Dáil Éireann - Volume 62 - 16 June, 1936

Committee on Finance. - Vote 32—Office of the Minister for Justice.

Acting-Minister for Justice (Mr. Boland): I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £24,021 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1937, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Dlí agus Cirt.

That a sum not exceeding £24,021 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice.

The amount asked for is approximately £36,000 as compared with approximately £34,000 last year. It will be observed that the comparatively small increase is more than balanced by decreases in the other Votes which come within the ambit of this Department—mainly by a decrease of over £14,000 in the Estimate for the Gárda Síochána.

The actual increase in the Vote for [2409] the Minister's Office, as compared with last year's Vote, is £1,864. This is made up of a number of items, none of them being of any great public importance, mainly as follows:—(a) Two new officers have been assigned temporarily to this Office to audit the accounts of county registrars and, where necessary, of under-sheriffs in connection with the sums passing through these officers' hands in the shape of land annuities recovered under Section 28 of the Land Act, 1933. When it is understood that the total amount recovered through the agency of these officers has reached the figure of £835,000 (from, say, March, 1934, to March, 1936)—comprising over 175,000 separate payments —it will be appreciated that some such audit was essential.

(b) Some higher Executive posts (scale £400-£500) have been converted into assistant principal posts (scale £500-£600). This will make very little difference in the actual year 1936-37 but is perhaps worth mentioning as explaining the appearance of the new posts on the face of the Estimates. (c) A long-delayed reform was carried out by the appointment of an inspector of explosives. This inspector is an Army officer and gets his main salary from the Army, but is paid £100 per annum allowance from this Vote. (d) The salary of the film censor—who is not pensionable—was increased from £800 to £900 owing to an increase in his work. The costs of this officer and his staff are all covered by the fees received. (e) Routine increases due to officers advancing on their scales of pay, by the usual increments, and an increase of £400 odd in the estimated amount for cost-of-living bonus.

That is the usual statement and ordinarily I would not say more but I feel it my duty to refer to the recent murders of Vice-Admiral Somerville and John Egan, and to assure the House and the country that the police are doing their utmost to find the murderers. I do not wish to say much about these crimes at the moment, as individuals may be charged definitely in connection with them. The fact that these murders have occurred, however, makes it clear that stern action must be taken [2410] against any organisation which claims to have the power of life and death over its members or ex-members or other citizens, or which claims that it is entitled to use force upon the community to compel obedience to its will. I now give definite notice to all concerned that the so-called Irish Republican Army or any organisation which promotes or advocates the use of arms for the attainment of its object will not be tolerated.

Mr. MacDermot: Might I ask a question before the debate proceeds? Who has the responsibility of deciding whether offenders are to be proceeded against before the Military Tribunal or before the ordinary courts? Another question has special reference to the organisation referred to, the so-called Irish Republican Army. It is whether that organisation is going to be permitted to march in military formation next Sunday at the Wolfe Tone anniversary?

Mr. Boland: The Attorney-General decides whether prosecutions are taken before the Military Tribunal or the civil courts.

Mr. MacDermot: It is entirely for him?

Mr. Boland: It is for the Executive Council, of course, on the advice of the Attorney-General.

Mr. McGilligan: Are you disclaiming responsibility for them?

Mr. Boland: Not for a moment I disclaim no responsibility.

Mr. McGilligan: That arises on this Vote?

Mr. Boland: On the other matter I am not prepared to make any statement, but I repeat that no organisation such as the so-called I.R.A. or any other organisation of the kind will be tolerated. The Deputy can take what he likes out of that statement. I would like to know what the procedure will be on this Vote. There is a number of Votes for which the Minister for Justice is responsible, and the practice in the past has been to have a debate on all branches of [2411] his Department and then the reply separately. Is that to be the practice now?

Mr. McGilligan: Whatever may have been the practice in earlier years, there is a motion down: “That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration,” and it is on that especially that I want to speak. Before any heat may be engendered, I do not want any remarks of mine to be associated with the Civic Guards or officers of the Guards. On anything I say I want to fix the responsibility entirely on the Minister or on the officials immediately under the Minister.

Mr. Boland: May I have a ruling on the point I raised? The practice has been that the debate will roam over the whole field and a decision can be taken on each separate Vote. Deputy McGilligan is entitled to say what he likes on any Vote. What I want a ruling on is: Are we going to have repetition on every Vote, or can we arrange to have every Department under the control of the Minister open for debate, and a decision taken on the appropriate Vote?

Mr. Morrissey: I do not think that the Minister is quite correct in saying that that applies to this particular group of Estimates. I think that so far as the Department of Justice and and the Vote for the Gárda Síochána are concerned, there were always two separate discussions.

Mr. Boland: It is for the House to decide that, of course.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I think the practice has been that the general debate took place on the Minister's Vote. Other items might be raised on the particular Estimates, but the general debate took place on the Minister's Vote.

Mr. McGilligan: I am moving to refer back Vote No. 32, and that only. On that I am going to speak, and on that only. I am doing that principally because I do not want any insinuations made afterwards that any remarks of mine have any reference [2412] to subordinates in the Gárda Síochána, to anybody connected with prisons, or anybody about or belonging to any of the courts. I am not having that even in the penumbra of my consciousness at the moment. I am moving to refer back the Vote for the Department of Justice. There are two or three things to which I think the House ought to have its attention called in connection with this Vote. There are practices growing up in connection with the administration of justice that must give pause to most citizens, and must certainly create a feeling of disquiet and anxiety in the mind of anybody who has to deal with court matters, whether in a professional capacity or in any other capacity. The first of these matters that I shall refer to is the attitude of the Gárda Síochána, and I name them, but having named them I go on to say that I do name them with this feeling, that the practice which I think has grown up, and which has been evidenced in a great number of cases—recent and fresh cases—could not have become the practice unless instructions with regard to those matters had been given by those in authority. When I say, as I have to say in order to get a wide field for investigation, that there is a practice amongst officers of the Guards, I absolutely acquit individual members of the force of any blame, if there is to be blame associated with those activities to which I will go on to refer. I think that if there is any blame it must be attached entirely to those who are responsible for the training of the force, or the lack of training of the force.

In quite a number of recent cases the courts have found themselves very definitely prejudiced in the administration of justice in this country by reason of the method in which statements have been taken by members of the Gárda Síochána from people accused, or about to be accused of crimes. I am going to refer to one or two examples. Two of them are very recent. It is necessary to join the third to show that the practice which has been established is a deliberate practice. If anybody vigilant about the [2413] matter had observed this in its early stages, the practice—and a bad practice it is, I suggest—would have been stopped long ago. There has grown up a definite procedure amongst members of the Gárda Síochána that if a statement has to be taken from any person it ought to be done in circumstances which do not enable that person to be, first of all, alert and vigilant about what is going on. By degrees, and by gradual declension from that, they reach a level almost approaching third degree methods. I think if anybody were asked here in the abstract to say what is the proper system by which to take statements from people either accused or about to be accused, he would say that the person ought to get notice that a statement is going to be taken; that the statement should be taken under ordinary circumstances—ordinary circumstances in reference to the natural divisions, say, of day and night; secondly, under natural circumstances and conditions of health and proper bearing of the person about to be accused.

What actually happens? In a case which, of course, cannot be regarded as normal because there was a certain political tinge about it, a certain man was arrested about 4 o'clock in the evening. He was taken from his own home, which was a hotel, and arrived at a certain barracks, certain cells, somewhere between 4 and 6 o'clock. He was submitted to a long and searching interrogation. When? He was roused out of his sleep somewhere about 2 o'clock in the morning. It was obvious to those who had arrested him that he had no food between 4 o'clock in the evening and 2 o'clock in the morning. It must also have been obvious to those who arrested him that he had been supplied with a certain amount of drink. Under those circumstances, about 2 o'clock in the morning certain officials of the Guards entered his cell and subjected him to an interrogation which lasted for over three hours. I say that that was tinged with politics, and possibly one might not expect normal procedure to be attached to it. That is a case of about two years ago.

[2414] Quite recently there have been two other cases, one of which is fresh in the public memory. A boy, who was eventually found by a jury to be mentally unstable, suffered the impact, I think, of three different sections of the Gárda upon him, and his interrogation took place in the early hours of the morning. The jury eventually found that that young gentleman, although guilty, was insane. It must have been perfectly open to the Guards to conclude, at a very early period, that that particular type of defence would be put forward. There was certain evidence from the circumstances, although not, of course, as revealed in the case afterwards, that mental instability was at any rate to be suspected. The conduct I have described with regard to interrogating a person wakened from sleep in the early hours of the morning, not at the time one would expect interrogation, and without notice of it, is bad enough in the case of a definitely strong and healthy man about whom there is no suspicion of insanity, but where there is that suspicion it certainly—as it was described when the case was at hearing—approaches inhumanity. Apart from inhumanity, it does not lead to proper verdicts if interrogations of this sort against that type of person are going to be conducted in that way.

There is another case, even more recent than that notorious one, where a young girl was brought up for concealment of birth of a child. She was —I can use no other word—attacked by those officers who were sent to interrogate her within, I think, a week or certainly within ten days of the date on which the birth was alleged to have taken place. She was interrogated, everybody else being put out of the room except herself and the members of the force. When the case came on for trial one of the members of the force produced against her admitted that the interrogation went on for over three hours. The sergeant in the case said he thought it did not last as long: maybe two hours was the most. In any event, a young girl, certainly not an adult, under suspicion of concealment of birth, was approached by members of the Guards, who [2415] excluded from the room anybody belonging to her, and did not allow her to leave that room, no matter what she suffered from, until the conclusion of the interrogation, lasting, according to the evidence of one of the official witnesses, two hours, and according to the other, over three and a quarter hours. The circumstances were such that in the end the judge—although undoubtedly there were other circumstances leading to a verdict of another type—advised the jury that he could not let the case go to them. I give only three examples.

It only requires a reading through the newspaper accounts of trials in the last four or five years to see that the Guards had apparently been advised—or have adopted a practice against which they have not been advised—that it is proper to submit to interrogation in the early hours of the morning people who are about to be charged with crimes, there being long-drawn-out interrogatories and no attempt being made to give those people the ordinary sustenance. When I speak of sustenance I mean either in the way of food or in the way of support from people who are relatives of theirs. Statements taken in these circumstances are formally brought forward when people are being paraded on most serious charges.

One other event to which I would refer is where a charge of the most serious kind that the law contemplates was made against an individual. In addition to that there is the question of expert evidence as brought into the courts at the moment. The first case to which I wish to refer is that in which a document was in question, and the way in which the evidence was taken with regard to that document was roughly this. A letter was suborned by an official of the Guards. That official of the Detective Division, having got the particular letter, handed it over to a higher official of the Guards. That higher official wrote on the corner of the document handed to him by the detective officer, whose name he stated, and added the additional statement: “This was written by”—and the name was given. [2416] With that superscription this document was handed to an expert to say whether it was the handwriting of the man by whom it was alleged to be written. We have two incidents combined in this case. There is the interrogation of the man in the early hours of the morning, lasting for several hours, and at a time when he had no food but drink. In addition to that we have the letter, which was supposed to be written, handed to an expert on handwriting with the superscription that it was handed on by a detective officer who said he saw it written by the man whose name was given. That, of course, naturally gets the return from the handwriting expert that it was the writing of the man involved. I say “naturally” without any reflection upon the expert. If a man gets handwriting about which he knows nothing he submits it to the ordinary test, but he is going to be slack in his scientific investigation if it has a note on it which is afterwards described as the best evidence possible, namely, that the somebody who was named had written the letter.

