Dáil Éireann - Volume 349 - 10 April, 1984

Criminal Justice Bill, 1983: Committee Stage.

SECTION 1.

Question proposed: “That Section 1 stand part of the Bill.”

Dr. Woods: I take it that the Minister has nothing to say at this stage about this section. The section states:

This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as may be fixed therefor by order or orders of the Minister for Justice either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so fixed for different purposes and different provisions of this Act.

The Minister said that the Government decided, on his recommendation, that those provisions of the Bill giving increased powers to the Garda Síochána, which will only come into operation when a ministerial order to that effect, is made, would not be brought into force until a complaints procedure involving an assessment by an independent person or tribunal has been established. He said it had not yet been established whether legislation would be necessary to establish such a procedure or whether it could be introduced, at least in the first instance, on an administrative basis. The Minister then said that if legislation was necessary it would, in any event, have to be a separate Bill as the present Bill was concerned with the criminal law and procedure and could not appropriately deal with non-criminal procedures.

At the time we said this was a most unusual statement given the fact that the British criminal justice Bill — the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill — includes a complaints procedures at page 67. I find it hard to understand why this Bill does not include a complaints procedure. The [1595] Minster promised that one would be introduced in due course. I put down an amendment, No. 48, which proposed a draft Garda Síochána complaints commission. At 3.30 p.m. today I received a notice from the Ceann Comhairle to the effect that my amendment was ruled out of order as it was considered not to be relevant to the provisions of the Bill as read a Second Time. I find this hard to understand. A complaints procedures was mentioned in the Bill at its Second Reading. The Minister promised a complaints procedure in his speech and I would have thought it was relevant to put forward an amendment to this section which would cover that and which would allow a discussion on that procedure.

In reply to a question on 8 March, the Minister said that the new procedures would not be brought into operation until both Houses of the Oireachtas had an opportunity to discuss them. He also said that he expected to be in a position to inform the House of the proposals in the near future. He said that indications are that the scheme will be a statutory one. I am quite amazed that the Chair has decided to rule out of order the section which includes a complaints procedure.

Section 1 raises serious questions about the commencement of this Bill in the House in the first instance. I would like the Minister to tell us the present position in regard to the complaints procedure. The last information we have was given on 8 March when the Minister said that the indications were that the scheme would be a statutory one. I would like to make our position very clear on the commencement of the Bill. Sections in this Bill are very valuable and will have the support of almost all Members in the House and about these there is no concern. Naturally, we are anxious to see them brought into operation as soon as possible. They include such measures as majority verdicts, matters relating to alibis and the question of consecutive sentences. There may be different views about these. There is the question of improving the administration of the courts by way of allowing, in section 20, proof by written statement. There is the [1596] question of trial procedure and notice of alibi in trials on indictment. There are quite a series of them.

Concern arises on matters such as the increased powers given to the Garda and I want to clarify our position on this. We are prepared to grant these increased powers to the Garda. We trust the Garda as a body to use their powers appropriately, but at the same time we feel that there must be an acceptance of the fact that there should be adequate safeguards against the abuse of these powers. While in the course of discussions on this Committee Stage we will propose amendments to the Minister for his consideration in relation to the regulations which he is considering bringing forward in regard to the complaints commission, we will do this in the spirit and context of our supporting the basic principle that the Garda need additional powers at this time and that adequate safeguards should be provided against abuse of these powers. Of course we would prefer to see either the regulations, or as much information on the regulations as can be provided, put down and indicated clearly by the Minister here in the House, and we would like to see the complaints procedure which the Minister has promised put down in conjunction with the Bill. We see no reason why it cannot be included in the Bill. We would like to hear from the Minister in relation to that.

Mr. G. Mitchell: On section 1, the commencement of the Bill, we have been screaming blue murder for a very long time for the introduction of legislation to deal with problems which we have been led to believe can be solved by legislation. I want to be fair in what I say here and I do not want to be unfair to anybody, particularly those who are not here to defend themselves. However, we have allowed ourselves to be pushed around to the extent of being led to believe that legislation on its own will solve the problems we are facing. It will not. This must be stage 1 of a series of attacks on the problem of crime facing this city and society generally. I was interested to read in The Irish Times of this morning that we have now very nearly three times as [1597] many gardaí per head of the population as Norway has, and the answer to all the problems in this House in regard to crime which are not dealt with by legislation is usually that we will recruit 500 additional gardaí.

I hope that we can debate the Bill in a balanced, reasoned and fair manner, and I tell people who feel that they are being hounded that nobody in this House intends to hound anybody. We are merely out to solve the problem of crime and in so far as this legislation is necessary the onus is on the House and on each of us here present to ensure that this legislation, which is very strong but generally speaking very necessary, is balanced, that the Oireachtas enacts something which is in the interests of the community and that we do not enact those sections of the Bill which we do not believe to be in the interests of the community. I note that the commencement will depend on an order from the Minister for Justice and I hope that he will soon be in a position to inform the House when the complaints tribunal will come into operation. I understand that the order for the Bill to be enacted will await that tribunal.

I said on an earlier Stage of the Bill that I had reservations about certain of its sections. I want to explain those as the Bill proceeds. Generally speaking, the House must accept that, given the difficulties that exist, on balance we need some form of legislation but as part and parcel of the problem we must ensure that the 11,000-odd gardaí who are now engaged by the State are properly deployed, trained and managed and properly involved in the community. We must all realise the necessity for this as well as of bringing in legislation which deals with the technical aspects of detention and such matters.

Mr. De Rossa: At this early stage in this Bill I want to make clear that Deputy Mac Giolla and I do not support the Bill, for very serious reasons. We consider it an over-reaction to a demand by the Garda for greater powers. The Minister will be aware of the serious disquiet expressed by very significant sections of people outside this House, including the [1598] trade unions, groups of social workers, organisations of social workers, residents' and tenants' associations and the legal profession, and it seems that no serious attempt has been made to consult with any of these sections of public opinion before preparing the Bill. The Minister has introduced various amendments which we will be discussing as we go along but it is my considered opinion that the amendments do not affect materially the whole thrust of this Bill.

