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

Friday, 1 December 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 264 No. 4

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Debate resumed on the following amendment:

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

“Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the [664] 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.”

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  As far as this Bill is concerned I intend to devote only a short time to rounding up what I believe to be the real reasons why there is no need for a Bill of this nature to be brought before the House, never mind enacted. There is clearly no threat to the security of this State. There is no apparent danger that there will be a threat to the security of the State or its institutions. I am convinced that at no stage was the Offences Against the State Act ever intended to be operated or utilised, never mind extended, unless there was a drastic situation where the State and its institutions were in grave danger of being demolished.

I can see no cause for that. In fact, I would like to advance the reasons why I am satisfied that the reverse is the case, in so far as any dangers might come from the IRA. The Provisional IRA particularly seem to be the people, the resistance forces that have fought the occupation forces in the Six Counties over the last three years, who are now singled out in every way possible for a propaganda smear campaign against them. This is in order to condition the people here to look on them not for what they are and have been, the resistance fighters of the Six Counties—who arose and developed from the peaceful protests which began on the streets of Belfast, Derry and elsewhere in 1968 and 1969 —and without whom there would not have been, over the last couple of years, any need for, nor would there have been any place for, nor would he even be allowed into Downing Street or Chequers, a leader of the Irish Government to talk about the problem of the Six Counties.

Had there been no real resistance from the people on the streets in the Six Counties, there would be no problem to talk about today, that is, if we regard the total and complete suppression of the minority, after their [665] efforts of 1968 and 1969, their total disappearance and suppression further back than they ever were in the past 50 years, as no problem. We would have no problem to discuss, and even if we regarded their continued suppression and the discrimination against them as a problem to us, there would be nobody in Britain, and certainly nobody of the stature of the British Prime Minister, in the slightest degree disposed to even bid the time of day to the Taoiseach if his quest across the Channel was in any way to discuss the situation in those Six Counties of ours.

They came into being in that way and they are now branded as Provisional IRA. There are others who do not belong to any IRA and they have been participating in the rising that came from that resistance that developed from civil rights marches which were met by force and brutality and by the forces of the Crown, the RUC and the B Specials. It was by this very action on their part and their hasty reaction to suppress the people looking for their rights, which they have been denied for so long, that there developed the absolute conviction in the minds of the people in the minority in the Six Counties, and in the mind of the vast majority in the Twenty-six Counties, that there had to be resistance and that if there was not resistance they would be beaten out of sight never to rise up or to put up their heads again.

We not only knew this was the case and not only sympathised with the plight of the people there, but we realised to the full that if there was not resistance on their part by force to meet force they would be wiped out in so far as any possible getting of rights to which they are entitled was concerned. They would be wiped out in so far as their outlook for the future would be concerned. They showed courage over the past 50 years in that having risen and having done the thing according to the book and made protests and held marches, they got their heads beaten in for their trouble. Arising from all that and provoked by that brutality, there arose the will and the conviction, [666] which still obtains, that the minority of the Six Counties are finished with and will never again accept the manner in which they have been treated for the past 50 years, whether we support them or not.

From there, there came this desire and this grave need for a means to combat those who were then brutalising them. We here, and people in every party—maybe in some parties more than in other parties—in this House, had the utmost sympathy for them. There was the utmost sympathy for them and for their needs at that time and, when those representing the citizens' defence committee came down here in August, September and October of 1969—they were all responsible well-known people —they visited quite openly all the parties here, including the Government. They did not come sneaking down in the dark. They came down openly because of the exigencies of the time and the knowledge and belief they had that there was between them and the Members of this House, representing the people of this part of the country, a kinship, as there naturally should be, and a sympathy and an understanding.

They held the belief that they would get from those whom they visited the help they needed. They looked for arms as the only possible method of combating the visitations, the brutal visitations, of the alleged forces of law and order, particularly the B Specials at that time. There may be a few here who can stand up now and say that they did not give these people any sympathy then and that they made not the slightest promise or gave the slightest hint that they were sympathetic to their needs. But let there be no mistake about it. A large number of most influential Members of this House gave them the fullest indications they could, and the most positive indications, of sympathy together with their promise that they would help them in any way they could.

I know now that it is all too easy today, as it was all too easy during the last year or so, to pretend that they did not commit themselves in any way [667] at that time and there is a tendency now for certain people to hold up their hands and claim that they are now whiter than white. I would ask those who now feel that way, who think they were totally opposed to any idea of help, as requested by those responsible people at that time, to think back and examine what their line then was. Unless they are positive and unless they indicated then clearly and unequivocally their lack of sympathy and their rejection of the needs of these people, I would ask them now not to stand up and preach in terms which would suggest they had some divine inspiration at that time and never entertained a spark of sympathy for these people in their sad plight either then or since.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Where did Deputy Jack Lynch and Deputy Jim Gibbons stand then?

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  On their feet.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange  Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange  Were they sitting idly by?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It would be probably all too easy to have some smart rejoinder to that, but I will not be tempted. I want to be serious in this. I have the outlook I had as a result of what I have been saying. I have no apologies to make for it, though I can see that my view in these matters could be as wrong as the views of those who disagree with me. I believe in the views I hold and in the view that I express and, if there are now some who have changed their minds over that period, and if that is additional support for one's view, at least I have been consistent in my views. But that, of course, does not make them right. However, on the laws of probability, I feel that consistency in a view over a time of great change and great difficulty is more likely to indicate that one's views are correct as against the views that have changed.

But that is not really my point. What I am trying to get across is that there is no need for this law. There is no threat of any kind from the Provisional IRA. I pick them out because they have been picked out for special [668] mention from the point of view of the need for this Bill. It is alleged they are the real threat. The Provisional IRA grew out of the need at the time. As I understand it, they developed out of the citizens' defence committees, whose representatives at a very early stage came down south and were well received and given every sympathy and a promise of much support. People may quibble now as to what the promise of support really meant or did not mean. If someone comes to your door and makes it very clear that he is in serious trouble and wants £20 immediately, or the next morning, and that is all he asked for, and insists that he wants nothing but the cash because only the cash is of any use to him, and you say to him: “I am in agreement with you and I will help you” could you, three months or six months later, in all fairness, expect that person to believe that you did not make a definite promise that he would get the cash? That is my interpretation of the requests of these people from the North at that time and, to my knowledge, those requests were never refused.

Not only did circumstances bring the freedom fighters into existence but so did the promised support of help, not just by me but by a lot of other people as well. The blame lies on me and a whole lot of others, who helped to bring into existence shortly after those who are now condemned as terrorists, murderers—the gunmen of the Provisional IRA. Were it not for this particular organisation and those others who came to the defence of their people, particularly in Belfast and Derry, those who erected and manned the barricades when the pressure was really greatest, would there be any problem to discuss with Mr. Heath, Mr. Whitelaw or anybody else so far as the Six Counties are concerned today? The people would have been suppressed, driven back into the ground, walked upon as they have been walked upon for 50 years. Having made the big effort, never again in our time, or in the foreseeable future, would the people ever march again to assert their rights in a peaceful or other protest.

We have a responsibility in this matter, [669] in my opinion, because of the encouragement and the participation and nothing we may now say can wipe that away. There may be those who argue now that that was not right. I do not argue in that way. I believe it was right. I do not put a tooth in it. Furthermore, I believe that it is our duty and our responsibility at this stage to support the case made by the people in the Six Counties, not in any mealy-mouthed fashion but openly. We should assert absolutely that the British get out, that there is no hope in any other direction, that everything else has been tried, every formula except a clear indication that they will get out or, at least, stop guaranteeing that they will stay for all time. This is what convinces me more and more, day by day, that there just is no possibility of any future peace of long-lasting duration or prospect for the people of the Six Counties whilst Britain continues blindly to guarantee continued maintenance and sustenance, financially and militarily, of a 6-county unit that does not deserve the badge of State, province, or anything else.

While they persist in this blind attitude there can be no peace. Nor can there even be, in my estimation, the prospect of the people of extreme views on the Unionist side every coming to a table to sit down to consider even in the remote future any change in the status of the union. We must understand that there cannot be even agreement to sit down by a convinced Unionist, and there are convinced Unionists as distinct from the opportunist Unionists just as in every walk of life we get both kinds in our politics. There cannot be and there never will be a chance of a really convinced Unionist sitting down to discuss even the remotest possibility of uniting in any way in the future, for the simple and good reason, that even to agree to come and meet and sit down is an immediate concession of the entire principle of the claim to union with Great Britain. Their “no surrender”, “not an inch” attitude is not just the attitude of stubborn, stupid people.

This is understandable, but we do not seem to appreciate it. If we did appreciate it, we would get back to the [670] kernel of it. Why would it be a complete concession to sit down even to discuss the remotest possibility? Because those who sustain them, those on the other side of the union continue to indicate and guarantee that they will stay with them come hell or high water. There it is. Do not blame the Unionist for the attitude of “not an inch” and “no surrender”. In all probability, placed in their position, I would take exactly the same attitude. I could not take any other attitude, unless I had come to the conclusion and conviction that it was wrong to have union with Britain, and that it was a wrong thing for this country to continue to have it partitioned and divided as it is, under and because of that union.

In those circumstances can there be any question of a Unionist sitting down to discuss it? He would not be a Unionist any longer. So it is that the convinced Unionist cannot even sit down to consider the remotest possibility in the far distant future of our ever coming together. Britain and Britain alone is responsible, by her continued guarantees, for this attitude of mind that makes it impossible for Irishmen of conviction from both communities in the Six Counties, even to meet with a view to wondering what their future together might be rather than what we have known up to now.

It is on foot of that, that we here have a grave responsibility which, in my estimation, we are far from carrying out. A Bill such as this is not only not helpful but must be most harmful. By our indication of the need for this Bill, and the tagging of the Provisional IRA as being a threat to our institutions and our State south of the Border, we are saying in no uncertain terms that those same people in that organisation, which sprang from the streets of Belfast, Derry and elsewhere, back in late 1969, and the people from whom they came, are wrong, that we have no sympathy for their cause, that we do not agree with their outlook. Therefore we take this action, an action which Mr. Heath and his Government, without understanding the real situation up there, see only as something which would please them if we did it. In [671] their blindness they do not realise that, far from doing anything to help to bring about peace in this country as a whole in the future, we are more likely by this unnecessary, silly and stupid but dangerous proposed legislation to bring trouble south of the Border in a very real way.

This is not Britain's fault because she does not know any better, and we are doing nothing whatsoever to try to convince her of the error of her ways, to try to convince her that she was the real culprit in this whole matter down through the years, and that because of that role she has the greater responsibility, and because of present circumstances she is the one party of the three we might say are at war at the moment who can move the keystone that would bring about a new dimension and a new possibility for discussing our way into ultimate, if not immediate, unity of our country.

We are not helping. Mr. Heath came into power only a couple of years ago. He would be aware that, over on this side of the channel, there is an island that has been a continuing problem for Britain for all the years since she first set her foot in it, and occupied it, and suppressed it. While he might have been aware of that, and probably was aware of it in general terms, he would not have known nor understood very much about what the real problems were in so far as the difficulties of Partition and the Border and so on were concerned.

In fairness to him, in that short period, and from a very poor start, he has progressed quite a bit in his knowledge, if not his understanding. I charge that we here have failed in our role to improve his understanding and to add to his knowledge. This was the greatest lack on our part and not only as a Government but as a Parliament. We have not been getting through to that man that there is a way out rather than the Motorman operation, which we seem to condone if not support, which took place only a short few months ago. Surely the toll of additional deaths that have taken place since that operation [672] must now completely convince Mr. Heath and his Government that it was the wrong thing to do and the wrong way to do it. Did we indicate what we must have already known without doubt from our knowledge of the past, that that operation would be a disaster rather than a solution for our trouble? If we did not have that knowledge the lack is ours. I believe we did have it and we did not use it, and that far from dissuading the man from going the distance, to say the least of it we condoned that stupid operation which brought into the Six Counties the largest concentration of troops that ever appeared on our soil, and with them came armaments the like of which this land has never before seen.

Despite all this, all we get is more deaths. Where are the deaths coming from mainly since this great Opertion Motorman, since the barricades were taken down, since the people's defenders were driven from the barricades in the no-go areas? We have had rampant night after night in the hours of darkness, and sometimes during the day, the UDA, the UVF, or whatever they like to call themselves, driving in with impunity, shooting up indiscriminately, and driving away again. Where are the 21,000 troops? What have they done about it, or what are they doing about it? Is it not clear now, after this sad trail of additional deaths, that the very people we are now by our legislation proposing to try to drive out of existence, and the people who manned the barricades—and nobody else—are those who truly were capable of defending the minority in the no-go areas of our cities in the North?

Surely we must see this. Whether or not we agree with it, that is a fact. Still this Bill is introduced, whether in good faith or otherwise—and I am not charging that it is in bad faith—and these proposals can only have one connotation for the oppressed in the Six Counties, that is, that the only vestige of defence they have known against the marauding hardliners in Belfast are the very people we would now wish to embroil in such a law that there is no getting away if we just [673] point the finger at them. Yet—this is why I say there is no need—when those people organised themselves in Belfast at that particular time, 1969 and the beginning of 1970, did they not make it quite clear, as they have continued to do, that they have no war wish and no intention at any time of engaging in any campaign on this side of the Border? They have been telling us that all along.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  It is very nice of them.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Look, Deputy Tunney, whether it is nice or otherwise, it is a fact and time has proved it to be a fact and I completely and absolutely believe it. Because of that belief, and because of the evidence over the last three years, I have every reason for that belief, I say there is no crisis, no grave danger to our State or institutions and that this Bill is, therefore, unnecessary and, worse—perhaps unintentionally— can only be provocative in a situation such as obtains at the moment. Yet, we go on, willy-nilly, pushing it along as if it were the thing most needed, as if it were the very end product of all our dreams and aspirations.

We have people coming into this House—I was not here when they were at it; I take it the news coverage of their say-sos is fairly near accurate— adopting the attitude “either have this or have a general election”. Why should that be the attitude? In a very serious situation, in the Government's estimation, in which they are preaching that there is a crisis and an emergency and grave danger to institutions of the State, why should they say: “Give us that legislation or else we will plunge you into a general election?” Is it that the general election would help to settle matters, would avoid a crisis or an emergency such as the Government are preaching is imminent at the moment, or would it not in all probability help to create the circumstances that could develop into an emergency that now does not even remotely exist? It is no way to deal with this sort of legislation to say: “Give it to us as it is, whole and complete, or you are in for a general election”.

[674] The fact is you can drive Deputies and, I suppose, any party or Government party can do it for so long and so often but there is bound to come a time when your Deputies will not be driven any longer, when they have taken all that they can as regards supporting loyally the party line on matters that are party policy but when you get to an issue such as this, when you get to an issue that strikes at the very foundation of the rights of the people whom Deputies on all sides of the House represent, then any Government party is treading on most dangerous ground if they say: “Either we get this as it is or you will be stuffed out to the country for an election”. Of course, the general speculation will be that this fellow will not come back and that fellow will not come back, and so on. It can work for so many times and on so many issues but when you get on this sort of crunch issue, not only may it not work but the effort to make it work by coercion of that nature cannot have any good in it. Even if it succeeds in getting that sort of support that is needed from the members of the Government party, in the long run it can only debase. While there is collective responsibility in all parties and in Governments, there are issues in regard to which the individual mind and conscience of each member in that party must be given much more weight than if the matter were one of whether there should be an increase in social welfare, housing grants, road grants or some such thing. These are altogether different matters.

I would again say to the Government, do have more thought on this Bill. Do consider its withdrawal because its enactment will not do any good and its operation can do an immense amount of harm. If one believes that a measure will do no good and could do a lot of harm, even if that is only a remote possibility, it is totally illogical to push on with it and to insist on getting it. I appeal again for a withdrawal and rethink on the part of the Government about this whole matter.

There has been reference here to previous campaigns. I can only [675] surmise what the idea behind the comparisons is. I do not believe that there ever was a campaign previously that sprang from the streets of the Six Counties that really meant business like this one does and that is contained within those Six Counties, is being fought by the people of the Six Counties and where there is no effort—far from it; every assurance that there is no intention—at doing as other campaigns may have done, allowing it to spill over on this side of the Border. There is no comparable campaign in my estimation in our recent history. This is a totally different campaign from anything we have experienced in the past and the present condemnation of any campaigns and the treatment indicated as the treatment for them is totally misplaced. Therein, perhaps, lies the error in the thinking of our Government today that they have become imbued with the idea that there are at work forces attempting to bring down every last institution on this side of the Border as well as everything on the other side of the Border. In fact, if the people now—many of them already know it but there are those who do not know it or do not yet believe it—were to consider the emergence of a resistance force, an armed resistance force for Belfast and Derry, they would realise that there is a vast difference between the IRA that would take on the Government on this side of the Border and an IRA, whatever appendage you may attach to it, that is insisting that only the government and the forces occupying our Six Counties should be taken on— nobody else. Is that not, in fact, the real net difference in ideology, if one can call it such, between the two groups that are described as IRA but variously by the names “Official” and “Provisional”? Is that not the real difference between them? Yet, we hear nobody expressing anxiety as to what that other element might be up to. Perhaps they are not up to anything and that may be one reason why a new organisation emerged in the streets of Belfast when the people were under great pressure in August, 1969.