Expert evidence generally nowadays —that is, abnormal types of evidence— takes the form that statements of interrogation were taken and concluded under circumstances similar to what I have spoken of. Expert evidence in the courts here falls under three heads—medical evidence with regard to cases of death, wilful wounding, questions of the possibility or impossibility of suicide and things like that. Then there is the handwriting expert evidence, and there is firearms evidence with regard to the fitting of missiles and so on. With regard to the three types of people produced, I do not want to say that they are people who, in the particular cases, do not face up to the circumstances in which they are produced. I do not want to query any want of the greatest efficiency, but rather the experience of some of the people produced. With regard to the medical evidence. I certainly say this: People brought forward undoubtedly give evidence of a type backed by a high degree of efficiency. One thing that may be gathered is that there are no cases [2417] which arise in Dublin where the evidence is not backed up by the necessary amount of experience in the case of medical experts. As regards the evidence of the handwriting expert, knowledge derived from experience is of little account compared with the examination of a number of human remains or as compared with the symbols of handwriting and the particular marks which cartridge cases bear. As regards expert evidence of a particular type, the country has reason to be satisfied. As far as handwriting is concerned, expert evidence in the main depends upon one or two people, and I think this statement can stand examination.

The Attorney-General: Is this relevant to the discussion of the Vote before the House? Would it not be more relevant to a discussion on the Vote for Law Charges?

Mr. McGilligan: I do not agree. I took the case of the Guards and the lack of training. People think they should operate with the best material at hand. I was suggesting that the material is not good enough and that steps should be taken to get better. I suggest that enough attention is not given to the training of the detective division and to the people who are ordinarily attached to the detective division.

The Attorney-General: I understood the suggestion is that the evidence put forward by me is not reliable and proper.

Mr. McGilligan: I am not suggesting that, but I am suggesting that the Attorney-General puts forward evidence that is not of the best and that he is not able to put forward better evidence because the Minister for Justice has not the proper people, properly trained to deal with these matters.

The Attorney-General: I think it is an outrageous suggestion that the evidence behind the prosecution is not thoroughly reliable.

Mr. McGilligan: All I know is this: that in recent years, in cases in which there has been handwriting expert [2418] evidence brought forward, there has been a majority of dismissals. In other words, juries apparently have not been affected by the views of the Attorney-General and in the majority of such cases brought before them they have brought in verdicts of acquittal.

The Attorney-General: It is the same in connection with handwriting in every country.

Mr. McGilligan: Possibly.

The Attorney-General: But I object to the Deputy's denunciation of medical expert evidence.

Mr. McGilligan: I have not denounced medical expert evidence. I have gone out of my way to say that the country is perfectly secure with regard to medical expert evidence. I did say that the one thing that might be lacking in some cases is experience. I said that so far as this country is concerned, and so far as medical evidence is concerned, the country is secure. I do not understand what the Attorney-General is cavilling at.

The Attorney-General: I was interpreting what the Deputy said.

Mr. McGilligan: Then the Attorney-General has shown most amazing confusion beyond anything I think the Attorney-General ever before produced. My words were clear and distinct.

The Attorney-General: Then the Deputy was damning them with faint praise.

Mr. McGilligan: I say, as far as learning and ability are concerned, and as far as honesty of evidence is concerned no one could say a word against our medical expert evidence; the only thing that might be concerned about in some cases is want of experience. Is that damning with faint praise? I may damn the Attorney-General with faint praise as far as learning and ability are concerned.

The Attorney-General: You are an expert at that.

[2419] Mr. McGilligan: I have a lot of subjects for the Attorney-General's attention. One always speaks of one particular circumstance, and the circumstance in which I find myself brings forth that particular interruption that the Attorney-General has put in. I say with regard to the handwriting testimony of the expert type that it is in the main derided by juries in this country. It is bound to be derided if there is to be a particular weakness in those who present themselves as experts, and if there is to be added the habit of the police writing on the particular documents to the effect: “This was written in the presence of So-and-so and was handed to me.”

The Attorney-General: That occurred in one case which arose two or three years ago.

Mr. McGilligan: If it was only one case and was provided against again I would not say one word about it. But the Chief Superintendent on that very question said that he thought nothing unusual had happened, and that he would not act in a different way on another occasion. That is the gravamen of the particular trouble I have here. If I thought it was an unusual occurrence and an unusual circumstance had occurred I would not mind, but the Chief Superintendent's statement was that this circumstance occurred and that if it occurred again he would act in the same way. He was asked also did he not think it was an unfortunate matter that this particular individual should have been questioned between one and four in the morning and he said “No”.

The Attorney-General: Is the Deputy not taking an unfair advantage of the ignorance of the Minister in regard to the details of the case to which he has referred, which is about three years old?

Mr. McGilligan: I opened up by saying that it was three years old, but I said it was right for me to go back to that period before referring to a case which happened in this year, which is completely relevant, and which shows that it was not an exceptional matter.

[2420] The Attorney-General: It is an exceptional matter. It is the only instance I have heard.

Mr. Boland: Let him go ahead.

Mr. McGilligan: What I said about this was that while hitherto it might be regarded as abnormal, it is becoming the studied practice.

The Attorney-General: You were talking about a note on the handwriting. I say that it is a single instance that came within my experience and it is three years old.

Mr. McGilligan: It is the single instance so far in which such a matter could have happened. We do not have every day circumstances in which a man is alleged to have written in the presence of another person a document——

Mr. Boland: What is the use of saying it year after year?

Mr. McGilligan: It was never said before.

The Attorney-General: It was stated here on every occasion since on which this Vote was discussed.

Mr. Boland: It was said often enough, goodness knows.

Mr. McGilligan: If the Minister would say that what the Chief Superintendent said was abnormal and should never happen, and will never happen again, I shall leave it.

Mr. Boland: Go ahead.

Mr. McGilligan: Can I get that promise?

Mr. Boland: Go ahead.

Mr. McGilligan: I have no doubt that if a similar case should occur again, particularly if there is a political tinge about it, the same thing would happen, and you will get a detective to say: “This was written in my presence; I saw this man write it,” and the Chief Superintendent will repeat what I have said, should circumstances like that occur. The Attorney-General, apparently, has not understood what I have said about [2421] the taking of statements, so that I have got to repeat it. Within two months of the date on which I am speaking, statements have been taken at these abnormal hours, taken from people of abnormal temperament, taken in circumstances which approached inhumanity and which, apart from the inhumanity, did not lead to decent decisions being given. So bad was this in one case against a young woman, against whom the element of suspicion was very strong, that the judge said he could not allow the case to go to the jury on account of the way members of the Guards had treated her in the course of their inquiries.

On the question of handwriting, there is not the slightest doubt but that there is a field open in this country for expert testimony in regard to handwriting. The particular people who are mainly paraded in the courts are people on whom there is no reliance placed. That lack of reliance has come about because judges all round the country have had experts in different types of cases giving evidence and making the most categorical statements, statements which are so absurd that no jury would pay the slightest attention to them. I take one case where, in the matter of peculiarity in handwriting, an expert said that in 16,000 specimens which he had examined he never saw such a characteristic twirl in the crossing of the letter “t” as was exhibited in a certain man's handwriting, and as was repeated in the disputed document. Without leaving the box the jury found the man not guilty. That was sworn testimony of the most categorical kind, with the whole weight of whatever reputation he had behind it thrown into the scales, and, without even retiring for consultation, the jury was forced to the conclusion that the man was not worth believing. Handwriting experts in all countries are subject to criticism, but I do not think they get as much in this country as is merited.

Recently there have emerged gunnery experts, men who say that it is quite possible to determine not merely from the appearance of a piece of lead found either in a wainscotting, a wall, [2422] or even in a human being—from the marking on it—that it proceeded from a certain rifle, gun or revolver, but who also go the length of saying that if a cartridge case is produced to them they can identify, by the marking made by the striking pin, the gun from which the cartridge came. Again I have to go back a year or two for the most ludicrous example of evidence of that kind. It was a case where certain people were accused of being in a hold-up. Three shots were fired. The evidence of the people who were held-up was that there was only one rifle in the attacking party and from it three shots were fired. Three cartridge cases were discovered and the gun expert produced on that occasion swore, without the possibility of error, that one of these cartridge cases came from a rifle which was afterwards discovered. He went on to say that there must have been two guns on the job, because the markings of these three cartridge cases were not exactly the same. However, he concluded that one of them was definitely fired from a rifle found in a certain man's possession. That was not believed, of course, as first of all there was the evidence of the people who said that there was only one rifle used, that three shots had been discharged from it and that possibly the three cartridges had been flung away. That expert swore that he could identify the marking on the cartridge case as having been made by the striking pin of a certain rifle. That man went to this extent: He swore that if a striking pin, in fact, in use wore out after, say, 5,000 shots had been discharged, the marking made by the first shot and by the one before the last was exactly the same. He persisted in saying that. That man is now one of the recognised experts, a member of the Gárda Síochána, produced to give evidence in gun-shot cases. On that particular occasion he admitted that he had been about six months on the job. I think, as far as I remember, that he had previously been employed as a clerk. He had certainly been attached to some office in some sort of clerical position and for some reason he had been pulled out to be trained as a specialist in gun work. However, [2423] that was in his earlier stage, and that may be regarded as a bad mistake made in the earlier period. He is now thrust on this country as an expert in any case in which there are gun cartridges, bullets, or anything of that kind in question.

These three matters in regard to expert testimony are only symptomatic of the greater evil. It was hardly edifying, in connection with the notorious murder case to which I have referred, for the people of this country to have displayed before them, morning after morning, the photograph of the Civic Guards while looking out to sea to find whether a particular body would be washed up or not. I saw no suggestion made anywhere, when that case eventually came to hearing, which would lead one to believe that the Civic Guards were doing anything but wasting their time along the seashore. One did not get the feeling that clues of any other type than that set by the young boy were being followed. One was definitely forced to the conclusion that a young man, found eventually to be mentally unstable, had put across a story on the Guards and that the Guards had focussed their attention entirely on that statement and blinded themselves to any other possible clue as to how that murder had occurred or where those human remains were to be found.