Although the Minister has stated that he does not see the Bill as the only response to crime in our society, on the face of it it is the only response so far from the Government in relation to crime, and until such time as we see other responses by the Government we can only assume that this is their only response and they do not appear to have any other answers.

I do not propose to go into much detail, but it is significant that one of the amendments introduced by the Minister seeks to limit certain sections to five years. This is an admission——

Acting Chairman (Mr. Carey): I do not want to interrupt, but I remind Deputy De Rossa that when we come to these sections he can deal with these matters.

Mr. De Rossa: I understand. I want to make the point that I feel that there is an admission implicit in the Minister's amendments that this is emergency-type legislation. It is not satisfactory that we should be introducing legislation here and using generally the most deprived section of our population as guinea-pigs for the next five years to see how these draconian measures will or will not work.

Mr. L.T. Cosgrave: I refer to section 1 (1) of the Bill in relation to the Minister making an order in due course for provisions of the Bill to take effect. He stated on Second Stage that certain sections will not come in until an adequate complaints procedure is in operation. He indicated recently that this will be statutory and will require certain legislation to be passed through this House. What stage has it reached? We are now almost into [1599] the Easter recess. Is it expected that the Bill will be completed before the Summer recess or will it still be before us into the autumn? While there are many and differing views being expressed in regard to the Bill, if we are to delay its passage we will be only putting off further the date of the coming into operation of its provisions. I appreciate that there is a need for discussion with various groups and bodies before the Bill is finalised but it is the duty of us here to put legislation through. Obviously, any provision of the Bill could be reviewed from time to time should the need so arise. The five-year provision in relation to a review is a good idea. Perhaps we could apply such a provision also in respect of other pieces of legislation because there is a need for reviewing legislation from time to time.

I should like the Minister to tell the House also what the situation is in regard to the complaints procedure. I understand that the legislation in that regard is fairly well advanced but until it is before the House we are not in a position to make an order in relation to subsection (1).

Mr. O'Dea: I think there is agreement on all sides of the House regarding the seriousness of the crime problem and the need to take some action to deal with it. However, any reasonable person viewing this legislation objectively would agree with Deputy Woods' suggestion that we need to know the sort of complaints procedure we are to have before we continue to debate this legislation. It would be meaningless to debate the Bill in isolation from the legislation to set up the complaints procedure. It should form an integral part of the Criminal Justice Bill.

I agree, too, with Deputies on the other side of the House who say that the crime problem cannot be solved by way of legislation alone but there are many changes that are needed if we are to improve the situation. There are many legislative changes that need to be made in conjunction with other changes if we are to begin to solve the problem. This Bill contains proposals for implementing [1600] many desirable and long overdue legislative changes.

The Bill proposes to give wide-ranging powers to the Garda. Surely it is unreasonable that we debate those powers here without knowing what the situation is to be in regard to checks and balances on the other side. We should be aware of the constraints that will operate in so far as the exercise by the Garda of those powers is concerned. Therefore, it is a meaningless exercise to debate this Bill in isolation from the provisions of the complaints tribunal procedure. That is why I urge the Minister to give serious consideration to our suggestion to place before the House, prior to our going on to debate this legislation in detail, the terms under which the complaints tribunal will be established.

Mr. Skelly: In view of the way this Bill was introduced, that there was no opportunity for public debate on what is the most important review of the criminal law to take place for a long time, I should like to draw on the goodwill of the Minister as expressed in his Second Stage speech and to which he has referred on a number of occasions since, both inside and outside the House, and even as recently as during the week. The Minister said he will listen carefully to what Members have to say in regard to any change that might be made in the Bill. During the Committee Stage it may be necessary to draw on the Minister's goodwill because some very good arguments may be put forward for making changes in the Bill.

It is provided that sections 3 to 8 and 14 to 18 shall cease to be in operation unless there is passed by both Houses a resolution to the contrary. I presume the reference is to any one of those sections but I should like clarification on that. That proposal alone needs to be debated because of the wide-ranging and worrying proposals in the Bill. Should some of the sections prove to be unworkable, a five-year period might be too long. There is also the factor of not knowing what the mechanism is to be in regard to the complaints procedure or when that procedure is to be put into operation. By being [1601] asked to agree to the five-year period, we are being asked to put a lot of trust in the legislation working effectively and properly. It would be my view that we should have the right at any time to change any part of the legislation.

Acting Chairman: That matter may be discussed when we reach amendment No 1.

Mr. Skelly: Are we not on that amendment?

Acting Chairman: We are on the section.

Mr. Skelly: I would remind the Minister of what he has said in regard to listening carefully to arguments in the House for amending various sections of the Bill.

Mr. Briscoe: We on this side of the House do not consider this Bill to be in any sense an over-reaction to the present situation. We welcome the Bill but, having said that, the Minister will appreciate that we will be expressing certain reservations in regard to some of the Bill's provisions. However, we disagree totally with The Workers' Party that the Bill is an over-reaction. The Garda welcome the setting up of the tribunal and are happy that safeguards are being built into this legislation. I do not see the legislation as being a case of the legislators versus the Garda. We are giving to the Garda changes they have been seeking for a long time.

Obviously, the Committee Stage of the Bill will be lengthy. Before resuming my seat I should like to make the point that not since coming here in 1965 have I seen so many Members present for, and participating in, a Committee Stage debate. That in itself is an indication of the importance of this legislation. The Minister may expect to be here for a long time but I hope we will be able to complete the legislation before the Summer recess, as the Bill is very important. I hope the Minister will regard everything being said from this side of the House as constructive because we are anxious that at the [1602] end of the day the Bill will be better than it was as introduced.