[676] What about the other organisations? Have we declared all the hardline organisations in the Six Counties to be illegal and, if so, when were they so declared and where is the evidence to indicate any such declaration? If this has not been done, what is the reason for it? We have before us proposals that will enable us to get rid of the Provisional IRA and their friends, although they have continued to indicate during the past three years that they are not in any way a threat to the institutions of this State while the hardline Unionist organisations continue to declare war and trouble for us. Not only are we doing nothing about these threats but we are avoiding talking of them, except in so far as we give them free rein on our broadcasting media—in complete contrast to the ban imposed on RTE 12 months ago. The purpose of that ban was to prevent the broadcasting of any material concerning the Provisional IRA or any militant republicans in the Six Counties. If that is the Government's attitude why do they not ban the other hardliners and why must we have such people as Mr. Craig, Billy Hull and Tom Heron on our media day in and day out telling us what they intend doing to us and how many people will be killed before Christmas?

Do the Government think that because people all over the country are passive now they will stand for this carry on much longer? I do not believe they will. That sort of illogical behaviour can only go on for so long, and when the people have had enough of it the Government will find that it is not the IRA they will have to deal with. They will be dealing with the people, as the Stormont Government found they were dealing with the people in 1968-69. We know what followed from that and the situation would be no different here. It is all right for the people to engage in passive protests and to say they are the only way, but if that is pushed too far while the establishment forces insist that you do not protest then, either the people become suppressed and accept the situation against which they were protesting or violence will meet the violence of the establishment and that is what happened in the Six [677] Counties. Do not let us bring about such a situation unnecessarily here.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  A threat?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  There can be no justification for banning everything that is republican while reporting everything that is Unionist. If one should be heard, then all should be heard. After all the happenings in the northern part of our country during the past few years our people must be aware of their right to hear all sides on this crucial issue. Therefore, far from banning anything, every effort should be made to give them a balanced picture of the situation through our national broadcasting media. Let us finish with this lopsided, unfair and unjust presentation of news. The blame cannot be placed on the heads of the newscasters because this situation has arisen by reason of the orders of the Government that were submitted to the authority and passed on to the operators of the service. Yet, that same authority, who did their work as instructed by the Minister, have been given the sack, but, worse than that, we are told that they ignored the dictates of the Government on the suppression of republican views.

Had I been in a position to do so, I would have fired them six months ago because of their suppression of republican views. Therefore, I agree with the Government in their sacking of the authority, but my reasons are the reverse of theirs. It is a scandal that our broadcasting media should be used to give to our people only the Unionist side of the sad events in Northern Ireland while the views of the republicans would be much more acceptable to the vast majority of our people. Generally the position in the news world is that, if there is a leaning in any direction, it is guided by what the people want to hear. This applies both to newspapers and to broadcasting.

I can only hope that there will be an end to this unhealthy situation. Perhaps the new board will be caught in the rollers of the crusher also. However, I would appeal to them and to the people working directly in the news media in Telefís Éireann, as well as to their [678] colleagues in the NUJ, to try above all to give us all the news from the Six Counties or, if they cannot do that, to give us none at all. Let us put an end to the censorship and stop the masquerade of allegedly reporting what is happening. Does it come within the terms of the Minister's directive under section 31 of the Broadcasting Act that the truth of what is happening in Belfast should be suppressed?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is getting away from the Bill. There is an Estimate before the House dealing with the subject of RTE and related matters.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I shall try to avoid that, but the subject of broadcasting is intertwined with the Bill. It is evident from reading the newspapers or listening to newscasts that this Bill is not necessary, because all we are being given is pro-Unionist propaganda. These proposals are being pushed mainly on the basis that the republican elements are the danger to our institutions, even though they continue to tell us that they do not constitute any such threat. The threat is from the Unionists. There can be no justification for this action on the part of the Government at this time. I cannot understand what has brought about this change in their thinking. Why are we being so careful to suppress the truth about what is happening in Belfast?

East Belfast is practically stripped of its minority population. Who is doing it? It is the organisations which are making the threats of what they are going to do here. They have already indicated that they mean business but this measure is not being offered to this House to look after those people. It is being recommended on the basis that it should look after the other element who have shown they have no desire to in any way upset or destroy any part of our institutions here.

There is no need for this Bill. There is no evidence that it will be needed and there has been every evidence in the past that far too much law is available to the present Government, which is being used to try to suppress a [679] danger that does not exist and may, as a result, provoke the danger that is not there but which we are now told we should fear. Last night I mentioned the manner in which the crowds in Dublin behaved during the past week. This was to me the most heartening assurance that there is no danger to our institutions or no desire on the part of our people of any particular persuasion, politically or otherwise, to do them harm.

The first occasion on which the crowds behaved themselves well was at the Mater Hospital and the second occasion was in Molesworth Street on Wednesday night. I indicated last night my belief that the obvious build up of gardaí and the Army in circumstances where there was not the slightest indication given that there would be trouble can provoke the very thing it is the fond hopes of those who directed the build up to prevent. It was bad enough on Wednesday night but it was even worse when we found last night that we were in a state of siege in this House again. One Deputy on the benches over there said to me: “I walked into a lamp post because I could not see it for gardaí”. He hurt himself. There was nobody else out there last night.

I am sure the gardaí in those circumstances must feel foolish and must also feel that their time, which is so badly needed in the streets of this city, is wasted in this work. I say to the Government if they are so afraid that they need up to 2,000 gardaí backed up by a couple of regiments of the Army would they put them under the bushes in St. Stephen's Green where they are not seen and they will not provoke trouble? They will be near enough if they are required. I say they are not wanted and they should not be in St. Stephen's Green or anywhere else. There is plenty more work for them to do that they would gladly be at rather than be brought in here from all over the country. They have been coming in busload after busload from Cork, Galway and other places all over the country. If on Wednesday night or last night the slightest trouble of any kind developed in Galway there would [680] not be enough gardaí to close the barrack doors never mind anything else. That applies to all our large towns throughout the country.

Who is creating those fears? Is it a cynical attitude to try to promote the belief that this Bill, regardless of the lack of evidence, is necessary or is it that the Government are afraid? If they are, why do they not tell us why they are afraid and we might be more understanding? We can see no reason for this attitude on the part of the Government and the establishment. They are making no effort to show us that such a situation exists.

Why do we want to provoke organisations into activity here that they have declared they have no intention of engaging in? Why should we do this unless it is at the dictate of others who do not belong here and who have no interest or concern for our welfare but who are pulling the strings as they have done for generations past from Westminster and other such places? If it is as it was in 1922, that we either do as we are told or we really get it in the neck, tell them to go and take a jump at themselves. This is 1972 and we should not be frightened as we were then. If that is what is wrong, why can the Taoiseach not tell us that is what is wrong? If we did not agree at least we could understand.

Are we being bludgeoned into doing the bidding of the British Premier? Are we being bludgeoned into doing, through his bidding, that which is felt to be conducive to satisfying the Unionists in the Six Counties? If that is what it is please tell us. It is not for the Government alone or even a few people in the Government to carry this burden and to make this decision without this House being fully informed and consulted. Do not blindly go in for this sort of operation without telling us the true reasons and the causes. If we understood fully we might not be as opposed as we are to this Bill.

There is quite a lot for us to know and I do not believe for one moment that the proposals in this Bill are being [681] advanced only from our own needs and desires within the Twenty-six Counties. I may be wrong but because I do not believe it I am entitled to know why. I would even be satisfied if the Taoiseach let the facts be known in full detail to a few Members chosen from each of the Opposition parties in the House together with a few of his own Ministers. If even a dozen people in this House could stand up here and say they had the knowledge, which back the peculiar attitudes which appear in the Government benches at this moment, I would be quite prepared to accept, although I could not see, what it was about. I do not see any reason whatsoever for this Bill and I can only see harm in it if it is enacted.

Another thing which I should mention before I conclude is that we have gone overboard in some way. We have really gone off the track. We have gone down the embankment somewhere along the way because not only are we at this sort of carry on here without justification, not only are we allowing, enabling and indeed bringing about the presentation of one-sided news but we are allowing as I understand it, laws of this country to be broken in allowing the circulation amongst our public of newspapers carrying advertisements for the recruiting for foreign forces. What sort of end or attitude have we sunk to that in these circumstances and in these times we should allow to circulate amongst the people on this side of the Border big advertisements telling about the life in the Paras and the various regiments and units of the British Army, asking for recruits and enticing recruits to come over and be trained as murder gangs to be sent back to murder our own people.

There is, as I understand, on the statute book a law which says that there should not and will not circulate in this State any publication which holds itself out as a recruitment document for any foreigner. I do not see any other army advertising, incidentally—it is the British Army. It is their preserve. The cannon fodder of past generations is still sought and in these circumstances when they are being used, having been hurriedly [682] trained to be sent over either to be killed themselves or to kill Irish people in the Six Counties, if there never was any law against it, surely to God we should prevail on Mr. Heath to see to it that the Army, Navy, Air-force and the rest, for the sake of good sense, if nothing else, keep out of our papers. Do not circulate them here. They are not entitled to be here and it is provocative at a time like this and shows in my estimation on the Government's part a total weakness and a state of mind bordering on the subservient, if not complete and total subservience to their bosses in Great Britain. Let us at least take these big ads out of our papers that are being sent in here; if they wish to keep sending them in with these advertisements in, keep the papers out.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy appreciates that this is away from the Bill.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I am sorry, Sir, but this matter has many facets and aspects. I apologise for moving away but these matters do lead one to the other, as the Chair has fully appreciated in being as lenient to me as it has up to now.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  What way are you going to vote after all that?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  That is a very good question and believe it or not, several other people have been asking me that over the last two or three days.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Do you not think it is time you told us after two hours?

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Time alone does not indicate that one should have an answer. The trouble about Deputy Desmond is that he is too hasty and wants to know everything at the one time.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It was a great performance last night and good this morning so far.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  How will you vote?

[683]Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It is not for the sake of the performance that I stand up here.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): How will the Provisionals that Deputy Blaney says are in your party vote?

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

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  I want to finish my remarks and let somebody else in. We want to hear them, to hear what their mind is and why they have minds to vote for or against. I do not wish to stand in their way but I do not stand up in this House, as might be implied by Deputy Desmond, merely to perform. I have no particular wish to perform here or anywhere else. I may appear to enjoy it but I do not like it or seek it, and in fact, over the past two and a half years, if Deputies will check—and I welcomed this debate for the reason that no limits were put on it—on the matters that really matter, they will find just how many minutes in total I had to speak here to put my point of view, which is not just mine personally but is representative of a hell of a greater and wider opinion than the numbers would seem to indicate in this House.

Furthermore, how is it that in Telefís Éireann there is an understanding that I and people like me would be better avoided, so far as they are concerned, in their interviews, dissemination of news, reporting and coverage of Members of this House? I am one of the few whom it would be better for a number of people in Telefís Éireann not to report, if they can avoid it.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  They will have you on the half-past one news today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy should not interrupt Deputy Blaney who is in possession.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  It is not so much a matter of interrupting me as reminding me. There comes a time when even the most secure suppression of people's views is overcome if in fact they are to the news media sufficiently interesting and the Deputy's intervention [684] just now is perhaps one of the reasons why there could be an interest in what I have to say today, even included in the half-past one news. I am not blaming the people in the media but merely remarking that there is that understanding and knowledge that the news people and feature people down there would be doing better for themselves and for the country, if they did not have much of these people because apparently it is not only Provisional and Republican people from the Six Counties who should be suppressed but anybody down here who would appear to sympathise too loudly with them.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  We will come back to the Bill now.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  As I started last night, I ask the question: What is the Bill? What need is there for it and what are we going to do in so far as the utilisation of the powers in it are concerned? I see no need for it whatever. As to what it is, it is a repressive piece of legislation the like of which we have never experienced in this country and, indeed, I go so far as to say never experienced in any democracy in the world in our time. It is of a nature that it can be used to suppress the right of speech and borders even on the suppression of thought. This is what it is about; that is what it is. There is no necessity whatever for anything of that nature. Why then should we have it? Who is dictating the terms? What purpose will it serve? I assert that it will serve no good purpose and, perhaps, may well do an immense amount of harm.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I regret that it should be necessary for the Government to introduce legislation of this kind. I accept wholeheartedly that the legislation is necessary and it would be my desire that everybody in the House will support it. We live in funny times, extraordinary times. There are some Deputies who come here and complain that opportunity is not given for people to exchange views, hear each other's views and help each other towards that which we all seek—the truth. Apparently it has become quite the fashion now that you come in, say [685] what you have to say, listen to nobody else, lest you be influenced one way or the other, and speak at such length that if every Member of the House were to do the same we certainly would not feel the time passing until the general election.

Deputy Blaney spoke about changes he had noted. He implied that changes had occurred on this side of the House, especially in the attitude towards him. I can say as a Member of this side of the House that my attitude towards him is identical with my attitude towards him in 1970. Perhaps, it might help him to get to the root of the change that has occurred if I quote to him the changing attitude of people who are on the other side of the House. Last night Deputy Thornley appeared to come to the rescue of Deputy Blaney when he thought Deputy Blaney was being attacked by his former comrades. Deputy Blaney is interested and perplexed about changes that have occurred. In regard to his new found cheer boy, perhaps I should remind him that two years ago on the 8th May, 1970—column 813, Vol. 246, No. 7, of the Official Report, speaking about Deputy Blaney, his new custodian, the man who would now tell us that we are all without compassion, without charity, without anything that has any virtue said:

Fianna Fáil sent Deputy Blaney and Deputy Boland down to the west and elsewhere to try to build up the old tribal hostilities.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy must relate his remarks to the Bill.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  With all due respect, I hope to keep as close to the Bill as is required by Standing Orders and as close as people who have spoken before me have done. In so far as I am about to develop the type of opposition we have to the Bill I assure you that I shall be quite relevant to the Bill.

Criticism has been made by Deputy Blaney and by Deputy Thornley about what they consider the new powers [686] being given to the Garda. As I see it, the change which is provided for allows a member of the Garda Síochána, not below the rank of chief superintendent, to offer as evidence in court that it is his belief that a certain person is a member of a certain subversive organisation. Contrary to what Deputy Blaney would say, I do not interpret the Bill as referring to the Provisional IRA, the Official IRA or any particular subversive organisation. I cannot see any such reference. Deputy Blaney and Deputy Thornley are now at one in opposing a situation in which a member of the Garda Síochána of the rank of chief superintendent, or presumably above that, could say that from evidence and information he has Mr. X was a member of a subversive organisation. I must return now to 1970 but with, I hope, every relevance. The position in 1970 in so far as Deputy Thornley——

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  On a point of order, may I put it to the House that Fine Gael are not present? Is there another crisis in the party? Is there a leadership crisis on?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Parliamentary Secretary appreciates that this is not a point of order.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  I just want to get it on the record of the House.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  It is a good point, though.

Mr. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Another leadership crisis in Fine Gael.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  We will call a quorum then.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  It will show the people that the whole Fine Gael Party was absent.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Tunney. Will Deputies allow the Deputy in possession to speak?

[687]Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I was talking about the Provisional IRA when other people were——

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy went down into the gutter with the housing action committee in Dún Laoghaire. I have been endeavouring to help Deputy Blaney realise the changes that have occurred in this House. I have been trying to pinpoint the change in the attitude of his new-found supporters towards members of the Garda Síochána. In May, 1970, Deputy Thornley took serious issue with the then Deputy Boland who had referred in this House in what he claimed was an uncharitable fashion to a civil servant whom he claimed was responsible for activities of certain members of the Garda. At column 808, Vol. 246, of the Official Report for 8th May, 1970, Deputy Thornley stated:

If the civil servant whom Deputy Boland named in this House acted as Deputy Boland implied he acted, then the House and democracy in Ireland owe him a warm vote of thanks.

I suggest this might help Deputy Blaney to interpret the changes that have occurred in the last few years and help him to identify on which side of the House those changes have occurred.

Deputy Thornley, the new saviour of Ireland, the man with a monopoly of compassion especially when the Press and television cameras are present, in May, 1970, said of Deputy Blaney and the then Deputy Boland that whatever these men were dedicated to they were certainly not dedicated to the Constitution of Ireland, were not dedicated to the national Parliament or to the normal ethics of public life.

Deputies Thornley and Blaney will tell us we have nothing to fear from the subversives and they will say these people are doing this House a great honour by not publicly advocating the destruction of this House. As I said to Deputy Blaney, that is very magnanimous of them. I would remind Deputy Thornley that at the meeting he attended, it was reported in the newspapers, these people said they were out to destroy the Government [688] and Leinster House and wanted to get at politicians.

They have attempted to get at politicians. These people talk about freedom and democracy and I hope they will practise it in the manner we adopt. If they want to get at any politician, there is a prescribed way by which they must do it. It is illogical, unreasonable and hypocritical for these people to try to act as saviours, pretending they are the only people concerned about republicanism and freedom and, at the same time, try to intimidate others.

Because of my public office, frequently I am obliged to attend here to my duties. It has happened that while I have been absent from my home my wife and four children, two of whom are very young, have been intimidated. If the people who arranged for this intimidation want to get at me they should do it in the open. They are not entitled to get at any man, whether of high station or low, political or non-political, by way of intimidation of that man's wife and children.

I have as much interest in republicanism as anyone. I have my visions of what is best for Ireland; I train my children in the manner I think best and I tell them how I hope these ideals will be realised. My uncle and my late father were members of the real Sinn Féin. Am I expected to put up with the situation where my children see people who masquerade under the title of Sinn Féin or Óglaigh na hÉireann try to attain freedom by way of intimidation and persecution? Where is the logic in that? How can these people—with the backing of various groups, including the good clerics in Maynooth—think I will accept they are genuinely interested in real freedom when they pursue this by way of intimidation and violence?