That does raise the question as to what training there is with regard to detective work in this country. In the old days, at the time of the takeover, it was known that there was some such training. It had about it certain bad and vicious elements. The training given in the old Depôt of the Royal Irish Constabulary made members who went into that force regard the ordinary people of the country as their enemies. There was a certain warping of their minds, which was very bad, but it is an amazing swerve from that to decide that no training is better than the particular system then in operation. Whatever mental outlook those people were given, some people received a certain training and it was passed on from year to year. If it was merely by, if I may use the [2424] word, “contamination” in the Depôt, certain things, as well as the warping of outlook, were passed on and there was a certain angle of view on criminality itself. I wonder what is happening now. Is there any educational course? Are there any people there who are technically expert in the tracking of crime? Is anything being done to see that a better system is growing up? I myself complained of that often over a period of about four years. The excuse could be made in those days that there was so much else to be done that certain things which were desirable, and recognised as desirable, had to be let go by for a bit. We have now advanced two or three years. Is any attempt being made to train the detective division, or do the detectives of the country still rely on natural gifts, plus a certain method which would be described by people who object to the system as the bribing of persons in low-class conditions to give information with regard to a certain class of the community? Are we still relying on that sort of underworld evidence and natural gifts in order to get on the track of the expert criminal? Is there any attempt being made formally to educate Guards with regard to detective work? Are there any people over that branch who themselves have such knowledge? Is there any suggestion that people should be sent away for training? Has any touch been maintained with persons trained in other countries? Is any literature on the subject circulated to those on whom we have to rely for detective work, or are we still in the same old rut as we were at the start in which we have people with a certain natural inclination for the tracking out of minor and the more sordid and meaner forms of crime, such as petty theft, and are entirely at the mercy, save for what service these men can give us, of the more expert criminals which every country will breed from time to time?

I suggest that there is work to be done in that field and that is no demeaning of the people of this country, of the people in charge of the Civic Guards or the members of the Civic Guards themselves to say that. Although [2425] natural gifts will help, unless those natural gifts are sharpened somewhat by training and developed by some sort of intensive course, they are not going to come to much good. These are special matters with regard to the police which ought to be raised on this Vote. Later, I may have to refer to the Attorney-General using unsuitable material. I can appreciate the excuse that it is the best material a person may have at a particular moment. I can raise the criticism on that that if bad results follow from the material so used in particular cases, then these cases should not be proceeded with. In the end, if there is to be any improvement, it is in the hands of the Minister for Justice the whole matter lies. Does he bend his attention at all to the necessity for having expert training brought to bear on the minds of those who are making their careers in the detective branch of the Gárda or are these people depending on their natural gifts towards sleuth-hound work developing with whatever associations they may get in the force itself?

Apart from this absence of training, I suggest that there must be either a connivance at certain bad practices or a positive leaning towards these bad practices. Otherwise, statements would not be taken in the circumstances I have indicated, and nobody would dare to introduce to the notice of courts statements so taken, and found criminal prosecutions upon them. I suggest, further, that there is a field of effort to which the attention of some of the younger men might be directed—handwriting—and that if we are to have evidence of the gun-expert type produced in court, there ought to be this precaution taken: that if training is given, it ought to be systematic and scientific. Until a person has undergone a course for some prolonged period, no man's life and no man's freedom ought to be made depend upon the credulity of a jury. We should not have an ex-clerk, with six months' training, swearing to what he thinks about the markings of cartridge cases or the markings made on lumps of lead by, say, the barrel of a revolver, or an ejector of some other type of instrument.

[2426] There is no relaxation with regard to the criminal classes in this country. The only type of legal activity that has not undergone a decline in the last couple of years is the criminal type. Criminal work is still as heavy as ever it was, while other classes of work have shown a decline. If that is the situation, and if the populace has to rely for successful attack on the criminal element of the community on this bad procedure, with this lack of training, obviously, the criminal is going to get a much better chance than ordinary, decent forethought would give him. Previously I had complained of what appeared to me to be neglect of duty in this regard, and I am questioning now whether the same neglect does not prevail. I want to find out whether there has been any change. I do not care how recent that change has been. If there has been a change, it will be welcome information though necessarily a number of years would elapse before results are produced. It is better even to make a late start in the hope of getting better results eventually than to drag on in the same old way, either pretending to believe the situation is as well as can be, or else— I rather suspect this is the reason— being afraid to take the necessary steps towards training, because the only source of training will be the country with which we are supposed to be at enmity. I do suggest that if we are to get people trained in any way there is no reason certainly for people unversed in detective work, without a knowledge of foreign languages, being sent to foreign countries with the pretence that they are studying the criminal systems in those places on the Continent.

Now, with regard to normal police matters, or at least what I would describe as normal police activities in the country, having opened with one phrase, I want to close with a similar phrase. I make no accusation against the Civic Guards nor against the members of the Civic Guards. If they are in the situation that I have described as not being trained it is not their fault. I do say it is the fault of the responsible Minister—the fault of the responsible heads of the Civic Guards. It is the Minister who [2427] should see that the training is given. If a suggestion to that effect has been made to him—and those in the front rank should make the suggestion, or else both the Minister and the heads of the Civic Guards should say that they have no responsibility because they are quite assured that the situation here is all it should be and that there is no necessity to urge against malpractices growing up in the force or any necessity for training. As far as I hold that there is any lack of training or any connivance at improper practices, the responsibility is on the Commissioner, or on the Minister. The Chief Commissioner may throw that a step further. He admits that he acts on the information coming to him from those who are looking on at any of those matters happening in the country, as to whether the people are fully and properly buttressed against the impact of the criminals on these matters of which I have spoken. As far as the Civic Guards are concerned, I make no complaint. The only complaint I make is that they are being used to do work and not given the proper weapons with which to carry out the task. The Minister in a very brief comment on this Vote said: “The country might rest assured with regard to the murder of Admiral Somerville and Mr. Egan that the police were not relaxing in their efforts, and that stern action would be taken against the organisation which believes it is entitled to use force against members or ex-members.” I hope I have given the quotation correctly. The Minister might have added “or against the public.”

Mr. Boland: I said against members of the community.

Mr. McGilligan: Yes. Again, it probably was a slip that the Minister should have mentioned only Admiral Somerville and Mr. Egan. The Edge-worthstown murder is still fresh in our memory.

Mr. Boland: I was dealing with recent matters.

Mr. McGilligan: I want to refer to five murders. Hugh O'Reilly was [2428] murdered; More O'Ferrall was murdered; Mrs. MacGrory was murdered; Admiral Somerville was murdered, and Mr. Egan was murdered. The Minister has made quite a good statement to-night. The President has the greatest responsibility in this matter. The President has certainly, by words used by him on previous occasions, given young men in this country reason to believe that the I.R.A. was a body to which either patriots or strong Nationalists should attach themselves.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Minister is not responsible for statements made by the President.

Mr. McGilligan: I suggest he is, if those statements lead to crime. The Minister for Justice has to deal with the prevention of crime.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That is not a matter for discussion just now.

Mr. McGilligan: The Minister has talked about the I.R.A., but we had the President's statement on that matter some time ago. If the Minister will to-night make another categorical statement he will be going a step further. There is no doubt about it that there has been engendered in the minds of the youth of this country the belief that it is a patriotic thing to join the I.R.A. Recently a case was presented to the Military Tribunal. Counsel for the Attorney-General put forward a case that the I.R.A. was an illegal association. The Tribunal held that the case was not properly presented to them, and they held up two cases for argument as to whether the I.R.A. was a legal or an illegal association. The Attorney-General, through his counsel, on the following day, said he would leave it to the Tribunal to say whether it was legal or illegal. The Minister for Justice declared to-night that it was illegal. Does he still say it is illegal?

Mr. Boland: Certainly.

Mr. McGilligan: How can anyone know what is the mentality of the Government? The Attorney-General did not say it was illegal. His [2429] counsel definitely and deliberately one day before the Military Tribunal said the I.R.A. was illegal, while another counsel, speaking for the Attorney-General on the next day, said that he would leave it to the Tribunal themselves to say whether the organisation was legal or illegal. That is not a very responsible attitude nor a very brave attitude to take up. The Minister to-night takes up a better attitude. The I.R.A. is illegal according to him. Why not the Minister go a step further? The Government at any rate should go a step further to prevent young men being misguided. Would the Minister go this one step further— take away the excuse of those young men who are misguided and tell them now deliberately that the I.R.A. is an illegal body?

Previously we were told with regard to arms that the arms would not be collected. But people have been murdered since that statement was made. There has been a big advance to-night in so far as we have a declaration from the Minister with regard to the I.R.A.; but how many more people will be murdered before the Government will say to these people: “We will collect whatever arms are illegally held if we can get them”? The Minister can put in that proviso. Will the Minister now say that, so far as he can, he will collect those arms, or will he wait until another murder has been committed?

Mr. Boland: I do not like this cross-examination business at all. It does not suit me. I prefer to answer the Deputy when I am replying.

Mr. McGilligan: Very well; let us have no cross-examination.

Mr. Boland: I am taking down the Deputy's questions.

Mr. McGilligan: I put this to the Minister, that another categorical statement has got to be made to this effect: that just as we have got an advance to-night in the statement that the I.R.A. is an illegal body—the statement that the Attorney-General ran away from in very recent times— the Government must take one further step in order to prevent anybody [2430] in the country having any excuse hereafter with regard to his position. An illegal body is one thing. There is still an outstanding phrase used in this House in the most public way by the President, that he would not collect these arms. I want the Minister to give now categorically from this particular forum these instructions to the police, to every decent citizen and to everybody who is in favour of decent conditions. Will the Minister make that announcement here this evening? “You will be helping law and order in the country if you know anything about arms, if you tell us where they are. In return for that you will get all the police protection that we can give you; you will get our thanks, and we will act on your information.” If the Minister does so, there is a completely new situation with regard to the I.R.A., and if the Minister makes that statement and adds it to the one he has made, then he has made a very big advance towards decent conditions in this country.

Mr. Costello: There are a couple of points arising out of the administration of the Department of Justice to which I would like to direct the attention of the acting Minister. Deputy McGilligan has drawn attention to two matters of the greatest public importance, in my view, matters that I think deserve the attention of the Government. The first one was the question of the taking of statements by the police from accused persons. We have, in the system created under Article 2A of the Constitution, power given to the police in reference to cases that come within the provisions of Article 2A to cross-examine accused persons or persons whom they suspect of having committed crimes within the provisions of Article 2A, and if the person interrogated refuses to answer, he commits a crime. I would like to get from the Minister an assurance that, in reference to the investigation of what we may call, for want of a better word, ordinary crime as distinct from crime coming within the ambit or the scope of the provisions of Article 2A, those provisions of Article 2A will not be put into operation, directly or indirectly.

[2431] For very special reasons peculiar to the class of offences that were caught within the ambit of Article 2A, power was given to the police to interrogate accused persons in a way not recognised by the law as it existed prior to the introduction of that Article. We have insisted that those provisions were for peculiar circumstances and peculiar cases, and I think it would tend very much to the betterment of the administration of the law, and also tend very much to the greater respect that would be given by the ordinary public to the administration of the law in this country, that we should, as far as possible, keep to the strict, the rigid rules which have been in force for so long and which have, in cases other than those coming under Article 2A, been in operation since the establishment of the State.