Mr. Shatter: I wish to make two very brief comments on section 1. To take the point made by Deputy Skelly, I hope the Minister will regard the proceedings before the House on Committee Stage with the generosity of approach that he adopted on Second Stage when he indicated that he would take Deputies' comments seriously and be willing to consider redrafting sections if concrete arguments were made for doing so in certain areas.

As we go through the Bill there will be certain sections to which I intend to refer and which I hope the Minister will reconsider. I also share the concern expressed by other Deputies, and it is worth reiterating, that the complaints procedure commission should be brought into being quickly in fairness to the Garda and to the general public, because there is much that is good in the Bill which I would like to see operative as soon as possible even though there are some sections about which I am worried. Many sections of this Bill are very desirable. They depend on a ministerial order. I hope they will come into force quickly so that offences committed by persons on bail and other areas, such as majority verdicts, can be dealt with to operate within the law without undue delay.

I wish to draw the Minister's attention to the draftsmanship of section 1. One does not normally have long debates on a section like this which largely gives the Minister powers to introduce sections by way of ministerial order but there are two drafting errors in the Bill and I am not sure whether the parliamentary draftsman or the Minister is necessarily aware of them. One of them arises due to an amendment which the Minister is proposing. He proposes to delete section 12 as contained in the original Bill. My understanding is that that section, which relates to road traffic offences, is being incorporated in road traffic legislation emanating from the Department of the Environment. If section 12 is to be deleted, surely under section 1 (2) the reference to section 12 should also be deleted? The Minister is proposing the [1603] deletion of the existing section and its replacement by an entirely different section. It seems appropriate that there should be an amendment tabled in conjunction with that contained in section 12 to delete the reference to section 12 from section 1 (2) of the Bill.

There is another important matter to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention because we must be anxious to get this legislation constitutionally correct and to ensure that it makes the criminal law certain and does not give rise to complicated criminal law cases in which technical law is argued to enable people in a sense to evade responsibility for wrongdoing. In this context I refer the Minister to sections 9 and 11 of the Bill and raise the question as to whether those two sections should be referred to in section 1 (2) of the Bill. Possibly section 9 does not need to be because of its phraseology which means it will not come into force or have any effect until the ministerial order brings it into force. Perhaps, for completeness, it should be referred to in section 1 (2), but it may not be necessary.

However, it is necessary that section 11 should be referred to in section 1 (2) because if it is not the bringing into force of that section could result in somebody being held liable to a criminal charge for behaviour of which we may disapprove. Section 11 makes it a criminal offence to fail to turn up in court when required to do so. In a sense that is a new criminal offence. Nevertheless, we would have great difficulty constitutionally in making a criminal offence retrospective if it was not a criminal offence at the time it was committed. I support section 11, as I said on the Second Stage debate, but for it to be constitutionally sound we should possibly replace the reference in the Bill in section 1 (2) to section 12, in the light of the Minister's amendment, with a reference to section 11 instead. That could get around technical legal problems of a constitutional nature which could arise upon the Minister making the order. It will be necessary to bring that section into force.

Mr. Tunney: I do not propose to delay the House on any particular matter. Initially, [1604] I welcomed this legislation and at present I am quite happy with the bulk of it. I have no doubt that the public are waiting anxiously for the implementation of laws which would help them to go about their business in a fashion appropriate to organised and civilised society.

I was quite happy earlier on in respect of the legislation proposed that the Minister had indicated that there was, concurrent with this, a provision for complaints procedures. It has become fashionable nowadays to knock the Garda. I appreciate and fully accept that without the Garda we would be all the poorer. On the other hand, I accept, as in all human institutions, that where there is a body of 11,000 people it is inevitable that the misbehaviour of one or two of them can reflect on the whole force. That happens in every profession — legal, teaching, medical and so on. I know that 99 per cent of the Garda are concerned because they are being criticised in the wrong. I imagine they welcomed the announcement by the Minister that it was his intention to set up a complaints procedure as a result of which it would be possible to refute false accusations or to confirm an allegation made against a member of the Garda.

If we are to proceed towards the implementation of this legislation we must recognise that the Garda have said they are displeased because some of the sections have been withdrawn. They will be further disappointed if they hear that it is not intended to set up a complaints procedure in the near future. I know the vast majority of people would welcome such a complaints procedure and that is borne out by the fact that representatives of all the major parties accept the spirit of the legislation even though they may have reservations about certain aspects. The Minister should indicate the precise position regarding the complaints procedure to which he has referred and which we were led to believe would be introduced with this legislation. I am sure that the 99 per cent of the Garda who carry out their duties in a conscientious, industrious and intelligent fashion are anxious to see this complaints procedure adopted. It will be a mechanism by which [1605] those people who have been making false allegations against the Garda Síochána can be shown up or, more positively, it will be an opportunity to allow anyone who considers himself badly treated by those charged with the duty of executing the laws to have these allegations confirmed. I consider it useless for us to proceed further unless the Minister indicates the position in that regard.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Committee Stage allows every Member of the House to examine in detail every line, every section, every subsection, every amendment and every suggested change in the legislation before the House. I consider the Bill we are dealing with now to be one of the most urgent and important measures and for that reason, I wish to refer to the verbal undertaking given by the Minister that he will listen attentively to views expressed by Members of the House and that he will give full consideration to them. I hope that as a result of views expressed here the Minister will not do anything to take the teeth out of the Bill.

I wish to make the point that there is not one single copy of the Bill available in the General Office or in the Stores Office and this shows the importance attached to the measure by Members of this House, the general public and by the various organisations seeking the protection of life and property. All interested bodies sought copies of the Bill. As usual, Deputies got one copy and in many cases they loaned that copy to people who had observations to make on it. I wish to protest that sufficient copies of the Bill were not available for Members of the House and I ask the Minister to take the necessary steps, irrespective of cost, to ensure that this matter is rectified. The Committee Stage of this Bill will not be concluded hastily and Deputies need copies of the Bill to allow them to make comments on the sections.

