Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
Miss Harney: asked the Minister for Justice if he has satisfied himself that the procedure for the issuing of warrants for the extradition of persons from this country to other jurisdictions is adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Collins: I take it, from the terms of the question, that the Deputy is referring to the issuing in other jurisdictions of warrants which are sent to this country for execution. The issuing of such warrants is, of course, a matter for the appropriate authorities in the other jurisdiction concerned and is subject to the law and procedure applicable in that jurisdiction.
In recent years technical difficulties have been found to exist in relation to warrants sent here from Britain or Northern Ireland. Within the framework of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference practical steps are being taken to enhance co-operation on legal matters, including measures to reduce the risk of technical difficulties in connection with warrants. This co-operation will be a continuing process in the light of experience and developments.
Miss Harney: Is the Minister aware that there have been a number of extradition debacles such as the Glenholmes case and, last week, the McIntyre case? It seems that the Garda are arresting and charging those people under section 30 of the Offences against the State Act. I should like to know if the law officers of the State have had detailed discussions with the Garda in relation to the powers they have in regard to the arrest of such persons.
Mr. Collins: I suggest that the McIntyre case is a separate question for answer on another day. With regard to the question about whether there is consultation between the Garda and the law officers on such matters, the answer is “yes”.
Miss Harney: Will the Minister agree it seems to be the case that the Garda are aware that warrants are going to arrive — obviously, there is some liaison between the issuing authorities in Northern Ireland and Britain and the Garda authorities here — but until they arrive they decide, rather than waiting for them or applying to a District Justice to get a warrant, to arrest people under wrong provisions? Will the Minister agree that for technical reasons of that kind extradition proceedings are failing, which is unsatisfactory? Will he agree that if expert legal advice was available to the Garda Síochána such technicalities would  not arise and people would not be allowed walk free?
Mr. Collins: There were a number of instances where technical difficulties arose in regard to the warrants received from Britain and the North. There were errors and formal defects of one kind or another and because of this a procedure has been in operation for quite some time whereby all warrants received are subject to careful scrutiny and vetting by the Garda or the Attorney General's Office. If any defects are discovered the warrants are returned for correction before they are executed. There may, on occasion, be hidden defects which it might not be possible to discover in that way, as in the Glenholmes case. It is because of the difficulties that have arisen about the validity of warrants that discussions have taken place within the framework of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference between our Attorney General and the British Attorney General in an effort to ensure that the requirements of Irish law for the validity of warrants received here for execution are understood by the relevant authorities in the UK.
Miss Harney: Will the Minister agree that the extradition proceedings I referred to have resulted in two people who are wanted in connection with serious crime being free? Will he agree that this is causing a lot of disturbance in this part of the country and gives enemies of the State in Northern Ireland and elsewhere ammunition to attack our legal and judicial system?
Miss Harney: Does the Minister think it desirable in cases where warrants have not arrived for the Garda to use the powers they have to apply to a district justice to have warrants granted where persons such as those I named earlier are involved?
Mr. Collins: Difficulties of one shape or another have arisen and they have to be avoided. Every effort is being made to ensure that anything that would interfere with the execution of a warrant will be removed.
Miss Harney: Will the Minister say if his review of the present extradition Act has been completed and if he will be in a position to implement its provisions in December or if he intends to introduce amending legislation?
Mr. Cullen: On a point of order, I fail to see the relationship between Question No. 47, nominated for priority, and Question No. 29, which I tabled. I consider the answer given by the Minister to be deplorable. We are heading into our peak tourist season and that industry is waiting for proper legislation on this matter.
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