I fully realise the difficulties of the police and the anxiety of the Government to get after ordinary crime. It is difficult enough for the police, in the conduct of their ordinary affairs, conducting the investigation of crime, to get the necessary evidence to persuade a jury of the guilt of an accused person. It has been accepted as an axiom of criminal administration that it is better for some of the guilty persons to get away rather than that abuses should creep into the administration of the law. I do not want to go into any of these cases that have come up within the last 12 months, where statements have been taken by the police. I content myself with asking the Attorney-General and the acting Minister for Justice that, as far as possible, it will be insisted upon by the Government that the police, in their investigation of ordinary crimes, shall adhere strictly to what were known in the old days as the judges' rules, and that in the interest of innocent persons people accused or suspected of crime by the police shall not be subjected to anything even approaching third degree. These rules, known as the judges' rules, are really for the benefit of accused persons. When people are charged with the administration of the law, or the conduct of Government, whether they are in responsible or subordinate positions, the natural [2432] tendency is to do everything to win their case, to do their job properly. It should be impressed upon those people that it is much more important for the ultimate respect that will be given to the law that criminals should be prosecuted and convicted with the utmost adherence to the rigid principles that we have been accustomed to under what were known as the judges' rules before the introduction of the provisions contained in Article 2A of the Constitution.

Arising out of statements made to police officers in the course of investigating crimes or alleged crimes, there is one matter to which I would like to draw the Minister's attention. It is a matter, not of the very greatest importance, but it is of considerable importance to the practitioners in the courts. When accidents occur through the collision of motor cars, or when people are run down by motor cars, it is the practice of the police to take statements from the persons involved in the collisions immediately after those collisions. Of course, these statements are for police purposes, usually with a view to seeing whether or not it is necessary in the public interest that either party or both of the parties involved in the accident should be prosecuted under the provisions of the Traffic Act. The net result is that the policeman on the scene takes measurements and statements. If civil proceedings result from the collision, we are faced, in the course of practice in these matters, with the question of what is in the statements made by persons immediately after an accident. The practice of the Gárda authorities so far has been to direct the Gárdaí who are responsible for the taking of the statements not to allow either party to the civil proceedings to have any view of the statements in question. They are instructed that if they are sub poenaed in the ordinary way to appear in court then, subject to and only on the order of the judge, will they produce these statements.

I think the Attorney-General will tell the acting Minister that the position as regards these statements is, and it has been so ruled by our judges, that they are irrelevant in civil proceedings; they are not [2433] evidence in the ordinary way, and cannot be given as evidence by the police officer who took the statements. The way the matter has impressed itself on me is this: that they are, and have been, ruled to be capable of providing material for cross-examination in the event of a witness in the civil proceedings on his oath giving a different statement from that he gave to the police officer immediately after the accident. If there is a controversy as to whether or not a particular thing occurred, the statement that a man makes immediately after an accident is much stronger than the statement he will make six or nine months afterwards when he comes in a civil action before a jury. The practitioner in these cases has no material from which to find out whether or not a statement made by a party to the suit, or a witness in favour of either party, is in conflict with, or in accordance with, the statement made immediately after the accident to the police officer. As it is, the statement is produced only on an order of the court, and the court will not order a police officer to produce it because it is not relevant unless one of the counsel engaged is able to indicate that the reason he wants the statement is to cross-examine the witness on the statement he makes in court as being in contradistinction to, and a contradiction of, the statement made to the police.

In the interests of truth and justice, there ought to be a regulation made by the Gárda that either party to the civil proceedings in which these matters may become relevant should be allowed, or their legal representatives should be allowed, to view the statements before the case comes on, without an order of the court. It is a matter that has given some concern to practitioners in these civil cases. It is perfectly useless bringing down the Guards to the civil tribunals, wasting their time and wasting a certain amount of the money of litigants, to produce these statements when they will not be produced except on an order of the court, and the court will not give such an order except for the purposes of cross-examination on the lines that I have already indicated. [2434] I do not press this from the point of view of serving the interests of private litigants, but I do press it from the point of view of preventing people from changing their story either in their own interests or in the interests of some person on whose behalf they are giving evidence.

Deputy McGilligan stated that the volume of criminal work has not decreased. That is a point that has struck me personally in recent years, and in what I have to say on it I do not confine myself to this particular year. I would like the Minister to give us some statement of the general position in the country in relation to what I shall call, for want of a better term, ordinary crime, leaving aside the crime dealt with by the Military Tribunal. It appears to me that in Green Street some criminal tribunal is sitting continuously, practically without the lapse of one single day from year's end to year's end, subject only to the vacation periods. I would like to know if the Minister could tell us what is the cause of that. I hesitate to think that, since the establishment of our State, the criminal has got busier and better. In the days before the Great War, and for some years after it, there was an occasional commission and an occasional assize, and sometimes the Recorder of Dublin had a criminal sessions. The impression left on my mind at all events is that, compared with those times, there is an increase of about 1,000 per cent. in the criminal work in this country. It may be that the police are more active—I think not—but all sorts and varieties of crime are being tried in Green Street by the circuit judges, and by the judges in the Central Criminal Court.

The fact is that, throughout the year, some judge is sitting dealing with criminal work, and it would certainly not merely appease my curiosity, but even perhaps ease my mind from the point of view of social order in this country, if the Minister could give us some indication as to the volume of criminal work during last year as compared with previous years, and the reason why there is such a [2435] volume of criminal work in the courts in Dublin. Perhaps he would also, if possible, give me some information as to whether or not there has been an increase in the number of cases that have been transferred from the country to the city. There has been a fair amount of grumbling amongst jurors in the city and county of Dublin as to the excessive amount of duty that they are called upon to do in connection with the administration of justice. The volume of civil work in which jurors are compelled to serve is not so large, but, notwithstanding that, a fair amount of the time of private citizens is taken up in connection with ordinary civil actions of tort, negligence, and so on. On top of that, there is throughout the whole year a jury panel being called, and jurors have to sit investigating criminal cases in Green Street. Naturally, that work is greatly disliked. It is work of a very thankless nature, involving very often sordid surroundings and sordid considerations. It is work involving a considerable amount of public duty and the exercise of a considerable amount of tact and patience; but, above all, it calls for a considerable amount of time and a lot of money on the part of ordinary citizens. I think we are entitled to know why jurors are called upon continuously to sit in Green Street from one year's end to the other. Is it that crime has so greatly increased in its extent and variety in this State that there exists the necessity for the criminal courts to sit continuously, or is the reason that so many cases are being brought from the country to Dublin? What is the explanation of the phenomenon to which I have just referred?

If there are large numbers of cases being transferred from the country to the City of Dublin for hearing in Green Street, I would like to know what the reason for such transfer is. I have no information as to whether or not there is such an amount of cases being transferred. I do recollect from my own experience, during the time that I was charged with the thankless job of conducting prosecutions [2436] in this country, that I was pressed again and again by police officers, in the country in particular, to transfer cases from the country to the city. The jurors of the city and county of Dublin were supposed to be experienced jurors, and were supposed to have, apparently, much more courage than the country jurors. I would like to know from the Minister for Justice whether or not country jurors are doing their ordinary job on juries with the same courage and the same self-sacrifice that the jurors in the city and county of Dublin are doing it. I think it would be grossly unfair to put all the responsibility for convicting criminals on the jurors of the city and county of Dublin. I think it is a bad policy to transfer cases from the country to the city. I would prefer to let the local criminals loose on the local people if they will not convict them in their own local venue. I have always taken the view that the only way to bring home to people that they cannot have criminals and at the same time bring in verdicts of “not guilty” in obvious cases where they were guilty. is to let them have the criminals back at their own firesides. So far as it lay in my hands, my policy always was to leave the local people with their local criminals either in jail locally or else at home locally. I think it is not right or proper that the jurors of the city and county of Dublin should be called upon to do work that the country jurors are afraid to do, and I think that at some time or another —perhaps at no far distant date—the city and county of Dublin jurors will rise and go on strike against the amount of duty that they are called upon to do. Perhaps the Minister may be able to give us some information on that matter.

Deputy McGilligan referred to the training of the police. I had a note to ask the Minister in reference to that matter. It may be due to the pernicious habit I have of reading detective novels that I am interested in a variety of matters in which the police require to be trained. I gather that in Scotland Yard they have very expert methods for training their recruits and their officers in [2437] expert detective requirements. Now, I think that nobody ought to be put out on the public or before a jury— because juries will rely on the evidence given by the State and on the assistance that they get from State witnesses —as an expert unless he is really an expert, because in a very short time that expert testimony will be discredited. If one particular expert put forward by the State happens to be discredited in one case, that has its reactions on all other expert testimony that is put forward, and will eventually react very unfavourably on the administration of the criminal law, depending as it does on expert testimony. I think that there ought to be very considerable expenditure in connection with the training of detective officers.

I have an open mind as to whether or not the system, which operates at the moment in the Guards, of promotion from the ranks to the rank of inspector or superintendent is the proper or the best system. I do not know whether the Minister still considers that is the ideal system or whether he would think it more proper that some sort of dilution of the material available should be practised and people brought in with, perhaps, more training and more educational facilities than the ordinary Gárda has. It is a matter upon which I have an open mind, but which is of vital concern. Whether that system of promotion is adopted or not, I think, with Deputy McGilligan, that there ought to be very close consideration given to this question of the proper training of an expert staff in the detective branch. I know that the Minister will defend the administration of his Department from the point of view of the training that they get— every Minister does that—but that will carry no conviction. I am not making it a political point, but I want to know really, as a fact, whether or not the system that exists at present is regarded as the proper one; whether the Minister for Justice is satisfied that he is getting sufficient supplies to enable him to carry on a proper training department; or whether that particular department is being starved by the parsimonious outlook, usual in [2438] these matters, of the Department of Finance.

There are one or two other points I wish to mention on this Vote. I should like to know whether or not the Department has had any advertence to the necessity that has existed for some considerable time to reform the law in a variety of directions. I know that I am not at liberty, on the Vote, to speak on legislation to be promoted by the Department, but I do think that in the Department of Justice there ought to be some branch or officers or some machinery of some kind, either voluntary or otherwise, to examine into the points that require bringing up to date. I propose, in the course of a day or two, to put questions on some of these matters that I personally think require reform. We are a long way behind our neighbours across the water in connection with the reform of the ordinary civil law here. There are still enshrined in our law many archaic principles dating from the very earliest growth of English law. The Department ought to look into these matters and see if they can devise any machinery for their consideration, but making it an absolute condition precedent that anybody who gives the Minister advice in reference to law reform should get a certificate from somebody that he is not a crank, because the question of law reform is one that will lend itself to the depredations of the crank more than any other aspect of administration.