This Bill has been described by people outside this House as an undemocratic Bill and the Minister has been criticised wrongly in relation to it. I put the point to the Minister that if the teeth are taken out of the Bill to any degree we will weaken the law. Any citizen who keeps [1606] the law need not be afraid of this Bill. There is nothing in it for anyone to fear except those people who are running away from the law and who are putting life and property in danger. Only those involved in crime need fear this Bill. The main purpose of the Bill is to eliminate crime from society. That is a very difficult problem and I am afraid this measure is too little, too late. In my view Irish society has broken down beyond repair but if we do not weaken the provisions of the Bill it may assist the Garda to restore some form of protection for life and property.

There have been objections to various sections of the Bill. The Minister said it was not a normal Bill but we are not living in normal times. If times are abnormal, then it will take abnormal actions and legislation to deal with them. If Members of this House see that there are infringements on the rights of citizens, there is nothing to stop them when times become normal of requesting the Minister for Justice to remove the objectionable sections. However, I do not see any objectionable sections in the Bill. Too many of our people are complaining about robberies, about car thefts and about threat to life.

The Minister has power to make ministerial orders but this is not done without a serious reason. I wish to make the following point on this matter. There are many minor traffic offences such as not displaying a tax disc or of having a worn tyre which could not be described as offences of a serious character. I realise that some traffic offences are serious, for instance, a person under the influence of drink in charge of a vehicle, but most minor offences are committed without the full and complete knowledge of the owner of the vehicle.

I hope the Minister will ensure that in the event of a ministerial order to be made under this legislation it will be done in consultation with the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána or an officer so appointed by the Commissioner to consult with the Minister. The Minister should indicate to the Garda authorities the purpose of an order he intends making. If all legislation is to be introduced [1607] by way of ministerial order it will make a farce of the House. Ministerial orders should be made only in the case of an emergency, where it is not possible to permit a parliamentary debate. Such a system takes from Parliament its right to debate legislation and question a Minister. It also takes from Members the responsibility they have to their constituents. Ministerial orders should be introduced in serious circumstances only and following consultation with the Garda Commissioner or an officer appointed by him to enter into consultations with the Minister.

The Garda Síochána was established to safeguard life and property, to protect the public and to be a friend of the people. While the members of the Force have a duty to protect life and property we must give them the power and authority to do so. I preached that when I was a Minister and I am still preaching it. I should like to warn the House to be careful about what is said in relation to the lessening of the powers of the Garda in present circumstances. Ministerial orders should be introduced only to give the necessary power and authority for full investigations by the Garda in their efforts to prevent crime, to investigate crime or to ensure that those responsible for crime are, for their own safety and the safety of the public, dealt with as the law stipulates. I look forward to hearing the Minister's views on the making of ministerial orders.

There is a genuine expression of goodwill from all sides of the House for the steps the Minister is taking. I cannot feel extremely critical about any provisions in the Bill and I expect to express certain views about all sections. Without this legislation Irish society will not be able to carry on for too much longer. I am convinced that the Minister realises the necessity for this legislation. The number of occasions when the Garda overstepped their duty when dealing with problems are few. The Minister should give his full support to every effort by the Garda to implement the laws which are clearly designed to protect the public and safeguard life and property. Since the State [1608] was founded every Minister has given the Garda that support and co-operation. I have no doubt that one of the reasons for bringing forward these provisions is to protect the good-living public who are crying out for such measures. I am sure the Minister will approach all sections in a commonsense way and will bear in mind at all times that the protection of the public is paramount. I have no doubt that he will ensure that as far as the Garda are concerned they will not be handcuffed or blindfolded by legislation.

Mr. Molony: On a point of order, I was reluctant to interrupt Deputy Flanagan but I should like to know if it is in order to have the type of speeches we have heard from some Deputies on section 1. We have been debating the section for almost one hour and, frankly, I submit that some of the long contributions, given with the greatest sincerity, are not in order given that we are on Committee Stage.

Acting Chairman: I take the Deputy's point. Each Member should realise that we are dealing with section 1 which refers to the date when the Bill will come into operation. Deputies should refrain from making Second Stage speeches and deal with the section.

Mr. Mac Giolla: I dealt at length with the provisions in the Bill on Second Stage on 12 November last. On that occasion I outlined the view of my party on the provisions and pointed out that the legislation will not deal with the problem it was intended to deal with. It has been said that all other parties support the general thrust of the Bill but my attention has been drawn to the fact that there are no Members of the Labour Party present to indicate if they support the main thrust of the Bill, if they support its provisions at all, if they are opposed to them or what their general attitude is. It is unfortunate that they are not present to indicate their attitude.

I should like to refer to the promised complaints procedure. One would have thought that since the Second Stage debate commenced last November we [1609] would have had the outline of a complaints procedure before us when dealing with Committee Stage. That would have been helpful. The idea of a complaints procedure is to give the community confidence in the Garda and so that allegations can be investigated and answered. The bill is not designed to improve community confidence in the Garda without other procedures being available with it.

Widespread efforts are being made at present by communities to get the Garda involved in combating crime and lawlessness but the Bill does not deal with the community relations or the community policing aspect. A complaints procedure is an important factor in promoting community confidence in the Garda.

It is a pity that the Minister is not in a position to put before the House regulations in regard to detention and so on, as promised in another section. If that were put before us we would have a much better idea of what precisely will happen when the Bill becomes law.

