garda and the public. A Bill of this kind would discourage co-operation with the authorities responsible for the administration of law and order. Citizens will be suspicious of the beliefs of every police officer. A gap will be created, which generations will not be able to close, between the police authorities and the public. This is the very type of legislation that we all desire to see wiped out. It is bad for the community, bad for the police, bad for the morale of the people. The only people it is good for are the Government who want to get rid of and to lock up those who do not preach what the Government believe. Therefore, this House and the Members of this House in conscience have a bounden duty to reject this Bill, bell, book and candle.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I listened for a considerable period to Deputy Flanagan. The Deputy had one complaint, that he received no explanatory leaflet with the Bill. It is all too [576] obvious that this man needs assistance in dealing with the Bill. It is possibly the first Bill with which the Deputy did not get an explanatory memorandum. I would ask the Minister to ensure that Deputy Flanagan gets the necessary information on the next occasion so that he can show some kind of sense when he speaks in the House. Deputy Flanagan, at 5.24, in a frivilous manner, spoke of Hector Grey and a variety of things. This is the way Deputy Flanagan treated the Bill.

Over the past number of years there have been calls for law and order from both the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party on numerous occasions. The Minister in moving the Second Reading said:

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.

That is a clear statement from the Minister and the Government that the existing law is inadequate to deal with the situation. Those people who are endeavouring to overthrow the democratic institutions of the State by various means and who are committed to that are the people who are being protected here by members of the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party today.

The Minister went on to say:

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....

Later, the Minister said:

The issue raised by the existence and activities of these unlawful organisations is stark and fundamental. [577] 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 blood-shed, and to dictate the policies to be pursued.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Is the Deputy going to read all of that?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Deputy Harte was not here to hear it being read before.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am entitled to quote and I shall so that Deputy Harte might understand the situation. The Minister continued:

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 the minority that has organised itself into private armies can terrorise and impose its will on the law-abiding majority.

The position is clear in relation to the call for law and order by the Opposition and as laid down here in the Minister's brief. The Minister has explained the circumstances which necessitated the introduction of this Bill, but those people who in the past have called for law and order claim now that the Bill is not necessary. They indicate that there is available adequate legislation to deal with the threats to law and order. By this they can be referring only to the fact that there is provision for internment under the Offences Against the State Act and a number of Opposition Deputies have indicated their willingness to accept internment without trial. If they wish to have internment without trial imposed, they should say so openly. The Minister has explained in great detail also the sections of other legislation that are available to him. We know that that is the wish [578] of the Opposition, as some of the leading spokesmen in Fine Gael have led us to believe.

Those people, who were so anxious in the past that law and order be upheld, have changed their attitude during the past couple of days in this respect. No longer do they wish that law and order be upheld because they believe they can cash in on situations where tragedies occur. Others believe that, because of the climate within their own parties at present, some situation must be brought about that would ensure the continuity of their respective political parties. If people are prepared to abide by the law, they have no need to worry. There is no need for such people to be upset by the anxiety expressed by Deputy Oliver Flanagan in relation to jazz bands and the other silly matters he introduced during his speech.

The Minister has told us, too, that the Bill is necessary also to cover such technological changes as the availability of video tapes and other methods of producing evidence. During the debate we have not heard from any Member of the Opposition in relation to many problems that have arisen here in the not too distant past. We need only go back a few days to the Chicago-style attack on the Mater Hospital when, under mob law, a number of people entered the hospital and fired shots. These are the type of people who are being supported by Labour and Fine Gael.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Shame.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Long ago Fianna Fáil were asked to deal with them but they would not do so.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Is this the type of Ireland that those Deputies wish to live in? It is a poor situation if people who believe they can produce guns at any time are being protected by Members of this House.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Is the Deputy suggesting that we need legislation to prevent people from shooting others?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  In August, 1969, the Deputy was looking for guns.

[579]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I have here a letter from a patient in the Mater Nursing Home and from which I shall quote:

... Just a line to let, through you, the Government know of the terrible, inexcusable outrageous effects of the shootings and demonstrations in front of the Hospital yesterday and last night.

Even though I was in a relatively safe position, being well up in Eccles Street, the fear in the nurses' faces was a terrible thing to look at last night. Imagine the feelings and effects on the patients on the ground floor who were in a critical condition on hearing first gunfire within the Hospital and then later at night to hear a crowd of 4,000 or 5,000 chanting “We're coming in”. I was in the coronary care unit last year and I can well imagine the damage done to patients. It is disgusting to read in the papers that in consideration of the patients they were going to abandon the meeting at 1.15 a.m. I myself, even though I could have hobbled out, felt fear as I was on the top floor and if petrol bombs were thrown to set the place on fire I don't know how we could have got the other patients out...

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The Deputy and Kevin Boland were looking for guns in 1969.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Will Deputy Dowling tell us who set up the Provisionals?

Mr. Lalor: Information on Patrick J. Lalor  Zoom on Patrick J. Lalor  Take your medicine.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  There was no reference in the speeches of the unfortunate patients in the Mater Hospital, some of whom were critically ill in the intensive care unit, but there was much regard for the gun thugs. They are the only people who matter in so far as the Opposition are concerned. Were the howling mob of 4,000 or 5,000, which included Deputy Thornley, concerned about the patients in the hospital? No, they were concerned only for one man who was on a so-called hunger and thirst strike and who according to the radio news bulletin this evening, was sitting up today in his bed and reading a paper.

[580] Perhaps he was reading the report of of the Dáil proceedings.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  He will have much to read tomorrow if Deputy Dowling is reported.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Those Deputies who are now playing to the gallery have no regard for human life.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Who set up the Provisionals?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Deputy Harte has no wish to hear the truth.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Will Deputy Dowling tell us about his meetings with the Provisional IRA?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I had no meeting with the Provisional IRA.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The Deputy is doubling back now because it is fashionable to do so.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Who is in possession?

Acting Chairman (Sir Anthony Esmonde): Information on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Zoom on Anthony Charles Esmonde  Deputy Dowling.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The Deputy has back-tracked because the IRA are now unpopular.

Acting Chairman:  Order.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  When I spoke in this House about the IRA Deputy Dowling shouted me down.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I want to answer the political scum that has erupted here. I say to Deputies Desmond and Harte——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Stop paying me compliments.

Acting Chairman:  Order. Deputy Dowling.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I have had plenty of contacts with the IRA. An effort is now being made to silence me but I will not be silenced here. I have no time for gun thugs. Neither have I time for liars.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Not now.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Deputy was not a bad hand when he was in Katanga.

[581]A Deputy:  He got a roasting there.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  When the Deputy was in Katanga what happened the Irish troops? How many innocent troops lost their lives?

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  None.

Acting Chairman:  Order please.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  On a point of order, I have been slandered here by this Deputy who said there was a loss of life when I was in Katanga.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Deputy Moran on another occasion told the Deputy where to get off in relation to another gentleman he was associated with.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Will the Deputy tell us what he knows about the Provos?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The Deputy had private meetings with Kevin Boland and the IRA.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I had no meetings with Kevin Boland.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  We often see the Special Branch files. Tell us the truth. It is very fashionable now to talk about law and order.

Acting Chairman:  Order. Deputy Dowling without interruption.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I will deal with the blockhead from Dún Laoghaire in a few minutes.

Acting Chairman:  Deputy Dowling on the Bill.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Before I was so rudely interrupted by the political scum on my left, who were supporting the gun thugs, the Provisional IRA and the other subversive groups and who are continually supporting them, who are now trying to deprive Members here of an opportunity of making a speech I was trying to deal with this Bill. Not so long ago Deputy Desmond and a number of his people tried to suppress free speech in relation to sportsmen. We know what happened in Limerick when Deputy Desmond went to Deputy Coughlan's area. We know what happened when people were told not to serve them with [582] meals, not to take their baggage and when people were picketing sports grounds. We know the type of justice the people on my left would deal out if they had an opportunity. They have no regard for justice.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  If the Deputy is not going to tell us about the Provos will he get back on the Bill?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The Bill is necessary and desirable and I would be horrified if one comma in it was changed. I know it is desirable and necessary. I will support it. We will see tonight or tomorrow how many people will be missing from the Opposition benches. Make sure they are all there because the people will decide in no uncertain terms in a very short time on your rotten action and your failure to face up to your responsibilities. A wishbone is no substitute for a backbone. The Deputies have not got it. They never had and never will.

The security of the State and the loss of life which we have seen, the question of the spill-over from the North and the terrible tragedy which happened in a cinema here not so long ago are matters which the Deputies are not considering. I would like to ask a number of questions. If we are to continue on the lines suggested by the Opposition, is your child safe going to a dancehall? Is your child safe going to a cinema? Are your family safe? Can you now go to a place of amusement? Is your job safe? Is your industry safe? We know what happened in those other places. We know the same gentlemen will operate here in the very same fashion if they get the chance.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The Deputy is beginning to sound like Spiro Agnew.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Those people are aided and abetted by members of the Labour Party and members of the Fine Gael Party who are afraid to measure up to their responsibilities.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Before the Deputy finishes will he tell us about the Provos?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Will the Deputy close his big mouth?

[583]Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  He hopes Deputy Dowling will do the same.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I have a right to speak. The Deputy has not. I will say what I believe.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  That is the law the Deputy wants to introduce.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I will deal with the mongrel foxes in a few minutes. I will deal with the young bulls and the mongrel foxes in Fine Gael in a few minutes. That is the way their Leader described them. We will deal with them one at a time. We know the other night the terrible disruption there was within the Fine Gael Party. We know the hatchets which Deputy Ryan mentioned a year or two ago were in cold storage. We are now told they were only sent to be sharpened. That is quite obvious from what happened the other night in the Fine Gael Party. In an effort to patch up their difficulties they tried to get an issue on which they could be united, but on which they are not. I would like to ask a few of the gentlemen in Fine Gael their attitude to the gun thugs, the bombs in the cinemas, the burning of police cars, the picketing of Deputies' homes, the intimidation of jurors and their attitude to the other types of intimidation which have been used from time to time. What is the attitude of Deputy Fox who lives close to the Border area?

Deputy Harte has seen what has happened. What is his attitude? What is the attitude of Deputy Malone, who lives so close to the Curragh Camp, where he has seen the mob law in relation to the police and the Army of this State? He has seen how the military were abused and how the Garda were abused. He has seen the manner in which the violent groups who have indicated they will overthrow the democratic institutions of this State have carried on at the Curragh Camp. Will he support this Bill tonight or does he want that situation to develop?

I wonder what will Deputy Esmonde's position be in this? Is he a man of violence? Does he wish to see those people carry on as they have been? We will soon know if he [584] wants to see this situation develop. I wonder what the position of the Deputies Dockrell will be? What will be the position of the rural Deputies like Deputy Donal Creed, Deputy Phil Burton or Deputy Frank Taylor? What will the attitude be of Mr. Law and Order, Deputy L'Estrange, the man we hear so much about and from whom we have heard so much in relation to offences, illegal organisations and illegal groups? What will be the attitude of other Deputies like Deputy McLaughlin and Deputy O'Hara? What about Deputy Garret FitzGerald?

I should like to single out the mongrel foxes from the young bulls. This is a job I will not attempt to deal with. I will leave that to Deputy Liam Cosgrave. We have a variety of men here whose views I should like to hear. I should like to hear Deputy Dockrell's views as to how he proposes to support the men of violence, the cinema bombers, the rocket firers and those who have no regard for the rights of individuals, who have no regard for the institutions of this State.

It is quite obvious that the Opposition are trying to bring about a showdown. They want the institutions of State overthrown, otherwise they would vote for his Bill and they would vote to ensure that we have effective law and order. That is what you will get from Fianna Fáil. This Bill is required to deal with those subversive groups, the Provos and the other groups. Maybe it is not strong enough. I could say things in the House in relation to Deputy Harte that might appear in print tomorrow which he might not be too happy about. They might be completely erroneous statements but, nevertheless, would be damaging to him. If the Deputy wants to pursue this, I can also do that and I will also deal with him when I get him outside this House.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Here is Cassius Clay.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  That is good Fianna Fáil jackboot tactics.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  He will send for a chief superintendent.

[585]Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I will not send for a chief superintendent.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Talk about thugs.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I feel the interruptions should cease and Deputy Dowling should be allowed to speak.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a point of order, I do not think Deputy Dowling should use this chamber as a challenging ring for boxers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputy Harte is showing very little respect to this House.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Are you aware that Deputy Dowling has threatened Members of this House?

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  He said he would challenge them verbally outside the House.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Typical Fianna Fáil jackboot tactics.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Three years ago he was chasing around Ballyfermot with Kevin Boland.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputy Dowling please.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I was in Ballyfermot with Kevin Boland. I was in Fianna Fáil with Kevin Boland. When Kevin Boland was in Fianna Fáil he did quite a lot of things for the betterment of this community. Nevertheless, he is not a member of this party now. There was a disagreement with him. He is with another group now for which I have no time. I will deal with them later. I will deal with the scurrilous references Deputy Sherwin made here last night when he got orders from the captain. I will deal with them when I have finished dealing with the mongrel foxes and the Katanga brush up.

This country must be a country that is safe to live in. We must ensure that your area is safe, that your job is safe and that your family is safe. That is not so at the moment. The other night there were 18 people taken from outside my house and there was nobody in the house but my wife. This is the type of gentleman you people want to support.

[586]Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  That is what they stand for.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  They are the type of thugs who parade this country trying to terrify unfortunate women. They never come along when I am there. I want to ensure that people can go freely where they desire to go, that they can be perfectly happy in places of public amusement or other places. Parents are concerned when their children leave home at night since this terrible tragedy, this callous action in a cinema in our city. It is not the only one. The Fine Gael and Labour parties want to continue to assist the fire bombers, to assist the people who burn the police cars, who insult and injure the gardaí. There is no word of the injured gardaí or the military who are injured from time to time. They were concerned about one man and one man only—the man who was supposed to be on thirst strike, the man who was sitting up this evening reading the paper, according to the radio.

I want to assure the Minister that I hope there will be an election so that the people can judge. The people will make up their minds as they have done on many occasions before. You will have an opportunity in a short time. Call “Votál” any time, we will get them in and we are away. I am quite sure with all the manoeuvring that went on this morning and all through the day by the mongrel foxes and the young bulls that they were concocting something to try to get a way out. I do not think there is any way out this time. You will stand trial before the people and the people will respond in the same manner in which they responded in the recent Cork by-election.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  And you will smear them, will you not?

Mr. Briscoe: Information on Ben Briscoe  Zoom on Ben Briscoe  They will smear themselves.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  He never smeared anybody.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Now to deal with that rude interruption from a member of the Labour Party. There are a variety of doctors there who have given us all types of prescriptions for [587] peace. These are the Papa Papa Docs, with special reference to Deputy O'Donovan, the man who spends all his time calling for quorums. He is the Papa Dinga Doc. We had them in Katanga. We have them here. We have them everywhere. These are the people who are concerned about human life, concerned about law and order. They are concerned that there will be disruption within the community. Some of their followers have been very active in promoting all sorts of troubles within the community and are just looking for revolution and they will be aided and abetted by people within the Labour Party. They are well known. If the members of the Labour Party and the members of Fine Gael want to support those people they are entitled to do so but when the bell rings there may be some of those boys missing. They may find some excuse.