I should like to know whether the Department has yet dealt with the vexed question of the parking of cars. The newspapers are splashing the dicta of district justices on the subject of the parking of cars. I do not care what any district justice thinks about the parking of cars. All I want to know, as a motorist, is what I am entitled to do with my car if I come down town. I see “You may park your car here” written up in various places. I see cars parked somewhere else where there is not any such notice. Then perhaps I go to a place which is also full of cars and where there is no notice. In the first two places you are let pass by the police; in the third you are not. The net [2439] result, as far as I can see, is that any ordinary motorist, even used to the conditions that exist in the city, has no particular notion of what is and what is not permitted within the law in reference to the parking of cars.

The last point is that I want some information from the Minister as to how he is administering the Citizenship Act. We had recently a very interesting list of names of people desiring to become citizens of Saorstát Eireann. Their names, to put it mildly, were suggestive. I want to know how these applications were dealt with; how many new Irish patriots we have got in the last 12 months; how many we are going to get in the future; and what is the policy of the Department in reference to aliens in general.

The Attorney-General: Certain of the points raised by Deputy Costello, and some of the points raised by Deputy McGilligan, trench on my domain and certain other matters are partly my responsibility and partly the responsibility of the Minister. Perhaps I might assist by answering some queries, which I think I may be better equipped from my experience to answer than the Minister or his Department, might be, as they really come within my bailiwick. Deputy Costello asked questions, to take his points in the reverse order, some of which are entirely my concern. He asked a question as regards the transfer of the cases from the country to the city and whether there has been an increase of cases transferred. He is aware no doubt that cases may be transferred either on my application or on the application of an accused person. I think I may say, in answer to the simple question whether there has been any increase, that I do not think there has been an increase.

I must say that my attitude towards applications which come from the local Gárda superintendents for the transfer of certain cases is almost precisely the attitude which the Deputy says that he adopted when he held my position. I do not know that I would put it as strongly as he put it, that one [2440] should let the local criminals loose on the local people, though I have often said to superintendents, who were urging that cases should not be tried in local places, that, after all, if local jurors are prepared to let criminals go it is the local people who suffer. I have set my face against transferring cases from the country to the city for that reason, and because I believe one of the underlying principles of the Courts of Justice Act was to devolve upon local tribunals the duty of trying certain types of cases. My experience has been, despite the prophecies of the Gárdaí in charge of certain cases that verdicts cannot be obtained in certain local venues in certain types of cases, that very often that prophecy has been falsified and nobody has been better pleased with the result than the Gárda concerned. In recent times jurors have brought in very courageous verdicts. In certain cases, although the local connections say, of a prisoner, or the influences which a prisoner might have, might have been expected to procure either a disagreement or an acquittal, local jurors have done their duty and convicted.

If the Deputy will look at the list of the last Central Criminal Court here, or the previous Central Criminal Court, I think he will find that at the previous Central Criminal Court no transferred case was tried at all—that is the Central Criminal Court which ended before December. There were some tried at the recent Central Criminal Court. My memory may not serve me correctly, but I think that the number of transferred cases was, at the most, three or four—that is, of course, transferred at my instance. There were some other cases tried which were transferred at the instance of the accused person himself.

So far as possible, I have adopted, not for the purpose of saving the city jurors, but for the reasons I give—that the Courts of Justice Act intended that local tribunals should try certain types of cases and local jurors should do their own work—the same attitude towards applications to have cases transferred as apparently was favoured by the Deputy when he [2441] was Attorney-General. I think I have answered the question he asked as to whether country jurors have not been doing their duty. On the whole, from my experience, I am of the opinion that they are doing their duty and that the tendency to face their duty more squarely is growing.

As regards the volume of business, the Minister would be better able to answer the Deputy's question than I. It is true that the Criminal Court has been sitting in the city practically continuously now since the opening of the legal year. The Central Criminal Court sat for a long time before Christmas, and, directly the Christmas vacation ended, the Circuit Criminal Court took possession of Green Street, and continued until again the Central Criminal Court sat there. At the moment, we have the Circuit Criminal Court there. Although it may strike the Deputy as indicating a remarkable growth of business, I do not think the figures show there has been a tendency in recent years for criminal cases to increase. Possibly part of the explanation is due to the fact that the bulk of the crime in the country seems to be city-bred. The city seems to supply the greater proportion of the criminal statistics, and, in addition, as the Deputy knows, the Central Criminal Court now has sole and exclusive jurisdiction in certain types of cases, and may have its list added to by the transfer of cases at my instance or at the instance of prisoners, whereas, formerly, Assize Courts, sitting throughout the country, disposed of a number of cases of the type which are now solely and exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court.

The Deputy, in common with Deputy McGilligan, referred to the training of the police. That is again a matter which is within the Minister's peculiar province, but I think I may say something with regard to the criticisms which have been directed against the police, particularly as regards expert evidence, because eventually the evidence of the Guards passes through my hands and is presented to the courts. I am aware that at the moment—the Minister will probably explain it more fully—there is an [2442] elaborate training system in operation at the Depot. I visited the Depot at the invitation of the Commissioner and saw there the development which has taken place. I was shown the various scientific instruments and had demonstrated to me the modern methods which have now been adopted here to assist in the detection of crime. I think the Deputy will find that the Minister will satisfy both Deputy McGilligan and himself that there is a very keen appreciation on the part of the Commissioner of the necessity of having his police methods up-to-date.

I think Deputy McGilligan might have been more careful in the criticism he directed against the Guards in his speech, and might have informed himself a little more before he set out to criticise the witnesses put forward by the Guards. However, before I deal with that, there is another point of Deputy Costello's which I want to deal with, which I suppose is really within my province. He asked about the statements which are obtained in connection with accident cases, and mentioned the difficulties which litigants in civil proceedings arising out of accidents find in procuring for their assistance the material at the disposal of the police. I have frequently to advise the Guards as to whether privilege should be claimed in respect of these statements or not, and I realise fully and sympathise with the point of view the Deputy has expressed. I would be quite willing to discuss with him to see if some method could be found by which the public interest, which is, I think, that police statements obtained for the purpose of investigating crime should not be made readily, or too readily, available to members of the public, would be safeguarded. The Deputy will appreciate that that is the only reason why objection is taken to the production of these statements, and that it is not with any desire to hamper litigants or to prevent the truth being brought out. It is because the Guards get these statements from members of the public, who happen to be in a position to give evidence, by reason of the fact that they are Guards, and for the purpose of assisting them in the investigation of possible offences, considering whether an offence has been committed, [2443] and so on. I certainly think it would not be in the public interest to make these statements available, without any restriction, to such member of the public, or his solicitor, who happens to think they may be of value to him. However, as I say, I am prepared to consider with the Deputy and see if we could devise some means by which we could have the public interest safeguarded and, at the same time, assist in having the truth made available in these cases.

The Deputy also asked the Minister to assure him that Article 2A would not be made use of for the investigation of ordinary crime. The Minister asks me to deal with that, but I think it is really a matter for the Minister because it is from him that instructions go to the Guards. I can, however, give my experience and I am sure the Minister will bear me out in saying that there may have been one or two cases where, by accident, it happened that what might be styled ordinary crimes were investigated and the machinery of Article 2A used. The offences, as I say, might be described as ordinary crimes in the sense that the Minister's certificate could not be obtained in respect of them, but the Guards put the machinery of the Article into operation because the person who was being questioned used firearms. There are, in my experience, very few cases, and I think there was no intention whatever to use the Article for the investigation of what the Deputy describes as ordinary crime.

Deputy McGilligan made an attack on the experts. He toned it down and suggested that I misinterpreted what he said about certain of the experts, but I do think he ought to have been more cautious for several reasons. First, he was reflecting on men who cannot defend themselves. He took three types of experts, and criticised each of them with different degrees of severity. I accept his statement that he does not wish to be taken as in any way criticising or reflecting upon the ability or competency of the medical experts put forward. It would be a rather strange thing if he did, because I presume he refers to the chief medical [2444] expert—the pathological expert who is the same expert who was employed during the previous Government's regime and who has had a long experience. He was employed during my predecessor's period of office and, if he was thought competent five years ago, at least he ought to be thought competent now.

Similarly, the Deputy condemned the expert in ballistics. I think that my experience with regard to practice in the Criminal Courts is much more extensive than that of Deputy McGilligan. I can go back to 1922 to cases where I was defending prisoners and where I frequently came across the same gunnery expert who is now employed. I do not know what the Deputy means by speaking of a clerk in the office, with only six months' experience, acting as a gunnery expert. I can only say that the same expert was giving evidence many years ago. Of course, we all know that most expert evidence can be criticised along certain well-known lines. Some of them have been adopted by the Deputy here. At any time, expert evidence can be condemned on certain grounds. I quite agree that the type of expert evidence on ballistics can be condemned on the grounds the Deputy mentioned. Any practitioner in the courts is familiar with the lines on which a gunnery expert can be cross-examined, but to say that a man who has had, to my knowledge, at least 14 years' experience of giving evidence in such cases, is incompetent, is a thing I cannot understand. As a matter of fact I do not know whether the Deputy meant to suggest that this man is not competent to give evidence. At one moment the Deputy seemed to be condemning him because he would be accepted as being so competent that people might be wrongfully convicted, and at another moment he seemed to suggest that the person in question was so incompetent that nobody would be convicted as a result of his evidence.

I am aware that, amongst other apparatus that has been added to the laboratory at Kilmainham, there are means for detecting certain things that the Deputy referred to, such as the similarities of markings on bullet caps [2445] made by hammers in guns. Everybody admits that, in a matter of that kind, dealing with materials such as bullets and cartridges, absolute certainly cannot be guaranteed by any expert. No person can lay down as an absolute certainty that the markings of two hammer caps are made by the same gun, but an expert on such matters can put his evidence before a jury and a judge and they can use their own judgment and experience and intelligence upon his evidence. The opinion of the expert can be put before a jury and a judge, and it can be given its due weight or not allowed to weigh at all. I do not think it is reasonable for the Deputy to suggest that the ballistics expert is not an experienced man and that his experience does not weigh with juries. I think it does, and I have had some considerable experience. I have never had a single complaint by counsel that the ballistics expert did not do his work well or that he was not accepted by judges and juries alike as a competent, reliable and honest witness. In the light of what the Deputy has said, I think it is rather astonishing that I have not had some complaint or criticism from people who, I think it will be admitted, would be unprejudiced in the matter. I have had criticisms of certain other witnesses, but I have not had any complaint or criticisms about the expert in this matter. Therefore, when I find Deputy McGilligan speaking along the lines he has spoken in regard to this expert, it comes to me as a complete surprise, and I think that if the Deputy were honest in his criticism, he would have sent to me the complaints.

Dr. O'Higgins: May I be permitted to correct the Attorney-General, Sir, before he goes further along that line? Deputy McGilligan's remarks applied specifically to an individual who was put up as an expert, and who stated himself that he had had only six months' experience at the work—and not to the man who has been doing that work for 14 years.

The Attorney-General: Well, of course, Deputy O'Higgins may understand Deputy McGilligan better than [2446] I do, but I understood Deputy McGilligan to refer all along to only one expert.