If I thought the bearing of a greater adversity would help in any way towards redirecting our people on the only road to lasting peace, I would be prepared to accept that adversity. Nowadays a prison sentence is not the same as it was 50 or 60 years ago; it can be relatively comfortable. If I thought that [689] serving a six months prison sentence would guarantee that we could move forward on this true road to peace then I should certainly serve it. If I thought it would save any fellow Irishman—here I take slight issue with Deputy Blaney, any Irishman, North or South; to me there is no distinction in class or creed—from losing his life, prevent him losing a limb, or his house, I should be prepared to do it.

We talk about consistency. Deputy Desmond tells me that presently he will quote from something I said. My memory is not wonderful but my faith in myself is such that I will defy Deputy Desmond or any other Deputy to show where since my coming here there was any inconsistency in what I have said.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  No, I said I would quote——

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I should like to quote from what I said on the Estimate for the Department of Justice on 13th April this year in regard to the principle of a man being innocent until proved guilty. Having given some thought to that principle over the last few years, I had convinced myself that, perhaps, the time had come when acceptance of that principle was no longer desirable. This was in circumstances where the present legislation was not being discussed. I said as reported at column 195 of the Official Report:

We are told that it is an accepted principle that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty. I must confess that I am having doubts as to the wisdom of acceptance of that principle....

And I still have doubts. I think it is somewhat extraordinary, bearing in mind that the fount of republicanism is to be found in France, that the great republicans we hear in this House instead of looking now at the approach to law which exists in France, seem to translate their republicanism into a desire to crucify the British Empire. Their approach in the matter of law is that they will still continue to hold on to the law which has been given to them by their so-called enemies.

[690] Deputy Fitzpatrick who will be speaking later on is a legal man; unfortunately, I am not, but as regards this principle that you are innocent until proved guilty, have we not heard from that side of the House, certainly since I came in here, charges being made week after week that people were brought before the courts and were released? Did this not in most cases spring from the fact that while those people to any layman, to neighbours or to anybody who reads the papers were, in fact, guilty, because of some legal technicality——

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Failure to present evidence against them.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Failure to prosecute.


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

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am glad that Deputy O'Brien has reminded me of some additional matter I had.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Deputy Tunney should be allowed to speak without interruption. Interruptions from any side of the House are disorderly.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Earlier I spoke about the changing and changed attitude of Deputy Thornley. I hoped that I might hear the views of his colleagues on him. Deputy Dr. Cruise-O'Brien, in regard to these matters, would, I think, be anxious to demonstrate that part of the problem at the moment existing derived from the interest in and attitude which Irish people have towards Pádraig Pearse. He certainly would give the impression that he was not a great admirer of that patriot.

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley  Zoom on Florence Crowley  He is not a great admirer of his former colleagues in the Labour Party either.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Thornley on the other hand would seem to look to Pádraig Pearse for all his inspiration.

[691]Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Anything wrong with that?

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I have not made one charge; I am simply making statements. I am anxious to probe the situation which exists now when we have so many people who are obviously at variance with each other apparently cementing themselves together. To me that is a sinister development and as much in need of investigation as the curiosity which runs through the mind of Deputy Blaney in regard to the Fianna Fáil Party.

I want to establish that this legislation is not, as Deputy Blaney said, designed to deal with problems arising from the activities of the Provisional or the Official IRA. I want to establish that the law is there and is necessary. My concern is more for—I do not like using the term—the ordinary person who is prepared to go about his business. Again, I take issue with Deputy Blaney in circumstances where he would say that housing, education or jobs do not matter, that this idealistic, theoretical republicanism is all that matters. Life is about jobs, and life is about education and housing, but not exclusively. I do not want to see an Ireland solely concerned with these matters. I want to see an Ireland concerned with the spiritual and cultural side as well. However, in regard to the case Deputy Blaney makes for the immediate withdrawal of the British from the northern part of the country and for our assisting people there by means of force, there is an obligation on him to indicate what the new position will be in the event of achieving this ambition.

As regards the people who would be full of patriotic songs and would be telling me how they would free Ireland, I would ask them what their new Ireland would be like. I would ask to visualise the new Ireland if Britain leaves tomorrow morning. As I said in the House before, I do not want the British Army any longer than they must stay. I do not want anything connected with England here any longer than we must have it. But as long as I have their Army I will have their money. The moment I do [692] not want their army or anything connected with them, I do not want their money.

If that position arises tomorrow, how do we treat the people in that part of the country who to date have been accustomed to a certain standard of living which is provided by the subventions of the British Government? Have Deputy Blaney and the other people who want this new Ireland tomorrow planned how those of us in the Thirty-two Counties can live in a manner which would be consistent with what we deserve? I do not know whether they are contemplating the phasing out of the subventions or their complete removal. For my part— and this is the test I would put to the people of Ireland, the people of all groups, subversive or otherwise— would ask them, if they are as interested in the freedom of Ireland as I am, to make one sacrifice—and they should be prepared to make it—a financial sacrifice. It would be a move towards unity, a move towards indicating to the people in the North that we are interested in deeds as well as words, if we told the British Government that next year we, the people of the Twenty-six Counties are prepared to pay £25 million as an initial step towards the phasing out of the subvention. If we do that, then I shall be prepared to accept that we are in earnest in what we say, that we are not pursuing some myth, that we are not merely trying to get into an area of power irrespective of the consequences.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): It seems to fall to my lot to speak after Deputy Neil Blaney or very shortly after him on occasions of major debate. I think I have the doubtful privilege of speaking immediately after him on the 7th or 8th May, 1970, and on that occasion I recollect saying that I listened to the speeches of Deputy Blaney and the former Deputy Kevin Boland with considerable attention, and I entirely and utterly disagreed with the sentiments expressed by both of them but that I considered that Deputy Boland, as he then was, spoke with considerably [693] more sincerity. I think events since then have proved that I was right. Deputy Boland, in pursuing some of his beliefs, resigned from this House to vindicate those beliefs. Deputy Blaney has had a couple of opportunities since then of expressing in a tangible way by his vote his disapproval of the Taoiseach and the members of the Government whom he denounced. On critical occasions he failed to avail of that right and he abstained from voting.

I want to repeat that I disagree with the sentiments of physical force and violence put forward on more than one occasion by Deputy Blaney. I disagree with those methods of physical force no matter in what party or by what person they are advocated. Deputy Blaney was the senior Minister in the Government party up to his dismissal and he has told us here this morning that the senior members of that Government actually brought into existence the Provisional IRA, financed the Provisional IRA and supported them with guns and money. That, in effect, was what Deputy Neil Blaney said this morning.

If that is true, it is a serious charge to make against the Government, and certainly if it is true, the sooner there is a general election the better. This party stands for and has always stood for freedom of speech and the supremacy of the ballot box, consistent with the rights to personal liberty and freedom of the individual. In view of the trend that this debate is taking and in view of the fact that the Government, through the Taoiseach, the Minister for Labour, and other Ministers, have presented themselves here as champions of freedom, as the opponents of physical force, and are implying in some way that members of this party want to give solace to and defend the men of violence. I want to put the record of this party on the records of this House. The Fine Gael Party, or its predecessor under another name. Cumann na nGaedheal, came into existence some 50 years ago to establish order, to carry out majority rule, to obey the wishes of the majority of the people [694] given in the ballot box. We did just that. We established law and order. We accepted the decision of the people. We created the institutions of the State, including the Garda Síochána, the Irish Army and the other institutions which have stood the test of time and served the people well since then. We did that as a constitutional party operating the Treaty negotiated with Great Britain. We did that under that Treaty which has given us, in this part of the country, every bit of freedom that we have attained, without firing one shot.

In fair play, let it be said that we did that with the assistance of the only other constitutional party in the Parliament of the Twenty-six Counties at that time, the Labour Party. We were the majority party in the Dáil at that time, governing this country. The other constitutional party was the Labour Party, which constituted the Opposition. Fianna Fáil have turned many times in their history, but they are now trying to pretend that we are not the upholders of law and order. The Labour Party and Fine Gael are now and always have been the constitutional parties in this State which were never tainted with violence or with opposing majority rule, never tainted with defying the will of the people in this country by the gun, the bullet or the bomb.

I want to go on the record as saying that there is only one party in this Dáil that I know of that ever believed in physical force, which ever defied the wishes of the majority of the Irish people, which did not accept the decision of the ballot box. That is the Fianna Fáil Party. A question posed by Deputy Blaney to the Government party is very significant. He asked “What has become of the party I used to know? What has made them change their minds?” He was addressing his remarks to the Fianna Fáil Party, not of 50 years ago, but of five years ago when he was a member.

This party have a proud record in regard to the defence of law and order. Let it go out from here that there are men on these benches whose families have suffered death in the defence of the ballot box, the defence of law and [695] order and the supremacy of the will of the Irish people. This does not refer to one family alone. There are numbers of Deputies on these benches whose families have suffered death in defence of law and order, majority rule and the supremacy of the ballot box. We did all that in the 1920s notwithstanding the actions of the men of violence who were then the Fianna Fáil Party and who are now the Fianna Fáil Party. In 1932 we set an example when the people of this country spoke again through the ballot box and said they wanted a change of government. This party then obeyed the decision of the Irish people and handed over power to the Fianna Fáil Party in a constitutional and peaceful way. Even in power the Fianna Fáil Party believed in force. Their supporters up and down the country were encouraged to break up Fine Gael meetings. They broke up Opposition meetings and denied the right of free speech so that there would be only one party in this country. In Fine Gael we defend free speech just as we defended it when in office as a Government. We defended the Opposition. We restored their right to address meetings in public and to put their policies to the people. We in Fine Gael always believed in law and order and in majority rule. I want to go on record as saying that our history is that we behave that way when in power and when in opposition.

We come now to the second charge which I want to make against the Fianna Fáil Party. When they were in opposition members of that party, ex-Ministers and men who later became Ministers, encouraged violence in this country. They encouraged the bomb and the bullet. In fact, we in Fine Gael, in the earliest days of this State spent our time establishing majority rule. I regret to have to say that we had to protect the minority religion from what was really a sectarian war being carried on against them by Fianna Fáil because they were supposed to uphold traditions that were not Irish, but they were doing it in a constitutional way and they were entitled to speak. Admiral Somerville is one name which comes to mind as being a person who was murdered [696] by people who are now pretending to be the defenders of free speech and majority rule, and the opponents of violence. It may be said that the Fianna Fáil Party have reformed and that they do not now believe in violence and that they are completely constitutional. If so, they had better answer the charges levelled against them this morning by Deputy Blaney that they are the founders of the IRA and that they supported the Provisional IRA with money, if they want the people to accept that they have reformed and that, as a party, they are solidly behind the policy they are seeking to put forward here.

I believe the present Government have in it members who have a sneaking sympathy and a sneaking regard for the Provisional IRA and for violence. I believe that sitting behind them there are many Members who cherish in their hearts what they consider the best tradition of Fianna Fáil, the tradition of Deputy Aiken, the tradition of Deputy Smith, the tradition of Deputy Hilliard. They are men who opposed freedom of speech and who opposed majority rule. I could give the names of many other men sitting on those benches opposite, supporting the Government, who come from families reared in that tradition, families which opposed the ballot box in the 1920s and, from what Deputy Blaney said, it appears to me they have not changed.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Are we fighting the civil war of 50 years ago now? I have a great personal regard for Deputy Fitzpatrick, but is that what we are doing?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I have said all I want to say about the civil war, but I want to put the record of the three parties in this House on the record and get away from the sham, the make-believe and the fraud.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I would like to know what the Deputy is doing on the Bill.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I am coming to the Bill. I want to put the record straight.

[697]Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Tempora mutantur non et mutamur in illis.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Deputy Burke will have a chance shortly to talk, if he wants to, in any language he likes. I was pointing out that it is not so very long since the Fianna Fáil Party were advocating the language of the bomb and the bullet. It may be alleged that the Fianna Fáil Party have changed and that they are now absolutely constitutional. If that is so, then they had better answer the charges made by Deputy Blaney this morning.

As recently as 1970, this Government, now posing as a constitutionally supported Government, were engaged through a number of their Ministers in attempting to undermine the security of this State. We have heard a great deal about security since this Bill was introduced. They were undermining the security of the State through four Ministers and others, who were arranging the illegal import into this country of arms to be used to embroil this country in a civil war with its neighbour. That cannot be denied. Four of these men were sacked or dismissed. It is true that they were the men who took the action and who were caught out, but there were behind them on those benches, and they are still there, a considerable number of men who approved of their action.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  What has that got to do with this Bill?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I know the Deputy does not like it.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  It is not that I do not like it; I find it very boring.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. Andrews): Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Give us a vote on the Bill and stop the prevarication and the sham.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I am writing into the records of this House the history of the party now masquerading as the defenders of freedom. These four men, as recently as 1970, were engaged in a plot to destroy freedom here and to embroil this country in civil war. They were kept [698] in office by men who shared those views. I believe the present Government are constituted of men who in their hearts do not believe in majority rule, who in their hearts sympathise with violence; that is the reason why, over the last three or four years, superintendents in the Garda Síochána were not allowed to arrest men engaged in illegal activities in their districts and were under instructions, at the behest of the Government, simply to report back and keep an eye on things. That is why an armed band were allowed to encamp at Rathdrum in Wicklow for weeks, to the knowledge of the gardaí in the area, the gardaí who passed the information on to the Government, the Government who did nothing about it. That is the reason, too, why armed men at Tyrellspass in Westmeath were allowed to behave as an army and to fire shots without any action being taken against them. That is why armed men appeared in a graveyard in Cavan at another funeral and had no action taken against them.

The Government should come clean. The Government are trying to cover up their inaction over the last three years or so by pretending now that they had not the tools to do their work and are now coming in here seeking the necessary authority. They had the Offences Against the State Act of 1939, the Act which carried this country through the Second World War, the Act which had sufficient teeth in it to carry the country through the Second World War, maintaining relative peace here and protecting the State in those troubled times. That Act was on the Statute Book for the last three years and it was never invoked.

The people will be asked to forget 1970 and the people will be asked to believe, in the immortal words of the Minister for Health that the Fianna Fáil Party has been purged of its men of violence. I will not mention the name of anyone who cannot defend himself in this House. The people may be expected to believe that Fianna Fáil have been purged of their men of violence and that Fianna Fáil are now a constitutional party. They have—I suppose he will walk in behind the Taoiseach this evening—Deputy [699] Charies J. Haughey, a man who was up to his ears literally in a conspiracy to import arms in 1970.

Minister for Lands (Mr. S. Flanagan): Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  That is not so.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): That is not so?

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  That is not so.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Why was he dismissed?

Mr. S. Flanagan: Information on Seán Flanagan  Zoom on Seán Flanagan  The Deputy is making a speech and I am listening, but I am not prepared to put up with that.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I want to say that Deputy Haughey was charged before the courts of this country.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  That does not mean he was guilty. The Deputy is a legal man.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): It does not mean he was guilty but if we are to accept what the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice suggest it does not mean he was innocent because they say the courts which were trying those people were not sufficient. If he had been tried before the courts the Taoiseach is now operating I wonder what the verdict would have been?

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy is the great upholder of a person being innocent until he is proved guilty.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Will the Deputy tell the House which side he is on now? Is he supporting the Bill or is he not? I should like to hear him on that.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  You should have known that long ago.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I will tell the Deputy. Let me make my own speech. Deputy Haughey was charged before the courts. It is true that he was acquitted but, outside the Four Courts, he addressed his supporters as fellow-patriots and comrades and said that the Taoiseach [700] would have to be got rid of, that his leader would have to be got rid of. Let us see how Fianna Fáil stand in relation to Deputy Charles J. Haughey.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  That is being said about your party leader.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I will deal with the Deputy in a minute.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  You said it about Fianna Fáil.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I will quote from a speech made by Deputy Blaney when he was Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries on 29th April, 1970. Referring to splits in the Fianna Fáil Party, he said:

For their discomfort I can assure them this is totally and absolutely untrue and that we are, as we have always been, a united party and Government that we do what is right when it is right regardless of the political consequences so long as it is in the interests of the country we are all privileged to serve.

That was on 29th April, 1970, two weeks before the Fianna Fáil Government broke up in disorder and Ministers were sacked and brought before the courts.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  One week.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I am trying to prove in a logical speech that this Government and party are not what they say they are, a government that believe in law and order. I have told the House about Deputy Haughey being charged and being sacked by the Taoiseach who said that if there was any taint of suspicion he would have to go. I have told the House about the speech he made outside the Four Courts to his fellow-patriots and comrades. Have the party been purged of Deputy Haughey? No.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  He is going through the rehabilitation stage.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): We find him keeping quiet in the party for a long time and then, at the last Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, I think it was, [701] we find him being elevated to the position of a vice-president of the party. Fair play to the Tánaiste who thought the party had been purged, and who expected the people who were put out to stay out, he smoked his pipe and he kept his head down.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Was the Deputy at the Ard-Fheis?

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): No, but I have a television set.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I was chairman and I did not see that happen.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The Deputy was looking down the hall.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I was on the platform as chairman and I did not see that happen.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): Television tells tales and you can see more on it very often than the people who are actually on the scene of the action. The Tánaiste did not welcome him. He did not shake hands with him. He smoked his pipe and looked down. If reports are right, we now find that this man who was prosecuted before the courts on the directions of the Attorney General and who has been brought back as a Vice-President of the Fianna Fáil Party, is now to be brought back into this Cabinet as a Minister of State.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  That is according to the Evening Herald.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): That is according to general talk. This man is a probable Minister and a possible Taoiseach of the Fianna Fáil Party, if he continues to support the party by his vote. The man who waxed eloquent here yesterday about law and order, and about war and peace, Deputy J. Brennan, Minister for Labour, stood down so that this man of violence, Deputy Haughey, could be brought back into the Fianna Fáil Party and made a vice-president. That is why I do not believe in the sincerity of the Fianna Fáil Party.