It has been said that Fine Gael never make the same mistake twice but every day they find a new mistake to make. This is obvious since they put down this amendment but, of course, Deputy Cooney must have his head and Deputy FitzGerald and the Deputy from Waterford. They are the people who are trying to root out Deputy Cosgrave.

Deputy Thornley spoke here today. His speech was an apology for the fact that he stood outside the Mater Hospital last Sunday. There were some references to members of the Government but nothing to do with the Bill, no apology for his action. If he took action well and good, there was no need to come in here and apologise. I want to ensure that we will have effective measures to deal with the UDA, the Provisionals, or any other group who want to disrupt, the people who are sworn to overthrow the democratic institutions of the State. This Bill will provide these measures but the people without backbone in Fine Gael and the Labour Party who have called out from time to time for action against them are now lacking in courage. We will see how far Deputy Desmond, Deputy O'Brien or Deputy O'Donovan [588] will go. Maybe Deputy Thornley whose expulsion was moved the other day will go with them or is this an excuse to try to consolidate the Labour Party again? No doubt Deputy O'Brien who moved the expulsion motion the other day——

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  That is not true.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  ——found that there was a little resistance inside and he is out on a limb.

We must ensure that mob law does not take over. I do not want to see the rights of the individual eroded in any way. I am concerned about the rights of the individual. I am concerned about the community as a whole and the democratic institutions. I will support any measures that are necessary to uphold them, to ensure that the people of this country and of my constituency can go freely to places of amusement, go freely to and from their work without fear, that parents can allow their children out at night without fear. Not a word is being said about the unfortunate people in the Mater Hospital who are seriously ill.

There were many people seriously ill in the intensive care and coronary units of that hospital. Nevertheless that howling mob were not concerned about the rights of the other people, the rights of the sick and dying people in that hospital. They were concerned about one thing and one thing only. Today we have a group of men here who are supposed to be the upholders of law and order, who hold themselves out as upholders of law and order, and who are afraid to meet their responsibilities here in relation to this Bill. There has been no amendment to the Bill, no effort to modify the Bill; there has been an effort to reject it which clearly indicates that they want to ensure that the intimidation which has taken place, the terror tactics which have taken place will continue and that the Government will be deprived of the opportunity of acting in an effective and efficient way against the people who want to overthrow, who are sworn to overthrow, the democratic institutions [589] here. It is a sad reflection on the Opposition here and I am quite certain that Deputy Cosgrave and other members of Fine Gael deal with some of the speakers——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I am not going to pay attention to any further interruptions from the mongrel fox from Donegal or to mix words with him any further. He knows exactly how I feel. I feel as all responsible people feel that the sooner the people get the opportunity of making their decision in relation to whether we should have law and order or hand over to mob law the better.

With regard to the letter read out last night, in an effort to cast a reflection on Fianna Fáil and in particular, on the Taoiseach, I am quite certain that Deputy Sherwin wrote that letter himself. If he did not, it was probably posted from——

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Seán Sherwin  Zoom on Seán Sherwin  On a point of order, if the Deputy will give way—perhaps it may be a point of information—if Deputy Dowling saw The Irish Times this morning, he would see six ladies from Derry presenting to me 13,800 odd signatures and the petition which I read out, so it is rather foolish for the Deputy to suggest that I or anyone else wrote this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may not make a speech. It is not a point of order, by the way.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Is that what you call it— a speech?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  I would say that the references made here were deliberately made in an effort to cast a reflection on the Taoiseach and the Government. I think one of the references was in relation to traitors.

Mr. Sherwin: Information on Seán Sherwin  Zoom on Seán Sherwin  I was quoting.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  The only traitor in this House is the person who did not meet his responsibility, who opted out of this party, who reneged his responsibility and went away with the captain. He is the only traitor as far as I am concerned and the sooner the people get the opportunity to reverse that situation [590] the better. They will have the mongrel foxes, the young bulls, the man from Katanga and the man from Ballyfermot—they will have them all to deal with and I am sure they will deal with them effectively and just as effectively now as they dealt with them on many occasions in the past.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Do you correct your speeches after you make them?

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  No, I do not.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  If I were in the political weather forecasting business, I think that, after listening to that speech, I would be inclined to suggest there is a very dirty election coming up. It is many years since I stood up here on many occasions to protest against the hypocrisy and cynicism of successive southern Governments in the Republic in regard to their attitudes to the problem of the unity of Ireland and the problem of the North of Ireland. I do not suppose that the black cynicism of the southern politicians, the politicians of the Republic, has ever reached as low a level as it has now, when it is quite clear that the horror, the agony, the wounds, the suffering and the terrible deaths of our fellow Irishmen in the North of Ireland—Protestants, Catholics, men, women and children— are now to culminate in this sordid climax of becoming a good issue for the Government in the next general election. Have we no standards whatever left, no feelings whatever left, about the issues we are discussing here?

It has been suggested that we on this side of the House are taking the matter lightly. How can that be suggested? We now know the kind of election that is going to be fought. We have taken the calculated conscious decision about this issue to go to the country with it, to bring this Government down if we can, and if we cannot, and we do not believe we can—I am admitting that—we still believe that this matter should be put to the vote and the Dáil dissolved and then brought to the country. I think that it is a decision for which the Opposition parties deserve considerable respect, that they have taken this conscious decision because they [591] feel that a matter of grave fundamental principle involving the civil rights of citizens here in the Republic is involved.

What is worse, they know—that is, the Opposition—that they are very likely going into a general election which they cannot win because this is the kind of unanswerable propaganda with which we will be faced. The last time we had slanders of various kinds about the subversive nature of the Labour Party and innuendoes about its Communism, its attitudes and intentions for society. This time the public will be asked to “Back Jack” in order to protect our children from being raped, blown up, murdered, executed, burned with petrol bombs or killed with rockets. This is going to be the appalling, gross, dishonest oversimplification of this terrible tragic issue, of the origins and the solutions for the dreadful reality of sectarian civil war in the North of Ireland and the possibility of a sectarian war here.

Probably the most bitter irony of all is that of all the parties the Labour Party since the foundation of the State can show that, whatever about any faults they may have, they have never promulgated the idea of force, of bomb, bullet, execution, or any other form of violence for the achievement of their ends. But now we are going to find—if we are to believe Deputy Dowling and, also I suspect from the contribution made by the Taoiseach—that a campaign will be run on the lines that Fine Gael and Labour are supporting the men of violence. We can only hope that the electorate will be able to see the truth in this matter.

At last the front benches on both sides are empty of men of violence of both parties and they have been replaced by young men who have had nothing whatever to do with the violence of a very disturbed past. The distressing fact is that this new generation of young men who lead Fianna Fáil clearly have learned nothing from the past mistakes of their predecessors in office. The attitudes of their predecessors regarding the use of force and their satisfaction [592] at the achievement of their objectives through force should not have affected the young men of this generation. Because of the involvement of their predecessors in the civil war, a lingering bitterness could be understood in the type of legislation they introduced but that should have been left behind by the young Minister for Justice and by the Taoiseach.

Surely there must be some other way in keeping with the times and the needs of our society, of dealing with the present very serious and dangerous problem, than to reach back into the terrible and turbulent past and to produce a piece of legislation of this kind? There should be some other way than this legislation which amends an appalling piece of police state legislation which was introduced at a time of war and emergency and when there was no doubt that the State was threatened. Instead of ameliorating the provisions of that Act we are strengthening it and enlarging the powers taken under it.

The tragedy is the complete failure of the Minister to learn anything from history or to learn anything from the failures of his predecessors. Oppressive legislation of this kind is not the answer to our present problems. The use of violence and the use of force are the twin solutions that are given to nearly every problem we have had in society. The State was founded in violence in 1922 and was opposed in violence by Mr. de Valera in the terrible civil war. In the 1930s, the 1940s and 1950s there was a recurrence of that violence and now we are back with exactly the same cycle of violence and repression and no solution whatever for the problems we are facing. This is because nobody has had the courage to face the true origins and to apply the solutions we know must eventually be used if we are to deal with the young men who take up guns to achieve their objectives.

In 1916 young men took up guns and they have been called idealists. In 1922 young men on both sides fought for the Republic and were called idealists by both sides. They were not called thugs as Deputy Dowling now [593] calls the present people who are also looking for their ideal republic. At what stage does an idealist become a thug? Today we heard words such as “bully” and “gunmen” used about these young men, men with whom I am, and always have been, in the most complete and profund disagreement about the methods by which they are attempting to achieve their objective. I have never equivocated at any time on that point.

Deputy Dowling accuses us of playing politics here. To the complete consternation of my own party, and, I have no doubt, to many members of Fine Gael, I came out in support of the Taoiseach at the time he expelled from his cabinet the people whom he believed were helping the establishment or the maintenance of the Provisional IRA. I did this because I thought the Taoiseach then believed in the achievement of his objectives through peaceful means. In taking that stand I did myself untold political damage, but I am attempting to establish beyond doubt where my beliefs lie in this whole matter of attempting to help the people in the North— Protestant and Catholic—to come to some agreement in their troubled society.

I am not playing politics on this issue whatever anybody else may be doing. It is not the first time that the present Minister has shown this complete lack of appreciation of the complexity of the problems he is facing. Almost invariably he has satisfied himself with the completely simplistic approach to any difficulty. The classical example—and anybody who read it and reads this Bill will remember it— is the Forcible Entry Bill. It is quite obvious that the paternity of these two Bills is the same, Deputy O'Malley. It is quite obvious that the origin of the decision of a number of people to squat at that time was clearly an attempt to establish in the minds of the Ministers concerned that there was an urgent need for the provision of houses in the community. The Minister's answer to that was to introduce the mirror image piece of fascist legislation, the Forcible Entry Bill. The use of force would solve the problem. [594] The Minister believed in it in order to solve the problem of the homeless. He is a very intelligent and perceptive person and he must know that the correct answer to that need for houses at that time was more houses, not repressive legislation.

We had the same thing I remember, a long time ago when the then Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, introduced another use of violence in his Bill to imprison striking workers which was thrown out by this Dáil. But again, striking workers were imprisoned. Instead of giving them social justice for their cause they were imprisoned. As other Deputies have shown, farmers have been imprisoned, members of tenants' organisations have been imprisoned. This is quite clearly the basic philosophy of the Fianna Fáil party, the use of force to solve social, political, economic issues and at present this so-called law and order issue. There is little difference between the people this law is designed to deal with and the people who have designed this law: they both believe in the use of force; they are both anti-democratic.

Here we find ourselves going to the country at a time when there are 7 per cent unemployed, thousands homeless, when there is gross price inflation, when there is dire need of greatly increased and improved social services, care for the aged and so on, educational services of one kind or another, and the issue on which we shall fight the election will be the question of whether a small minority within the community should be interned through the law courts rather than directly as was done before in the '50's or as done by Faulkner in the North. The public will then be deprived for another four years of an opportunity of discussing the issues which we should be discussing. This Dáil has been practically monopolised by discussions about relatively irrelevant subjects—the question of the Arms Trial; I do not know how long it took, internecine struggles in the Fianna Fáil Party, one after the other. All of them end up here and we have to attempt to clear up their mess while 70,000 or 80,000 are unemployed and all the other social ills we know so well are not [595] dealt with.

The Northern problem has now become a good election issue and Fianna Fáil will win the election on it. That is the bitterest irony of the lot—Fianna Fáil who have contributed more than any other single party here to the creation of the kind of society which has provided the young men they are going to lock up.

I remember well the occasion on which I moved a motion here against the then Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera. Naturally, I shall not recapitulate that, but the gist of it was that he happened to be Taoiseach and at the same time controlling director of The Irish Press newspaper. My charge against him was that while on the back page of his paper—and he was responsible under the articles of association for everything that went into this paper—he had colour cartoons of soldiers being shot, men being hunted, policemen bleeding to death in our great struggle —the glorious years, or whatever they were called—in the front pages of the same paper he had the names and addresses of the youngsters who were down in the Curragh in his internment camp. I dealt with the cant and hypocrisy of the kind of mentality that would foster this belief in the cult of the gun and the bomb and violence here which has been the monopoly—I say in fairness to the Cumann na nGaedheal and the Fine Gael Party— of the Fianna Fáil Party since 1932 and long before it.

How many of us are sick to death of the continuous gun-shooting over graves, memorials, commemorations and graveside orations—this perpetuation of the sick mythology of the valiant, fighting men, their bravery in dying for their country. It is the most accepted aspect of life in any society that a man is prepared to fight and die for his country: Japanese, German, American, British, Scandinavian, it does not matter which. But here it has been elevated into a religious cult, the belief in the greatness of the soldier over the man of peace, in an allegedly Christian society. Starting with “A Soldier's Song” and running the whole way through our lives is this cult of the [596] man of violence. All of my class in my school in Ballinrobe ended up in Mountjoy Prison, and I suppose that could be said of most of us here, because we were persuaded that our responsibility as young Irishmen was to take up arms and fight not only against the British but, more evil still, against the Protestant British because it was they who expropriated us as Catholics in the distant past. Instead of the Christian “Forgive us as we forgive them in spite of what they have done to us”, dinned into us nearly every day that I went to school certaintly was the doctrine of hate and the need for retribution : an eye for an eye.

This is what brought these young men out last night of whom Deputy Dowling is so impatient, about whom he was so sarcastic. These youngsters have been educated into believing that they are doing something fine and noble in attempting to give their lives for their country or to take life for their country. Therein lies the origin of sectarianism and the origin of violence which has permeated our whole culture since the State was formed. Far from attempting to reduce its incidence, we have been doing everything we can to keep that flame alive. The young gunman, the young bomber, is the end product of our culture, of our educational system. Give us a child and we will answer for the man. These are the men.

That is why I am so saddened by this superficial, simplistic approach to a problem which goes so deeply into the whole fabric of our society and our culture, with no attempt whatever made to deal with those origins in our schools, the origins in our homes, in our history books, in the whole life of our society. We have a young angry brigade of Irishmen and every generation has produced them, angry young Irishmen anxious to die, starve to death, get shot or whatever other way they choose to give their lives, in order to prove their manhood, to prove their patriotism, justify their existence. Meanwhile the serious problems of our society, unemployment, emigration, the care of old people and the disabled, the need for improved health services, housing, [597] become lesser and unimportant objectives for which these young men, in any other normal society, would have joined political parties in order to achieve.

We have seen this in the appalling, sick—emotionally sick would be the psychiatrist's considered opinion— interest in this man Stephenson who is attempting to kill himself. Apropos of that, Deputy Joe Dowling was quite correct when he criticised the big crowd outside the hospital for their insensitiveness, their lack of feeling for the fact that there were 400 other sick people there. The 400 other sick people there did not matter. They were not sick in the sense that interests us down here. If they were going to die, first of all, they were not dying by their own hand; secondly, they were not dying for Ireland. They are only ordinary Dublin people some of whom were, no doubt, fighting for their lives. That was irrelevant to the 4,000 outside.