Mr. Costello: No. What Deputy McGilligan was speaking about was in reference to a prosecution that took place about two years ago where the individual in question gave the evidence to which Deputy McGilligan referred. The man in question was a clerk in the office and stated that he had only six months' experience.

The Attorney-General: Well, I think Deputy McGilligan should have made it clearer, because it did seem to me that he was referring to the ballistics expert.

Dr. O'Higgins: No. He was condemning a person who had been put up as a ballistics expert in a particular case.

The Attorney-General: Well, all I can say is that Deputy McGilligan should have made that clear, because he certainly left me under the impression that he was referring to the man who had been in that position for so long.

Mr. G. Boland: Well, we can thank Deputy O'Higgins for making it clear, at least.

The Attorney-General: Well, I am very glad to hear it. If that is so, I quite accept what Deputy McGilligan said as reasonable criticism. I thought he was attacking the ballistics expert, but I quite agree, that if it were a case such as he has mentioned, it certainly is a matter for criticism. However, Deputy McGilligan then attacked the handwriting experts. First of all, the Deputy evidently fails to realise that the handwriting experts are not members of the Guards at all and that it has been generally recognised by the Guards that it is not desirable that a handwriting expert should be a trained member of the Guards. As a matter of fact, I mentioned that point of view to the Commissioner, and I understood him to take the view that it is not feasible or desirable that the Gárdaí should attempt to train a handwriting expert and have him a member of the [2447] Force in the same way as other experts. That practice, I think, is the same across the water in England. Accordingly, we are in the position at the moment, as we have been all along, that we have got to rely on private people who practise as handwriting experts; and, as everybody knows, the field is limited in that regard. Deputy McGilligan was very scornful and was apparently attacking a particular expert, but if Deputy McGilligan had had experience of the courts for any length of time, he would know that, if a civil court case comes along, it is almost impossible to lay one's hands on a man who describes himself as a handwriting expert. There are only two, that I know of, in this country at the moment, and I think everyone will recognise that it is a particular profession, if one might call it so, which seems to require certain qualities that are very rare.

I think it is admitted in all countries and in all courts, and well known to all juries and all practitioners in the courts, that such evidence is unreliable, and I think that even the experts themselves will tell you that it would be unsafe to convict a man on the evidence of handwriting alone. Of course, it does happen in certain cases that certain experts come a cropper because they are too positive in their evidence. I can only say, however, that the Deputy's suggestion that we have been losing cases all over the country because we have been unable to produce proper evidence with regard to handwriting is entirely wrong. It is just like what I mentioned in connection with ballistics. The juror is able to assess the value of the evidence which is put forward by handwriting experts, and everybody knows, as I said already, what is the weakness that lies behind that evidence; and it is impossible, no matter what training the Commissioner might have, to produce an absolutely perfect handwriting expert or a man whose opinion can be taken with absolute certainty as regards the authorship of certain samples of handwriting submitted to him. It suffers from the infirmities from which evidence [2448] given by handwriting experts in every country in the world suffers. It is clear that the suggestion was made by the Deputy from the depths of his experience, which is only, at most, about a year in the courts. One would imagine that he was speaking from the depths of experience which would enable him to say that experts could be produced by some magic by the Minister for Justice or the Commissioner when everyone knows that even in England great difficulty is found in producing experts who will stand the test of continual appearance in court to satisfy juries as to their competence and ability to judge correctly in every case. I am responsible to a certain extent for the provision of handwriting witnesses. Our range is limited, but my experience, on the whole, is that it satisfies judges and juries, and I have had from no reliable source condemnation of it along the lines that the Deputy made. If I had I would discard it altogether. I never assent to a case going before a jury on handwriting evidence alone because, rightly or wrongly, I think it would not be safe to convict anyone on handwriting evidence alone. As regards interrogation, I suppose I may say something on that though, strictly speaking, it is the Minister's province to see that the Guards strictly adhere to the rules laid down for the interrogation of prisoners. I accept what Deputy Costello suggests—that the judges' rules as regards the questioning and taking of statements from witnesses in ordinary cases should be adhered to, in fact, must be adhered to. Because it happened in a recent case that Deputy McGilligan mentioned, that the Guards, in a certain instance, and in an out-of-the-way part of the country, overstepped the margin —not, I hope, in the circumstances described by Deputy McGilligan, which certainly were not brought to my notice, as I saw the questionnaire and it read to me as if it were a voluntary statement by a girl—that may or may not be so. I did not see a weakness in it by reason of the fact that there were a number of questions to be answered, but, as happened, when the case came on I said that the judge [2449] might rule the statement out. I do not think the Deputy's statement is correct that he went on to tell the jury that there was no case to go to them. The question of the admissibility of the statement was one for the judge. I did not see any comment upon that and I have not heard anything about it. In any case, it was an isolated instance, and it is monstrous to suggest that the Guards have adopted a system of interrogation, or that they overstep the bounds provided by the law, in the taking of statements in that type of case. It was the only recent instance in my memory where a statement that has been ruled out by a judge was on the grounds that it was improperly obtained or not obtained along the proper lines.

As regards interrogation under Article 2A, the Deputy was driven to trot out a case that was two or three years old, and he attempted to link it up with two cases in recent memory, of which he gave vague particulars. He built on that the charge that there is a system sponsored by the Minister for interrogating prisoners under Article 2A, which is contrary to the spirit of the Article and improper. I have had a great many of these Article 2A cases. I suppose they run into thousands, and, except in one or two cases, no suggestion was made that statements were obtained by methods that could be questioned. I do not wish to deny the suggestion made in two cases that charges have been made against the Guards that they detained prisoners for some hours and took statements in the middle of the night and that the members of the Tribunal had animadverted on the conduct of the Guards in these particular cases. It is ridiculous to condemn out of hand on two or three instances—due perhaps to excessive zeal on the part of Guards— and to try to build on that the case that some instruction had been given to the Guards to behave in an unfair manner or to treat prisoners with undue severity in the taking of statements. I do not imagine in any police force in the world with such powers at their disposal would there be found less abuse than in the use of these powers by the Gárda Síochána, and it [2450] is most unfair to make the charge against them. As a matter of fact, I think the lines of the interrogation were settled for the benefit of the commissioner or the Minister in my office. I think it was first done in Deputy Costello's time.

Mr. Costello: It was never settled in my office. I never had anything to do with it. I never saw them or had anything to do with them.

The Attorney-General: Perhaps not by you, but some assistance was forthcoming from what was then your office.

Mr. Costello: I never settled an interrogatory, or whatever you like to call it, in my life.

The Attorney-General: I am not suggesting that the Deputy did. I am suggesting that the lines or the direction in which an interrogation should be taken were issued from your office, and I think I may say they have been issued from my office. Assistance has been freely given them by me. I only deal with them in connection with the Minister. I have experience at the important end of this type of case. These statements come before me, and I have had to face before the Tribunal charges that in certain cases they were obtained by unfair methods. I do not want to pledge myself to complete accuracy, but I think cases in which a challenge has been made can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. That being so, and as well over a thousand of these cases have been tried by the Tribunal in the last few years, I do not think it is fair to the Guards to have these charges made here.

Dr. O'Higgins: I am rather disappointed so late in the day as this, when the present Government is approaching its fifth year in office, that we should still have to listen to that weak, apologetic semi-defence that we heard twice in the course of the Attorney-General's remarks. When he was asked either to stand over a state of affairs or to scrap it, what was the line taken? Not that it was a state of affairs that should be recommended or a state of affairs that should be dispensed with, but that it [2451] was a state of affairs which existed in the time of the late Government. Now, for a year or two that kind of tactics is all right; it is admissible and defensible. But sooner or later every Government must stand over its own acts and its own services. Surely, after four years a Government Minister or a Government spokesman should either stand over a thing or not, and that kind of nonsense should be dispensed with.

Deputy McGilligan, when speaking earlier, referred to a type of expert who was put up when a man's liberty was jeopardised, and when if that alleged expert was accepted as an expert that man's liberty would be lost for a greater or lesser length of time. It so happens that in the particular case mentioned the man put up as an expert on ballistics was a man who had been a clerk for some years and had been six months handling firearms. The responsibility was on the defence to call the accepted State expert on ballistics to prove that the other man put up by the police as an expert was in fact anything but an expert. Let us assume that the men in the dock in that case had not had the assistance of a lawyer; if they were not in a position to call the State expert on ballistics those men would have been put away for a period of a year to three years' imprisonment on the evidence of a clerk put up by the police as an expert in ballistics. Surely it is perfectly understandable that a Deputy, in discussing the Vote for the Department of Justice, should raise such a point, and that the Attorney-General or anybody else over there should be the very first to agree that it was a reasonable point to raise, and that this was the type of evidence which should not be produced.

In dealing further with Deputy McGilligan's statement the Attorney-General had a cheap jibe at Deputy McGilligan's experience in the courts. He said that speaking from his inexperience, or his experience of one year's practice in the courts, he could not possibly know what he was talking about, and that he, the Attorney-General, with a much greater number of [2452] year's experience, disagreed with him. One would imagine that the procedure in the courts was strictly the preserve of the lawyers. It is more strictly the concern of the man in the street. The lawyers are in there to make their money out of the courts, and the administration of justice within the courts is more the impartial concern of the ordinary citizen than it is of the lawyers practising in the courts. The point raised by Deputy McGilligan was quite properly a point which should receive more consideration from the Attorney-General than just to turn it aside with a cheap jibe of that kind.

I listened with interest to the Minister in reply to Deputy McGilligan when he referred to the Irish Republican Army as being an illegal association. As a layman, I should like a little information on this point. What exactly is an illegal organisation in the eyes of the Minister, or what is the difference between an illegal organisation and a banned organisation? Is it that there are degrees of illegality in the eyes of the Government and in the opinion of the Minister? I am rather puzzled when I hear of an organisation such as the I.R.A. being referred to by the Minister for Justice in the Dáil as definitely an illegal organisation. Then I think of other organisations which are illegal organisations because they are banned. I should like some information on that point. What is the difference between a banned organisation and an illegal organisation, and why is one organisation banned and another not banned?

Another point on which I should like information is this: we heard a discussion between Deputy Costello and the Attorney-General as to how and why it was decided to take certain cases to Dublin and have other cases tried in the country. I should like to know what is the deciding factor as to whether a case will be sent before a jury or before the Military Tribunal. We have all seen very similar types of cases where murder was committed, one set of suspects being sent before a jury and another set of suspects sent before the Military Tribunal. What type of crime or what circumstances decide when a case will be tried before a jury and when it will go [2453] before the Military Tribunal? If there is a Departmental decision in each case as it arises, then what is the Department which makes the decision, and what are the circumstances that decide before which particular tribunal any given case will go? I should imagine that the idea of having such a thing as a Military Tribunal is that it is essentially a tribunal to deal with organised crime, or any class of crime which on the face of it appears to be the work of an armed organisation. That being so, I fail to see any explanation why one case of murder— definitely and clearly the work of an organisation with arms in their hands —should go before a jury, while another goes before the Military Tribunal. On that particular point it is information I am looking for. I have heard the question asked probably many hundreds of times since those cases were decided. A Deputy of this House should be in a position to say exactly what the Military Tribunal is for. The idea in my mind at least always was that the Military Tribunal was established to deal with organised crime, particularly in association with firearms.

