Wednesday, 12 December 1928
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. FITZGERALD-KENNEY: This is a Bill to repeal the Public Safety Act. As the Bill was originally introduced into the Dáil, this Act was to terminate on the 31st December this year. The Bill was brought in in pursuance of an undertaking given by the President some time ago that he would introduce such a measure. In the Dáil an amendment was introduced to the effect that the Act should terminate on the passing of this measure. I accepted that amendment in the Dáil. It would mean at best that the Public  Safety Act would terminate a few days prior to the 31st December. At the worst it means that it will expire a few days after the 31st December. Whether it will hurry up or slow down the repeal of this Act is not at the moment perfectly clear.
Mr. FITZGERALD-KENNEY: I mentioned very often in the Dáil that the Public Safety Act was an Act which was only to be used if it became strictly necessary. The Public Safety Act was only invoked on two occasions.
Mr. FITZGERALD-KENNEY: I do not know what the Senator means by “failed,” because the Act gave an automatic return for trial. It was not exactly a return for trial, but one of the powers given by the Act was that when a person was under suspicion on a certain charge, instead of being remanded for a certain period of time he could be kept in custody for a three months' period pending an investigation of the charge against him. In one particular case the person was kept in custody for three months pending an investigation of the charge against him.
Mr. DOWDALL: I do not know if it is in order, but I desire to ask the Minister was there any decision given by any judge in favour of the State as against a person charged under the Public Safety Act?
Mr. COMYN: Having regard to the fact that this Public Safety Act contains such drastic and reactionary provisions, now that he is repealing it would not the Minister think it advisable to deliver a valedictory address or recite some act of contrition and say he will never do the like again?
Mr. O'FARRELL: I think the House will welcome the introduction of this Bill. It seeks to repeal an Act which, for the drastic nature of its provisions, is, I think, almost without precedent. It is an Act which was the child of the particular circumstances of the time. When it was passing there was violent discussion regarding the need for it. I think it is a good sign of the times that there is now unanimity as to the fact that it is no longer necessary. To that extent, there is cause for satisfaction. When the Bill was being considered here, I moved an amendment that it would last for only a year. That was turned down. There were provisions in the Act which set aside many Articles of the Constitution for five years. There is now general unanimity in taking off the Statute Book of this State an Act which no good citizen would like to see upon it.
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