Again, I am afraid I disagree profoundly with my friend Deputy Thornley's decision to go to the Mater Hospital, but that is his own business. However, I disagree even more profoundly that an archbishop and an ex-archbishop should lend their position within our society, should lend their prestige and their authority within our society, in going to see this man convicted before our courts and charged with being implicated, as far as we know, in the deaths of between 600 and 700 of our fellow Irishmen, innocent men, women and children. That an archbishop and an ex-archbishop should go answering this fellow's request to see them is one of the most scandalous things they have ever done, and by God their record is good in that regard. How many of the 400 ordinary Irishmen, women and children did they visit? They just went to see the one man who was in the limelight, the one man who is taking his own life, the one man who is dying for Ireland. How can you blame these youngsters, products of the schools that these people control if they believe that dulce et decorum est pro patria mori?

This is where the origins of this [598] problem lie. I am not blaming the youngsters. You can educate a child to do anything. Our schools educate our children to kill Protestants. I am making that charge because I am a product of these schools—the Marist Brothers and the Christian Brothers. That is what we are doing. As I said to Mr. de Valera years ago: “The back pages tell what a wonderful fellow you are, and for imitating you, you put people in the Curragh internment camp”—and execute ten, 11 or 12 of them into the bargain, because they did what they were educated to do and what they were trained to do.

We, the so-called leaders of our society, are the guilty people here. Were those 12 executed? I always think it is fascinating the way we killed 12 fellow-Republicans, and those terrible Northern Unionist black Protestants killed one Republican formally by judicial execution. Are we proud of it? Is this not a pretty good record? These are the people produced by this sick society which stands amazed waiting for this man to die so that they can give him a hefty funeral stretching from one end of O'Connell Street to the other, with bands and guns and all the panoply of this kind of self-indulgence in the grossly disturbed society which we represent.

I am amazed that some members of the medical profession are involved with this Stephenson doubting whether he should live or die. He is laughing at us all and is reported to be sitting up reading the papers. There is no question whatever that he should be allowed to die. I do not want to waste time with him. We have the Bill and the use of force and the maudlin sentimentality of the people who went up the other night to wait on this fellow while he pirouetted around the stage—effectively, the political stage—and sent out these extraordinary bulletins through his various representatives, and all our hearts bled. The television, the radio and the newspapers gave it full coverage. Everybody was sick with excitement looking at their sets and wondering would he or would he not die. It was a real cliff-hanger. In the [599] killings 690 people were involved and we are worried whether he should live or die. At the same time as this was going on and we concentrated all our interest on all signals and signs of distress from the Mater and now from the Curragh Hospital, in Portlaoise Jail there are 78 non-political prisoners, and the 78 of them are Irishmen, whatever they did. They were unemployed men, perhaps pilferers. There are 78 of them in solitary confinement. There are 40 of them on hunger strike. When did we see them on our television screens? What coverage did they get from the newspapers? Forty of them are on hunger strike and four are on hunger and thirst strike. One has been badly beaten up and six less so, while seven are suffering from beatings. They have been sentenced to 42 days on bread and water. They are not in an intensive care unit being interviewed by the Bishop and the Archbishop, a special chaplain and a private solicitor. They are in solitary confinement. I have been in Portlaoise where they are. They are in a cell in which I remember the late Noel Hartnett saying years ago that a young man died on hunger strike. It is a cell where you would not keep a dog.

I remember the graves of two of those men who died. There is a brick over one of them. I asked where the graves were. The Governor tipped a brick with his foot and said : “That is where Kearns is.” There was a tin somewhere else and he said: “There are the other two”. These people at the present time, who are fellow-citizens of ours, have not had an answer to their problem from the Minister. It is just like the young Republicans here, and the homeless. They wanted some education while they were in Portlaoise. They wanted better visiting hours and better parole and hot water. They have one lavatory for 50 people and the parade ground is 29 by 100 yards for 200 men and they wanted it extended. They wanted the devil and all, did they not? What did they get from this Minister for Justice? They got solitary confinement and bread and water. Who worries about that? Deputy Thornley is not in Portlaoise; [600] neither is Father McManus nor the Archbishop; neither was his predecessor.

I asked that a special notice question be taken here yesterday or the day before, as soon as I read this in The Sunday Press. I would not have known it if that paper had not published an article about it. That article has not been contradicted. This was not considered a matter of urgency apparently, and the question will be taken next week if we have a Dáil. If not, they can still go on and do their 40 days on bread and water. How could one be as hypocritical as our society is? Our society is pretentious and hypocritical from top to bottom, all the way through. It is rotten.

No wonder the unfortunate Northern Unionist is fighting with everything he can lay his hands on to avoid coming in and to avoid having anything whatever to do with this Government and their way of life. That is one of the bitterest pills. That is an issue they are frightened to face. I hope they will have to face it; and that is when the Government will find out from the plebiscite, if these people have enough sense to give civil rights to the Northern Catholics. That was told to me as I went to the Newry march with two gentle, simple, working-class practising Catholics. They had been to Mass that Sunday morning, a man and his wife middle-aged, highly responsible, going up to that march, and he said: “As you know, it is a tricky situation for most people to be going into and, remember, Noel, this afternoon we are marching for civil rights. We are not marching for a united Ireland”. They were Catholics. They were marching for civil rights because we have not created a society here into which not only the Protestant Unionist could and should come but will not come when he thinks of the education of his children, the health of his sick, the care of the aged, the homeless, or whatever it may be. He would be a fool to come in and join us. But not only the Protestant Unionist will not come in, neither will the Catholic Nationalist.

[601] That is the sum of your achievement of almost 60 glorious years, saluted as such. That is why there is a northern struggle. That is why there is Partition. That is where Partition is established. That is where it is perpetuated. It is founded in the refusal and the failure of successive Governments here to take those steps which would make it possible for any Irishman, Catholic or Protestant, Unionist or Nationalist, to come in other than at the point of the gun, and most of them will not even come in at the point of the gun. Ours is a society in which 75 per cent of the wealth is owned by 5 per cent of the people, and then, the Minister for Justice, Deputy O'Malley, on behalf of the Government, brings in this absurd police state fascist legislation as his solution for such a deep-seated, widespread problem permeating every aspect of our society. That is his solution—brute force!

We have failed on every single front. Even our own people are sick of us. Even our own people no longer believe we can solve our problems. I have tried to explain my attitude to these young men; my sympathy for them is sympathy for their involvement in this dreadful and, in my view, unforgiveable activity of killing fellow Irishmen. I have been criticised by my socialist comrades as a revolutionary socialist myself. I do not believe that this is a class struggle, that it is a sectarian struggle and, for that reason, I do not support the use of force. At the end of it all we will find ourselves with the same political vertical organisation of the ruling and the ruled, North and South.

Recently, I was asked did I not believe that these young republicans were the direct heirs and successors of the men of 1916 and I said yes, that was my belief; ideologically, they are the direct heirs and successors of the men who survived 1916. I put it that way. Given the chance, they will create in a new society, over a new 50 years, exactly the same kind of class structure, inequitable communities, with lack of freedom of conscience, in which the Catholic Church will be completely dominant in all its social [602] and political attitudes and in which we will have the same homeless, the emigrant, the unemployed, the sick, the aged, subject to all the inequalities those who went before them have known over the last 50 years.

This Bill is no answer whatever to the problems facing the country. I have no doubt that this Government will achieve the results for which they hope through this Bill. They are not prepared to take decisions in relation to the organisation of our social structure. As we have seen in their recent timorous decision to introduce an amendment to Article 44, clearly they are so frightened by the repercussions inherent in attempting to remove this relatively innocuous and unimportant measure——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy would seem to be departing from the Bill now.

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  I am concluding. The chances of their taking the real measures required are nil. My case is that, if successive Governments had taken the steps necessary to make it possible for Ireland to become united, there would be no need for the young man to go out with a bomb or with a gun in Northern Ireland and kill or maim fellow Irishmen and there would be no need for this kind of police state legislation.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  Hear, hear.

Mr. Cott: Information on Gerard Cott  Zoom on Gerard Cott  I should like to compliment Deputy Browne on his very moving, but saddening and, indeed sickening analysis of the whole concept of republicanism that pervades our society, a concept that has been bred, fostered and nurtured by successive Fianna Fáil Governments down through the years for their own party political advantage. This dangerous and misguided force of ultra-republicanism has now got to the stage at which stern action must be taken. Indeed, that stage was reached some years ago, but the Government were singularly inactive in coming to grips with the serious situation besetting our society.

We must seriously question the [603] motivation of the Government in proposing such drastic and, in our opinion, unnecessary measures to curtail this evil force. It is true, as Deputy Browne says, that the gun is again being made a major issue in Irish politics. This is a deliberate tactic on the part of the Government. The more pressing social and economic issues are being pushed aside.

We have been criticised by the Government Party for not supporting them on this innocuous Bill. We have always claimed, and will continue to claim, that one of our prime interests in politics has been the defence and preservation of democracy and the institutions of the State. However, in doing so we are obliged to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals. We must ensure that those rights and freedoms are not in any way curtailed or jeopardised. Any laws passed, and any amendments to existing laws, must protect those rights. We cannot tolerate a situation in which innocent victims may have no redress under the law. This is one of the major points at issue in this Bill. The accepted norm of justice that a man is innocent until proved guilty has been inverted and the proposed amendment is so sweeping that there is no protection for the innocent.

Under section 3, members of the Garda are asked to be judge and jury in particular circumstances, and to decide whether presence in a particular place constitutes an infringement of the law. They are being asked to decide whether an opinion, possibly held conscientiously, whether rightly or wrongly, constitutes an infringement of the law. Even a sworn denial of membership of an illegal organisation will not suffice to prove a man's innocence. What, might I ask, can an innocent person, so victimised, do in that type of situation? The Government propose that such a man may be fined and imprisoned for a considerable period, and have no redress against that conviction. All that is needed for such a travesty of justice to take place, is a strict enforcement of the law by a superintendent who sticks rigidly to the letter of the law, and takes no cognisance [604] of the spirit of the law. In such a situation, a chief superintendent might have no alternative but to testify about such an individual.

Our spokesman, Deputy Cooney, ably and amply pointed out that the existing law is adequate to deal with any occasions that might arise in which security is jeopardised in any way. He also pointed out numerous instances in which the full rigour of the law has not been applied to offenders. The Government have not convinced the Opposition or the people that the inadequacies are sufficient to justify such sweeping measures as those proposed in the amending Bill.

One might ask if the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that these drastic measures have to be imposed, that virtual internment with a legal veneer is being imposed on our society. One must also ask in those circumstances why no corrective measures have been taken over the past few years. If the situation is really as serious as Government spokesmen would have us believe, then the Taoiseach is obliged to tell the nation exactly what the situation is. He should tell the people the facts, tell them why these drastic measures, have in the Government's opinion, become essential for the maintenance of law and order. If there is a virtual state of emergency in the offing, let this House decide in an open vote what measures should be taken to correct that situation.

If, on the other hand, this legislation which I believe to be divisive and oppressive, is the first price we must pay for eventual reunification, dictated by an apparently unsympathetic British Government, who themselves are not prepared to introduce laws, if necessary, to curtail the violent activities of people in Northern Ireland who claim allegiance to the same queen as they do, then the whole matter should be viewed in an entirely different light. It would appear from statements that even Unionist lawyers are appalled at the extent to which the Government propose to go in this amendment.

This House has unanimously condemned the men of violence and those [605] who advocate the achievement of their objectives by violent means. I submit that this proposed amending Bill has in it an inherent violence, a violence that is more sinister than the violence of the gunman, a violence that hits at the very roots of common justice, and at the individual. If this Bill is passed, that inherent violence might, indeed, recoil and have very grave repercussions in our society and defeat the very objective for which the Government would have us believe they intend introducing it.

Minister for Finance (Mr. Colley): Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The speech to which we have just listened from Deputy Cott is a good example of the kind of brainwashing that has gone on about this Bill. I say “brainwashing” because I believe Deputy Cott was quite sincere in what he said, and believed what he said was true. Of course, it was not. For instance, Deputy Cott said that under this Bill a situation was being created in which the accused had shifted to him the onus which formerly rested on the prosecution and that he would be deemed to be guilty until proved innocent. The Bill does no such thing. He said we were making a chief superintendent judge and jury. We do no such thing in this Bill. We enable a chief superintendent to give evidence which under present law he is not allowed to give but the decision rests with the court subject to the normal rules of evidence and presumptions of innocence that always apply.

He also said that having been convicted by a superintendent acting as judge and jury there was no right of appeal. That statement is not true either. I am not accusing Deputy Cott, as I say, of deliberately making misstatements about this Bill but I think he has allowed himself to be brainwashed as a number of other people have to some extent by members of his party who have other axes to grind and I will come to that before I am finished.

I would say to the parties opposite, even if there is not anybody on the Labour benches at the moment——

[606]Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  There are not very many in the Fianna Fáil benches either.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I am not talking to them.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Minister is talking to himself. He should not talk at people. He should talk to them.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The Deputy need not get excited yet. I will give him more to be excited about before I finish. I would say to the Deputies over there that actions speak louder than words. They have heard it before. This House has been deafened by statements, particularly from the Fine Gael Party but also from the Labour Party, about law and order, the maintenance of the institutions of this State. The country has heard on many occasions from Deputies opposite on this subject. Now is the test and the country will judge Deputies opposite not by what they have been saying but by what they do because, believe me, the people outside know what the issue is and as far as the Deputies opposite are concerned their test is coming.

In dealing with the Bill the Minister for Justice detailed why it was necessary, what the provisions were, what their effect would be, quoted precedent for the provisions of section 3. The Taoiseach, speaking last night, dealt with a number of the specious arguments that had been put forward on behalf of the Fine Gael Party by Deputy Cooney to show precisely why it was necessary to have this Bill and that the arguments that had been advanced to the effect that the existing law was sufficient to deal with the problem were simply not true. I believe that in concluding the debate the Minister for Justice will deal in more detail with these matters.

However, there was one argument put forward by Deputy Cooney early in his speech and the same argument was made by Deputy Tom O'Higgins in an interjection when the Taoiseach was speaking. I think the sincerity or lack of sincerity of the Fine Gael Party in their attitude to this Bill can be judged on that argument. Deputy Cooney said and Deputy O'Higgins [607] said the same thing in other words later on that if the Minister were making this case a fortnight ago one might have some sympathy for him but that recent events, specifically the conviction of Seán Mac Stiofáin, had given the lie to the Minister's arguments.

Deputy Cooney is a lawyer and Deputy O'Higgins is a lawyer and they do not even have to think to know how untrue that argument is. A layman might have to think for a moment, but not for very long, to realise that the only reason that conviction took place was the special circumstances which emerged. Is it seriously suggested over there that one can rely on similar kinds of circumstances in order to ensure the conviction of members of unlawful organisations or of leaders of unlawful organisations? The Deputies over there know as well as I do and as well as everybody else does that the chances of that kind of circumstance arising are remote, to say the least, and yet they put forward that argument as a basic argument on this Bill.

There is a reason for this. Deputy Cooney is an intelligent man, a man for whom I have the highest regard in so far as his intelligence goes. Deputy O'Higgins is an intelligent man. When men like that make arguments like that it is time to ask why are they making these specious arguments which are beneath them, which are not worthy of the men who make them? They have a reason. I would suggest that nobody here should deceive himself.