We have had some discussion this evening on the question of the special training of the Guards in detective work. We have had a reply from the Attorney-General to say that there was most elaborate machinery in the depôt for training the Guards. That may be. But what is the objection of having certain selected men trained elsewhere —Scotland Yard, for instance? These men would then come back, after their training, and instruct others. Your expensive machinery would be all the more effective, and more likely to produce satisfactory results if you had more highly trained expert instructors. The Army are far ahead of the Guards in that way. There is no national or sentimental, or patriotic, objection to sending officers and N.C.O.'s to the British Army to get special training and instruction, not available here before. When they come home they are able to instruct others in turn. If there is no sentimental or national objection in the case of the Army surely such should not exist in the case of the [2454] Civic Guards. It is about time we should judge of these services according to the results obtained.

A police force is a very expensive service and a highly costly machine. Millions of Irish taxpayers' money has to be paid for the maintenance of our Irish police force. A police force is only justifiable for one or two purposes, either to prevent crime, or, when crime is committed, to detect the criminal, bring him to justice and have him convicted. I dislike saying this, but I am forced to say that, in regard to one class of crime, not merely during the life of this Government but of their predecessors, in dealing with organised crime there has been 100 per cent. failure over a period of ten, 11 or 12 years, in what I would describe as major crimes where there is every evidence of its being the result of organised criminality. There has been, right down from year to year, a dismal, unbroken series of failures to bring anyone to justice, or if brought to justice of finding anyone guilty. That is a very serious state of affairs. In the face of such a set of circumstances we are entitled to ask why are we paying more and more money for our police force? What return or results are we getting for a very much increased cost of the Civic Guards?

We do not pay policemen in order to have fine-looking fellows decorating our street corners. We do not pay policemen merely for ceremonial effect. We pay them to prevent crime and to detect crime. So far as anti-State crime goes, or semi-political crime, there has been no success either in prevention or detection. When I am talking of major crime I am dealing specifically with murder. If the Minister can point out any case of political murder, where the criminals were found and brought to justice, then I shall admit I am speaking in error. I am speaking at the moment from recollection, and without looking up the records from year to year, but I think I am speaking with a fairly clear and accurate knowledge of the circumstances as they exist. That being so, would it not be well for the Government to listen to the suggestions made by Deputy McGilligan? When a situation [2455] is desperately serious that is not the time to rely upon jog-along methods of failure. It is the time to attempt something now even if that new attempt may fail.

Little by little, organised criminals are not attracting more respect than the law, but they are attracting more attention than the law. The fear of organised criminals instilled into the minds of the people living in rural Ireland is far greater than the respect in those people's minds for the law, or the fear of the law, or the majesty of the State. It is not quite correct to say you have had six murders in two years, or only six murders in two years. It is not the corpses I am concerned about. The corpses have ceased to worry. It is the effect upon the minds of thousands of people that I am thinking about. It is in that direction that the mind of the Department of Justice must turn, because every one of us knows that each and all of these murders were committed, not just for the sake of killing the individual but in order that the killing of the individual would have a terrorist effect upon the minds of hundreds and thousands of people living. They either close their mouths or are terrorised to the extent of not speaking fearlessly when questioned or even on oath, so that it would have a terrorist effect in another direction and in another case. The effect of these cases happening one after another, and nobody paying the penalty, will have, and is having, a disastrous effect upon the stability of the State no matter who rules to-day. It is far more menacing and threatening than any process of sapping and undermining. There is no greater tragedy, no greater evil, that I can picture to occur in the State, than to have the whole population of the State turning their eyes away from government and being bound unwillingly to comply with its decrees, or afraid to take action against organised criminals in the State.

Mr. T. Kelly: It was the speech of the Deputy opposite in connection with the parking of cars that brought me to my feet. I am not much interested in the parking of cars but I am interested [2456] in the speed of cars. The Minister is a man of common sense. In fact when common sense was being given out he got more than the ordinary man's share. I direct attention to the fact that quite recently—only a few months ago—the police issued a statement concerning the number of deaths that occurred in this country as a result of motor car accidents and also the number of people who had been injured. I think in the first case the figure was about 130 and in the other case it was at least 1,000. These are very sad figures. I do not suggest for one moment that any motorist would be willingly guilty of driving in a manner that would endanger the lives of men, women or children.

Nevertheless the fact remains that these accidents occur. My own opinion of the matter is that motorists are allowed to drive at too great a speed, and all necessary steps should be taken to reduce that speed. I brought this matter before the Corporation quite recently. They listened to me and said: “We have no power; the police control the traffic.” One member of the Corporation undoubtedly made the statement that almost every day in the country he saw breaches of the Traffic Acts being committed. I do not think it is in the power of the police, considering the duties they have to perform, to give proper attention to these Acts. I am convinced from my own experience of passing through the streets, and along the roads within the city and around it, that the speed should be curtailed. There was a very wholesome Act in operation some time ago governing the speed of motor cars. I do not see why that Act should not be revived if that can be done or else new regulations should be brought in by the Minister to control speed. It is almost impossible sometimes to cross College Green owing to the speed of cars and buses. On the roads surrounding the city, over and over again I have seen motor cars going at a tremendous speed, sometimes on the wrong side, and sometimes passing trams on the wrong side. I hope the Minister will take these matters to heart. It is a very serious thing indeed to have this terrible list of fatal [2457] accidents on the roads and streets of this country within the last 12 months or so.

There is just one other matter to which I should like to draw the Minister's attention. It concerns the treatment of prisoners who are convicted of what I would call very minor offences. I have a case in mind of one man who was sent to prison for contempt of court. His contempt consisted in resisting certain orders made in connection with a sewer underneath his house. The man was several weeks in prison and he told me that he had to mix with people who had been convicted of very serious crimes. He did not think that was fair at all and neither did I. I spoke to a lawyer about this some time ago and the lawyer said to me: “Look here, that man was convicted of the greatest crime that is known to the law. He was convicted of contempt of court.” I do not think the punishment in that case fitted the crime. There are a number of other individuals in the community who suffer in that way, namely, street traders. I have been concerned about these people for some time. They are a very hard-working, decent body. For some time they have been subjected to extraordinary fines, fines of £3 and £4. You might as well subject them to a fine of £3,000. They cannot pay it. They have to go to jail. Sometimes they go to jail for 14 days, sometimes for a month. They tell me that they have to mix with women whose characters are not of the best or have not been of the best for a long time. I do not think that is right and I submit the Minister should look into it. Surely certain classes should exist in the jails, so that people who are convicted of crimes which do not affect their character should be treated differently from those who are convicted of crimes which do affect their character. That is all I have to say in regard to the Estimate. I submit my grievances to the Minister and I hope he will take action to remedy them.

Mr. Morrissey: There are just a few points which I should like to put to the Minister. Deputy Dr. O'Higgins referred to one of the points which I [2458] intended to raise, and in regard to which I hope that we shall have an answer from the Minister, namely, the factors which enter into the determination of whether certain cases are to be brought before the ordinary courts or the Military Tribunal. It is a matter which has been commented on, that certain cases which appeared glaringly to be cases which should be brought before the Military Tribunal were brought before the ordinary civil courts, whereas other cases which seemed to be cases which should have been brought before the civil authority were brought before the Military Tribunal. As I say, it would be no harm if we had from the Minister some information on that point. I want to get from the Minister also some information as to the circumstances under which meetings or processions can be proclaimed or prohibited on the ground that they may lead to breaches of the peace. We have had certain demonstrations and processions proclaimed by the present Government on the ground that if they were allowed they would inevitably lead to breaches of the peace. These prohibitions, so far as I know, were applied to one organisation and one organisation only by the present Government. We have had other organisations, which, so far as I know, do not commend themselves to very many people in this country, allowed to hold meetings and demonstrations which any person, even outside the Department of Justice or the Gárda Síochána, would know must inevitably lead to breaches of the peace. We have had one such demonstration that very nearly led to very serious crime and serious personal injury. There was at least a possibility of loss of life.

I am prepared to go as far as anybody to see that all organisations will get full freedom in putting their point of view before the people, but there is a certain school of thought in this country which I do not think should be allowed to proclaim their particular teachings in this country. I think we should know where the Department stands in regard to that particular organisation. That organisation is working in many ways. Again, I [2459] should like to know from the Minister whether reports have been received by his Department of the activities of certain persons who are travelling through this country circulating certain literature. It may be known to Deputies here, and it certainly has been reported to me from many parts of my constituency, that gentlemen, not natives of this country, are travelling throughout the country distributing and selling certain books which in some cases have been seized from them and have been denounced by clergymen in particular parishes. These books, to say the least of it, were books that should not, in my opinion, be allowed to be circulated or sold in this country.

Mr. MacDermot: What sort of books?

Mr. Morrissey: Communist, if you like. I saw some of them. They were brought to me by the person at whose house they had been left and I did not believe that anything like those doctrines would be put between the covers of a book. Certain clergymen had some of these books submitted to them and it is safe to say that they were shocked. I want to know whether the Minister has had those matters brought to his attention. I should also like to know whether the Minister has any definite information as to the extent of the Communist organisation in this country and its allied organisations or offshoots. Is he in a position to inform us whether or not the Communist organisation is making any advance; whether there is an increase in the membership; whether there are reports made by the members of the detective force, and whether the same close supervision is kept over that organisation and the same enthusiasm displayed in cramping its style as was shown in the case of another organisation? The Minister knows well to what organisation I am referring. The Government ought to show at least as much anxiety to clip the wings of this organisation as they showed to clip the wings of another organisation which, in my opinion, did not at all merit the attention which the Government [2460] so kindly gave it. I should like if the Minister would assure us that steps are being taken to ensure that no more of this dirty literature to which I have referred, and which must have been the subject of report from members of the Gárda Síochána, will be circulated. It was distributed in a number of districts in the South of Ireland. A number of people were engaged in the distribution, and in at least two cases the supplies were seized by civilians and destroyed. I do not think that that is a desirable way of dealing with the matter. I do not think that that duty should have to be undertaken by civilians. I think it is a matter for the Guards. Whatever steps are to be taken to put an end to that sort of thing should be taken by State forces and not by civilians.

Mr. MacDermot: I hope I shall not be suspected of being a Communist when I say that I do not regard it as a crime to be a Communist. If the literature to which Deputy Morrissey has just been referring is merely Communist propaganda without being indecent or in some other way criminal——

Mr. Morrissey: If it were what is known as Communist propaganda— propaganda at which I have been looking for the last 16 or 17 years—I should not have mentioned it in the House.