[702]Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Deputy Colley, Minister for Finance, will not allow him back.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  He will not.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): This Government are going too far with repressive measures, and the sacking of the RTE Authority is an example of that. Over the past three years this Government have done nothing to enforce law and order in any part of the country. At Question Time in the past I drew attention to illegal meetings being held outside this Parliament. Surely the machinery is there to prohibit these meetings. Surely the machinery is available to the Government in the form of statute law to prosecute those people for holding those meetings in contempt of parliament. Why is this not being done? Why was it not done over the past few years?

It was done when the farmers came to the city because they were harmless. They were prosecuted and taken away in Black Marias for picketing this House, or for holding meetings outside it. That reminds me of something else Deputy Blaney said this morning. He waxed eloquent, too, about the Offences Against the State Act and said it should be done away with, that it was never intended to be used except in the most extreme circumstances. How short is his memory? Does he forget that he was a member of the Government who used the Offences Against the State Act against the farmers? Can he deny that?

It is true, and it cannot be denied, that over the past three or four years this country has been going through difficult times. It is a fact that the troubles in the North are in danger of overflowing in here. The tragedy is that we have in office a Government who have not got clean hands, a Government who are tainted with the things I have been talking about. In pursuance of their policy of defending law and order, the Fine Gael Party are prepared to give the Government reasonable machinery to enforce law and order consistent with [703] the preservation of the liberties of the individual.

This party have been calling out for some years back for the establishment of a council composed of all parties to advise the Government and to deal with any circumstances arising out of the troubles in Northern Ireland. That offer has been turned down, has been brushed aside. The Taoiseach has promised, time and time again, to consult with the leaders of the Opposition parties in relation to serious matters. He has not kept that promise. It has been said by Deputy Neil Blaney that this Bill was submitted to Deputy Cosgrave or some members of the Fine Gael Party. I want to deny that. I do want to say that if this Taoiseach and this Government were serious in dealing with things in a responsible way in these serious times the leaders of the Opposition parties would have been made aware of this Bill, would have been consulted about this Bill and it would not have been introduced here in its present form to create a controversial political matter. It is not in keeping with the national interests that it should.

I charge the Government and charge the Taoiseach with dereliction of duty, first of all, in not establishing a council whom he could consult about matters of supreme national importance over the years, particularly when he is a head of a Government who have the record in regard to national security that this Government have. I charge the Taoiseach with a dereliction of duty and with creating a serious national situation by introducing this measure as a controversial political topic at this time.

This Bill may lead and probably will lead to a general election. I want to say that it is not in the national interest. No matter whether I am accused or misrepresented, it is a fact that it is not in the national interest that a general election should be fought on this Bill. It is not in the national interest that a general election should be fought supposedly on the issue of law and order in prevailing conditions here. It is dangerous for the country. It could have a bad end. I am not [704] concerned about my seat. I am concerned in doing what is right. I believe that the Taoiseach should not play politics with fire and that is precisely what he is doing by refusing to consult with responsible leaders, by introducing this political hot potato and refusing to amend it and then going to the country in the dark nights of winter on a political issue like this.

Let him take the consequences because he is leading a Government who have not got clean hands on this topic. He did not consult anybody and he did not take anybody's advice and he will not tolerate any amendment or suggested amendment.

I have been asked what I am going to do about this Bill. I thought before I came to that I had better present the various parties in this House in their true light and in their true tradition and as history sees them.

We read this Bill in the short time at our disposal. Certain sections of it shocked us. We thought it necessary to put down a reasoned amendment on the Second Stage to give the Government an opportunity of withdrawing from the Bill its objectionable sections.

Section 2 does nothing more or less than restate the law as it is and as it is in section 52 of the Offences Against the State Act which the Taoiseach in a very casual way said was violating the European Commission on Human Rights. Other people in this party will deal with that and will refute it completely and utterly. I notice it was not in the script of the Minister for Justice in proposing the Second Reading and it was thrown in very casually by the Taoiseach. Be that as it may, section 2 is more or less a restatement of what I think is existing law.

I am not happy with section 3 (1) (b). It may not be vital but I am not happy about it because I do not think a man should have to put an advertisement in the paper to deny that he is a member of an illegal organisation just because somebody has thought fit to say that he was. I think that is unreasonable.

Section 3 (2) as it stands shifts the [705] onus of proof—no matter what anybody says—from the State to the accused person because it provides that hearsay evidence is evidence. If there is evidence to be considered the onus of proof is then on the accused person to deny that and if there is no other evidence than the statement of the chief superintendent that he believes the person is a member of an illegal organisation the justice or court dealing with it must hold that it is prima facie evidence and unless the accused goes into evidence he must be convicted.

What we want the Government to do as a minimum is to write into this subsection (2) a statement that the evidence of the superintendent shall be evidence that he was then such a member until such time as the accused person denies that on oath. That is all we are asking. We are asking that that protection be given to the accused person and I believe that if the person goes into the box and swears that he is not a member of the alleged illegal organisation the evidence of the chief superintendent should be neutralised. That is all I am saying. I am not saying that it should end the case and that his statement that he is not a member of an illegal organisation should be a complete answer but I am saying that if a man or woman goes that far as to recognise the court and give it evidence on oath that he or she is not a member of an illegal organisation, that should neutralise the chief superintendent's evidence and all would be back in square one. I do not think that is unreasonable.

It has been stated here by the speakers from the Government benches, the Minister for Transport and Power, Deputy Brian Lenihan, and others, that is what subsection (2) means. I do not accept that. It is prima facie evidence. It shifts the onus of proof. The evidence should be neutralised if a person swears that he is not a member.

If what I am saying is untrue and if it is really not prima facie evidence and does not shift the onus of proof. why not put that into the section? All I am asking to be written into it is that this evidence be neutralised on the [706] sworn testimony of the accused person.

Subsection (2) of section 4 makes it an offence for anybody to take part in any meeting at which certain things are said. That is unreasonable. We are notorious in this country for attending meetings. I was talking to someone about a Sinn Féin meeting that was held and that person told me that 100 people attended the meeting but that of that number there would hardly be 25 who would be in sympathy with the sentiments expressed by the speakers. Under this section those 75 people would be guilty of an offence although they only went along out of curiosity or maybe to see somebody—for instance, Bernadette Devlin. So far as I can see, there is no defence to this. If a person is present at such a meeting he is guilty. Something should be written into the Bill to protect people who attend innocently. It is sufficient to prosecute people who make speeches and who organise such meetings. The Minister says that under the law innocent bystanders would be protected anyway; but why not write that into the Bill when we are dealing with this peculiar type of legislation? We are told that the courts will look after innocent persons and that the judges will administer the law fairly. But let us not forget that in certain extreme circumstances this Act may be administered, not by lawyers, but by military gentlemen.

This Bill is being made portion of the law of this country and there is no time limit on it. I believe it should have a time limit of one year. If, at the end of one year, the Government— having amended the Bill as I suggest and as it should and must be amended —come back and tell us it is still necessary, the House would give it to them if conditions should warrant it.

Those are my views on the Bill and on the present Government. If the Minister for Justice is genuine he will accept the amendments called for by this party. For the purpose of the record I wish to say that we could not spell those amendments out in the reasoned amendment on Second Stage because to do so would preclude us from raising them at a later stage if the [707] Bill should be given a Second Reading.

Unless the Minister accepts the three amendments—(1) an amendment to subsection (2) giving the right to an accused person to answer a chief superintendent on oath, thereby neutralising the evidence; (2) protection for innocent bystanders at the meetings complained of; and (3) a time limit on the Bill—we will be forced in the interest of democracy and in the interest of the liberty of the individual to oppose this Bill and we will oppose it.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Although much has been said regarding this Bill, much remains to be said yet. During the past couple of days personal attacks have been made in this House on certain people. At the outset I wish to clear the air regarding the attack made on my colleague, Deputy Thornley. Deputy Thornley's action constituted nothing more or less significant than what transpired at the Limerick City Council on Wednesday last. As reported in the press, the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party in Limerick, Mr. Liddy, said he subscribed to the unanimous resolution passed by the city council. He said that his party did not see any objection to passing the resolution on humanitarian grounds, that nobody likes to see anybody dying for a cause he holds dear and that he had a high regard for fellow Irishmen, irrespective of what views they held. Mr. Liddy said that, on behalf of Limerick City Council, he was pleading with the Taoiseach and the Minister on humanitarian grounds to release Seán Mac Stiofáin. I subscribed to that resolution and I introduced the deputation. The resolution was subscribed to also by the Fine Gael members present. Deputy Thornley has been accused of being a member of the Provisional IRA because of his attendance at the hospital on humanitarian grounds. If that is so, the same must apply to the members of Fianna Fáil in Limerick who were associated with the resolution I have referred to. There is no point in any of us trying to pull the wool over people's eyes by misrepresenting the situation.

[708] Mr. Mac Stiofáin has been accused of murder and of trying to create civil war in this part of the country. I am not acquainted personally with this gentleman so I must go on what is said by his legal advisers and I quote from today's Irish Times:

Mr. Shevlin told reporters outside the hospital that Mr. Mac Stiofáin had given the following message for the people outside.

“In the name of God, I want the people out on the streets protesting on my behalf. I want all protests to be peaceful, by which I mean no rioting, no stone-throwing, no abuse or name-calling of 26-county forces.

“The fight is centred in the North and must be kept there. I do not want anybody hurt or blood spilled on my behalf in the Twenty-six Counties. That is why I am taking liquids.”

Can anything be more specific than that? Can anything more than that be expected?

I accuse the Taoiseach and his party of introducing this Bill as a political election gimmick. It is a gimmick because the Government know well that their days in office are numbered. They know they have failed the Irish people. They have deceived them and have not lived up to their promises in regard to social benefits and all the other promises they made. They have turned a blind eye to the economic position. They now see that the people are only waiting for a chance to go to the polling booths.

There are very few members of the Government who were in this House when I had to suffer, first of all, under the Cumann na nGaedheal Government in 1931, when we were pulled in to account for our movements. In 1932 there was a general election and we were told: “Put out the Cumann na nGaedheal Government and we will open the prison gates. We will open Arbour Hill. We will release all your friends. We will put an end to the Public Safety Act”. I want to put it on the record of this House that the pioneer of that deceit was Deputy Frank Aiken. I was a young man at that time and I believed what I was told. I voted for the first time in 1932 and did not [709] again cast my vote until 1948. Fianna Fáil were in Government in 1932 and within one year we had the internment camps thrown open again.

I want the people of Ireland to understand all this. The gimmick which is now being foisted on the people will be misrepresented on television, on radio and in the press and the innocent people will be asked: “What do you want? Do you want Fianna Fáil back to protect your rights or do you want men like Mac Stiofáin and others?” In this morning's press we are told how he made his position clear yesterday afternoon. As Deputy Blaney rightly said, there never was or never will be a gun turned by Irishmen on anybody in the Twenty-six Counties.

We had the unfortunate incident in the cinema last Sunday. The people who have been accused of perpetrating that act have denied it. It is very easy to point a finger at somebody, but when you get around to prove the inaccuracy of that statement the message has gone so far that it is almost impossible to bring the truth before the people. This Bill is being introduced to bring about the introduction of internment in a roundabout way.

Two years ago the Minister for Justice stated one Sunday night on the television news that internment was about to be introduced. The Labour Party challenged him on that and some of us were suspended because of the manner we opposed the Government. I was one of the people who was suspended on that occasion. We brought home to the Government that there would be no internment in the Republic.

What have we now? In this Bill we have unusual power given to chief superintendents. Those people have only got to do what they are told. They have only to go to a person and point a finger at him and say “Ecce homo— behold the man”. The man is brought in to the Garda station and charged. How can he defend himself and prove his innocence? If he brings in a noted member of any of those organisations who can say: “I know he is not a member of this organisation” the man who says that can himself be automatically [710] charged. If he knows the accused man is not a member of the illegal organisation, he himself must be a member of it.

In last night's Evening Press a district justice, a man on the bench—I do not know how long he has been on the bench but he is administering the law—writing as a private individual, expressed “his disquiet at the Offences against the State (Amendment) Bill presently before the Dáil”. He is Mr. Michael Sweetman of Taney Road, Dundrum, Dublin, and in his letter, he says he did not believe that he or indeed any readers could possibly prove that they were not members of the Provisional IRA any more than they could prove that they were not members of the British Secret Service. He continued:

The object of this strange legislation appears to be to give powers of internment of suspected IRA men to the police for whose actions the Minister is responsible while making a clever and ruthless effort to pass the onus of making the order for imprisonment to a judge for whose actions the Minister is not responsible.

Every judge before his appointment makes a solemn declaration that he will without fear or favour administer justice in accordance with the law but what can he do if faced with what many lawyers believe and perhaps he himself believes to be an unjust law? Each judge must handle that dilemma on his own.

In conclusion, Mr. Sweetman says:

I ask you to publish this letter before the Bill is passed in its present form. Otherwise I will be risking imprisonment for myself and perhaps for you too.

That is what a member of the bench has to say about this Bill and I am wondering what the Minister, who is legally minded, and the Attorney General were doing or why they did not see what this district justice reads into their actions today. Rightly, he says it is another way of creating an internment crisis here.

I want to remind the Government of [711] the consequences of internment. During the recent past, in the middle of the forties, we had internment. What did it lead to? It led to hunger strikes, to death on hunger strike; five gallant men died on hunger strike. What else did it lead to? It led to executions, with the hangman brought over from England to hang a particular friend of mine in this very month of December. Surely to God it is only a fool will make the same mistake the second time and this is exactly what Fianna Fáil are doing now. Let them not say they were not told, advised and warned of the consequences of this action.

I would direct the Government's attention to a matter which is of much more importance than the introduction of this internment Bill. It is well known to them. No later than 12th November, I received a letter from a Redemptorist priest who has experienced it and is living with it in Belfast and has been living with it since 1969. Inter alia, this is what he says:

There is the difficulty of course that due to censorship of the Irish news media people in the Twenty-six Counties are not given a fair chance of forming a clear picture in their minds of what is really happening in the Six Counties. I wonder, for instance, how many know that the Convent of the Sisters of Charity in the Falls Road area was raided this week in the early hours of the morning by British soldiers looking for arms and how many know that a few weeks ago Clonard Monastery was surrounded by British Army tanks at 3 a.m. and had vaults and cellars thoroughly searched by soldiers using a dog because according to their officer, the Protestant people of the Shankill had passed on reliable information that illegal arms were stored there. Nothing was found. Headlines like “Early Morning Swoop on Convent by British Army” and “British Soldiers Raid Monastery” in the Irish newspapers and news bulletins would be revealing and informative but for whatever reason the truth is denied our people. Consequently they do not know the injustices that are being inflicted on [712] the Irish nationalists in the Six Counties where, for example people, particularly young men, living in Catholic housing estates are continually harassed, humiliated, beaten, interrogated and tortured for the crime of failing to co-operate with the security forces. Failing to co-operate means refusing to turn informer.

Further on, he says:

Given these and other similar facts one readily understands why victims of this official violence, having no court of appeal, grow frustrated in their desperation, perfectly good people will do things which they would never dream of doing in a normal society.

There is the written word of a Redemptorist priest to me who has been experiencing hardship, harassment, and all the things he says there since 1969, and what have Fianna Fáil and the Taoiseach done about it? When I put down a question here a fortnight ago on that matter, why something was not being done, I got a reply that the question would not be allowed as the matter was not within the jurisdiction. Now where do we go? Are they Irishmen or are they not? Do we speak for the Thirty-two Counties of Ireland, with all its islands and whatever else goes with it or not? Is it because a convent is torn to pieces, because a monastery is torn to pieces at 3 o'clock in the morning, that we have to sit down—not stand idly by; you can do something if you are standing—and shut up, which is exactly what the Fianna Fáil Government are doing today on this issue?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  It does not seem to have anything to do with the Bill.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  It has this much to do with it, that I want to try to put over as best I can the trials and rigours our fellow Irishmen are undergoing today and that nothing is being done by the Government to highlight these persecutions not alone to the people creating them, the British Government, but to the world at large. Nothing is being done. I say to them [713] that they would be doing a damn greater service to the people of Ireland if they applied themselves along these lines instead of locking up young men and women in internment camps. I have been associated with republicanism for 40 years. I have experience of what has been done. A former Taoiseach, whenever the question was raised: “What are you doing about the Border? What are you doing about solving Partition?” always said: “We never let an occasion go without bringing forward the question of Partition.” That is all we ever got. That is all I ever read in the papers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  We are not discussing the question of Partition. We are discussing the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Bill.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  And what it will lead to, I suggest. In every age and in every cycle since the introduction of Partition 50 years ago, men and women have stood up and opposed it in one way or another, but never was there such a concentrated effort made as is being made at present. The Fianna Fáil Government are baulking the effort—not because they want to do it, not because it gives them any pleasure to do it, but because they must do it and Mr. Heath has called the tune. Everybody knows that. But the tragedy of it is that in their presentation of this issue to the people it will be coloured, manoeuvred, misrepresented and bamboozled, as is typical of the Fianna Fáil approach. People will be asked: “Do you want stable Government? Do you want law and order? or do you want disorder and the gun?” There is nothing further from the truth and the Parliamentary Secretary who is now present and who lives with the situation knows in his heart that what I say is true and cannot be denied, that we are leading to the internment camp again. We are on our way to it whether it be Arbour Hill, which is being renovated at present, whether it will be Ballykinlar or maybe it will be a prison ship, because there will be such overcrowded conditions they will have to find a way out. Then what is going to happen? Then you will have your escalation. Then you will [714] have the people on the streets and the hunger strikes and the executions as you had in the mid-1940s. I went through that and I am not so stupid that I do not know that the nature and the calibre of the Irish people has not changed in that short time.