We have seen one of the classic dilemmas facing democrats and democratic governments at all times, a dilemma which will always face a democratic government, that is, that those who want to destroy democracy take full advantage of democratic liberties to do so. Of course, they abuse those liberties. They seek loopholes in the law and they try public tolerance to its limits. It has been the case that in some countries in the past the democratic institutions have not been strong enough. I want to make it clear here, whatever the Labour Party or the Fine Gael Party [608] may do, we in Fianna Fáil will not fail the Irish people. We will go as far as we have to go and not an inch further to deal with subversion but deal with it we will.

I said that I hoped nobody here would try to deceive himself. The issue facing this House in this debate is whether this State is to be governed by the Houses of the Oireachtas and the elected Government or whether illegal groups are to hold sway. The well-organised series of demonstrations around the Dáil conform to a classic pattern. There are people in Berlin and in Nuremberg who will remember this pattern. All of the ingredients are there —the hypnotic chant, the burning effigies, the looming threats of violence. They are all there.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  So is the legislation.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The leaders of the illegal organisations have turned up in force to address these well-organised gatherings. They boast of their intentions to bring down the Government. Deputies opposite know quite well that the threat is not confined to the Government. Let them understand that. The Deputies opposite are held in contempt by those whom they now propose to aid and abet. Let the Fine Gael and Labour Deputies know clearly what they are doing when they walk into the Division Lobbies: they are giving aid and comfort to those who want to destroy the democratic institutions of this State.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Nonsense.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Let Fine Gael and Labour Deputies understand that in voting against this Bill they are helping those who wish to cripple Irish democracy.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Is the Minister suggesting that we are in favour of subversive organisations?

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister must be heard.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The Minister is saying that those Deputies are giving aid and comfort to those who wish to destroy our democracy.

[609]Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  The Minister is a liar.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy will withdraw that statement.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  I withdraw it and say that the Minister is telling an untruth.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Is the Minister serious in suggesting that we support these people?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy is not entitled to interrupt the Minister.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The public must be told what the Deputies are doing by voting against this Bill.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a point of order, is the Minister suggesting that when we walk through the Division Lobbies, we will be showing ourselves to be on the side of the subversives?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  That is not a point of order.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  I am asking the Minister that question.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy must resume his seat. He will have an opportunity later of contributing.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  The Minister's contribution is untrue.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I repeat that the Deputies who vote against this Bill are giving aid and comfort to the enemies of Irish democracy. Let them deny that if they wish but it is a fact.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  This contribution is beneath the Minister.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): He should withdraw it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister listened to other Deputies and now he must be heard without interruption.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Normally we respect the gentleman but this is a dreadful statement that he is making.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  There must be an opportunity for Deputies to [610] voice their opinions without interruption.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Let the Minister make his contribution on a decent level.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  The House should not be misled.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Let the Deputies opposite take a look at the gentlemen and indeed some of the ladies who have been parading around this House. What kind of freedom do they think any citizen of this country could enjoy if these people were in control of our destiny? What kind of freedom would our citizens enjoy if those people believed that the elected representatives of this country did not have the guts to deal with them?

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  There has been legislation on the Statute Books since 1939 that is adequate to deal with them. Use it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputies who have not spoken already will have an opportunity of contributing.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  It is hard to request that a statement be withdrawn if the request is not made on the spot.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  It would be hard for the Chair to ensure free speech for Deputies if they will not allow the Deputy in possession to make his contribution.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I am sorry for many of the sensible journalists of this country who have found themselves manoeuvred very cleverly in the past few days by an activist clique who do not care a damn about free speech or about freedom of the press, or of radio or of television. I want to ask a question of that clique and I would hope that they would have the honesty to print that question. We have heard about the public's right to know, but I want to know why did the public not have the right to know and where was the indignation of journalists when the leader of an illegal organisation in County Meath walked into the home of one of their fellow journalists, kicked him around in the presence of [611] his wife and children and threatened to shoot him because they disapproved of something that man had written. Why was there no resolution from any union branch, why was there no editorial comment or any mention in the national dailies and where was the secretary of the Dublin Branch of the NUJ when a fellow journalist was beaten up brutally in the presence of his family? This, I suggest, is selective indignation. Mr. Kevin O'Kelly, as is now evident, had access to the protection of the law. There was no protection, but rather the stark threat of death, for his colleague in Trim in this sad affair. There were some honourable exceptions and I would like to pay tribute to them. One provincial paper in the West and one journalist writing in one of the Dublin papers were not afraid of intimidation. Frankly, I see red when I hear all the clap-trap about freedom of the press. The public had a right to know of that incident but they were not told of it.

Mr. Aiken: Information on Frank Aiken  Zoom on Frank Aiken  Hear, hear.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It is time we all had a look at our slogans. In this debate one can argue about some technicalities of the Bill but everybody in the House and outside it knows what is the real issue. I wish to say a word about the attitude during the debate of both the parties opposite. So far as the Labour Party are concerned, Deputy Corish attempted to lecture this party because he said some of our members were sympathetic to the Provisional IRA. Some of his colleagues followed the same line. I suggest that they have an unmitigated cheek. Their primary responsibility is for their own party. Let them have a look at their party and at what has been happening within the party. If ever there was a two-faced party on the issue before the House today, that party are the Labour Party. Pious declarations from some of their members condemning illegal organisations have been emerging with great regularity but what are the facts? Do we forget Deputy Thornley's attitude on the Prisons Bill? Do we forget his actions on Sunday last? Do we forget Deputy Treacy's purple passages in this House [612] in favour of the IRA? Do we forget Deputy Coughlan's statement, which is reported at column 1184, volume 258 of the Dáil Official Report, when he said that the IRA speak for more than 80 per cent of the people of Ireland?

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  Did they run any guns?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The Deputy should not talk of guns.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  The Minister is being personal. He has come down again.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The Deputy should not push that one.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Who were the prime movers in putting guns into the North?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I have picked only a few examples from the many that are available in respect of the Labour Party.

Mr. Kavanagh: Information on Liam Kavanagh  Zoom on Liam Kavanagh  Can the Minister give the quotation from Deputy Treacy to which he referred?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Deputy Treacy was speaking on the Adjournment debate in February last.

Mr. Kavanagh: Information on Liam Kavanagh  Zoom on Liam Kavanagh  Perhaps the Minister will give the exact quotation.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It is so extensive I could not. It was the speech in which he quoted from memory, but slightly inaccurately, the Proclamation of 1916.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Does the Minister find fault with that now?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I am finding fault with what Deputy Treacy had to say in that speech and I am pointing out that the Labour Party are the party who are facing two ways on this issue and they are accusing us of doing so. Any examination of the speeches or actions of the Labour Party will show that they are split down the middle on this issue. That is why on this Bill there could not be any question of the Labour Party even considering supporting this Bill because they know [613] if the members of their party, who would have been disposed to do so, tried to do so, not alone would they have split their party irrevocably but they would have drawn even more attention to the ambivalence which exists in the Labour Party on the subject of the IRA. That is the fact.

Let us deal with Fine Gael because I think as far as they are concerned we have an even worse and an even more irresponsible position than in the Labour Party. We have been hearing from Fine Gael speakers ad nauseum on the question of protecting the institutions of this State. We have literally been deafened by Deputy L'Estrange in this House on the subject. I do not think anybody would quarrel with me when I say that. The clear implication in all of these statements, when it was not stated explicitly, was that Fine Gael would not hesitate to support any measures aimed at curbing the activities of illegal organisations.

Their protestations were so vehement that their total opposition to this Bill has left their supporters aghast and has nonplussed a number of political observers. The reasons for this strange and, indeed, unprecedented situation are so sordid, so cynical, so contemptuous of the intelligence of the voters, so governed by personal ambition and so lacking in concern for the national interest as to be almost beyond belief. Most people know that there have been upheavals and dissent in the Fine Gael Party for quite some time. There are some ambitious and unscrupulous men in the Fine Gael front bench who have tried everything they know to get rid of their Leader, Deputy Cosgrave.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): None of us ever said outside the Four Courts: “Comrades, we will have to get rid of Jack.”

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I know the Deputies do no like it but it has to be said.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister without interruption. Other [614] Deputies will have a chance of speaking later.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  When this Bill came along these men who had been trying so hard to get rid of Deputy Cosgrave —it is no business of mine or no concern of mine whether they succeed or not—saw their chance and they seized it because whatever view one may take of Deputy Cosgrave they knew on this issue he had the firmest convictions and that he had to take a stand in favour of this Bill. They knew that so they said: “Here is our chance.”

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The Minister's kith and kin and Deputy Aiken's shot his father's Ministers.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Obviously I am getting through.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Is this the way the Minister is confused?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  This was their chance to wrong foot their Leader. They seized this opportunity, unmindful of their repeated pledges to the electorate and unmindful of the security of this State. If this were merely an internal Fine Gael affair I would not refer to it because it would be no business of mine but the consequences of this sordid, opportunistic and unprincipled intrigue are a matter of great public concern when they lead to all out opposition to this Bill by Fine Gael. Let me warn the Deputies opposite that they are playing with fire.

Mr. Spring: Information on Daniel Spring  Zoom on Daniel Spring  Mind Charlie.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Deputy Spring had better watch it because his party are also involved but not to the degree of sordid, unprincipled scheming that has brought about the situation in Fine Gael today.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  That is an untruth.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The arrogant assumption by these men that the voters would not know what was going on is hard to believe.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a point of order——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Who is the point of order?

[615]Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a point of order, in what way is this related to the Bill?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Will the Deputy cease interrupting? Will he let the Minister make his speech?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Do not interrupt Machiavelli.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I quoted Deputy Coughlan but he was not here, unfortunately.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  The Minister is telling an untruth.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Will Deputy Coughlan also cease interrupting?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It is clear, of course, from the reaction that I am getting very close to the bone. I want to make it quite clear that this arrogant assumption——

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Charlie is getting very close to the Minister.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a point of order——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Will Deputy Harte please resume his seat?

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a point of order——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  What is the point of order? Will the Minister let us hear the point of order?

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a point of order, for reasons I do not have to give I was absent from the House yesterday and the day before. I came in here today to listen to the arguments of Government Ministers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  This is not a point of order. Will the Deputy please resume his seat? He will have the opportunity of speaking later.

Mr. Dowling: Information on Joseph Dowling  Zoom on Joseph Dowling  Deputy Oliver Flanagan was speaking about Santa Claus.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Minister without interruption.

[616]Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Maybe Deputy Harte missed some of this. Let him have a word with Deputy FitzGerald and he might be able to tell him about it.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  What has this to do with the Bill?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It has a great deal to do with what is happening on those benches today and the public have a right to know about it. The Deputy will see the relevance in a moment. I said that this whole intrigue that went on, included an arrogant assumption that the public would not understand and maybe they assumed the public would not be told. I can assure the Deputies they are being told and they will understand. This is where this becomes fully relevant even in Deputy Harte's terms. On the basis of that intrigue and that effort to dislodge the party's Leader, the Fine Gael Party are now coming out in all out opposition to this Bill.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Minister's assumption is wrong.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I know you have changed.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Minister is presuming that we use the same tactics as Fianna Fáil.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Other Deputies can answer this. The Minister is in possession.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  The Minister came back from America when there was trouble in the Fianna Fáil Party.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): He was received with open arms but not by Charlie.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  He came back from America.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Will Deputy Coughlan please resume his seat?

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Do the Deputies wish to have ordered debate in the House or is the House to descend to the position where nobody may speak? Deputies will have to observe [617] the rules of the House and the rules of debate.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  And Ministers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  And Ministers. Everybody will have to observe the rules of debate. Ministers or Deputies have to observe the rules of debate and the rules of the House.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Will you throw your eye in that direction?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I am surprised that Deputy Coughlan should be so disturbed by my attack on the Fine Gael Party.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  The Minister included Deputy Coughlan and I am here to defend myself.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  That was another point I made about Deputy Coughlan. I assured the Deputies opposite that I would say what I had to say whether they interrupted me or not and I am going to say it. It is this.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Tell us about the Bill.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I will make my own speech. Are all the Deputies sitting comfortably? Can we begin?

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  The Minister must have nothing to say.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  There is the man who met you at the airport.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Just as an aside, I came back on the invitation of the late Seán Lemass and Deputy Aiken did not arrive home for some days after I arrived so the Deputy's recollection is somewhat mistaken.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Interruptions are disorderly.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I know the Deputies do not like it but they are going to hear it. If they are going to stay here all night interrupting me that is all right with me.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  Tell us about the repressive legislation.

[618]Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It is a pity Deputy O'Connell was not here when I was dealing with his party and their inglorious performance on this Bill. I will not repeat it because the Leas-Cheann Comhairle will not allow me. I think he would have enjoyed it. He is a damn good example of the two-faced carry-on in the Labour Party in regard to this whole business.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  I will stand up against this Bill anywhere.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  It may be that his only objective is to achieve publicity or maybe he has another objective, but whatever the objective is he is facing at least two ways, if not more, on this whole issue. I was talking about the Fine Gael arrogance in assuming that the public would not know the reasons for their, to most people, amazing volte face on this issue. They are assuming that those reasons would not be known or understood by the public but I want to tell them that the public do understand and that there will be a massive retribution on that party at the next election.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): They have not forgotten the arms trial and that Deputy Haughey may be the next Taoiseach if they return to power.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  There was a reference, now fairly famous, by Deputy Cosgrave, I think at the last Fine Gael Ard Fheis, to mongrel foxes. I thought foxes were supposed to be clever but obviously, whatever the right description of these people is, mongrel foxes was not the right one because they are not clever. They are going to ruin the Fine Gael Party. It is no worry to me. In fact, secretly I am very pleased. What does worry me is that they are doing it for purely low, sordid motives and to hell with the national interest as far as they are concerned. That is what worries me. That is what I am talking about.

Dr. O'Connell: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  The Minister is not responsible for that party.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  I am responsible as a public man, as a Deputy is, for the general approach of this House and I think that it is a sad day for democracy [619] in this country when you have the major opposition party, for these base motives, forgetting about the national interest, throwing it to one side, with the sole objective of unseating their leader.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  An tAire.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  This party has had to deal with situations such as we are facing today in the past. Under each of our leaders, including the founder of our party, we have had to deal with them.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  When we had to do so we did not particularly want to have that situation but no Fianna Fáil Government ever ran away from their duty and neither will this one.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  You have done it for the last three years, as the Taoiseach admitted.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Never. There are the parties who ran away when the pressure came on. This Government had their problems but they sorted them out and they held fast to their duty to the Irish people, as they are doing today with this Bill. The public know what is happening over there and we will make sure that any of them who do not know will know.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  What about the last three years which the Taoiseach referred to? What have you done about it?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  The dithering, the failure to match actions to words, the opportunism and the cowardice displayed on the Opposition benches on this issue will have removed any lingering doubt that anyone may have had as to the unfitness of the parties opposite to govern this country. Indeed, it has raised starkly the question of the fitness of some of the people over there to sit in this House at all. That question will be answered by the people at the next election and I look forward avidly to the answer to [620] that question. It cannot come too soon for me.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  In my long experience in public life and in this House I do not know of any piece of legislation which has caused such widespread indignation and hostility as this one. It is said to be anti-IRA but it clearly offends the susceptibilities of all our people over the whole spectrum of our society. The indignation is to be seen in all facets of society—judges, lawyers, groups of priests, educationalists, journalists, trade unionists. Members of virtually all organisations in the country are astonished and dismayed that this piece of reprehensible legislation should be brought in here under the guise of securing law and order.