Miss Flaherty: I should like the Minister to reaffirm categorically his commitment that under the powers given to him in this section he will not bring the Bill into law until the independent complaints procedure has been established. I had understood that that would be the case but from discussions since it seems there is some question about that. I suggest that the Minister should make every effort to have the Bill passed as soon as possible because the powers in it are necessary. As well, there is general public expectation in relation to the Bill which goes far beyond the powers that the Bill will provide. The Bill will have only a limited contribution to make to combating the levels of crime in this city, and the sooner the public realise this the sooner the time of the Department of Justice and the Garda will be freed so that they can concentrate on other areas.

The Bill is important in itself. The powers it will give are needed and it has wide public acceptance. I represent a constituency that has its share of crime and criminals and there the Bill will be widely welcomed. Therefore I urge the Minister [1610] to move as quickly as possible. The Bill is a good one and it needs a good complaints procedure that will have the confidence of the people. I should like to know how far advanced the proposals in relation to the independent complaints procedure are and how soon we can expect to see them. The Minister can then make progress with the other matters with which he has been concerned, namely an increase in the numbers in the Garda, increased numbers on the beat which will have an important part in developing community confidence. Confidence in the Garda was lost largely because of the position of our prison system and because of loopholes in the law which rendered the Garda ineffective——

An Ceann Comhairle: This sounds like a speech I heard on Second Stage.

Miss Flaherty: I hope the Bill will be passed by this House quickly to be followed promptly by the complaints procedure.

Mr. Molony: The Minister said on television last week that the complaints tribunal would be a statute-based procedure and therefore would require legislation. Would the Minister give the House an assurance that if such a Bill is brought before the House and if the Oireachtas deems it appropriate that part of this Bill be reviewed, the Minister would be willing to look at some sections in the Bill?

Minister for Justice (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): We have been discussing this section for quite a time. It states that the Act shall not come into operation unless the Minister so orders. The Minister can order the entire Bill, or he can order it section by section or he can take a number of sections together and order them to be brought into operation. That is the only question of ministerial order that is involved. There is no question of the Minister being given other powers to make ministerial orders, or to legislate by order, or to ignore the House. A ministerial order will commence the Bill and [1611] it can be commenced in toto on one day or it can be commenced piecemeal.

There are reasons for that and the main reason is on record. There is a commitment not to bring increased Garda powers, mainly the detention provisions, into being until the new complaints procedure has been brought into operation. As well, regulations will have to be made in regard to the treatment of persons in custody, and in relation to some of the provisions it is desirable, for instance, in relation to alibi and proof by written statement, that the courts should have a period after the enactment of the Bill to make the necessary preparations. The section dealing with majority verdicts might best be brought into operation before the long vacation of the courts so as to give the Judiciary time to consider the appropriate form of direction to be given to juries.

Apart from the fact that it is the normal standard of commencement provision and that there is the possibility of snags turning up in relation to particular provisions, there are the other reasons I have outlined for not bringing in the Bill on a specified date. In other words envisage it will be brought in by ministerial orders rather than by one order.

Many Deputies have expressed concern about the commitment I gave in regard to a complaints procedure to process complaints by the public against the Garda. Last October when the Bill was published I was asked what would happen in regard to the complaints procedure and I replied that the Bill having been drafted I would proceed as quickly as possible with the complaints procedure. I have sent the heads of the procedure to the Government and the procedure will be drafted as soon as possible. In the meantime I will be having consultations with the Garda representative bodies. The time scale is somewhat longer than originally envisaged. When I spoke about it first I said it was possible it could be done by administrative procedure rather than legislation. Because of the great interest in the complaints procedure in the Dáil and in the community, and because Deputies thought of [1612] it as being a very important part of the total package of which the Criminal Justice Bill is only one part, I regard it as being better practice to enact the complaints procedure by way of legislation. I hope to get the Government's approval shortly; then it will go for drafting and will later come to the House.

A number of points made by Deputies were general statements on the principle of the Bill. I thank them for outlining their positions from their personal and their parties' points of views. Other points made will come up during debate on the different sections, under amendments and so on. Deputy Shatter raised a matter in connection with subsection (2) of this section which provides that sections 10, 12 and 13 shall not apply in relation to offences committed before the commencement of the section concerned. The Deputy drew attention to the fact that section 12 is being transferred to the Road Traffic Act and will not be discussed. My information is that the Dáil Office will make that correction without intervention by me. therefore section 12 will go automatically.

The Deputy pointed out that sections 9 and 11 were not mentioned specifically. This had been brought to my attention earlier and I considered it. It is not necessary to include section 9 (1) here because it specifically provides that a consecutive sentence for an offence committed while on bail can be imposed for an offence committed after the commencement of the section. Therefore the section contains its own commencement and it does not need to be referred to now. The other section also provides that failure to submit to bail will be a criminal offence only after the commencement of the Act. Therefore the inclusion of section 11 does not arise. They were raised by one particular group I consulted. I have looked into the matter and it is not necessary to include them in section 1.

On the general position raised, I am very glad the main Opposition party support in general and in principle the measures in this Bill. Deputy De Rossa said his party are opposed to the Bill. I am sorry to hear that. I would prefer if with serious legislation like this we could have [1613] at least the support in principle of all Deputies and all parties. Deputy De Rossa suggested that their opposition was on the grounds of an intrustion on civil liberties. We are all concerned about civil liberties but people are being deprived of fundamental liberty because of crime — the liberty to be safe in one's own home, the liberty to go into the streets day or night and feel safe from attack, especially if one is old, female or both. These are freedoms as well.

I do not want to make a Second Stage speech but in drafting this Bill we were very concerned that there would be safeguards in it of civil liberties and there is a commitment to introduce a Bill to set up a complaints procedure, with an independent element, and to bring the legislation before the House. Deputies will have an opportunity to discuss that as well.