I want to dissociate myself from the statements made here yesterday with regard to the clergy and the hierarchy of our country. Maybe it should not be mentioned, it was so vile and so scurrilous. It descended to the sewer level. It should be beyond contempt and ignored. Maybe I should leave it as it is, but the thing is so repulsive and so stomach-upsetting that I must come out and denounce the statements that were made in this House yesterday. No men are doing as much today to try to focus attention on the situation in the Six Counties as the clergy and the hierarchy. If only Fianna Fáil went half the road with what the clergy and hierarchy are doing we would not be in this position today. They have been foremost in their leadership on this issue. It ill becomes any Member of this House to denounce them. Let me completely divorce myself from and condemn what was said yesterday with regard to our priests and hierarchy. I am no saint. Nobody here is, I presume. They would not be here otherwise.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Who said it?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  We must give credit and lay aside our personal animosities on an issue such as this. We must lay aside the small, mealy-mouthed, smallminded approach of some Members of this House. I did not listen to it yesterday. I read of it or heard of it.

I would ask the Government, apart from a man trying to prove he is not a member of an illegal organisation —I do not know how he will prove that—if there is an incident and a person found within a reasonable distance——

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government (Mr. Cunningham): Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  Has the Deputy left the other subject? He has left everybody under suspicion.

[715]Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  He can get a certificate from the head of the organisation that he was not a member.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  We are waiting for the grand finale.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  The only trouble——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Do not interrupt Deputy Cunningham. It is not that often he speaks in this House on this subject. Let him make his contribution.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  We are interested to know who the nameless, faceless ones are.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  We know which side you are on.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Deputy Coughlan.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I am looking forward to a happy Christmas. You will have had your answer. Your goose will be cooked at Christmas.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  A Cheann Comhairle, you are the other angle of the triangle from Donegal. Will you come in and complete the triangle?

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  You cannot keep them out of it.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  I did not like to see him out in the cold. I thought he was going to say something between the two Donegal men.

Mr. Cunningham: Information on Liam Cunningham  Zoom on Liam Cunningham  I thought he was going to tell the Deputy to name the guy.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  The Parliamentary Secretary does not have to tell the Ceann Comhairle anything with regard to procedure in this House. He is a fair-minded man and he will not take dictation or suggestions from any side of this House.

What is meant by being near to a place? If I have to go to a creamery 1½ miles away with a donkey and cart, that can be quite a distance for the donkey, who has to bear the burden of heavy milk cans. However, 1½ miles would be a very short distance [716] for the Parliamentary Secretary in his Mercedes. How can the Government specify what is meant by being near to a certain place? It could be said that if a person thinks about something he is very near to it mentally. This legislation is another way of introducing internment.

The phrase “give an account of your recent movements” has been used. I should like to know what that means. In the last fortnight a woman was charged because of something she said more than a year ago and recently Seán Mac Stiofáin was asked to account for his movements. Is a man who does a hard day's work supposed to carry a diary in his pocket setting out what he did at certain hours? Will he have to do this for as long as this legislation is in existence?

I want answers to these question because I consider I am involved in this. I may be asked to account for my movements but I will not do it. I can be near a place, I can be pulled in, be accused and be sent to an internment camp. This applies to everyone in the Republic of Ireland. Can any member of Fianna Fáil deny that this is not leading to internment camps? The Government should tell us what they are doing. They should be honest and tell us that they want to lock up some people in our society. They will rue the day they do what they did in the forties. In 1948 we showed the Government what it was about; we threw them out of office and the sooner we do that again the better.

In his many meetings with Mr. Heath why has the Taoiseach not insisted that if he interns people here or if he extradites people Mr. Heath will have to ensure that all his people in the North hand in their guns? Have not the UDA and other bodies paraded in public in battledress? Have they not destroyed people's homes because they did not share their beliefs? What did the Taoiseach do about that? He did not stand idly by—he just sat and kept his mouth shut.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  This is not relevant to the Bill.

[717]Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  It is all interrelated. This measure is camouflaged behind a smokescreen, namely, that the Government want law and order. Everyone wants law and order, except, perhaps, a few skinheads. They used to be known as teddyboys or razor blade gangs, next year they will adopt a different approach. They are wayward boys and girls who will conform in time but they go through these phases.

It is inherent in every Irishman to abide by the law and to conduct himself. I should like to repeat what the priest said:

Given these and other similar facts, one readily understands why victims of this official violence, having no court of appeal, grow frustrated. In their desperation perfectly good people will do things which they would never dream of doing in normal society.

Fianna Fáil are doing nothing about this. We will live to see the day when there will be a repetition of what happened in the forties in connection with internment. Let the Government camouflage this as much as they like. Let them call it any other name—it will smell the same, it is internment and nothing else. Everyone should realise this fact. We cannot stress sufficiently that this legislation has been introduced for one purpose—to legalise internment. Let the Fianna Fáil Party know and live with that fact.

I should like to refer to one incident which occurred at the Seán Mac Stiofáin trial. A tape was produced at that trial and was accepted in evidence against Mr. Mac Stiofáin. Who knows who made that tape?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may not discuss this particular aspect of the case which is still sub judice.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  The man is at death's door——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy is not discussing the man. He is discussing a tape. I cannot permit the Deputy to continue on these lines. That matter is sub judice.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  That tape should [718] never have been accepted in evidence because it was not proved by anybody that it was his voice——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I must ask the Deputy to desist. He is completely out of order in discussing a matter that is sub judice.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  On a point of order, I do not believe the case is sub judice. I think the case is over and we are quite entitled to talk about the case. We are quite within our rights.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  You may not discuss the courts——

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  We may talk about decisions in the courts, once they are given.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  No.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  It is established practice, and well-established in every parliament.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The conduct of judges or justices can be dealt with in this House only on substantive motion.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  It is well known that in any democracy decisions of the courts may be referred to and may be criticised in the parliament. One may say the decision was too severe.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  By substantive motion, not in this haphazard manner.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  With respect, I think I am right but I bow to your ruling. I think it is right that the point should be made.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  I also bow to the Chair's ruling but I thought it would be just as well to say that the tape should not have been given in evidence and accepted because any voice could have gone on to a tape and some of us can mimic. Having said that, I would make this last appeal to the Government—I know it will not be accepted—to reconsider the whole position in view of the consequences [719] this Bill will have for the people. I appeal to the Government, for once in their history to put the good, the prosperity and the unity of the people before the ambition of their own party and to keep matters such as this where they belong as regards priority. Surely this is something that is unnecessary and uncalled for. If we have to fight it we shall fight it determinedly and bitterly and in our defence we shall use the same weapon as is being or will be used by our opponents in their attack on us.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I believe the people outside this House are better informed on the Bill than some of the Deputies here. The meaning that is being read into it deliberately by the Opposition speakers in order to confuse is dishonest and is doing our society no good. All the prophecies speakers have made since the Bill was introduced are a sort of pie-in-the-sky for them. I hope to give a few instances which will prove that these Deputies are failing in their duty if they do not vote for this Bill.

It has been said that under the Bill individual liberty may be endangered. It is said that the Bill is totalitarian and is a prelude to internment. It is no such thing. I am not a lawyer, but I have been told by a good lawyer that Scottish law in many of its aspects is very similar to what is in this Bill.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  You would not mind Scotland.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  Here we have a country which is very close to us where, I understand, the law is somewhat different from English and Welsh law. I am assured that in Scottish law there are similarities to what is in this Bill.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Deputy must be joking.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I am not joking. Deputy Harte is trying very hard to impress the public now that he is back in the House again. I welcome him after his long absence. Since he returned yesterday he has interrupted every [720] speaker. I know it goes on the record but I have a few words to say and I want to say them without any further interruptions from the Deputy.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  Thanks very much for the Deputy's kind welcome. I shall expect the same welcome next week when I come back.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I heard Deputy Blaney this morning with his anatomy of violence and he presented his pen-picture of the North which is true in many ways and we can well understand that because of what is happening in the North we should have an overspill of trouble here. He also told us that the Bill is directed against the IRA, whether Provisional or Official. The Bill is an attempt to keep all violent organisations whether subversive or otherwise in check and under supervision. He also stated that the British Prime Minister had some influence on the Bill. The law here has to be applied to any organisation which sets out to violate the liberty or the safety of the people. It will be applied to the UDA or UVF just as honestly and effectively as to either branch of the IRA. It will also be applied to the British army should they again cross the Border and they will have their vehicles seized as they were seized on a previous occasion and brought to Dundalk.

To suggest there is any British influence on this Bill is just laughable; to suggest that it is an attempt to curb the liberty of the people is also laughable. When this Bill is defeated, principally at the instance of Fine Gael, it will not have been defeated on its merits or demerits but because the Fine Gael Party were unable to resolve their internal difficulties. Had they done so, this Bill would have been supported. It is altogether wrong that a party, because of internal trouble, should use the people of this part of the country as hostages to fortune.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Deputy knows that is wrong and that it is very unfair of him to say it.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I heard Deputy Cosgrave [721] myself here the other day. I do not think the Deputy was here.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  I was not here but I read what he said.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I heard what he said.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Deputy was performing his usual act of sleeping in the House.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  The Deputy was not here for a long time. I happened to be here and paid some attention and even courtesy to Deputy Cosgrave. If the Deputy does not believe me he can read the papers.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  I did read the papers.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  He must not be a very avid reader. The Fine Gael Party have always tried to set themselves up as the upholders of law and order, but because there is a crisis or trouble in the party the Bill is being opposed.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  The Deputy knows that is untrue.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  The Bill is being opposed by Fine Gael. Is that untrue?

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  No.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  That is fair enough. I want to ask a member like Deputy FitzGerald, who is my colleague in Dublin South-East, if the need for this Bill has not been brought home to him when in our own constituency last Saturday night or Sunday morning some organisations—I do not know who they were but I hope they will be brought to justice—planted a bomb in a Dublin cinema not very far from here and maimed many people? Deputy Sherwin assured us last night that everything was peaceful here and that there was no need for this measure. Also last Sunday a mob attempted to attack the Mater Hospital. If they went there because a man was dying on hunger strike and prayed outside one could perhaps forgive them, but when they went there threatening and chanting “we are coming in” while there were 400 to 500 defenceless patients in there maybe some of them dying or [722] have died since, you can picture the frightful atmosphere in that hospital. Take another instance in my own area last Sunday night when an elderly woman, because she displayed a referendum poster in her window, was approached by five young braves and interrogated. Her only offence was that, in common with the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour Parties she supported the referenda.

When such people come to Deputies' houses and picket them—they can picket my house 24 hours a day if they want to—it will not bother me, but when they terrify people in neighbouring houses by their picketing I shall certainly do anything I can to stop them. There are elderly people who live near me and they see this happening, and not very far from me a member of the judiciary is going through the same thing and his wife and family are being terrorised. Then Fine Gael say this Bill is not necessary, that the existing law should be applied. It is because the Government know the present law is inadequate that they have introduced this Bill, not because they want to hold on to power or because they want to penalise anybody.

As I mentioned earlier, this Bill may well be defeated and then the people will have the opportunity of deciding on it. When I say “the people” I mean the mass of the people, not the intellectuals who have protested against this Bill, not the various societies who turn up at every protest and try to lecture the masses on how they are being exploited by the Government. I hope that in the next few weeks people will have this opportunity of giving their decision on whether or not they think this Bill is necessary or whether it is perfect or imperfect. I do not think you could have any better brand of democracy in the world than that of asking the people to decide by their votes at the ballot box whether the Government should be returned or not.

Deputy Blaney chided us because, as he said, we have become affluent and therefore have lost interest in the North, that we wanted to keep our own little cotton wool world down here and did not want to be [723] bothered with the troubles in the North. This is most unfair. The people in this part of the country have at all times helped the people in the North and are still doing it. Maybe the help is not adequate. I do not know what help would be adequate. We could only work in the best way possible for peace in the North and, in the meantime, ensure that any person who is persecuted by the British paratroops—and some of them are being persecuted—would not be penalised further by the lack of money, food or anything else. The people in the South will never deny that help to them, but they do not want to see a repetition of last Saturday night's ocurrence in the cinema or last Sunday's occurrence at the Mater hospital. Who can blame them for that? Surely they have a right to seek to live in peace here. This Bill will ensure that they are given further protection from subversive elements.

Deputy Blaney said—this point may not be quite relevant but I refer to it only because Deputy Blaney mentioned it—that only for the violence in the North the Taoiseach would not have had the opportunity of seeing the British Prime Minister. I can recall a previous Taoiseach who went to Downing Street and came back with a settlement in 1938 which at that time, was, and still is, a tremendous achievement. Britain then believed that the Northern bases were very valuable for her Navy. We know that at present they are useless and that if the British Government could slip out tomorrow they would. The point is that these things can be achieved by peaceful means. The Taoiseach can emulate the achievement of his predecessor, Mr. Eamon de Valera. I hope that soon we shall have the people's solution to the Northern problem, but in the meantime I do not think the people here should be criticised for their lack of support of the North. It is inherent in our very nature for us to help an underdog. We can help the people in the North by supporting this Bill. This will ensure that the local subversives and the UDA and the UVF, which may become as big a threat as the [724] others, will be kept in check. Many of the people, North and South, do not want violence. The Members of the House who are going to vote against the Bill, unless they give better reasons that they have given so far for so doing, must stand before the jury of the people in the next few weeks and say why they did not support the Bill.

It is as simple as that. No amount of wriggling on the part of some of the Fine Gael Members will distort the image which they have before the people. The question is whether one supports this Bill as an effort to ensure that our people will be given all the support possible against subversive organisations. People may ask what the row is all about. They may ask whether this Bill will limit the liberties of any subject. Most of our people go about their daily business and they want to see a united Ireland wherein each one of them, and their children, will have a good living and wherein they will be able to create a society such as our predecessors fought for. We cannot go along the road to this society if we deny the people the liberty to which they are entitled. We hear quite a lot today from the liberals who say that the freedom of the individual is in danger. What about the freedom, dignity and safety of the people in the Dublin cinema last week or in the Mater Hospital?

The message which we wish to get over to the people is that this is a democracy and that a democracy is worth preserving and must be preserved. We are not going to stand and see our country destroyed by a small minority. The Members of this House must make up their minds on the merits or demerits of this Bill. I suppose no Bill is perfect and any Bill may have defects. Deputies should not fiddle about with possible deficiencies in the Bill while a cinema burns or a hospital is attacked. I am amazed at the attitude of the Fine Gael Party. In my own area I have been lectured for many years by their Deputies about how they are the great upholders of law and order and how they carried the banner of law and order in this country. One can now see [725] that they are no longer the people to do that. They see some advantage in joining the so-called liberals in opposition to this Bill.

I have received some letters and a telegram from people who are certainly not subversives. These people are entitled to their views. I find it much more educational to speak to the people in the streets, listening to their attitudes to the Government proposals on this Bill and to the Opposition attitude. A man stopped me this morning and he wanted support for Government action. He was not an intellectual but just an ordinary Dubliner who had few possessions. This man had a family and a home, in themselves vital possessions, and he was wiser in his way than the Deputies in this House or the intellectuals outside it who are opposing this Bill. His advice was that the Taoiseach should go to the country and give the people an opportunity to give, in no uncertain terms, their opinions on this Bill and the Opposition attitude to it. Nothing could be fairer than that. The people in the streets will record their verdict.

The Chair has been indulgent to most speakers. We have wandered far from the actual wording of the Bill. This is a very short Bill but it is amazing what people read into it. Some people tell us that we are facing domesday as regards liberty. This is the greatest nonsense ever. We heard similar views in regard to the Forcible Entry Bill. This Bill may give some help to the people. As the Taoiseach said, it may get at the leaders of some of the subversives. I am talking about the type of person who organises the picketing of houses and who gets other people, who are more innocent than themselves, to do something wrong. They are then brought away and charged but the real instigators go scot-free all the time. Under our present laws they cannot be apprehended. They are encouraging some of the youth of this city to violence. They see a good opportunity of using the youth to gain their own ends.

It is a duty on this House as the national Parliament to do anything we can by way of legislation to ensure that our society gives utmost liberty. When [726] I talk of liberty I refer to the people who cry out from the house-tops that their liberty may be infringed. Many people have had their liberty infringed already. They have been threatened. Their houses have been picketed. They have been intimidated in other ways.

Mr. P. J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  You know, Deputy, you are addressing a lot of Pontius Pilates in the Opposition.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I do.

Mr. L. Belton: Information on Luke Belton  Zoom on Luke Belton  That is not worthy of Deputy Burke.