I listened to most of what the Minister for Finance had to say. He was caustic in his remarks about members of the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party, but it comes ill from this Minister to try to pretend to the Irish people that they and they alone in Fianna Fáil are the saviours of law and order in our society. As the Minister knows full well, he would not be sitting in that seat here tonight as Minister for Finance, were it not that a colleague of his was sacked, in the person of Deputy Charles Haughey. He knows full well and better than anyone in the House why Deputy Haughey was ignominiously dismissed at that time. It was for acts deemed to undermine the security of this State that he was sacked. It would have been a treasonable crime in any other country, and there were many other sackings as well, but I have a lot of respect for Deputy Colley, Minister for Finance, who was portrayed to the Irish people a short time ago as the greatest republican of them all. It was Deputy Aiken who sought to place across his shoulder the cloak of republicanism par excellence. He was said to have the condonance of President Éamon de Valera in his bid for the leadership of the Fianna Fáil Party. We all know the manner in which his ghost writers of that day portrayed him to us as the great republican.

[621] Are we to take it that he has gone back on all he ever stood for as a republican because this Bill is a betrayal of all that Fianna Fáil ever stood for, a betrayal of national aims and aspirations, and in particular a betrayal of the beleaguered people of north-east Ulster tonight? What then of Deputy Colley's republicanism?

It is true that we live in very difficult and, indeed, dangerous times. It is true that all our people dearly wish for peace, tranquillity and normality to return, but if it is to be a true and lasting peace in Ireland, north and south, it has to be an honourable peace. What we are asked to vote on here tonight is a Bill which is designed to subjugate the people of Ireland, especially the people of north-east Ulster, to Unionism, to the dictates of the British, and that in my opinion is most certainly not the road to peace and to tranquillity in Ireland. This Bill will not merely subjugate the people in this part of Ireland; it will subjugate the people of all Ireland and is designed to set the clock back 100 years at least in the Republic.

There are contained in this legislation far-reaching and sweeping changes in the law which affects the traditional rights of all our people. Inherent in this measure is the clear denial of fundamental rights and essential liberties. Freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of the Press, TV and radio, the right to a fair trial before the law—all these fundamental issues are involved in this measure, and there is no good in Fianna Fáil or any of their party spokesmen concealing the grave and serious implications of this Bill. The rights cherished by our people are being attacked in a most serious way. Already we have had here in the Twenty-six Counties a most serious erosion of our essential rights. We have seen the setting up of special courts, devoid and bereft of juries as such; we have seen the creation of internment camps to which we said we were implacably opposed and one internment camp which has been established is operating now at the Curragh under the guise of repairs being carried out [622] to Mountjoy Jail. We have seen moreover the transfer of prisoners from the judicial authority to the military authority under this guise also.

We have had here, too, another piece of repressive legislation in the recent passing of the Forcible Entry Bill which is being used for purposes this House never intended. It is being used to beat down the tenants' associations and to deprive these organisations of their fundamental right to defend the interests of the tenants of this country. It has been used against journalists and assurances were given in this House that amendments would be brought in and we are still waiting for these amendments. We have had, too, something which shocked the conscience of all freedom-loving people in the ignominious sacking of the board of Radio Telefís Éireann.

This is by any standard a most vicious and repressive piece of legislation, one of the most ruthless pieces of legislation ever introduced in these islands, Britain or Ireland, in recent times. It seeks to set back the clock some hundreds of years in the Republic. I believe that it is fascist in its conception and dictatorial in its designs. It is a challenge to the cherished liberties of all our people and I say sincerely that I never thought I would see such a despicable piece of legislation introduced into an Irish Parliament. It brings shame and disgrace upon our country. The Fianna Fáil Government are now recognised for what they are, a byword for repression and degeneracy among progressive democratic States. This movement away from the democratic institutions we cherish has even gone beyond that which exists in the last bastion of tyranny in Europe—in Northern Ireland. It has gone beyond the extremes of the ruthless legislation and the overbearing tyranny that battened on the minority there for the past half-century. The odious system which so many of us sought to bring down in north-east Ulster, to our shame is now emulated in this House by Fianna Fáil, the Republican Party in brackets.

How can we talk about civil rights in Ireland? How we can advance the [623] cause of civil rights? How we can talk about the shame and disgrace of internment without trial, which every political party in this country, with the exception of the Unionists, have set their faces against? How can we go to the European Court and speak about human rights? How can we seek amelioration there for the oppressed people in north-east Ulster? By this action the Minister for Finance, the Taoiseach, Deputy Jackie Fahey and those in Fianna Fáil are setting back irreparably the advance of the Irish nation towards unity, freedom and peace.

We cannot speak about these fundamental issues any more because this legislation which Fianna Fáil have had the audacity to bring in is designed clearly to shackle and to silence all those people in Ireland who dare to assert their rights and speak out against the regime. The tragedy is that in this process the Government are abandoning the people of north-east Ulster in their greatest hour of need. The only people who are encouraged and heartened by this legislation are the Unionists. The Craigs and the Faulkners are on record as saying: “Jack is right”. This measure has brought joy and solace to the enemies of Ireland but it saddens the hearts of those of us who aspired to a united Ireland. This is an act of great betrayal of national abasement, and Fianna Fáil must suffer retribution for this great betrayal. They are now seen clearly doing the dirty work for the Unionists and carrying out the dictates of the British in this important matter.

It is a despicable sell-out of national aspirations. It condones and emulates all we found abhorrent and detestable in the Stormont regime, possibly the most sordid, corrupt, overbearing and tyrannical regime in Europe. This Bill has offended all who believe sincerely in human rights and fundamental freedoms. It may be the last piece of legislation of the present Government and it will go down in history as an act of treachery, a blot on our society, to the eternal shame and disgrace of Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil have reneged on all they stood and fought for during the years. The Taoiseach said [624] he would not stand idly by. Tonight he is not standing idly by. He has obviously shifted his feet and has gone over to the other side, over to the Unionists. He has left the minority, of which he declared he would be the second guarantor, at the mercy of the Orange mobs. Bereft of hope, tonight they are defenceless and betrayed by Jack Lynch, his Government and his party. I do not believe this Government can be forgiven for such an act of national abasement.

The most disgusting aspect of this measure is the statement by Fianna Fáil that they need this draconian repressive legislation to maintain law and order, to put down the IRA and the subversive organisations. Fianna Fáil must think the people have very short memories. Only a short time ago there were sensational events in this House and it was revealed that the people who were undermining law and order and the security of the State were Fianna Fáil Ministers, Deputies and supporters. Not only did Fianna Fáil not take steps over the past three years to deal with subversion but we know in this House, and I know in particular as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, that they aided, and condoned subversion. Far from interfering in order to eliminate subversion they were clearly seen to interfere with the due process of law in 1969 and that interference with the courts and due process of law and the action of the police was such as to bring about the resignation of the then secretary of the Department of Justice who resigned in utter disgust.

Are the Irish people, are the Members of this House expected to forget the gun-running of 1969 in which so many of the Fianna Fáil Party Ministers and supporters were clearly involved? Did Government Ministers not give aid and succour to subversive organisations? Did they not give money and guns? Is this not a fact? Are we to take it that this is the party which is genuinely concerned about law and order? Apart altogether from the misappropriation of a large amount of public funds used in an endeavour to bring in a large consignment of arms to this country, is it not a fact that ordinary Fianna Fáil Party members [625] gloated over going about in recent years and securing guns and arms anywhere they could and handing them over joyfully and gleefully to members of various organisations? We had that on the records of the House from an ex-member of the Fianna Fáil Party and now Aontacht Éireann Member, Deputy Sherwin.

They assisted by money and guns the organisation they now seek to outlaw and put down in this Bill, and they want us and the Irish people to accept that they are doing it in the interests of law and order. What right have this Government to talk about law and order? They fooled no one. Is it not a fact that after this Dáil had been elected in 1969 evidence very quickly emerged that Government Ministers were hellbent on taking over and controlling the IRA? Were Fianna Fáil not responsible for splitting the IRA and the Sinn Féin movement in a nefarious design to control one part of it and destroy the other?

Fianna Fáil must accept the main brunt of responsibility for the present state of affairs in our country. They cannot expect to be bailed out by the Labour Party or any other party. A Fianna Fáil Minister and a Government had the brazen audacity in recent days to sack the RTE Authority allegedly for presenting or preaching subversion on television and radio. The Government sacked that authority because it gave vent to the voice of republicanism and, at the same time, they allowed the voice of extreme Orangeism and Unionism to rant and rave on. They sacked the RTE Authority and they expect us to forget that in 1969, with the approval of certain Fianna Fáil Ministers—and I would say with the approval of the Government—they set about the establisment of a clandestine paper known as “The Voice of the North” to pump propaganda into north-east Ulster. A sizeable amount of public funds were misappropriated for that purpose, the purpose of subversion.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Without wishing to interrupt the Deputy, is it actually a fact that these funds were so misappropriated? Where has it so been declared and by whom?

[626]Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I shall deal with that on another occasion when it comes to the debate on the report of the Committee of Public Accounts.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am waiting on a reply. I am not interrupting but I do want clarification or correction or withdrawal.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): We had votes of confidence about that and the Deputy did not help.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Why do you not bring it on?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): We had a vote of confidence——

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Where is the report?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan):—— and the Deputy had coffee during it.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Where is the full report?

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This Government were prepared to embark upon this propaganda device and yet they now have the audacity to suppress the freedom of television, radio and press in this part of Ireland. It seems that the wheel has turned full circle in this regard. Fianna Fáil are fooling nobody; they want to create the impression that they alone are the saviours of law and order when everyone knows that Ministers and members of that Government were the first to undermine the security of this State and drag law and order into disrepute. This Bill is not merely designed to put down the IRA; it undermines the rights and the liberties of all our people. No citizen is free under this measure. No citizen is free from interrogation by a member of the Garda. No group can assemble or march peacefully any more without tending to violate this measure. No journalist can publish freely. Television and radio are clearly circumscribed. The fate of all of us now rests with the say-so of a chief superintendent of the Garda Síochána. If we are found to have been near a place where an offence was committed we must answer for our actions. We must give name and address, account for our movements, [627] and if we talk we may incriminate ourselves. If we talk we are clearly becoming informers and if we do not talk we are deemed to be guilty anyway, and there is the penalty of £ 200 fine or 12 months in jail.

This is the kind of legislation we used to associate with Russia, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy or the Smith regime in Rhodesia. This legislation has no place whatsoever in the lives of the Irish people and it will be resisted with all the power and influence at our disposal. It is bunkum for the Minister for Justice to talk about a fair trial or cross-examination of a chief superintendent. Was there ever an occasion in the long history of jurisprudence and court procedure when a judge failed to accept the word on oath of a superintendent or a chief superintendent of the Garda Síochána? It is simply not on.

This Bill is essentially despicable in that, for the first time, you are declared to be guilty until you prove yourself innocent. This is a radical change in the law and is repulsive to all sections of our people. Equality before the law is guaranteed in our Constitution and there are many who feel that this Bill is repugnant to the Constitution. It is no longer accepted that you are innocent until proved guilty, and the onus of proving innocence is placed on the individual, and the word of a chief superintendent will determine whether you are convicted or not.

This is typical Fianna Fáil legislation: shoot first and ask questions afterwards. Get them and put them away by fair or foul means. The Bill has far-reaching implications and has the features of a panic measure, a Bill conceived and drawn up in fear, the device of a frightened Government, frightened by an enemy, imaginary or otherwise, but if that enemy is there it is of Fianna Fáil's making.

Apart from the sacking of the board of Telefís Éireann, the freedom of the Press is severely interfered with in this Bill. The Press are clearly placed in an invidious position. They may not be clearly committing an offence under the Bill, as the Minister [628] says, but they will certainly be open to criticism or far worse for publishing statements or photographs which may lead to the arrest, trial and conviction of people. In such a situation the Press are circumscribed. They will be slow to report events, meetings, marches and demonstrations, which are very largely proscribed in this Bill; and they will be slow to publish names, speeches and photographs lest they incriminate innocent people as well as guilty.

Section 4 of this Bill deals, in particular, with alleged interference with the course of justice. Public statements, oral or in writing, any meetings, processions, and demonstrations in public that constitute interference with the course of justice, are deemed to be unlawful under this measure. If this section of the Bill is passed any meeting, procession or demonstration is likely to be unlawful. No one seemingly, according to Fianna Fáil, will be allowed to protest about any issue whatsoever. No one will be allowed to protest, for instance, about the trial and sentence of Kevin O'Kelly or about the hunger strike of Seán Mac Stiofáin or anything else without incurring the displeasure of the Government and breaking the law. Tenants associations would be outside the law in demonstrating or protesting about evictions while a case for ejectment might be before the courts. This is an ominous piece of legislation for all organisations and for the trade union movement at large. The trade union movement are conscious of the inroads which this measure seeks to make into their liberty and they are not accepting it. The fines in respect of this measure are vicious. The sentences prescribed are vicious. The fines here are not £ 100, but £ 1,000. The sentence is not for one year, but for five years.

Freedom of association, of assembly, of speech and of the press are fundamental to our Irish way of life. They must be and will be maintained at all costs, come hell or high water. No piece of legislation which does not meet with the respect or approval of the mass of our people can work. This has been demonstrated on many occasions. This piece of legislation [629] offends against all our highest principles and all cherished beliefs and fundamental rights. It cannot operate against the wishes of the majority of our people. It must not and will not be allowed to operate.

I trust that this Bill will be treated with the disdain and contempt by the mass of our people, which it deserves. Outside this House there is massed opposition to this legislation Inside the House there is a united opposition. There are some dissidents and defections from the Government party as well. It is true to say that many of the Fianna Fáil Party will vote for this measure with their feet and not with their hearts. If they had the courage of their convictions they would never lend their support to such a piece of repressive legislation.

The spirit of the Irish people would want to be stone dead to accept this measure or allow it to be implemented. All our national aims and cherished rights cannot and will not be filched away from us like this by a Government which have reneged on all they ever stood for. I believe that this piece of legislation will be seen for what it is—a piece of bluff and political window dressing to give a veneer of decency, solidarity and respectability to a tattered party. It will be seen for what it is—a piece of utter hypocrisy. Fundamentally, I believe that the Irish people will never bow the knee or be slaves to an arrogant, neo-Fascist regime.

This is a black day in the history of this Dáil. It is a black day in the history of the country because the blinds are coming down on freedom and democracy all around us. It is for us in these benches to ensure that the torch of liberty shines on. Fianna Fáil will soon realise that they cannot force the Irish people, north and south, to abandon national aims, total freedom and sovereignty. Ireland's historic claim is for total freedom and the Government which accept anything less will be repudiated by the Irish people. I am convinced of that.