I am sure we will have a long Committee Stage debate and that many matters will be raised. I have been asked to treat the Committee Stage with the same flexibility as I treated the Second Stage. I took on board many of the views raised in this House and tried to get the balance of this House. Obviously the ground is becoming narrower now as we move through Committee Stage. The Bill is taking shape but I will be interested in the views and advice of Deputies, and I am not ruling out amendments on Report Stage.

Dr. Woods: I am very glad the Minister agrees that there should be a statutory complaints procedure. We advised the Minister to take this step when the Bill was published. We were concerned at that time because two memoranda issued. It seemed there was some difference of opinion within the Government because it is most unusual that a second memorandum would issue saying certain parts of the Bill would not go into operation until a complaints procedure was devised. We want to see this legislation in operation. Because of the approach taken by the Minister up to now the availability of this complaints procedure has been delayed for five months. We see no reason why this complaints procedure [1614] should not be included in the present Bill. We do not accept the argument put forward by the Minister, apparently with the support of the Chair, that it is not appropriate to this Bill to have a complaints procedure included on Committee Stage. We believe it should be incorporated in the Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: I do not know what Deputy Woods means “apparently, with the support of the Chair”. The Chair has ruled that one amendment is not relevant to the Bill “as read a Second Time” in the technical meaning of that phrase.

Dr. Woods: That is amendment No. 48, the Garda Síochána Complaints Commission. Our argument is that that is very relevant to the Bill and we have had support from both sides of the House. I appealed to the Minister to bring it forward in conjunction with the Bill so that he will not have to come back to the House at a later date introducing a Bill to deal with this matter specifically. Surely there would not be a great problem including it in this Bill? We know that the sections the Garda are looking for will not come into operation until this is done.

In my view the Oireachtas deserve recognition for the extra powers they are giving in this Bill. The Oireachtas deserve the respect from the Minister that he put before the House the complaints procedure Bill so that we can see what we are doing and can see the checks and balances which would be provided by the Minister. Will the Minister outline the regulations he proposes? He mentioned that it will take some time to prepare these regulations and that consequently some parts of the Bill might not come into operation until they are prepared. In other words, I am raising two points: the first is that there will be a further delay and, second, we would like some indication from the Minister as to what regulations he has in mind.

Mr. G. Mitchell: In view of the fact that the heads of the Bill have been circulated to the heads of Departments, could the Minister tell the House what is the likely time scale for the introduction [1615] of the Bill or for the implementation of this section? Will it be before the recess of before the summer break?

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Will the Chair or the Minister direct somebody to obtain further copies of this Bill because there is not one single copy available. This is wrong because this is a very important Bill. I ask that some action be taken in relation to this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy's request will be noted.

Dr. Woods: I would like to support Deputy Flanagan because this has been a major problem.

Mr. De Rossa: The Minister in his response referred to a long debate on Committee Stage. Can we take it that he is giving us a commitment that there will not be a guillotine motion introduced on Thursday evening and that the debate will continue until every section and every amendment is dealt with by this House?

Miss Flaherty: I welcome the Minister's commitment to introduce a complaints procedure, but do I understand him to say that not only will it be introduced but that it will be law prior to the enactment of the Bill?

Mr. Skelly: The Minister said the complaints procedure would have a strong independent element. It is desirable at this stage that we know the make-up of that complaints authority and the strength of the independent element.

An Ceann Comhairle: It has been intimated that a Bill will be introduced into this House to give effect to a complaints procedure. It would be quite unreasonable if I were to allow a Second Stage debate on such a Bill, and I will not allow it.

Mr. Skelly: We are being asked to pass a Bill which is changing the law in a big way. This is the first major review of the [1616] law in nearly 200 years and we are asked to put this through the House first while we do not have a clue as to the make-up of that authority. We know from the British legislation——

An Ceann Comhairle: There is an amendment which purports to say that this Bill cannot become law until the complaints procedure has become law. I would suggest to Deputies that their arguments might be more relevant on that amendment.

Dr. Woods: When mine was ruled out of order I put down the amendment to which the Ceann Comhairle has referred which would give an opportunity to discuss the complaints procedure.

Mr. Skelly: I accept that, but I could not hear exactly what the Minister was saying because of the rotten system we have here in 1984. I want to know what he said in reference to the goodwill we were drawing on in relation to Second Stage and whether that would be available on Committee Stage. The Minister referred to civil liberties being changed by this legislation. The major point made throughout the Second Stage debate was that this Bill would have no effect on civil liberties because it would not do anything to improve the crime rate.

An Ceann Comhairle: As the Chair sees section 1, it is a merely enacting that if the Bill is enacted it will then come into force by such order or orders as the Minister may make. Deputies will have an opportunity throughout this Committee Stage debate of attacking or filleting each section.

Mr. O'Dea: My understanding of the Minister's position is that he can bring this Bill into operation as and when he likes and that does not intend to do so until the complaints procedures is established.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): That is not what I said. Those sections giving extra powers to the Garda Síochána will not be implemented by order.

[1617] Mr. O'Dea: I understood that the sections giving extra powers to the Garda would not be implemented until such time as the complaints tribunal was established. This is missing the entire point. We are being asked to give increased powers to the Garda. We are being asked to pay a certain price in terms of the surrender of civil liberties but we do not know what systems of checks and balances will operate. It is akin to the House debating in isolation tax increases in a Finance Bill on the promise of the Minister that tax allowances would be increased by some figure at some time in the future.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: I want to express full agreement with the Minister in relation to the complaints tribunal. The complaints tribunal is too important to become part of this Bill. The weight of discussion and expression of opinion on the provisions of this Bill would be lessened or would be greater in relation to the complaints tribunal. The Minister is quite right to deal separately with the complaints procedure and have it discussed separately in the House. These are separate matters and should be separately dealt with. I fully agree with the line the Minister has taken. It is the very line I would take in relation to this matter. When the Government have cleared the various heads of the complaints tribunal memorandum, it will come before the House separately. This is right and Deputy Woods should agree.