Mr. P. J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I did not say what Opposition. Deputy Belton is not in that category.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  The point is that the Opposition will do anything but debate this Bill. They resolutely refuse to get down to discussing the merits of the Bill. This House may decide to reject this measure. In a way, it will be a good thing if it does because then a bigger jury will be asked to decide on it in a short time. The Bill has been misrepresented since its publication. The heartening thing is that since the speeches of the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and other Deputies in the Fianna Fáil Party the people are now beginning to realise that an attempt was made to mislead them, and the sooner they are given an opportunity to show what they think of those Members of this House who tried to mislead them, the better it will be. If there is an election any of us may be casualties, but that does not matter, what matters is that the people have been ensured the right of going to the ballot box and there clearly demonstrating how they think democracy should be protected. The latter is what the Government have set out to do. If an election comes, the Opposition will be asked to render an account. We shall have some very pertinent questions to ask the Opposition, especially in the more affluent areas in which they have always proclaimed themselves as standing for the right to private property and everything else. We will ask them if they have abandoned these principles. We [727] will ask them if they have cast off their tradition and have become liberals in the sense in which that word is understood today.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  Deputy Moore must be talking about Deputy P.J. Burke's area when he talks about the affluent society he hopes to impress. This should be a very serious discussion. This is a very critical time. I have been appalled by some of the speeches made from the Government benches. I refer in particular to Deputy Dowling's contribution. He never once referred to the Bill. His entire speech was devoted to “slagging” the Opposition. We have heard that speech before from Deputy Dowling and we were not surprised when he repeated it yesterday evening. What did surprise me and what did upset me was the Minister for Finance coming in later and making Deputy Dowling's speech all over again.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Hear, hear.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  It was completely out of character for the Minister for Finance. He told us nothing about the Bill. He spent himself hammering at the Opposition. I admit the Opposition were a bit unruly in interrupting and that, perhaps, aggravated things, but this whole matter is far too serious to be dealt with in the way in which the Minister for Finance dealt with it. Indeed, some Deputies seem to derive some pleasure and some amusement out of that approach to this very serious piece of legislation. Deputy Moore comes along now and he says all Fine Gael are concerned about is to try to establish that they are the party of law and order.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I did not say that.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  We have, of course, no difficulty whatsoever about law and order. We have a history that speaks for itself. Our reputation is laid on unshakeable foundations from the point of view of the establishment and the maintenance of law and order. We have never shifted from that and we never will shift.

When I got my copy of this Bill I [728] read it slowly and carefully. I did not have the benefit of any legal training and I had no more than the knowledge of the ordinary Deputy in regard to the legislation that is in existence, legislation designed to enable the Government to deal with unlawful organisations. My first reaction to the Bill was that my hackles rose against it. I believe that would also be the reaction of the average person. It is possible that, not being a legal man, I read more into the Bill than it actually contained, but that is the way it affected me and that is the way, I believe, it affects the majority of the people: I said immediately: “The Government have gone berserk. The Government have suddenly wakened up to the realisation that they have allowed a serious situation to develop because of their own inaction over the last three or four years. They are now in a state of panic and they cannot see clearly what legislation they require to deal with this situation, a situation in which everything seems to be tumbling down around their ears. They do not know how to cope with the situation or how to contain it.”

I may be right in that, or I may be wrong, but that was the effect it had on me. I was convinced that the legislation available to the Government three or four years ago—it is actually still available to them—was more than adequate to deal with the situation, a situation engendered because of Government inactivity. But the situation was even worse than that. It was well known that there were within the Fianna Fáil Party certain people actively assisting unlawful organisations. Those people constituted a sizeable section of the Fianna Fáil Party. Can the Government blame us now if we criticise them when they come in here for emergency legislation to deal with the situation which they irresponsibly allowed to build up? I do not think they can. I do not think they should be surprised that we are fearful of giving them more legislation than is absolutely necessary to deal with the situation. We have seen them both underuse and misuse the powers they have. I emphasise “under-use” and “misuse”. [729] That is why we are apprehensive. That is why we are slow to give them the green light.

It is quite wrong for Deputy Moore to allege that Fine Gael are here for no other reason but to oppose this Bill. We are not here for anything of the sort. We have clearly spelled out the position taken up by this party on this Bill. We do not say that no part of this Bill is not necessary. We are quite prepared to examine it critically and we have enough legal brains on this side of the House to assist us in making up our minds. We have Deputies, like Deputy Moore, coming in here and saying: “We want the Bill. We cannot do without it”. The fact is they do not explain why they cannot do without it and they do not explain how much further we must go if we are to do a really effective job in dealing with unlawful organisations.

This is a short Bill. The Minister made a very long statement on it but I do not think he succeeded in clarifying people's minds. The Taoiseach made light of certain sections of the Bill and seemed to explain them away with a wave of his hand. On several occasions I have been told by legal people outside this House that they do not care a damn what the Minister or the Taoiseach said in the House, and that it is what is written in the Bill that is important. As a responsible party we cannot allow a measure to pass through the House which says something which is explained away, or attempted to be explained away, by the Minister when he is introducing it, when he has not written it in, or is not prepared to write it into the Bill.

I do not deny that there is a dangerous situation here, a situation which has been allowed irresponsibly to build up by the Government. We warned them on several occasions that they were allowing the situation to get out of hand. We asked them continuously to use the law available to them and they did not use it. We implored them to increase the strength of the Garda force and the Army and to equip them properly. All these matters have been neglected. Is it any wonder that lawlessness could develop and thrive in such a situation, when we have [730] an insufficient police force and Army, obviously an easy target for any lawless group to take on. The Government cannot complain if we criticise them bitterly.

I thought the position of this party was spelled out as clearly as possible and that there could be no ambiguity. I do not think there is. There are people on the other side of the House who are deliberately setting out to misrepresent us. The attitude of every member of this party is that, whatever Government are in power, they must be given sufficient authority to carry out the mandate of the people, and to maintain law and order and respect for the institutions of the State. We all feel a sincere responsibility to ensure that they have that authority.

Regardless of the failure of the Government in the past, regardless of who is responsible for putting us in the position we are in now, we have a duty and a responsibility to look at the situation as it exists today. That is the attitude of responsible politicians. We are elected to carry out the will of the people and we must insist that we have whatever legislation is necessary to do just that. The Government have not told us in detail what they feel is the additional legislation they require. They have thrown this Bill at us and said it is that or nothing. They cannot maintain that stand. When I looked at this Bill I thought that it was surely the legislation of a police state. Can I be blamed if I read too much into it? If I did not read too much into it, why can the Government not give us our amendments? In what way would they weaken this measure? I do not think they would weaken it at all.

Section 1 is the definition section. We are prepared to give the Government section 2. On section 3 we start to disagree with the Government. In section 3 (1) (b) there is a word none of us likes, the word “omission”. It provides:

In paragraph (a) of this subsection “conduct” includes omission by the accused person to deny published reports that he was a member of an illegal organisation, but the fact of such denial shall not by itself [731] be conclusive.

In his statement the Minister for Justice makes light of this and says that if a person for any reason was unaware that a statement was made about him he cannot commit a sin, so to speak, by omission. It should be easy to rectify that. It is only common sense that it should be written into the Bill as a safeguard. That is a very minor thing.

Under section 3 (2), if a chief superintendent says he believes John Murphy is a member of an illegal organisation, that will be accepted as evidence, full stop. We cannot accept this because it smacks of the law of a police state. The Taoiseach makes light of this, too, and says it is subject to cross-examination, and that the evidence of anybody else who is brought in will be considered. We are asking for something quite simple in order to safeguard the individual who may be innocent.

In his opening statement the Minister quoted section 26 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939. It provides:

...Chief Superintendent states on oath that he believes that such document was published (as the case may be) by the accused or by the accused in concert with other persons or by arrangement between the accused and other persons, such statement shall be evidence——

and this is the important thing

——(until the accused denies on oath that he published such document either himself or in concert or by arrangement as aforesaid) that the accused published such document as alleged in the said statement on oath of such officer.

We are suggesting that this should be brought into this Bill as well as a safeguard, and that the undue significance given to the evidence of a chief superintendent should disappear, or that it should be possible to get a proper abutment by the accused. The Government cannot see that it is important to safeguard the individual by allowing him to swear that what the [732] chief superintendent believes to be true is false—that is all we are asking for— and that it then ceases to be evidence once the accused says on oath that this is not so and that he is not guilty.

I do not think it would require any great effort on the part of the Government to agree that this represents an improvement in the legislation they are asking the House to give them. When they consider the issue seriously and look at the legislation in existence at the moment, I am sure they will agree that it is only right and proper that this should be written in. That is our main bone of contention in this Bill. We are standing on this and we must stand on it.

We are not quite satisfied with section 4 because again we want the rights of any individual to be safeguarded. We do not want a situation where a person walking along the street, stops at a meeting and listens and thus puts himself in the position that he may find himself in court and in jail. We are asking that that danger be removed and that a person cannot be committed simply for attending a meeting. A person might be there accidentally or he might go there to hear what this crazy group or person had to say and would feel entitled to do that. Everybody is entitled to hear what somebody else has to say. That comes under the right of free speech. I do not think it is too much. Deputy P. J. Burke agrees with me. I am sure that individuals on his benches and Ministers, and even perhaps the Minister for Justice, will agree. They will say, of course, that when the matter comes to the court the person will get out of his trouble. Of course he will, but I say that is no good if it is not written into the Bill. It is the simplest matter to write that safeguard into the Bill. I hope some sensible Minister, or the Minister for Justice when he comes to reply, will say that they accept that this is easy, that it is right and proper, that the Minister for Justice will say that it is in his statement and that he has no hesitation in having it written into the Bill. That is the sort of assurance we want.

Our opposition to this Bill is by no means wholesale opposition to any [733] measure that is necessary to contain the dangerous situation the country is in at the moment. We realise and recognise that this is emergency type legislation, that it is repressive legislation. We do not want repressive legislation for one hour longer than it is necessary to have it because the more repressive the legislation the more likely it is to beget violence. Of course, unreasonable people must be dealt with but, as I say, Fianna Fáil have a great deal to blame themselves for and the situation we are in is largely due to the fact that they have neglected their responsibility over a period of four or five years. It is due also, I have no doubt, to British misunderstanding of the situation in the North of Ireland and their stupidity in thinking they will ever solve the Irish question by force of British arms and by their presence in the North. Until that is realised, as well as the fact that we are not standing here on this side of the Border for lawlessness of any description, we will never see the end of this.

We want a time limit on this legislation. None of us would like to see it in existence an hour longer than is seen to be absolutely essential. We might be prepared in the first instance to give it a life of 12 months—six months perhaps—but certainly not more than 12 months when we all hope sanity will have returned to all parts of the country, and peace and security and normal living. It would be to anticipate something that none of us wants to think possible to make it for longer than 12 months.

That is our opposition to the Bill and I do not want any Member on the other side of the House, Deputy Moore or anybody else, trying to interpret our attitude in any other way. That is what we want. We have clearly stated it and I regret to say that the Government have not clearly stated to us in what dimension the law as it stands today is short. We have legal men on this side of the House who have reached the top flight of their profession and they feel that, with these amendments and with the sections and subsection of the Bill, we are already prepared to accept the position is truly and properly taken [734] care of and that no further excuse lies with the Government for failing in their duty to the people.

There will be other speakers after me and they may help to reinforce what I have said. They may help to clarify what I have said. Quite frankly, it is wrong for any speaker on any side of the House to go back over the history of the last 50 years, a history in which we would come out pretty well, but it is not appropriate to the occasion of this Bill that that history should be trampled over and over again and that the bitterness of the past should be resurrected for a variety of purposes. We are here at a time when great responsibility is called for. We should deal with this measure in the most responsible way, in the most critical way. One of the things that convinced me was what the Minister said about a case of a lady where they failed to get a conviction on membership. I believe the law should be such that it is possible to convict such a person as a member of an unlawful organisation, a person who comes out openly and says that he or she is a member; not only that but that his or her purpose is to unseat the lawful authority in this part of the country. Certainly, when it can be shown that the existing law is inadequate to deal with that sort of situation we in this House should give any necessary improvement in the law to deal with it.

The Minister said in moving the Second Reading:

The provisions of the section reenact as accurately as possible that branch of the law of contempt of court which relates to comments on a case that is sub judice. Such conduct is ordinarily dealt with summarily by the court in relation to which the offence of contempt is committed. It might therefore be asked why it is necessary to create a specific statutory offence to deal with this kind of conduct. The answer is that the extent to which these activities have been carried on in recent years, their increasing seriousness and the fact that they are frequently planned and organised for the clear purpose of subverting justice in relation to members of [735] unlawful organisations make it right, in the Government's view, to prevent the activities by making them the subject of a statutory offence that can be prosecuted in the ordinary way and that is punishable with suitably severe penalties.

I agree very strongly with that statement. I have in mind the protests carried on in the Curragh in the last few months when contingents came down from the North of Ireland and confronted our Army personnel. I have received reliable and accurate descriptions of those protests. We should not deny any Government the necessary legislation to deal effectively with such people. Their conduct was deplorable. Our Army should not be subjected to that sort of conduct. It is not right that people can get away scotfree having conducted themselves in such a manner. The same applies in the case of the Garda Síochána. They should not be open to a similar measure of assault from lawless persons who can then go free anywhere they like.

I am prepared to support any improvement necessary in the legislation to deal with that sort of thing and I am sure that goes for every Member of this Parliament. We wish to ensure that the forces of law and order get the support they need to carry out their work on behalf of the people.

I hope I have made clear the purpose of the extent of our opposition to this measure. I hope, too, that when he is replying, the Minister for Justice will see the wisdom of accepting the alterations we have proposed. The leader of this party, Deputy Cosgrave, has made our stand perfectly clear and it is behind him that we all stand on this issue.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  At the outset I congratulate Deputy Cooney on his contribution to this debate. His speech was in the manner of a coherent, rational and clear-cut opposition to the serious difficulties surrounding this Bill. It was a massive exposition of the reasons for our opposition to the Bill. Also, I support strongly the calm reaction of Deputy Cluskey. His speech was in accordance with all of his other statements here. I am proud that Deputies [736] Cooney and Cluskey are the spokesmen on Justice in their respective parties.

It is easy to become emotional when speaking of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Bill. This Bill has been the subject of much condemnation by people in all walks of life. However, I would abhor some of that condemnation while supporting a great deal of it. An example of the kind of condemnation that I would abhor is a statement made by Bernadette Devlin while speaking in Liberty Hall on the 29th November, 1972. I quote from the Irish Independent of the 29th and 30th November:

If this Bill is passed through the Dáil and is going to become law, may the hand of the President who signs it wither as he signs it, and may every one of his dead comrades who fought and died for this country appear before his dim eyes and curse his beating heart.

That was Miss Devlin speaking at a so-called rally that was held for the purpose of opposing the Bill. That is the kind of sick and scurrilous statement which I who am certainly in opposition to this Bill, could not support. It is the kind of statement from an Irishwoman which to me as a trade unionist soils the historic spot which is Liberty Hall.

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan  Zoom on John Geoghegan  Hear, hear.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  As Irishmen and Irishwomen we can at least conduct our affairs without vilifying the President of this country. It is a statement which I resent bitterly.

I wish to deal with another aspect of the Bill, that is, the statement made by the Minister in his contribution. Unfortunately, Deputy O'Malley who is usually very well briefed in respect of his contributions in this House, has not yet overcome his petulant and rather stupid attitude not only towards the Press and the communications media generally but towards Members of the House. Invariably he gives assurances to the House in relation to a whole range of matters which are not in his Bills at all. For example, in his speech in support of this Bill he said that the admission as evidence of a statement by a chief superintendent [737] that he believed a person to be a member of an illegal organisation was justified in the view of the Government because of the evil against which the law as to membership of an unlawful organisation was directed, and because there would be no possible danger of an innocent person suffering as a result of the provision. There is no reference to innocent persons in the preamble to the Bill. Neither is there any reference in it to the protection of innocent persons. This is merely an assurance by the Executive of the State that innocent persons will not suffer. But such assurance is not worth the paper it is written on because it is not contained in the Bill.

The Minister went on to say that the fact of a senior officer having formed such an opinion and being prepared to swear to his belief in court made it virtually certain that the accused was a member. That is a nice piece of stage managing of the future implemenation of this Bill. In simple terms the Minister is saying now to the 25 or so chief superintendents around the country and particularly to the chief superintendent of the Special Branch: “Look, so far as the Government say, if you believe it it is right and as a result of your belief we are virtually certain that the accused is a member”. This is not in the Bill but it is in the mind of the Minister and what perturbs the Opposition more than anything else are the intentions behind the Bill and the attitude of the of the Government towards it rather than what is contained in it.

The Minister told us that there were complete safeguards within the Bill. There are no such safeguards. He told us that the superintendent's statement might be wrong but that in such case there were complete safeguards. That is not the case. Under section 3 (2) a chief superintendent is not obliged in any way to produce a shred of corroborating evidence before the court apart from stating that it is his belief. With due regard to the state of civil and criminal legislation in any European country I do not think that any court of justice would accept this kind of legislation under any circumstances. Not even among the most reactionary advocates that one might find in the most extreme right wing quarters in [738] the USA would legislation be accepted by any Senate committee or court of justice whereby a Federal officer could say, for example, that he believed Barry Desmond was a member of the Communist Party.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I would defend the Deputy on that score.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  This legislation, I am afraid, had its origins more appropriately in the South American context. Therefore, I reject very much the attitude of the Minister here in stating, for example, that the evidence could be challenged in court.

I disagree completely with a good deal of what Deputy Neil Blaney stands for in this country. However, he is a former Minister of State and a fairly experienced public representative. He knows quite well that the evidence of the chief superintendent of the Special Branch is invariably accepted in a court of law. He will not be asked to disclose the source of his information. Let this House be under absolutely no illusion what it is voting for when it votes on this Bill. Many of the rank and file Fianna Fáil Deputies as distinct from those who are very concerned about saving their seats, are very perturbed about this Bill. A number of them came to me in the constituency which I represent and said: “If it were not for Deputy Cruise-O'Brien and yourself talking about the IRA, the Government would never have been forced to hound those republicans.” Many members of the Fianna Fáil Party must be extremely perturbed about what is contained in this Bill.

I make a plea to the House that in the Republic we should not talk ourselves into a state of emotional political crisis. I fully support the security forces of this State. I would go so far as to say that it is necessary to have special security forces in any democratic State. Nevertheless, I resent very much the sudden build-up in the Republic during the past fortnight by the Taoiseach —starting with RTE—of an atmosphere of crisis for what I would regard as rather spurious political expediency. I do not think that crisis is there. I am quite convinced that the security forces [739] of this State, the Army and the Garda, the Special Army Intelligence, the Special Detective Unit Intelligence— both of which are now massively augmented—are more than capable of dealing with a few hundred people who actively involve themselves in the Provisional IRA and a few score who actively involve themselves in the so-called Official IRA.