Fianna Fáil are now seen for what they are—the Unionist Party of Southern Ireland. They have the same designs for power in perpetuity. They [630] have the same desire to bend the institutions of our State towards their own ends. I am pleased to speak from these benches here tonight and to pledge the implacable opposition of the Labour Party to this despicable measure. We will fight it at every Stage. We will fight it by any means at our disposal. We are confident that, when the Irish people get the opportunity, they will reject outright the Government which sought to impose this despicable measure on them.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  This proposed legislation which we have before us now is certainly, for all of us, rather a shock. It is a shock because there does not seem to be the slightest reason why any additional laws of repression are needed in this country at the moment. It is a surprise because of the fact that the laws which we now have have been successfully bent in these recent months and years in order to try to put away those who did not agree with the outlook of the establishment—which is rather a new outlook—as has been remarked by many speakers tonight. That we should have it raises the first question in my mind. Why should we have this sort of legislation? Who wants it? What is the need for it? Is there any true, clear indication given by the Minister why, even as he sees things at the moment, he needs further laws in order not just to prosecute Republicans and their sympathisers in this country but to persecute them?

How can we possibly listen with any sort of quiet on our part to a Minister talking, on behalf of the Government, about the weaknesses that they have discovered in the laws? How can we listen to a further spokesman for the Government explaining, when he was asked why did they not tell the Opposition what the weaknesses were so that they could get together and sort them out, that, if they did that, and if they made known what the weaknesses were, the subversives and others would take advantage of those weaknesses to do still greater depredation? Can anybody seriously consider those two attitudes from two front bench members of the Government? Can anybody regard [631] them with anything but distaste and distrust in the knowledge that both must be dishonest. We ask ourselves has the law not worked beyond that which it was ever intended to do when we find the like of Máire Drumm being released two days ago, after spending 22 days in custody for a statement alleged to have been made by her last St. Patrick's Day, a statement which was said to be an incitement. An incitement to what? An incitement to whose disadvantage? Máire Drumm at that time, as far as I know, and I have the very great privilege of knowing this lady for a considerable time, had two sons and her husband interned. I thank the gentleman of the liberal Labour Party who made the scathing remark, if it was a member of the Labour Party.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I said the Deputy was welcome.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I could have guessed. It could not have been anybody else in the Labour Party who would have that attitude in circumstances such as this. Máire Drumm was 22 days in custody, awaiting trial for something she said on St. Patrick's Day, something which apparently displeased the Occupation Forces and the Crown representatives in the Six Counties and across in Westminster. We had to nail this lady down in order to placate those people whom we now seem to be collaborating with and with whom we seem to be in collusion in order to try to beat the last vestiges of republicanism out of the people in this part of the country and in the Six Counties as well. Is the law that could bring this about defective? This lady had two sons and her husband interned at that particular time.

Without going into any of the gory details which could be added with regard to the tortures and the treatment to which these people were subjected, and which we here hypocritically are protesting about by way of a case stated to the Court of Human Rights, is our law so defective that it can do that to which I have referred in those circumstances after all these months? Is there not something very wrong with [632] a law that allows this sort of thing to happen in those circumstances? Is there not something wrong with that law when a man can be served on 23rd June with a summons relating to an alleged statement made by him on the previous 9th September? I saw that summons issued to a constituent of mine. The 23rd June was the first he heard of an intended prosecution and of that to which it was alleged to refer. The statement was said to be inciting and he was taken before the courts and charged. In all truth and honesty, no man, after nine months, without notice of prosecution, could possibly recall what he said, could possibly, in all genuineness, either affirm or deny what he had or had not said at that particular time, or day, or date nine months previously.

What are we trying to do? Who are we trying to suppress? Whom are we trying to please? This is really what comes through from all these things and this is far removed from the attitude of the Fine Gael Party, who allege that the laws are adequate but are not being applied. I reckon they are more than adequate and they are being rigorously, too rigorously, applied. It is not more of these laws we need at this particular time. After the three horrible, tragic years in the north-east of this country of ours, without any real trouble descending upon us, much though we deserved it, we should now be gladly considering the wiping out and the deletion from our Statute Book of the mother and father of this amendment, the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, and the amending Act of 1940. We do not need them. That has been proved beyond any doubt. There is no need for any of these laws at this time and, if ever there was a time of testing to find whether or not they were needed, surely to God the last three years has been that time.

Do we want, following the wild fantasies of the Minister for Justice, to provoke trouble in this country to justify the laws and the abuse of those laws, the abuse that has already occurred, by bringing in yet more repressive laws in order deliberately to provoke? Is this Bill, in fact, part of a plot hatched over the last ten days in [633] which the arrest of Mac Stiofáin was to be the catalyst to bring about trouble in the streets of Dublin and make it so that no Member of this House could, in the light of the outcry that would bring from the public, vote against the Bill?

Maybe I am being very cynical and maybe not, but there is a fair belief in the minds of many people that this is why Mac Stiofáin could be arrested a couple of weeks after the Minister for Justice stood up here or, perhaps, elsewhere—I do not remember—and, on being chided as to why this man could freely come and go to the Sinn Féin Árd Fheis in Liberty Hall, stated that there was no case against him. I want to know what did he do since then that made it possible for a case to be taken against him? I want to know why whatever it was that he had done was not produced in evidence when he was prosecuted only a week ago. I want to know of what he was convicted. I want to know what the evidence was and how it came about. I think we will be asking these questions for quite a long time before we eventually get the answers. Unfortunately it will not be soon enough to thwart the efforts of the present Government to further provoke a situation that will bring them into the realm they now claim to be in, the realm of the protectors of the peace and the guardians of law and order. In fact, there is no danger of any kind except of their own imagining or of their own making.

We sat here during the night hours 2½ years or more ago and we listened then to the most dishonest prognostications and scare stories from the Fianna Fáil front bench about the imminent danger of civil war. Dear God, surely the time since then has proven that those statements were abject lies at that time, that there was no truth whatever in them. In fact, there is no truth in them today, except that danger is possibly nearer because of the attitude of the Government, the Government which have reversed their engines completely and absolutely and are now trying to justify their doing so by letting down and betraying the friends of those days, the friends they now call the enemies [634] of the people.

This is the background to this sordid, repressive piece of proposed legislation. This is what was brought into this House yesterday and today, and it is being supported by speeches, some of them no doubt well meant, and made in good faith as a result of listening to “his master's voice” but without real thought, without real examination, without people asking themselves are these repressive, nasty, new laws really necessary. Is there one indication, is there one iota of evidence—and you would need a lot— to support the plea that further and more repressive laws are needed and that these laws, even if they infringe the rights of the people deeply and gravely, are justified because of the situation, the crisis, the emergency that exists in our community?

I say there is no crisis. I say there is no emergency and there has not been for the past three years. There will not be, provided the people in Government today have enough sense to fall back even at this late stage, and realise that they have allowed their enthusiasm in their new found antagonism towards republican ideals, to run away with them. I tell them sincerely, and in order to avoid the trouble that they are allegedly trying to prevent, that the surest and truest way of getting real trouble in this country is to impose that sort of law unnecessarily on a freedom loving people.

Those who try to put this across on our people will have a lot to answer for if they succeed. I only hope they do not, for their own sake as well as the sake of the rest of the people. I believe that, if this is enacted, we will really get a taste of what we have been turning our backs on, and not wanting to see although it was there, in the Six Counties for the past three years. Cannot we get a little sanity even at this late stage? It would not be a loss of face for any Government to recognise the plea of the people on the streets, well behaved, remember, despite the emotive and emotional circumstances of last weekend. Surely if any proof was needed by the Government that there is no intention [635] and no wish and no desire to have bloodshed on the streets of Dublin or any other part of the Twenty-six Counties, that peaceful demonstration which went off with thousands there coming out, without any planned arrangements, from all walks of life, should be positive proof that there is no need for this sort of legislation.

Last night there were a couple of thousand gardaí and troops surrounding this place from the early afternoon while it was still bright, and not a being out there on the streets, but with the gates closed as if we were under siege. I remarked to some of the people I met when I saw this: “The only thing they must be trying to keep out is the rain,” because it was raining very heavily. Nobody was trying to break the place down. Nobody was attempting to do so.

Surely it is a well-known and well established fact that, if the Establishment of any country, and particularly in a democracy, show that they are expecting and, indeed, almost welcoming this sort of disorder, then it follows very often that they get it. Make the preparations so obvious and you raise in the minds of people who otherwise would not in any way be disorderly an antagonism that may bring them out in large numbers to do things they had no wish or intention to do. Last night's display of strength around this House was, wittingly or otherwise, most provocative. Despite the provocation, and despite the fact that thousands turned up, despite the deluge of rain, I have not heard even from the most prejudiced source that there was any cause for complaint about the overall behaviour of that large crowd.

Surely this must be evidence to the Government that this sort of law is unnecessary. It must be further evidence that a great wave of feeling is developing throughout the country, in all walks of life and amongst all sorts of people and, indeed, funnily enough, more so in the more adult population, than in the younger population, against this sort of suppression. Surely the Government must be aware of this through their contacts throughout [636] the country. Surely they are not blind to the signs. The real danger is emerging now and they are, wittingly or unwittingly, provoking it. It is being provoked; do not let us have any doubt about that.

We hear some rare explanations of this Bill. I was, perhaps, fortunate enough to listen to the explanation by the Minister for Transport and Power this evening. As soon as I heard he was on I said: “That is for me. This will be no problem.” Neither was it. There is no doubt about it: the veneer was there, put on, polished up and put across, but still falling very far short of being convincing.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  He is not biting.

A Deputy:  Gone are the days.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  He dealt with the two subsections which apparently it boils down to the only ones objectionable to Fine Gael and he dealt very glibly with the protection for the public and defendants which are inherent in the Bill. Perhaps I might be wronging the Minister if I say he claimed they were inherent in the Bill, but he rubbed it along that they were inherent in our present laws. You could not lose——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  He is going to bite.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The fact is that their protection is this. A chief superintendent is informed by his superintendent, who is informed by his inspector, who got it from the station sergeant, who got it from the sergeant on the beat, who got it from the garda, who got it from a tout who is paid on results. Let us not minimise it. This is the fact. I am not belittling the Garda. I am belittling the defence that has been made by the Minister and others of the non-hurtful nature of the subsections in this proposed legislation. That chief superintendent will come in, in those circumstances. Let us suppose it was the name Des Foley which came up seven, eight or nine stages from the tout down the line. The fact is that the chief superintendent puts the finger out and says that Foley is, in fact, as far as he believes a member of an illegal organisation.

[637]Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Behold the man.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  His defence and safeguards are these according to what we have been told tonight. He may deny the charge, I presume not in writing or by a telephone call from some distant place. He will do it if he chooses to do it by going into the witness box under oath. Right?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Yes.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The silence has been broken.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  What follows from that is that, if he wishes to deny a baseless charge, he is compelled to go into the witness box, a layman without any experience of courts or their proceedings, and he is then laid open to the legal wolves who will be set upon him by the State who wish to name anybody they feel should be put out of the way.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  What about the courts? The independent courts?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  If the Minister and others in his Government are so concerned about the independence of the courts, why did they find it necessary to set up special courts without jury trial?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Composed of judges.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Which ball game is the Minister in now?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  One of the reasons advanced to me by the Minister for Justice at the time was that the special courts procedure would help to get on with the business of the courts which was then in bad arrears. I asked at the time how do you proceed to make up a backlog of business that is already there in the operation of our courts of justice by putting three men doing one man's job and removing jury trial in cases of this kind of offence. That is only as a digression from the two arguments advanced as to the safeguards that exist for a person brought before the court. I am not sure as to whether [638] or not this also includes being brought before the special court. That has not emerged as yet. I should like to be informed as to whether the special court will be the court or one of the courts before which the chief superintendent will point the finger and say on information seven or eight times removed so-and-so is a member of an illegal organisation and the person goes into the box, very annoyed, and says: “I am not a member. I have never been a member and have no intention of becoming a member” and then we have the boys at him. Before they let him out of there the possibility is they will in one shape or another have elicited more from him, to his own detriment and against his own defence than was against him when the chief superintendent put his finger on him in the first place.

Secondly, we have the great and much lauded advantage of the chief superintendent, if you do not mind, being cross-examined. Who do the people in the front bench who have advanced this as a reason think they are codding? It just does not operate that way and every Member who said otherwise knows it does not operate that way and that the chief superintendent will, in fact, as he is wont to do in all cases, claim privilege. I saw a chief superintendent not so very long ago in the Four Courts claiming privilege. Is that same chief superintendent of the Special Branch the chief superintendent that this law is being passed to use and not the ordinary decent chief superintendents throughout the country and have we to bring in the other 22 or 23 in order to give to this chief superintendent the power to put people away at his dictates or on the instructions or whispers of the desires of his political bosses?

Can we have a clear picture? If this should, unfortunately, go through and is not withdrawn, which would be the sensible thing to do, are we going to have the chief superintentdent, the boss of the Special Branch, operating this law in his own particular, peculiar, special way? Are we going to have such a man as has indicated in the court that as the day changes and the weather changes so [639] could he change his evidence on oath? Are we prepared to give to such a man who before our own committee set up by this House made absolutely dishonest and untrue allegations this overall power?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may not single out an individual for criticism in the House. The individual has no opportunity of replying to the Deputy.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I appreciate this but the trouble is there is only one of them and it is like saying: “The lord mayor of this town, who shall be nameless”. This is the dilemma I am in.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  There is no lord mayor. Your crowd sacked him.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  This is the same man, whose position, perhaps rightly, has been defended by the custodian of order in this House, who took it on himself to make his foul and untrue and dishonest allegations and to name people where they had no opportunity of defending themselves when he was sitting down in that room being heard by this committee. If we had nothing else to go on but our knowledge of this man, surely that would be sufficient to say “Stop”. Even if the law was needed, this man should be excluded from the use of it even if the other 22 chief superintendents were entitled to use it.

Are we then going to bring about a catastrophe? For what unknown, obscure reason is it being attempted to be perpetrated at this time? Why are we trying to provoke by over suppressing the already suppressed? Why should this be so? What is the need for it? These are questions that the Government must have asked themselves before they came to a decision even to consider doing this. It was said here tonight by a Government speaker that this was not of the Government's making, that this thought came from the permanent law officers or law officer, those who are practised in and have had long experience of operating the laws of this land, that it was they who found the defects in [640] our law to be to such a degree that they were able to convince, the Minister for Justice presumably, and he in turn convinced the Government, no doubt after a great struggle, that the law was so defective that he needed much more severe, repressive legislation.

Did the Government at that time really go into this need that was alleged to exist by these very silent and well practised and long experienced law officers? Were they thoroughly cross-examined, if not by all of the members of the Cabinet, at least by the members who are also members of the legal profession? Were they made to justify the suggestion that there had been a disastrous lack of application of law due to a lack of law or a weakness in our laws over the recent years? Has that been attempted to be done? Was it sought? Why has the House not been given the benefit in detail and the case samples of what brought this necessity upon us? That is the very least that would be expected from any body, Government or otherwise, who would at this time attempt to bring into existence laws which, because they are unnecessary, bring only trouble in their train rather than, as is claimed, settle things so that there will be no more bother.