An Ceann Comhairle: I do not think that point relevantly arises on this section.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: That is where you and I seemingly disagree. I think it does.

An Ceann Comhairle: You have heard about great minds.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): Certainly there is a desire on the part of Members of this House to have a complaints procedure and I am glad of the general agreement. I am sure the Bill will move fairly quickly when it comes. This [1618] Criminal Justice Bill is a piece of legislation in its own right.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: Of course.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): The complaints procedure in regard to the Garda Síochána will also be dealt with in a piece of legislation in its own right. While there is a connection which provides a certain balance, they stand as pieces of legislation in their own right. There is authority for this view because the previous Government, of which Deputy Woods was a member, while they made several commitments to a Criminal Justice Bill and had done much preparatory work on it, made no commitment I know of to a complaints procedure. They were seeing a Criminal Justice Bill as an intact piece of legislation which had its own merits and stood on its own feet.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair does not welcome a Second Stage speech from anybody and that includes the Minister.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): I have a difficulty in replying to the questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: I know. I am not saying this as Ceann Comhairle. The best way of keeping a section going indefinitely is to reply to every point ad nauseum.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): I will be very brief.

Mr. Skelly: Did you ever see so many Members present on Committee Stage before? It is a measure of the seriousness of this Bill. That is why we are afraid to move off this section. Every section will be fought all the way through and argued.

An Ceann Comhairle: The relevant arguments may be put forward on the relevant sections.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): One of the things I have learned as a Minister is that while you can talk about proposals when they are a long way from being implemented, as soon as you get to the [1619] stage when you put them to Government it is very difficult to discuss them in detail. I am sorry, but there are many precedents for this. I cannot discuss the detail of proposals which have gone to Government.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The Minister is quite right not to do so.

Mr. G. Mitchell: When does the Minister intend to bring them in?

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): As soon as the Government approve the heads it will go to the Attorney General's Office where the draftsmen work. I will be pushing as hard as I can for the draftsmen to produce the Bill but I do not control the drafting of the Bill. I cannot give a time commitment. The only commitment I can give is that it is the priority in the Department of Justice.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Is it likely to be before the summer?

Mr. Briscoe: Is the Minister hopeful that it will be this year?

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): I am hopeful that I will get it as quickly as possible.

Dr. Woods: Could the Minister be slightly more specific? Will it be before the summer or before the end of the year?

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): I have been very specific in saying that the heads have gone to Government. I hope the Government will approve them very quickly. Then the legislation will be drafted. I have enough experience already to know that sometimes there are drafting problems and I do not like tying myself to hard and fast deadlines by naming dates. To a Deputy who was part of a Government who had no intention of establishing a complaints procedure I am giving a fairly tight commitment.

Mr. G. Mitchell: We are passing legislation [1620] which the Minister may or may not decide to implement. I mean no disrespect to the present Minister who is doing a good job. We want to have some idea as to when that legislation will become law. It is very important. Will it be before the summer recess?

An Ceann Comhairle: If we go on at this rate per section the question will not arise.

Mr. G. Mitchell: At the rate we are going we will be at it for a long time but we must have some idea about when it will be implemented.

Mr. Molony: I understood the Minister's undertaking to be that he would not introduce the provisions of this Bill until the passage of legislation dealing with the establishment of the complaints tribunal. I ask the Minister to give an assurance that we may re-examine this Bill if there is concern among Deputies during the discussion on the second Bill.

Dr. Woods: If the Minister cannot give an undertaking that the legislation establishing the complaints tribunal will be introduced before the Summer recess, it means that the provisions which the Garda need will not be implemented until the end of the year and possibly into next year. That is the problem.

Mr. Molony: The Deputy cannot have it both ways.

Dr. Woods: I wish the Minister would stop going back. Let us look forward.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): If the Deputy will stop point scoring I will stop going back.

Dr. Woods: The Minister is young enough to look forward and to get into the habit of looking forward for a change. We will support him if he looks forward. We are giving the Minister support which is very important. It might be appreciated. The Minister knows as well as we do that we are dealing with very serious principles. Previously this Bill was about [1621] to come before the Government in draft form. There was a quick succession of Governments and various Ministers made inputs into the Bill. What would have been in the Bill at that stage is an open question because it was never actually considered at Government level. Let us leave that out of it. Let us concentrate on the future. If we want these measures to be introduced they should be introduced soon for all the reasons Deputy Flanagan mentioned. We do not want any undue delay, but we want the checks and balances. If these measures are not introduced this side of the summer recess, they will have to be taken in the autumn and that means we will not have these provision for the Garda until very late in the year. I do not think people will thank us for that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Is section 1 agreed?

Mr. De Rossa: Is it proposed to allow the debate on Committee Stage to continue for as long as Deputies offer to debate the sections and the amendments, or is it intended to introduce a guillotine motion on Thursday or on any other day to end the discussions on the Bill? Will the Minister explain what he means by saying that the independent complaints tribunal will have a strong independent element? It is important for us to know whether this will be an independent complaints tribunal or a complaints tribunal with a strong independent element. What non-independent element will be involved? This tribunal or commission or whatever it will be called has been dangled by the Minister from the beginning as a carrot to get the House to accept the Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: I appeal to Deputies to debate this Committee Stage in a Committee Stage manner. This may be relevant to what Deputy De Rossa said. The section we are dealing with provides the mechanics for bringing the Bill into operation and we have been debating it for over an hour.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: The Minister has [1622] given an undertaking and the House should be satisfied.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am not talking about the merits of the section.

Dr. Woods: We have got all we can get in terms of an explanation and we are prepared to agree to it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Is the section agreed?

Mr. De Rossa: Could we have a reply to the question as to whether we will have a full debate or a guillotine?