We should not give way to panic and we certainly should not give way to the hypocrisy of the various Fianna Fáil Ministers who have come before this House in defence of this Bill. We had an exhibition of support yesterday by the Minister for Transport and Power. I remember speaking to Fianna Fáil members in Roscommon about a year ago. The Minister for Transport and Power at Fianna Fáil meetings in Roscommon said: “Now lads we have to take a hard line against them because we need the money from big business to run the election. We are really with the lads and as long as they keep up the good work and do not get involved down here it will be all right.”

Mr. P. J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  He hardly said that.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  This was the Minister for Transport and Power, Deputy Brian Lenihan's exhibition of Fianna Fáil strategy to the Roscommon branches of Fianna Fáil. “Keep it going lads. As long as they kill the British Army in Northern Ireland, as long as they keep to the other side of the Border it is all right. As long as they have a go at the RUC that is all right.”

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Would the Deputy quote chapter and verse for that?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I do not need to quote the Minister for Transport and Power.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  It is like this Bill here.

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

[740]Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I want to pass on from that exhibition in the cabinet of what I call two-faced hypocrisy by the Minister who is to be our Minister for Foreign Affairs.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  The Deputy will appreciate that to allege hypocrisy by a Member of the House is not in order.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I will say political ambivalence, and I think we all know what that means. This Bill has very little to do with the elimination of violence in the Republic and it has very little to do with bringing peace, reconciliation and full employment to Northern Ireland. It is ironic to note that not one Government spokesman here has referred to the fact that the Taoiseach has completely shut out of his mind what has happened in the past four years. He made no reference to the fact that 644 people in this country have lost their lives as a result of violence in the last four years. He accepted no responsibility in respect of the litany of horror in our community. He made no reference whatever to the fact that 8,572 men, women and children have been injured in Northern Ireland in the past four years. If the Taoiseach came into this House and said that he wanted to stop the slaughter, the political assassinations and the strife in Northern Ireland and that he needed this Bill to prevent it happening any further in Northern Ireland there might be a certain reaction in the Opposition benches. The Taoiseach did not do that.

The Bill was not brought in to exculpate the Fianna Fáil Party for the fact that 444 civilians and 29 RUC men, who are Irishmen, in Northern Ireland lost their lives during the past four years. The Bill has been brought in because it became expedient in the Taoiseach's scenario to have this Bill introduced. It became essentially an exercise in internal political party power. A golden opportunity was presented to the Taoiseach to screw the Fine Gael Party and have the Labour Party thrown in as a bolster.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  The Deputy knows this is not true.

[741]Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  This is the reality. The Bill has very little to do with controlling subversive individuals and organisations in our community. It is a pincer movement to wrongfoot the Opposition. There is an Opposition dilemma. The issue should be one of law and order between the Government and the IRA, both Provisional and Official, but it has been twisted to become an issue of law and order between the Government and the Opposition. The Government stand to benefit from that. Therefore, we have the basic ploy of the Government to engineer, if at all possible, a law and order election.

What is the purpose of this? It is not to resolve the situation in Northern Ireland. It is to preserve Fianna Fáil in power for another four years because we are now in the last 12 months of the lifetime of the Nineteenth Dáil. The Taoiseach will pick the best possible opportunity to go to the country. The ploy is to ensure that the Opposition are put in the greatest possible embarrassment. The Taoiseach has been successful in that.

Is there any concern on the Government benches in relation to the 70,000 people in the Republic who are unemployed? If I came into this House this afternoon with a motion in relation to unemployment there would be a mass exodus from the Government benches. They could not care less about unemployment, price control or social security. Everything goes out the window on an “against violence” campaign.


Acting Chairman (Mr. T. J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Cavan): Deputy Desmond on the Bill without interruption.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  This is essentially an exercise in the retention of power rather than in the resolution of the issues we have, a pincer movement designed more to catch the Opposition than the subversives and that is the whole purpose of it.

It is very reminiscent of the style of politics of the Taoiseach who succeeded magnificently in 1969 in running this kind of election campaign, a [742] campaign which was largely designed to catch the public concern about the ideological attitudes of certain Labour Deputies, and of course the political style of the Taoiseach is to prove to the world his total personal integrity, his meticulous concern for having absolutely clean hands on all issues, while playing a very dirty brand of politics which he is very capable of playing. We are facing now a general election which could well prove to be the most scurrilous in the history of the State. It is rather a tragedy and totally irresponsible that the Taoiseach should for narrow political advantage decide to fight an election on that basis. Personally I am quite prepared to face the electorate and accept the consequences, but I submit seriously to the electorate and to the House that it is not desirable nationally—I will not say it is a tragedy because there is a need for a sorting out of certain individuals in this House, and Deputy Burke and I will agree on that—that we should have a situation in which Jack Lynch, Liam Cosgrave and Brendan Corish should be trying to prove to the nation who is the toughest in terms of repudiation of violence. It is undesirable for the nation when only a few short months ago all three leaders and all three political parties unanimously rejected the use of violence for the attainment of political ends.

It has been quite some time since the terms “fascist” or “Gestapo” or “repressive” were used in this House and thrown across the floor, and I do not use these terms lightly in a House of Parliament, but I think it does behove the Members of Parliament to pay special attention to the contents of this Bill, and on any reasonable analysis of it, one certainly must describe it by saying that it is fascist in content, if not intent. It is certainly reminiscent of the denial of the opportunity for a fair trial which one saw in the legislation in Nazi Germany. I do not use these adjectives lightly because I do not think one should become exceptionally emotional on this matter at all. One must approach it in the manner of Deputy Cooney and the calm manner of Deputy Cluskey and Deputy Cruise-O'Brien.

[743] I might add in relation to the Bill that I personally have no hesitation in facing the electorate. I will circulate copies of the Bill to every household in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency, pointing out the reasons why I was not prepared to give to the Garda superintendent of F Division the right to say of any constituent of mine whom I have the honour to represent that he was a member of an unlawful organisation. I have sufficient faith in the good sense of the constituents I represent to read between the lines of the gurrier contribution of Deputy Dowling and the unfortunate contribution of Deputy Colley, the Minister for Finance, who said nothing whatever about the Bill. I have every hope that the electorate will see through these and I have the feeling—maybe I am completely wrong—that there will be a bit of a rebound on this Government, that the electorate sharply distinguishes between the Provisional IRA, the Official IRA, the question of offences against the State and the global legislation contained in the Bill.

The electorate have been profoundly underestimated by the politicians in the past four years. That is the feedback that I have been getting and some Deputies have underestimated the views of the electorate more than others. Unlike Mac Stiofáin, the Ó Brádaighs and indeed Bernadette Devlin, I will accept the democratic verdict of the people of my constituency. I may be a redundant Deputy and I may have to emigrate because I have no other job. That is the way the ball will hop but it will be a democratic ball and one which we in Opposition most certainly are prepared to accept.

I also want to say—there is scarcely need to say it, having said it for four or five years—that I support the democratic institutions of the State, the Irish Army and the Garda Síochána, and I accuse the Government of failing in those past four years to give the necessary support to the members of the Garda Síochána and the Irish Army who attempted to deal with or—I do not like to use the phrase “deal with” because it is an O'Malleyism—to take control of [744] security situations in this country. I would stress that there have been many instances. If I may give a few, the climate of political reaction started with the burning of the British Embassy. That was a great gag for Fianna Fáil Deputies and there were members of the Fianna Fáil Party who stood up here and said that they welcomed the burning of the British Embassy and also said that they did not burn half enough of the British premises. May I make the point that when British company offices were burned in Dún Laoghare and when I made inquiries about it, there was a blank wall of silence from the Department of Justice and from the responsible Minister because it was not then popular to get those who threw the petrol bombs into the British premises in George's Street in Dún Laoghaire. When British Rail offices were burned in Cork, did Jack Lynch ask for a Special Branch report? Not on your life. The Taoiseach sat dumb because it was not then politically expedient. When the British Rail offices in Limerick were burned and when the matter was raised by way of Parliamentary Question, Fianna Fáil sat idly by shedding counterfeit crocodile tears and with glee in their hearts that we were being beautifully anti-British.

Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Information on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  Zoom on Conor Cruise-O'Brien  They had not discovered law and order in those days.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  No, because the Taoiseach's scenario was very simple —if the Provos can keep it up long enough and if we have a few nice incidents in the Republic, we will be bombed on to the conference table with Ted Heath. We will take the bonus from the Provisional IRA but we will have our seats at that conference table and if necessary, without having to impose any other kind of legislation. Therefore, the Taoiseach has been trying to have it both ways in the past four years. Certainly the Labour Party cannot be accused of that. Certain Deputies in the Labour Party have had a foot in different camps and I dissociate myself from them. I have supported consistently [745] the view adopted by Deputy Cruise-O'Brien, a man who has been vilified by the Fianna Fáil Party and crucified at every Fianna Fáil cumann meeting throughout this country for cheap political gain and crucified by the Taoiseach as well until finally the Taoiseach discovered that the people of this country are opposed to violence, are opposed to the Provisional IRA and are opposed to the Official IRA, and the Taoiseach now wants to cash in on that. As far as I am concerned, he is not going to hang that kind of secondhand clothing around my neck in any general election and I will certainly travel to Cork, out of my own constituency, to make that clear.

I also want to make it clear that we in the Labour Party do not have to apologise in any way in respect of our past or our current attitudes, the official attitudes adopted by the Labour Party at the annual conference in Wexford in relation to parliamentary institutions. We will not allow the parliamentary institutions of this State to languish either from the fascism of the IRA or from the erosion of civil rights by the Government. We know the essential distinctions. The Garda Síochána and the various superintendents and the officers of the Irish Army, underequipped as they were, came to successive Ministers for Defence and Ministers for Justice and it was discussed around the Cabinet table because this Cabinet leaks like a bucket—I do not want to name the Ministers but those of us who are full-time politicians and come in here every day and have a few “jars” in the bar know that you would be amazed what you can find out about Fianna Fáil. They are not that security conscious. When reports came through from the Border areas of Irishmen on this side of the Border playing havoc with the security of the Border, when it was reported to members of the Government that there were in certain areas dumps of arms in the Border counties, when it was reported that bombs were being made even in the suburbs of Dublin and when the Government were asked to take action, the Government did [746] nothing. That is documented effectively in the reports of the Special Branch over the past four years.

I, therefore, make the global accusation that there is blood on the hands of Fianna Fáil going into any general election. I accuse them, as one with the right to make the accusation, as one who opposed the IRA when it was bloody unpopular to do so and when I did not have to have around my home at two in the morning a panoply of the Army and the Special Branch. When I was dragged out a few years ago with bomb threats and scares and telephone calls I did not come into this House with a bleeding heart, making a scene about it. I now disclose the provocation that I suffered as a member of the Opposition. I had bloody few members of the Government willing to give me protection when I and my family faced that in my home in the past two or three years.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  You are not alone. Do not try and make yourself a hero.

Acting Chairman:  Deputy Desmond must be allowed to proceed without interruption.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  Pontius Pilate.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am not Pontius Pilate. I am simply pointing out that we have the godfathers of the Provisional IRA now turning on their young. They have turned in the past week, as only Fianna Fáil can turn. They started with RTE and they will finish up with virtually CIE if they are allowed to get away with it.

Irrespective of the actions of individual Deputies, a very heavy responsibility lies in respect of this odious piece of legislation directly on the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA. I do no think we should lose our sense of perspective. They are in many respects the authors of this legislation. They have given the incentive to the Government. In that context there may not be a great deal of sympathy for them but what is important is not the Provisional IRA or the Official IRA, but the large mass of three million people in the Republic whose civil rights transcend [747] the fascism of the IRA. I do not think we have had what I would call a rag bag of Provisional IRA opposition to this Bill. That is not that important. What is important is the deep-rooted, genuine perhaps unspoken feeling of the majority who are very perturbed at the idea of putting these rights into the hands of a Garda superintendent for an unlimited period without any rebuttal open to an individual. In a Christian country, where a man is prepared to go into court and swear on the Bible—allegedly 95 per cent of the Irish people are Christian, though looking at Northern Ireland and the South in terms of political violence I have grave reservations about that—it should be sufficient for any Government or any court of law that an Irishman, whose oath is allegedly his sacred trust, would go into court and swear that he is not a member of the IRA. According to this Bill this is not rebuttal. Such a denial, says the Minister, shall not by itself be conclusive. We see—if I may use the phrase used by Deputy Collins in relation to myself—a mantle of holier-than-thou descending upon the Minister for Justice. Presumably he will go round in clerical garb from now on seeing that he is not prepared to accept a denial under oath by a citizen of this State of being a member of the IRA.

In the election campaign which may come, depending on what happens in the next few hours, the electorate will sharply distinguish between those Deputies who have consistently opposed violence and spoken out against it and those who have remained silent. I would accuse the overwhelming majority of the Fianna Fáil backbenchers of remaining totally silent in the past four years on the question of violence. They may now cash in, with great glee, on the backlash against violence, but they do not deserve to be the recipients of any electoral support in that regard. The electorate should examine the records of Dáil Éireann over the past four years. There are many Fianna Fáil Deputies who by their silence condoned a great deal of what went on. There have been many occasions when the Taoiseach stood there condemning [748] violence and there was dead silence behind him. I would implore the electerate to take careful note of those Deputies. I honour Deputy Burke, and indeed Deputy Tunney. To their credit they did speak, but there are many who did not. I would also ask the electorate to take into account the various Deputies—from all parties, I must admit—who have been ambivalent on this issue. There are about 12 Deputies who deserve an unequivocal reaction from the electorate when we go to the polls. There are about 12 individuals who have been trying to keep a foot in all camps. That is the real division in the House, not the spurious division we will have here later this afternoon. There is no need for me to name them. They have condemned themselves out of their own mouths here and outside. I would particularly implore the electorate to take particular note of those Deputies who actively promoted subversion when they had an opportunity of doing so. There are Deputies whose greatest fault is that they made thundering idiots of themselves before the electorate. Idiocy does not kill anyone, it is not political assassination. There are those Deputies who were silent; perhaps we could accuse them of cowardice but cowardice never killed anyone. Cowardice never sliced the head of a young child in front of a supermarket when the glass was blown out.

There are Deputies and Ministers who incited subversion in this country. These facts are contained in the as yet undebated report of the Committee of Public Accounts. There are Deputies who inspired and encouraged subversion and they come from the Government side. There are Deputies who advocated subversion and all of them are spawned from the Government side. There are Deputies who financed armed military subversion into Northern Ireland; again, these Deputies are on the Government side. This double-dealing hypocrisy has to be exposed and I hope the electorate will take careful note of it. The Taoiseach is running to the country because he has not the guts to put the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy Gibbons, before his peers in this House.

[749] I should like to quote from the report of the Committee of Public Accounts:

The conclusions stated in Part IX, and in paragraph 40 may now be summarised by stating that of the £105,766 5s. 9d. spent, £29,166 12s. was spent on relief of distress, £34,850 was possibly spent in Belfast, but on undetermined purposes, £250 was spent on purposes possibly related to the relief of distress, and £41,499 13s. 9d. was not spent on relief of distress.

This legislation is the by-product of all that—this Bill has come to roost in the context of the report.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Has the report been published?

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It has been published and circulated. The tragedy is that in any self-respecting democracy the Government would have resigned on publication of that report if they had any sense of public decency. Colonel Hefferon got £250 but we will not comment on that. Captain Kelly got £500; the Clones account got £8,000——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  What has this got to do with the Bill before the House? We cannot open up a debate on the arms trial.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The report is by the Committee of Public Accounts by order of the Dáil of 1st December, 1970——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  It is not relevant to the Bill before the House.

Mr. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  If I might finish my quotation—the Baggot Street main account was for £23,150, the George Dixon account £38,249 13s. 9d., the Ann O'Brien account was £6,450, making a total of £76,599 13s. 9d. A sum of £76,000 was spent in the formation of the Provisional IRA whom we are dealing with in this Bill. This House voted taxpayers' money to finance the Provisional IRA but the Government are getting a bitter return for their money. They will get a bitter return from the electorate in the months ahead.

[750] I hope the electorate will examine with the greatest of care the credentials of all candidates from all parties in the next election and I hope that scrutiny will be given to the Fianna Fáil candidates. During the past four years many Deputies have played a dangerous game of politics with Northern Ireland and with the lives of the people in the Republic. One must ask how many of them have been prosecuted, how many have faced the courts as a result of the report I have quoted? I would repeat the phrase that Fianna Fáil are the godfathers of the Provisional IRA. It was a particularly drunken christening party; unfortunately the children have returned now, they are very belligerent and they came to the gates of Leinster House a few nights ago looking for more money and calling on Charlie Haughey to support them once again.

Fianna Fáil gave the Provisional IRA a christening present of £76,000 of the taxpayers' money. By their ambiguous support in this House they nurtured the Provisionals and they defended them by their cowardly silence when they should have opposed them. Now they turn on the Provisional and the Official IRA not because they are a threat to the security of the State but because they are a threat to Fianna Fáil. This is the supreme irony of this Bill.

One might recall the five Derry women who came to this House five months ago. I was honoured to meet them when they spoke with Deputy Corish and Deputy Cruise-O'Brien. These women spoke out against violence and against the tactics of the Provisionals in the North of Ireland. They were under no illusions about the subversive assistance that was coming from the Republic and they told us so. Did the Taoiseach then decide to take action? He did not take any action. He thought his scenario of quadripartite talks, of the negotiating table, would unfold gently with the aid of the Provisionals. Unfortunately it has come to nothing and the Taoiseach is left with 26 counties to look after but he is not making much of a job of it.