There is not much bother. There was far more bother four, five, six, seven years ago on many occasions than we have seen in these recent times. In fact, the times are quite quiet, despite the fact that we have the odd explosion taking place now south of the Border and that the very well-known UDA organisation are actually facilitating us by claiming credit, or otherwise, for them and that, by some strange device, people divine that it is not the people who have claimed to have done what would seem to them logical to do, by blowing up something on this side of the Border, but we are informed by reason of some mysterious divine insight that it was the IRA who were responsible. There was a bomb explosion in a public house in St. Johnston in my constituency. It was not very serious but, perhaps, its implications were great. The UDA claimed responsibility [641] for it but despite that a statement was issued 24 hours later to the effect that the Garda believed that the IRA were responsible. Was it not quick work to disbelieve the UDA and place the blame on the IRA? However, there has not been one shred of evidence since to indicate that the IRA were responsible and neither has there been any sign of a prosecution being brought. I suggest to the Minister that he pass the case to the Minister for Justice. Without any great perceptive ability in the field of detection, if the Minister were to ;7spend a day in St. Johnston I am sure he would come back with the names of the people who were responsible for that explosion and they are not in the IRA, whatever else they may be in.

What is the end product desired by these efforts on the part of the Government? The same sort of situation arose last week-end after the unfortunate incident in Dublin. While there was no claim for responsibility for that, we were told that the IRA were responsible. If there is no evidence to support that claim why was it made? Why do we go out of our way in this manner? It is to try to nail people or organisations while not producing any evidence to sustain the allegations. If there is evidence, let us have it but if there is not let there be silence at least until sufficient evidence to back such claims would come to light. Are we so imbued in following the propaganda machine that almost continuously spews out anti-Republican, pro-Unionist propaganda from Lisburn that we can see any happening only as the work of the IRA? This is the manner in which the Lisburn propaganda machine works. It is well known that some of those in the Press who have the temerity to keep in touch continuously with these people for the purpose of obtaining whatever handouts are available, are given tomorrow's news today because a story is written already to cover any eventuality and in all cases the culprits are the IRA.

Do we recall a few weeks ago an incident when a lad of about 14 was shot for allegedly shooting at the [642] army. It was reported here immediately that when the lad dropped his rifle a woman who was standing by grabbed it and ran away with it but that when she was shouted at to halt she was shot. That story came from Lisburn. It was the story that our media were expected to put out straight away but a couple of hours later there was a denial from the army that the incident had taken place as described in the report and that the woman was an innocent by-stander who was shot accidentally by one of the soldiers or by somebody else. These are isolated but typical cases of what is going on there day after day and we here through our blinkered outlook are only too ready to take what we get from there and give it the first flush of publicity. No matter what denials emerge, the lies are never corrected. Why do we not suppress this sort of news? Why do we not put a stop on a story until somebody whom we know would make some inquiries through the sources best known to them had done so? Why do we issue these handouts to our own radio and television media without making an effort to establish the truth from the pressman on the ground or even from the representatives up there of our own media? All the time we run out with hands up to help those who would put an end to the whole concept of unity for this country. Why must a native Irish government representing the people of 26 of our counties behave in this way?

I know the members of the Government individually and I can ask with, perhaps, more wonder and amazement than people on the other side of the House can realise what has gone wrong with the Government. For a time I may have been annoyed but now I am utterly amazed as to what happened and I am saddened by it. Even on this very serious problem and at this late stage could they even attempt to explain what has brought about this behaviour on their part? If they made such an attempt, perhaps we would be able to see that we err in our ways and not they in theirs. However, we have not had explanations. Occasionally we are [643] abused or are subjected to snide remarks or criticism but there is never any question of explanation as to how this amazing change came about to such a degree that the members of that party with whom I have worked and who I admired and was glad to work with——

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Hear, hear.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  ——have changed so much that I do not know them any more and I certainly do not understand them. Is the lack on my part or on theirs? Is the lack on the part of the few of us here because we are few and must they be right? If that is so, perhaps we might be given an explanation that would remove the scales from our eyes and permit us to see as, apparently, the majority see but which they see in a manner that is very different from the way in which I see the situation and in which they saw it only a few years ago.

I have asked what is this Bill. In my humble estimation it is a provocative, repressive and ugly proposal to enable to be put out of the way some few persons that others have feared and who now cannot be silenced or put away. That is the only possible answer one is left with but, difficult as that is to believe, what is the alternative? Why is the Bill necessary? From where did it emanate? Above all, I warn of the great danger of total disaster that would follow the enactment of this Bill. I am not saying this by way of agreement or disagreement with it. I say it as my firm conviction, my firm belief, that disaster is very likely to follow if this legislation goes on the statute book. I do so because of the fact that, as I pointed out already, there has not been any evidence that our present laws are inadequate. To me the application of them has indicated that they are more than adequate. Even if they were inclined to be wanting in certain directions, steps have been taken to take the short cuts and get ourselves away from the botheration of jury trials. What the hell do they know about things? They do not count when there [644] is pressure on. It is a different matter when times are such that you can take up their time, waste their time and pay them nothing for it.

When it comes down to the liberty of many subjects, as the case may be here, then away with the juries, set up the special courts, utilise three judges and then add three or four more on as reserves. This is a better way to carry out the law than the existing system of law as it is being practised—the time-worn practice of the judge and his jury sitting and deliberating and finally deciding how the justice of the case should stand. We have these three or four reserves and we have backlogs of cases of the ordinary nature in our courts but I do not hear any outcry about the backlog now. I do not hear it being advanced any more as a reason for bringing in special courts that would speed up things.

I ask now, as I asked then how do you speed up the administration of justice in our courts by putting three judges to do the job which one did before this? Maybe there is a new method, maybe there is a new sort of analysis carried out by the Government through some of their agencies that has found a way in which you employ more people doing the same job at the same time and you get a bigger work out-turn as a result. That applies to machines and mass-production but I do not think it applies to the administration of justice in our courts and I do not think it was intended. I think it was a shortcut not for the administration of justice but perhaps in order that the laws should be stretched to their limits, that the ordinary uneducated, perhaps somewhat ignorant and backward jurymen would not be able to appreciate or understand and contribute their share to the manipulations.

Is that why we have these? Are they any different to that which we condemn in the Six Counties today? Is there any difference between this proposal in this Bill and the internment which was mooted by the Taoiseach nearly two years ago and was then taken up and put into operation by the fools in Britain? It was not followed here at that time; but it is, [645] in my estimation, being followed now and followed in a way that is far more repugnant, far more dangerous, than ever straightforward internment could be, because this is internment by subterfuge. This is internment by passing the buck down to your 23 chief superintendents and giving it a veneer of having the laws of the land applied to it. A false veneer—something nasty and totally repugnant to any freedom-loving people—is being given to this. If you want internment, why the hell do you not stand up and give it to us? Stop this sham. If it is internment I am asking: is that what you want? I see the Minister for Transport and Power nodding his head.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I assume the Deputy wants internment. We do not want that.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Do not forget you used it before.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): And so did Deputy Blaney as a member of the Government.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Blaney without interruption.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  If it were not for the Labour Party—four of us were expelled—we would have had it. We stopped you from introducing internment.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The founder of Aontacht Éireann was Minister for Defence.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Let you all fight it out among yourselves.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Blaney is in possession. He should be allowed to speak.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  This is naked, cold-blooded internment and nothing else.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Fight it out among yourselves and the people will decide.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Minister has been very quiet during the last 25 minutes. I wonder why?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Will the Deputy cease interrupting.

[646]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  He is just supporting. That is all he is doing.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Let you fight it out among yourselves.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Interruptions are disorderly and they must cease.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): In 1970 the Minister for Transport and Power did not know whether or not to come in behind the Taoiseach.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  That was a different ball game.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Bernard Cowen  Zoom on Bernard Cowen  The Deputy will never come in behind the Taoiseach.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Blaney. Interruptions from any side of the House are not in order.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Minister knows what ball game I am talking about.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair will not allow this kind of thing to continue.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Lest I should forget, I want to comment and reply to the Minister's misconception of what I was saying. I do not want internment. I do not reckon there is any reason or need in any circumstances whatsoever for internment. At least we are agreed this far. If we get you the rest of the way the job will be right.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am sorry if I seem rather ponderous in trying to get this across but, having established that neither the Minister nor I want internment under any circumstances, would he please use his best endeavours and influence to convince his colleagues, and particularly the Minister for Justice, not to introduce internment by subterfuge as is inherent in the proposal now before us. If it is a case that the Minister for Justice cannot be prevailed on to realise that internment is not needed and if the majority of the Government back his view, despite the best endeavours of the Minister for Transport and Power to convince them otherwise, then I would [647] ask that he would switch his attack and plead that they should seek internment openly and honestly, in the interests of the public, who would then clearly understand what they were now being confronted with.

A Deputy:  A good election issue.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I certainly do not intend to follow that role of recommending internment, as suggested by Deputy Blaney.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Interruptions must cease. Deputy Blaney is in possession.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It is presumptuous of me to say so but I seem to have been one of the very few Ministers at that crucial time who was honest.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Will Deputies please cease interrupting and allow Deputy Blaney to continue?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  In deference to Deputy Cowen, it is amazing how news travels fast, and particularly good news. I am not surprised at the Deputy being rather riled at my not liking this particular legislation. The other night in his constituency he was confronted by a number of his constituents perhaps at a Fianna Fáil meeting—I am not sure as I do not get to the official ones any more—he was asked and the Deputy can deny this if he wants to——

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Will Deputies please cease interrupting?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The Deputy will have the opportunity of denying this: when he was taxed and asked by some of his constituents, acquaintances or friends or all the lot rolled in together, whether he should not, in the interests of the public and of justice, vote against the Bill that is now before us, he replied that if he had ten votes they would go for it. I believe this. I am like the chief [648] superintendent. I only heard it from two or three down the line. I am not concerned whether the Deputy is worried or not. I am merely giving him the opportunity of denying it, as he is prepared to give to the defendant under this Bill the opportunity to deny when the chief superintendent says: “I believe what I heard from several removes from me down the line”. I heard it and I believe that that was the Deputy's answer to his own constituents who asked him and taxed him not to support it and he said that if he had ten votes he would not give one against this Bill.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Cut out the comic opera.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Blaney on the Bill.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Bernard Cowen  Zoom on Bernard Cowen  On a point of order, is it not true that Deputy Blaney was a member of the Government that introduced internment in 1957?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  That is not a point of order.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  From that I gather that there is hope. It would seem from that interjection that Deputy Cowen believes that it was then wrong to do it so why should it be done dishonestly now and that is what he is voting for in this Bill.

Mr. Boylan: Information on Terence Boylan  Zoom on Terence Boylan  Sit down, you renegade.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  May I say, in fairness to Deputy Cowen——

Mr. Cowen: Information on Bernard Cowen  Zoom on Bernard Cowen  You know an awful lot about Deputy Cowen in a short time.

Mr. S. Browne: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Go in and vote for Fine Gael and forget about it.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Interruptions are disorderly.

Dr. Thornley: Information on David Thornley  Zoom on David Thornley  On a point of order, I do not want to help you with your job, but could I appeal for an audience for the ex-Fianna Fáil Minister?

[649]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  That is not a point of order. The Chair is doing what it can. Deputy Blaney.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  You are all very worried over there. What is wrong? Is he sticking the knife in too far? Are you afraid there is something coming?

Deputies:  No.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  We are not afraid of anyone.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Information on Oliver J. Flanagan  Zoom on Oliver J. Flanagan  Go back and kiss the bride again.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  There is certainly one thing about the Deputies in general at the moment. They have not much regard for order in the House—Deputies on any side of the House.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The House is supposed to be discussing a serious measure at the moment and the House is not allowing a Deputy in possession to make his contribution. If Deputies would allow the Deputy in possession to make his contribution then, perhaps, we could carry on this as a serious debate.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Thank you very much, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. There was a suggestion that the comedy should finish and I quite agree but the trouble is that it was the arch-comic on the front bench who made the suggestion and nobody should recognise the comedy of things better than he does. I would say to those who feel annoyed that an ex-Minister should get a bad time that I am not getting a bad time. In fact, it would appear from the come back from over there that some people feel that they are getting a bad time. That is not intended either. It is purely accidental, no more.

Going back to this matter, I wanted to say in deference to Deputy Cowen's short while in this House, that he is not the only one, he is not the only Deputy in Fianna Fáil, and you know that from talking to them. There is a whole lot more of them getting the [650] same razz all around the country at the moment. He was not an exception. I just happened to hear about it and I happened to hear about his reply. That is the only difference.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Bernard Cowen  Zoom on Bernard Cowen  If the Deputy was told that was the reply I made he got very false and wrong information.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I asked the Deputy to deny it and he did not.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Bernard Cowen  Zoom on Bernard Cowen  I deny it now.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Should Deputy Blaney address remarks across the House to another Deputy?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am glad to have given the opportunity to Deputy Cowen to indicate that if he had ten votes he would give some of them against the Bill.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Blaney.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I suppose I was like the Deputy at one time too. He is easily “riz” and hard to settle.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Bernard Cowen  Zoom on Bernard Cowen  If I was in Fianna Fáil as long as you were——

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Nobody cast any aspersions on the Deputy's membership of Fianna Fáil.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Personal remarks across the House are not in order.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Without even the good manners to be orderly because nobody is supposed to speak from the passages in this House. They are supposed to be in their places. However, that is neither here nor there in regard to, as the Chair has said, a very serious matter. I want to go back to the internment that is inherent in the repressive proposals in this Bill. I am seriously asking the Minister again to ensure that we do not have this Bill carried through into [651] the Statute Book. I ask him to do it because I believe it is unnecessary, it can only bring trouble. It is not doing anything for the country today or will not tomorrow. It is doing a great deal of damage to it in that it is interfering, in a very definite way, with the rights of the individuals and the citizens of this part of the country where, God knows, over the centuries we have had enough repression. Surely we do not have to continue it now that we are in charge of our own affairs, or are we in charge of our own affairs or are we being instructed what to do? Could this possibly be an explanation of what seems otherwise inexplicable? Can it be that this Bill is in order to satisfy the demands that are being made, wrongfully, by spokesmen for the Unionists in the Six Counties, by spokesmen for the government in Britain and by the British Premier himself asking that we should do more than we are doing on this side of the Border to suppress the IRA? I think these people have a bloody cheek because the fact is that with the small number of forces at our disposal, with all the inadequacies of the law that we have heard enumerated here but not in detail, with the small number of gardaí that we have, compare your performance against your own countrymen and your own republican brethren with the huge build-up of 21,000-plus troops in the Six Counties, the inflated number of RUC and their reserves and add to it, the UDR in collusion in many cases with the UVF and UDA. If they cannot manage their own little area above, why should those people demand that we should be doing it for them? If they cannot do it, should they not be told to go and take a jump at themselves when they come crying here that we are not doing enough? We are doing too damn much in my estimation to repress and suppress people who are fleeing from the terror, the torment and the torture, the internment and the jailings, the hammerings, and the batterings. We are fastening on their backs when they come here in order to ensure that it will be worse if they attempt to come in here than if they stayed [652] where they were and took their chance.