Mr. MacDermot: I am glad to get that matter cleared up. As I propose in the short remarks I have to make to criticise the Government for lack of backbone, I want to make clear at the outset that I am not in favour of any Governmental efforts to stifle free speech. I consider that people ought not to be allowed to advocate the overthrow of the State by force but, short of that, it seems to me that no sort of political opinion ought to be stifled by the Government. Indeed, as I read our Constitution, it would be entirely unconstitutional for the Government to do anything of the kind.

I intend to support this motion for referring back the Estimate of the Department of Justice for reconsideration. I intend to support it primarily because I am extremely dissatisfied [2461] with the record of the Government in regard to political murder. There have been three cold-blooded and most brutal political murders in the course of the last year and a half for which nobody has been brought to book, or looks like being brought to book. All the Minister can do to-night in dealing with this subject is to get up and say impressively that the Government do not intend to tolerate such things or to tolerate the organisations that do such things. While general statements of that sort are welcome, so far as they go, the fact remains that these things have occurred and, as I submit, the Government is largely to blame for their having occurred.

We were not able, at the time, to have full discussion of the More O'Ferrall case in the House because certain people were under arrest and the Minister excused himself from dealing with the subject with any thoroughness on that account. The More O'Ferrall case has a considerable bearing on the Somerville case and the Egan case. I think it is worth our while, therefore, to refresh our memories about it to-night. It will be recollected that down in Edgeworthstown there had been a strong agitation for a reduction of the town tenants' rents —an agitation that had been conducted, in the first instance, on ordinary, constitutional lines, an agitation which had called in the assistance of the Deputies for the constituency. The High Court of Justice, which was responsible for the administration of that particular estate, decided against the views of the people who were engaged in that agitation and they, thereupon, quite openly and by resolution which appeared in the newspapers, called the organisation known as the I.R.A. to their aid. The Government was quite aware of that fact. The emissaries of that organisation, known as the I.R.A., arrived in the town——

Mr. Victory: If Deputy MacDermot will allow me, I want to say that the Deputy is wrong in saying that the town did not accept the Chief Justice's decision, because they did accept it.

Mr. MacDermot: I am not talking of the last decision of the Chief Justice. I suppose the Deputy is referring to [2462] the recent reduction given by the Chief Justice. The original decision not to reduce came from the Chief Justice through Mr. More O'Ferrall. The people were dissatisfied with that decision. They were dissatisfied with the result of constitutional agitation, and they, therefore, embarked on something stronger. As I was just saying, the emissaries of that organisation, known as the I.R.A., arrived. They made very inflammatory and threatening speeches; they recruited, they drilled and they had the whole district in an uproar for a period of months. The Government was kept fully informed by the police of what was going on. They received notes of the speeches made, and what did they do? They did nothing beyond, I believe, offering to guard Mr. More O'Ferrall when actually collecting the rents and only when collecting the rents. The result was that feeling got more and more worked up in the district and eventually that particularly brutal crime of which we all know was committed. Then the Government, whether or not as a result of the pressure applied in this House —I give them the benefit of the doubt and presume they would have acted as they did in any event—showed a certain amount of activity. After the deed was done they showed a certain amount of eagerness to obtain such evidence as would enable them to prosecute successfully. But they have failed to convict anybody of that crime. Can we be surprised at their failure?

Can we be surprised that people are slow to take the risk of coming forward to give evidence when they had before their eyes the spectacle of the weakness and subserviency of the Government themselves during a period of months before the crime occurred? I do not purpose to comment on the actual details of the More O'Ferrall case other than to say that it is to me a complete mystery why that case was not sent before the Military Tribunal. If there is any ground for having the Military Tribunal at all in this country it is that it is needed for the trial of political murder cases. If there is any sort of case that is unlikely to be well tried by an ordinary jury in this country it is the political murder case. If the Military Tribunal [2463] is not to be given the responsibility of dealing with political murder cases the Military Tribunal might just as well be swept away. What happened in the More O'Ferrall case? What happened before the murder and what happened after the murder? The whole course of the Government's dealing with the circumstances of that murder combined to constitute a sort of Magna Charta for political murderers in this country. I have not the smallest doubt that the murders of Admiral Somerville and John Egan are the consequences of the failure of the Government to deal adequately with that agitation in Edgeworthstown and to deal adequately with the problems raised in the course of seeking to arrest and convict the parties who were guilty of that murder.

I wish to echo the question put to the Minister by Deputy O'Higgins and Deputy Morrissey. That question is: What is the principle upon which a decision is taken as to whether a case is to go before an ordinary jury or whether it is to go before the Military Tribunal? I can conceive of only one respectable principle and that is, the sort of case that should go to the Military Tribunal is the sort of case in which intimidation is likely in the case of an ordinary jury. Heaven knows it is hard enough, in view of the extraordinary weakness that has been shown for years towards illegal and revolutionary organisations, to get the evidence that is necessary in order to convict anybody of a crime of that sort without having the additional difficulty of a tribunal that is afraid or unwilling to convict in political cases. I hope the Minister will not forget to deal with that question—what is the principle upon which criminal cases are sent to the Military Tribunal or sent to the ordinary courts?

Now there is another question that I want to put. We have heard these references to the organisation known as the Irish Republican Army, that it is an illegal organisation. If that be the view of its status, why is not the obvious course taken of declaring it to be an illegal organisation under the Public Safety Act? It is all very well [2464] when a case gets into court or when the subject is raised here in the Dáil to talk loosely of its being an illegal organisation. But is that view of the case made plain in advance to the young men who might be tempted to join it? When the young men of the country see the Irish Republican Army parading through the streets or along the country road in military formation, when they see them holding celebrations at cemeteries and elsewhere, when they see them in all the glory and panoply of military array, how can they be expected to take seriously these allusions to the organisation as illegal? Deputy O'Higgins has talked of an organisation of that kind obtaining more respect from the country people than the law itself. If that is so, surely it is largely the fault of the Government? Surely, if they are justified in coming in here and saying that the organisation is illegal, or if they are justified in saying so, now and again, in court—and perhaps the next day in court saying something that seems to contradict that statement— surely they ought to take the obvious course, and that would be to issue a warning to the young people and declare in advance that the organisation is unlawful so that the young people would know from the start where they stand with regard to it? That is the second question which I put to the Minister. I ask him to give some explanation as to why that simple and straightforward course is not taken. Too often throughout the countryside the rank and file of the Government Party—the Fianna Fáil clubs and so forth—are constantly truckling to the Irish Republican Army, trying to retain the favour of the extreme element who belong to that organisation. As long as that sort of thing goes on you cannot expect to have a proper state of public opinion about these matters. Surely the parting of the ways has now come. If the Government have any sense of their duty to the people of this country at all they must put an end to that.

Now, when I call for clarification of their attitude in this matter it is not from any spirit of vindictiveness towards the peope who compose the [2465] I.R.A. I think, for the sake of the decency and safety of life in this country, for the sake of democracy, for the sake of the ordinary citizen, and especially the ordinary citizen in remote and deserted parts of the country, that crime and intimidation of that kind must be stopped. But to be perfectly honest about the matter, I do not think it is a case in which it is reasonable to feel nothing but anger and vindictiveness against the people in the I.R.A. who engage in such activities. I think—and here again I have to allot a very large portion of blame to the Government— that a great deal of the fault in regard to these occurrences lies in the general policy of the Government. That is a matter I cannot deal with adequately on this Vote; it is rather a matter for the President's Vote, I suppose. But I can just say this, that so long as the Government keeps up this pretence of being in the British Empire under constraint, so long excuses can be found for political crimes in this country. These young men are not able to make the subtle distinctions that the Government's policy expects of them. So long as we go on saying that we are compelled by force to remain in the British Empire, so long will a certain number of people in this country fail to see any great difference between the act of those who shot down Admiral Somerville and the act of those, shall we say, who dragged out Alan Bell from a tramcar in Ballsbridge and shot him down.

If the Government want to stamp out political crime in this country, they must in the first place administer justice with far greater firmness and consistency than they have done since they came into office and, in the second place, they must make a fundamental change in their national policy. They must cease to keep up these pretences that we are being compelled by some external force to stay in the British Empire and they must give the people the opportunity of deciding whether to go out of that Empire or to accept it and all its implications with loyalty and goodwill.

General Mulcahy: The Minister made [2466] a statement to-night which should be supplemented, in view of our past experience, by some additional statement. We should like to hear emphatically from the Minister that he is going to adopt a policy in future that will enable the ordinary person in the country, going about his business in the ordinary way, to be free from interference of any kind by organised parties who, as he indicated to-night, take the power of life and death in their hands or take the power of organised interference with people in in their hands. There is a method of interfering in small ways with people's comforts and people's amenities; there is a way of keeping people cowed by making them feel they are under observation by a particular class of person. Only comparatively recently have we seen incidents of this particular kind. The Minister makes a very sweeping statement which, as has been pointed out, is to some extent a reversal of the attitude taken up by the Attorney-General when advising some people in the courts quite recently.

I have particulars here of a case that occurred on the 3rd June. A party of five men drove up in a motor car on a Sunday afternoon and stopped outside the house of a person who gave very distinguished service as an officer in the pre-Truce Volunteers and later in the National Army. Two of them intruded into this man's house, where they found him with his wife and a friend. They began interfering by demanding tea, and when they were told it was not a restaurant they began to abuse the man of the house, charged him with having given service in the National Army, threatened him, said that they were the I.R.A., assaulted his friend and generally created a very ugly and disturbing situation in the man's home. They said they were soldiers of the I.R.A. When the case was brought to the courts, the superintendent asked to have both accused bound to the peace for 12 months.

If the Minister is going to pursue such a policy as is reflected by the attituude of the superintendent in West Cork, that when people announce themselves as members of the I.R.A. and intrude into a private house with [2467] the object of interfering with the owner and using very bad language, according to the superintendent—if the policy to be pursued is to allow that sort of thing to go on and have people simply bound to the peace for 12 months for doing it, then the Minister is only leaving a spawning ground for major actions such as have been mentioned here to-night. If the Minister was speaking honestly to the House to-night he would go further and he would make it quite clear that people will not be interfered with, with impunity, in that particular way.

He should also make it clear to the Guards that he expects detached and loyal service from them. The Minister is quite well aware that when this Government came into office they stuffed the Guards with a particular type of recruit who would be useful and convenient for their immediate political purpose. They had to raise all kinds of scares in the country to cover their action. They had to pretend that a Minister of the former Government went to Glasgow, saw a British Minister there, and was [2468] endeavouring to get arms to bring over here to dislodge the Government elected here by the people. They had to raise scares of that kind to cover the action that they took at that time by recruiting particular types of men into the Guards. At the top throughout the country they made promotions that were intended to be of a political kind and without reference to the efficiency or integrity of the men concerned; promotions were made at various stages throughout the Guards purely on political grounds. It would be useless now to go into the matter, but I do say that the morale of the Guards has been seriously injured as a result of that, and the Minister must make it clear that in future he is going to look on the Guards as an instrument of the State completely detached from politics, carrying out, above all, one special duty, and that is the duty of the protection of the people. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; the Committee to sit again to-morrow.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 17th June.