[751] Had the State wished to act, in the past four years there were many occasions they could have done so. There has been many international Press conferences held in Dublin where members of the Provisional IRA from north and south and the Official IRA claimed responsibility for killing fellow Irishmen. They have bragged in Dublin about this in the past four years. The Taoiseach suddenly has become holier than thou and he has decided to act. At these conferences there were many tapes used and there were newspaper reports: many people condemned themselves out of their own mouths. They claimed responsibility for murders, bombings and assassinations but what did they get from Fianna Fáil? What they got from Fianna Fáil was international diplomatic immunity because it was expedient for Fianna Fáil not to be too hard on these republicans.

This brings me to my own constituency. Last week the Fianna Fáil people took refuge in the roundabout twist that if it was not for Cruise-O'Brien and myself bringing pressure on the Government to deal with the IRA they would never have got involved in putting republicans in jail. That could be a beautiful twist in an election campaign—blame Cruise-O'Brien, Desmond and those people in the Labour Party who are always hounding the IRA and say that if it were not for them we would leave these republicans alone. This is the Fianna Fáil propaganda, except, of course, that it has all become very topsy-turvy in the past two or three months.

May I also refer to the many instances in the past two years which are fully documented in the Garda reports, where members of the Garda Síochána and members of the Army were obstructed, abused, threatened and physically assaulted in the performance of their duty and Deputy O'Malley sat on that bench as Minister for Justice and fulminated. He was very perturbed but, of course, he could do nothing because meanwhile the Taoiseach was keeping the hot line [752] open to London in the hope that Ted Heath might come across with something and then things might be all right. We being as we are, in terms of Anglo-Irish relations, dreadful snobs, we love talking to the brass of the British. It is a great thing to be seen doing it even if nothing happens. Meanwhile, the Taoiseach told the Minister for Justice to ease off on the Provisional IRA because it might upset the country while he was resolving the issue around the conference table.

Therefore, there was a political decision to take it easy and now the Government because of sheer political expediency have decided to deal with the matter. I allege, therefore, that for four years the Taoiseach provided diplomatic immunity in the Republic for certain activities which under no circumstances could be tolerated by any self-respecting Government.

It is a peculiar kind of immunity. I want to refer to the number of clerics who have been visiting, associating with Mr. Mac Stiofáin in recent weeks. It is entirely appropriate and understandable that any minister of religion should give spiritual comfort and solace to any man who is facing a personal crisis of life on this earth but I find, as a Christian, it is nauseating and revolting that a priest of the Roman Catholic Church should address this nation with the words: “In the name of Christ and Seán Mac Stiofáin ...” To me —and I must say so irrespective of attitudes—that is blasphemy, and I want to put that on record. I do not presume to judge any man but I cannot forget that Seán Mac Stiofáin ordered, initiated, instigated, defended, and rationalised in his way, the deaths of men, women and children in this island. Therefore, while I understand and appreciate why men should be visited and attended by their spiritual advisers, I regard it as sanctimonious humbug that one priest in particular should involve the sacred name of Christ with that of a man whom I cannot admire and in such a manner. I cannot allow it to pass without comment because I feel strongly on the matter.

I want to make another reservation. Personally, I think I have the right not [753] only as a Christian but as a politician to say that when a priest transfers his spiritual services from the bedside in a very blatant manner to the political platform, a distinction should and must be made in the interests of a country where the overwhelming majority profess Christian beliefs and where people can very easily become confused. I have those reservations. Distinctions must be made by men and I have the most profound misgivings about any minister of religion who allows himself to be used for political purposes by any political party whether in the convent parlour, as in the last general election, or at the bedside of a man who wishes to have spiritual comfort in a personal crisis. I am not in any way disputing the right of any member or former member of the Hierarchy to visit whom he wishes. I do not presume to question the motives of any minister of religion in that regard. I do not question how these arrangements were made but I think it is fair comment to ask: how many of those who were blasted in the bomb explosion in O'Connelf Street were visited and by whom? How many members of the Garda Síochána who had their faces ripped open in front of the Mater Hospital were visited and by whom? These are questions I should like to ask in a public context.

Dealing with the Bill itself and the details of it, I want to indicate that Deputy O'Malley in the wake of all these events seems to be determined to outdo his predecessor in achieving a reputation for the introduction of regressive legislation affecting the civil rights of all citizens. The Fianna Fáil Party have very assiduously courted the SDLP and allegedly assisted that party in many ways. Therefore it is important that the Fianna Fáil Party should take note of the opposition of the SDLP to this Bill. I quote from The Irish Times of 1st December:

The Parliamentary Party of the SDLP last night declared itself opposed to the Offences Against the State Act (Amendment) Bill, and said that it would be seeking an early meeting with the Taoiseach, Mr. Lynch, to discuss its effect on the situation in the North. The party would also be seeking meetings with [754] the Fine Gael Leader, Mr. Cosgrave, and Mr. Corish, the Labour Leader.

The parliamentary party said that it was extremely concerned at the departure from the accepted standards of basic civil liberties contained in the Bill.

It went on to say finally:

As a party we have consistently advocated that laws that seriously infringe these standards can be a major cause of violence, and we have a bitter Northern experience as proof of our attitude.

We would like to make clear that our opposition to this measure is in no way intended to lend support to organisations committed to violence. These organisations have shown scant regard for civil liberties themselves, including the most basic civil right of all, the right to life. The way to end political violence in Ireland was to ensure a just settlement to the Irish problem, the party said.

I should like to hear the reaction of the Taoiseach to the SDLP statement. He has always maintained that the fullest consultation would be maintained with the authoritative opposition in Northern Ireland. Therefore, I think we can accept that he will consider and reconsider his views in relation to this Bill.

I want to refer very briefly to a number of other matters. Not being a lawyer I have no pretentions in that regard in relation to the Bill. I must work on what I may call the smell of the situation as the smell comes from the Bill. I have long since given up any pretentions I might have had as I exhibited, say, on the Forcible Entry Bill, to suggest that I might make a legal analysis of the Bill but I think it is fair to say that the fundamental right of public expression of views, the fundamental right of freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, and the freedom of the communications media to present balanced and authoritative comment, and, above all, the freedom of fair trial and freedom from the common informer informing for the chief superintendent—all of these [755] basic rights are seriously eroded in this Bill. Section 3 (2) imposes a grave imposition on every citizen and I would seriously challenge, from a purely layman's point of view the constitutionality of the Bill, just as it might be submitted that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs impugned the integrity of the RTE Authority in dismissing them under an Act of the Oireachtas in the context of their advocating violence which they most certainly never did. There is no safeguard whatsoever for the non-member of the IRA who quite clearly indicates he never has been a member of an illegal organisation. Under section 4 the right of the individual to attend ordinary meetings without being open to prosecution is also in jeopardy.

We in the Labour Party did agree to the setting up of the Special Criminal Court. Our agreement was not particularly called for—this court was set up by the Minister, but by and large we accepted that this was necessary because of the intimidation of juries. The Special Criminal Court seems to have been effective in dealing with the bulk of the prosecutions they have faced, but I do not think any member of the Special Criminal Court has come to the Government and said they were unduly hampered in dealing with the cases here.

My party will accept the democratic decision of Dáil Éireann on the Bill, and that is a great deal more than we can say for the Provisional IRA. The question at issue is the question of balance in a democratic society. We have the double-barrelled issue of the preservation of the rights of the State and the rights of the individual, and I suggest that this Bill is massively weighted in favour of the State and is even more massively weighted in favour of an individual in the security forces of the State, namely, the Garda chief superintendent. The security forces of this country are not the private property of Fianna Fáil or of the Minister for Justice, and the security forces of the State would be extremely perturbed to find themselves with these powers which are a grave infringement of the civil rights of citizens.

[756] As I say, we shall accept the decision of the Irish people in relation to this Bill. Last July I challenged the Provisional IRA to put up candidates in the mid-Cork by-election. I want again to challenge the self-same gentlemen who are now knocking at the gates of Leinster House, if they are as adamant in their opposition to this Bill as they say, to put up candidates in the general election. Let us sort things out once and for all. I think the Government will have to pull back from implementing this Bill. I certainly do not accept the views of the Provisional IRA in relation to the Bill, but if they want to test the objection they have let them do so through the ballot box. Let them put up candidates and then let everybody accept the verdict of the people in that regard.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  This is one of the most serious challenges that this Parliament has had since I came here in 1944. I do not intend to refer to individuals who contributed here. Everyone is entitled to his own view and I would die to defend his right to express it.

We on this side of the House do not want to see anybody in jail or on hunger strike. Neither do we want to see people persecuted in their own homes. I am an ordinary backbench Deputy but my home has been picketed about ten times because I made a simple statement in this House that this Parliament should be supreme. I do not mind if they come to my house every day when I am there, but this is the kind of democracy that the Opposition want to uphold, the right of the mob to come to Deputies' homes and frighten their wives and children.

We may be at the wake of the 19th Dáil. I may never come back here again but whether I do or not I want to put it on the record of this House that I stand for this democratic assembly being supreme. If anybody wants to challenge that, they have the right to go to the country in a general election and put their candidates and their policy before the people. I was a young man when the civil war came [757] and I saw what happened in my own parish where people would not sit in the same benches in the church because of the bitterness between them.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  I saw it too. Were the “no's” on your side?

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I will discuss this later with the Deputy in the passage. We are torn over the Six Counties. The Six Counties are part of our island. God knows, so far as tolerance is concerned, there never was a more tolerant leader than the present Taoiseach. He, like all of us here, hopes that some day reason will prevail and that violence will be brought to an end. One cannot make friends with a neighbour by throwing stones in his window every time one passes his house or by intimidating his wife or children.

We are tonight challenged by the Opposition. I have always thought they were a responsible Opposition. We are not anxious to prosecute or put anybody in jail who does not deserve to be brought for trial. There is no such thing as trying to arrest decent people in the streets.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Do not look over your shoulder Deputy.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  I want to see this city and county of ours, and the whole of the Twenty-six Counties, in the position in which anybody can walk the streets without being interfered with. Our homes are our castles and we are not to be interfered with because we come to this decision now. Do the Opposition stand for this type of abuse of democracy? Have they the backbone to make a decision? They are going into the lobby to vote us out. Possibly we will have a general election in three weeks' time but if we have or have not I want to assure the people of Ireland that my leader and my party found it hard to make a decision to interfere with the rights of any individual. We were forced into this position.

I was a member of Dublin Corporation and outside corporation building I was hit by people who were supposed to be members of Sinn Féin. [758] They were part of a housing action protest. Now the corporation have been dissolved as a result of a decision of the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party. That is past history. I am concerned about this Bill here. I am asking each Member of this House in conscience, no matter what his party affiliations may be: “Do you stand for democratic order and decisions of this House or for mob law?”

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  Or stand idly by.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  The terms of reference for every one of us tonight are clear. The terms of reference to the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party are short. They are asked: “Are you going to support law and order or let the mob rule and let our homes be interfered with and our right to move around our country be curtailed?” I am anxious to see our country united. I went to the North of Ireland many times. I had sympathy with the people. I did not go with guns.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  Some of the boys with you did.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  That is a different story. I am not speaking of anybody else. This is our country and I will go along with anything we can do to bring about unity in our country. The terms of reference tonight are short. They are: “Do you stand for democratic rule or for anarchy?” That is the vote we are going to take this evening. I am interpreting it in my own way from a national point of view. I have the honour of representing County Dublin for many years and I have found the leader of Fine Gael one of the greatest gentlemen I have ever worked with. I am surprised that he is going to go into the lobby and that his party are going into the lobby to vote for anarchy instead of stability and democratic order. The vote here tonight is not against Fianna Fáil. That is the only way to put it at the present time.

Mr. E. Collins: Information on Edward Collins  Zoom on Edward Collins  Hear, hear.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke  Zoom on Patrick J. Burke  We are concerned about this. From a national point of view I ask each and every one of you to think nationally tonight. Posterity may judge you on anything you do [759] here tonight. There was a Deputy here once in the Opposition and he was a very vocal speaker. He always said that he wanted to make this Dáil supreme and said that anybody who challenged it outside should not be considered. It is hard on us as a party to introduce a measure like this. We are aware of the political results of such things. This would interfere with our party afterwards. No party wants to introduce legislation interfering with the rights of the individual. From listening to Deputies on the Opposition benches one would think that we wanted to see people in jail and on hunger strike. We do not. I am a senior member of the Fianna Fáil Party and I say that. Neither the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice nor any of the Ministers want to see anybody in jail or on hunger strike. We are forced into this position simply to see that John Citizen and the Deputies of this Dáil can go about their business without being hindered.

On Wednesday night last there were people from the North of Ireland coming in here to tell us what we should do. This is an important night in the history of our country. No matter what goes on we cannot wash our hands like Pontius Pilate when he gave Our Lord to the multitude. That is the type of situation we are waiting for here. I do not want to say anything personal. This is a serious matter and personalities are out as far as I am concerned.

This Bill has been forced upon us by those who have no respect, good, bad or indifferent, for law and order. We had to make a decision in the interests of the people. If the people do not want that decision they will have an opportunity of saying so within, perhaps, the next few weeks. If they prefer mob rule and anarchy to law and order, they can make their choice. Those who vote against this Bill in this House will do so because they prefer anarchy to law and order. I have been in this House for many years now. In all my years in this House this is the most serious speech I have ever made. Ponder well the [760] choice, law and order or anarchy. I have been surprised in this debate at the approach of many of the Fine Gael and Labour Deputies. They have no guts. They will never rule. They will never be anything but what they are now.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  Deputy Burke does not believe one word of what he says and, before he departs, he should go to confession rather than hear them. Deputy Moore said today that the Government were forced to bring in this measure and he mentioned two incidents in support of his argument. He did not mention Radio Telefís Éireann; he mentioned the Mater Hospital and a bomb outside a cinema.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore  Zoom on Seán Moore  I mentioned at least four incidents.

Mr. P. Belton: Information on Patrick Belton  Zoom on Patrick Belton  The argument advanced is that, if this Bill is not passed, there will be anarchy. Not later than three or four months ago, when I was speaking to Fianna Fáil Deputies and saying that I was against the IRA, I was told: “I would not go that far. The Officials are not very much but there is something good in the Provos”. Now the attitude has changed quite suddenly.

There are six sections in this Bill, to two of which we object. It took the Government six months to introduce the Bill. Was the delay because party members were being briefed so that there would be no danger of any more dissidents? The Minister for Transport and Power said that they could not spell out the deficiencies in existing legislation because subversive groups would then know what the deficiencies are. Anyone who wants to find out what the deficiencies are can do so quite easily. There is no difficulty in obtaining legal opinion in matters of this kind. There are plenty of specialists available to advise. The Minister's argument was absolutely nonsensical. It arises only out of the fact that there is no answer.

We have been blamed for Partition. Very few were interested in the North until the trouble started up there. I believe that trouble can be laid in some measure at the door of both Protestant [761] and Catholic clergymen and they will have a good deal to answer for inasmuch as they made no effort of any kind at integration in the schools. There was no integration down here either and the only time I met people of other denominations was when I played rugby against them. Our history books have done nothing to help the situation. In fact, our history books are guilty of building up the situation. The die-hard republicans on the other side of the House, who must take the blame for a great deal of the troubles in the past, are now pretending that they are for law and order.

In the history books absentee landlords are mentioned as the ruination of Ireland. I agree with that, but the landed gentry did the same in Cornwall and Wales and Scotland. It was not mentioned that we were just part of the whole set-up at the time.

Contrary to the opinions of the newspaper pundits and the speculation which has been well spread about by Fianna Fáil, I do not think they will do well in the election. Many people in Dublin remember the Forcible Entry Bill. Some people did not bother very much about it. The first time that Act was used was during the rent strike in Dublin city. It was not introduced for that.

The Fianna Fáil Party and all parties here have spoken against internment. The Taoiseach said at one stage that we would not stand idly by. Now he is introducing a Bill which to me is worse than internment. I would prefer internment. I agree with what Deputy Blaney said about that and I do not often agree with him.

I do not intend to go into the history of the arms trial. Only Fianna Fáil were involved in it. Nobody from Labour or Fine Gael was involved in it. At that time we did not know who was backing Deputy Lynch, Deputy Haughey, Deputy Colley, or Deputy Blaney, who was another runner. If this Bill becomes law what will happen to those Ministers? Will they get off scot free or will they be like Mrs. Drumm and will somebody go back over the period and find out what they said and intern them or put them in jail?

[762] If we went back to the 1920s and 1930s we would find that the position of Fianna Fáil has been reversed completely, if they are sincere in what they are doing. This Bill is probably a political gimmick. The introduction of this Bill will build up opposition. There will probably be more head cases around. To give an analogy. I am in the licensed trade and, at times in that trade, you have to put a person out by force. If you do that as a practice, or if you are too severe, you will have people coming up to challenge you and see can they beat you the next time, and you will end up with fisticuffs very often. That is the type of thing this Bill will do.

We have heard about irresponsible people over the past week-end. There were many. I would say there were roughly 2,000 marching outside here, although the scribes on television make it 4,000, 5,000 or 6,000. I went out of here and I reckoned it at 2,000. I would say 25 per cent if not 50 per cent of them were from the North of Ireland. Among them were three MPs from the North. They should mind their own business. One of them is an anarchist, Bernadette Devlin.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  I wonder would Deputy Belton permit the Parliamentary Secretary to make an announcement?

Debate adjourned.

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