They have a damn cheek to be talking about and abusing an Irish Government no matter what I might think of them individually or collectively, with their huge build-up of armaments, their army and all the rest. Everything that science can produce they have there and what are they doing? They are crying that we are not doing enough for them down here. They should be told to take a big long jump at themselves and should be told at the same time to get to hell out of this country, because there has never been or never will be peace while they remain as the conquerors and occupiers of lands that are not theirs. This is what they understand and they are bamboozled and confused and misled by the attitude of an Irish Government in this day and age who would appear to be supporters of the idea that the union must stand, that the army must remain and that Irish men and women of these 32 counties could not find out and work out their own salvation.

I do not believe it. I believe that is the method that has been used, along with others, to keep our people apart, to create the difference, to create the divide. We should be telling them to “hump off” and to mind their own business, to get out of the land, to get out of the country, to make a good resolution at this stage to say they are going and to stop provoking the Unionists into the belief that they are going to stay for ever and that they are going to sustain them with their millions and to defend them with their army. That is why there can be no discussion, no reasoned discussion, between the Orange and the Green in the Six Counties, because Britain's dirty paws are still on the table between them. Why do you not tell them that instead of collaborating with them?

Mr. Gogan: Information on Richard P. Gogan  Zoom on Richard P. Gogan  There is no collaboration.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  There is collaboration, and you know it and you must fear it more than anybody else in this House with the record you have, a record which we all honour and which inspired [653] many of us to have the views we now have. There is collaboration on every indication of evidence there is between our forces and the forces of the Crown and the occupation, all of it designed to suppress, to harass and to set back the chances of bringing——

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  In what way is this relevant?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Perhaps the Deputy will relate this to the Bill.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Minister cannot take it.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Oh, you shut up. We are talking about a Bill here.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  On a point of order, is it in order for a Minister——

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  These interruptions are designed to put me off but——

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  On a point of order, is it in order for a Minister to tell a Deputy twice to shut up?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Suppression of free speech.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Interruptions in this House are so frequent that many times even the Chair does not hear what is going on.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  On a further point of order, this is not what Deputy Donegan asked. He asked was it in order for the Minister to say this. He did not necessarily ask if you heard it. We all heard it. Is it in order for the Minister to tell a Deputy to shut up twice?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair never answers theoretical questions.

Mr. O'Higgins: Information on Thomas F. O'Higgins Jnr.  Zoom on Thomas F. O'Higgins Jnr.  Is it the situation——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Will the Minister agree to retract or confirm or deny?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  If you have no sense of humour, that is your problem.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  As I was saying when I was——

[654]Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): So rudely interrupted.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  No—interrupted in the usual manner. There is this sad sort of situation which again rather befuddles me, to say the least, and annoys me a great deal, that we undoubtedly do not know what is happening in the territory north of the line which is the unnatural division we know as the Border, and in so far as this Bill is concerned, I take it that, in keeping with our constitutional claims, we would if we got the opportunity, apply it to the Six County residents as well.

What I am trying to put is this, that we are not doing ourselves any good in the eyes of the people we are seeking to unite in the Six Counties and who desire unity as much as anybody down here, by passing legislation such as is here proposed because it is only natural that they should expect that if unity came about, that sort of repressive law would apply to them as it is now proposed to apply to us, because our Constitution does say that we lay claim to the whole territory and regard every citizen as a citizen thereof.

This is surely bad in itself, but worse still, it must now have infiltrated into the mind of the Government, as a result of this and the repression which has already taken place under our all too adequate laws, that we are using down here at the moment to repress republican outlook and feeling and people, that developing in the Six County minority public mind over the recent past particularly is a most unusual happening, that is, one of total disenchantment, if not disgust, with the whole thought of ever having anything to do with an Irish Government based in Dublin. I say this with the greatest regret and sadness, but it is a fact. This is, in fact, what is now becoming the public mind and outlook of the minority in the Six Counties, and perhaps the only possible ray of sunshine that might relieve the gloom created by that strange happening is that by a strange perversity perhaps, a strange coincidence, almost at the same time but no doubt for [655] very different reasons, there is a disenchantment taking place amongst the most apt and rapt Unionists with their bosses as they now see them beginning to emerge from Westminster. Maybe in a queer, perverse and inexplicable way with these changes from the friendship and thoughts of fellowship that existed between the minority in the Six Counties and their brethren, as it were, in the South, they are now being disenchanted, looking away from them, and side by side with them the Unionists are beginning to become disenchanted with the British because they feel they are pushing them around a wee bit at the moment and they are not used in Unionist circles to being pushed around in the Six Counties. Maybe it is that this may well be in a queer, perverse, accidental way the beginning of a common bond between the people of conviction on both sides in the Six Counties and arising from it there yet may be emerging a hope that we can have the beginning of unity. It is my conviction that there cannot be any real settlement of this matter until the people of extreme views on both sides get together, not the moderates in the middle, not the people who change with whatever way the wind blows, not the people who think it is too much bother to change things. What we are doing here will not be seen as helping to achieve the unity of our country. Rather it will be seen as the result of policies that should not have been pursued here, policies that are a betrayal of the minority in the Six Counties.

Can we wonder that the people in the Six Counties have a growing disenchantment with the idea of a Dublin and all-Ireland Government? Can we blame them for their feeling of revulsion at what is contained in this Bill, namely, the provision to suppress and lock up those who may be driven by political circumstances and pressure in the Six Counties to flee across the Border? Can we blame the people in the Six Counties for looking askance at us and wondering if we are really concerned about their [656] welfare or about the unity of our country? These are real problems but the answer being suggested to the people in the Six Counties is that we do not want them in the South, that we should prefer them to remain with their troubles in the North rather than embroil us or disturb us in a happy slumber into which we have fallen. Compared with our economic state some 30 years ago we now enjoy a certain affluence and it appears we are afraid we will lose some of that affluence if we have to share it with those people of all religions in the Six Counties who are just as Irish as we are.

Why have we developed this selfish outlook, this lack of concern over the one matter that stands out like a sore thumb, namely, the partition of our country? Partition was created by a foreign power, against the wishes of the vast majority of our people. For 50 years the Unionist junta have enacted oppressive legislation against the people in the Six Counties. Why do we not abolish our Offences Against the State Act instead of making our legislation more oppressive? This is what we should be doing as an assurance not only to the minority in the Six Counties but to the majority, to show them that we do not desire to have repressive legislation on our statute book.

In recent days John Brooke has indicated his disagreement with what is proposed in this Bill. However, there may be a brighter side in that John Brooke and others like him, despite their statement of non-concern, are concerned about what we do on this side of the Border because of their deep inner convictions that they are Irish, that the whole of the island is Ireland and that they belong to it as much as we do, that Dublin is part of their heritage as it is of ours. Maybe this is the hopeful message we can get from the condemnation by John Brooke, but is it not sad that a man in his position is forced to indicate he does not consider it is good legislation? If Mr. Brooke found it necessary to express even mild dislike of the Bill, surely our Government and Parliament [657] should have no illusions about the trouble we are creating and the wrong we will do if this legislation is enacted.

I would ask that this Bill be withdrawn. As the Opposition have stated already, if there are real problems in the administration of law here these could be considered and settled. If the Bill is withdrawn I would not regard it as a loss of face for the Government or as a lessening of the stature of the Government. In view of the speeches made here and the messages that have been pouring in from all sections, if the Bill were withdrawn it would not be so regarded. Rather it would increase their stature because, for once, it would be seen that they stopped and said: “We may think this legislation is right but so many think it is wrong we will take it out. We can live without it as we have done up to now and will talk to the Opposition about our problems regarding the inadequacy of the law”. If the Government adopted this course and sought the expertise of the Opposition in this matter this would be of considerable benefit and would fill whatever gaps may exist in the law.

I do not think there are any gaps. When law becomes too closed up and tight it gets stuffy and that is what will happen here. However, if it were possible for the Government and the Opposition to come together on this matter I would be glad to chair the initial meeting.

Despite the opposition of Fine Gael, and their motion to refuse a Second Reading by submitting a reasoned amendment, I think that is the way it is put, despite that, I had been told before Monday—and I had not seen the Bill at the time—that the contents of this Bill may well have been known to some person or persons in Fine Gael and that if it were not for assurances from such person or persons that it would ultimately be helped through by Fine Gael it would never have seen the light of day.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Deputy knows that is not so.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Not only am I prepared to accept the word of any Deputy [658] there who says it is not true but I shall be quite happy to see, by the steadfast and unchanged opposition of Fine Gael to it, that there is not the slightest grain of truth in what I am saying. I am not saying this merely to have a crack at Fine Gael but because this persistent rumour is going around. It would be a sad thing if there was any semblance of truth in such a rumour because not only would we have repressive legislation but we would have a major Opposition party proclaiming publicly that they are against this legislation but perhaps ultimately accepting assurances, which I was given to understand will come from the Minister for Justice in concluding that the two subsections to which Fine Gael really object will be suitably amended. On that promise, which is not an unusual one when a Government are under pressure in regard to some obnoxious feature of a Bill, the Fine Gael opposition would, it is suggested, withdraw their motion and on Committee Stage a formula would be produced to change these two sections but only in words and not in content or intent. That is the story; if it is not true, so much the better. This is one occasion on which if it is not true it will be seen to be so before very long.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): We shall not be taking coffee when the division is on as the Deputy did on a number of occasions in the past couple of years.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  If I had as little conviction about the rights of what I do as I know the Deputy to have, he would be at home most of the time instead of taking up the time of this House.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  That is a non-answer.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Work it out for yourself. This is just a telegram; let nobody be alarmed. I remember reading one here quite a few years ago; it is not the same kind. It is a telegram that has just been handed in from my own constituency, Lifford, Donegal. It is addressed to me here and I am sure other Deputies, including Deputy Harte, will have got one. It says:

[659]“The Donegal branch of the Local Government and Public Services Union call on you to vote against the Offences against the State (Amendment) Bill, 1972,” and it is signed by their branch secretary. It is interesting that it asks me to vote against the measure rather than, as one might expect from the voice of the Fianna Fáil Party, perhaps, a telegram asking me to support it. This is a body against which I do not think anybody could point a finger and say that they are either the fringe of the subversives or likely to be malcontents or misfits. Within that Local Government and Public Services Union there is probably a sound collection of the most stable citizens in our community. That is only the Donegal branch and perhaps we are a bit daft up there but these are mostly outsiders——

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  The Deputy will appreciate that it is our business here to make up our own minds. That is what we are here for.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The Minister visited Donegal recently; had he told me he was coming I might have had somebody bake a cake for him but coming as he did somewhat surreptitiously, I did not like it.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Not surreptitiously.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  As the Minister may have found on his visit to the football pitch on his way to north-east Donegal he did not even fancy it there either and it was a foolish venture on the part of the alleged friend who induced the Minister to participate in some sort of political gimmick.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Being very tourist conscious, anybody is welcome in my county provided he does not upset the rhythm of things and, in all fairness, I do not think the Minister did that. To come back to the repressive proposals, are we doing this [660] to satisfy Mr. Heath? If so, I do not think this will endear us to him or to anybody in the British Government who would feel that in bowing to their wishes in a matter that is purely our own concern we only show ourselves to be weak and not really of any great account and not to be taken seriously. There are many suggestions that this is the case, that this is one of the main reasons we are doing this; that this is why we arrested Mac Stiofáin, got him convicted in some way—I read about it but I still do not know how it was done. But it is done, and having had it done, let us not forget that this man we understand, is not in the best physical condition at the moment. Is he to be allowed to continue his hunger strike despite the fact that his health condition, we understand, was not good recently before his arrest?

Is it so important to satisfy the Government's ego or sense of importance that this man must have his life further endangered? This is a man of whom the Minister for Justice three weeks ago was able to say in this House that he had no case against him. If a man had shown himself in every respect to be unworthy of circulating in our community here and, on conviction, he decided to go on hunger strike for whatever motive, it just might be—I do not know—in those very extreme circumstances justifiable to allow such a person to die. But I do not know of any reason why a man who had no case against him less than three weeks ago, and who since then had not committed any crime that was indicated in the court, be committed to prison. In protest and in furtherance of his beliefs and principles he goes on thirst and hunger strike almost to the point of death. Perhaps before we come back here, if we come back at all after this week, this man may have died. All I am asking is, is his crime grave enough to allow him to die? I do not think so. As well as that, trouble could follow from it because, as other Deputies said here tonight, these things raise emotions and are provocative. We must ask ourselves is this feeling on the part of the Government of being the power in the land so all important as to justify a man being allowed to die——

[661]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Chair has allowed references to this matter, but the Deputy is going away from the Bill.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am sorry, Sir. I should have put it the other way around. This arrest would appear to have been part of the pattern that has produced this Bill here, to have been done at the behest of Mr. Heath. It would appear that the whole thing was a planned operation to satisfy Mr. Heath that we here really mean business, that we are doing more than our part to defeat those who hold Republican views.

Our failure to object strongly to the holding of a plebiscite in the Six Counties is also in keeping with the instructions of Mr. Heath, that we should dither around and not do the logical thing, hold one here on the same day so that we get the true answer from the people of the Thirty-two Counties.

Is it that or is it some other reason? I am at a loss to know what is the reason, but I do not think even that is a satisfactory explanation. However, some explanation is necessary as to why this series of events should continue to happen contrary to what one would naturally expect from an Irish Government acting in this House on behalf of the Irish people.

I wonder as well whether the comments of the other speakers I have had the good fortune to hear at an earlier stage in the debate can throw some light on the introduction of this Bill. I was amazed and even slightly amused to hear the comments of Deputy Corish, the leader of the Labour Party—this was trotted out in other terms tonight by Deputy Treacy —about the whiter than white peaceful corps that the Labour Party are now and always have been and how consistent they are as against the inconsistency of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over the violence in the last three years. I assert that in 1969 neither the members of the Labour Party, of the Fianna Fáil Party or of the Fine Gael Party ran away from those who came in their dire straits at that time from Belfast seeking arms. How many of you told them [662] to “hump off”, that it was a wrong thing to do?

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  They did not come to us.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  They did not come to us either.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  They knew where to go—over there.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Do not rush your fences.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): We had not the money.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  The strange thing is that that is what a member of the Labour Party told them when they visited him; he was full of sympathy.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Which one?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It was not you.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Which one? Be honest.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am merely refreshing the memory of who it was.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  Let the man make his alibi clear.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It is not a question of an alibi. All I am saying is that there seems to be a hell of a short memory in the minds of many of the Members of this House, no matter in what benches they sit, as to how they have changed their outlook, although they now claim in retrospect that they never were otherwise. I do not think they are being dishonest but that they were conveniently deluding themselves that they never encouraged or made promises or gave sympathy or support to those who were seeking methods of defending themselves against the rampages of the B Specials and the RUC in 1969. It is only the few who are now branded as violent people, and it is those few people who not only have not changed their minds or their outlook since then but who have not the facility to delude themselves that they never did think that way three years ago.

Debate adjourned.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday the 1st December, 1972.


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