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): I will reply very briefly to oblige the Deputy. Deputy De Rossa sees the Criminal Justice Bill and the complaints procedure as a package. He has decided not to accept the package because he is opposing the Bill in principle. I do not think there is an onus on me to give him explanations about the other side of the package. The second question was whether there will be a guillotine motion on Thursday. I understand this is ordered for tomorrow and Thursday. I hope we will make progress and that we can conclude on Thursday. I will not give the spokesman for The Workers' Party a commitment which would be the manifesto for a filibuster over the next couple of months.

Mr. De Rossa: On a point of order, it is reasonable for any Deputy to ask that on a Bill which, as one Deputy said, is making serious changes in the criminal law we should have an assurance that we will be allowed to debate it in detail. For the Minister to make smart remarks about The Workers' Party and a commitment to a filibuster is not adequate.

Question put.

An Ceann Comhairle: On the Criminal Justice Bill, 1983 the question has been put “That section 1 stand part of the Bill”. On that question a division has been challenged. Will Deputies claiming a division please rise in their places?

[1623] Deputies De Rossa, Mac Giolla and Gregory-Independent rose in their places.

An Ceann Comhairle: As fewer that ten Deputies have risen in support of the division, I declare, in accordance with Standing Orders, that the motion has been carried and section 1 stands part of the Bill. The names of those dissenting will appear in the proceedings of the House.

NEW SECTION.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, before section 2, to insert the following new section:

“2.—Each of the following sections, namely, sections 3 to 8 and 14 to 18 shall cease to be in operation at the expiry of five years from the commencement of that section unless a resolution has been passed by each House of the Oireachtas resolving that that section should continue in operation.”.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is impossible to carry on the business of the House unless we have silence. I ask Members either to remain in the House in silence, or leave the House.

Mr. Noonan (Limerick East): I have merely read the text of the amendment. On Second Stage debate, Deputy Kelly and other Deputies suggested that there should be a time limit on some provisions in the Bill. When replying to the debate, I promised that I would give further consideration to that point and the amendment which I am now proposing would put a time limit of five years on certain provisions. These relate to increased powers of the Garda, withholding information about firearms and stolen goods and drawing inferences from a failure or refusal by a suspect to account for certain marks, etc. on his person or for his presence in a particular place at or about the time a crime is committed.

One of the reasons for my reluctance [1624] on Second Stage to agree to a time limit was that time limits of this kind could impart a flavour of emergency legislation to what we are trying to achieve here. I want to make it clear that in approaching this measure the Government — and I should say, in fairness, their predecessors — sought to ensure that nothing would be included which in their view was not fully justified on its own merits as an addition to the permanent criminal law.

The aim throughout has been to achieve a proper and acceptable balance between the rights of the individual who may happen to be suspected or accused of a crime and the right of the community in general to have crimes properly investigated and those guilty of them brought to justice. From time to time, according as there are developments in public attitudes, increased sophistication among criminals and so on, that balance may have to be adjusted. I think that the Government have shown in their reaction to the representations made since publication of the Bill that they have a continuing concern to ensure that our criminal law procedure will maintain the proper balance to which I have referred.

Nevertheless the Government felt that it was reasonable to put a time limit on the provisions in question and to provide for a parliamentary review on how they have operated in practice. Reviews of this kind are desirable anyway and Governments have often been criticised here and in the Seanad for not having any formal system of monitoring the practical application of legislation being discussed. The imposition of a time limit will make it necessary for a review to be carried out and any necessary amending legislation passed before the time limit expires if the provisions in question are not to lapse altogether.

I do not want for a moment to give the impression that there is any real prospect that in five years' time there would be a case for allowing for example, the powers of detention to lapse. The Garda are unique among police forces, so far as I know, in not having this power, but, as I have said, there may be improvements in these provisions which experience of their operation would suggest. If there [1625] are any such amendments, the imposition of a time limit, as proposed, will ensure that they are made in good time before the limit expires. In my view, five years is an appropriate period for this purpose. It will give time for proper evaluation of how the provisions work in practice and for any necessary amending legislation to be prepared and debated by both Houses and enacted into law.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There is an amendment to that amendment in the names of Deputies Mac Giolla and De Rossa.

Mr. De. Rossa: I move the following amendment to amendment No. 1:

To delete “five years” and substitute “one year”.

We have put down an amendment to the Minister's proposal seeking to have one year substituted for five years. I have already made the point in relation to the Bill that the main function of the Bill is the serious restriction of a person's civil liberties. It is widely believed outside this House — if it is not within it, given the numbers requesting a vote on section No. 1 — that the powers being sought are in the nature of emergency powers. I refer the Minister to a quotation from the Ó Briain Report which looked into the question of the powers of the Garda in relation to detention, questioning and so forth. That report was drawn up by a number of leading citizens of this State, which included a judge and a trade unionist. The quotation is:

The practice of detaining persons for the purpose of questioning them has no justification in law, apart from the exceptional cases provided for in our emergency legislation.

That refers to the 1939 Offences against the State Act.

We feel —

— and this is a quotation from the Ó Briain Report——

[1626] that this form of detention should be terminated forthwith.

If the Ó Briain Report felt in regard to the detention of persons that even the power under the 1939 Act should be terminated — and this is embodied in emergency legislation — then to introduce the same kind of power into the normal criminal law and procedures is an extraordinary step. Whatever the Minister may argue in relation to the introduction of the five-year review he must accept that it has been introduced quite simply because it constitutes an extraordinary step to take in relation to our criminal law, that is generally felt that there should be some restriction on the extra powers being given to the Garda. It is our view that five years is much too long a period to allow such powers be in existence before being reviewed. Assuming that this provision goes through the House — again we must accept the fact that the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour Parties en bloc, despite their declared reservations about major sections of this Bill, will railroad it through — we would argue very strongly that this review be carried out after one rather than five years.

Dr. Woods: We welcome the Minister's amendment applying a five-year expiry date with regard to sections 3 to 8 and 14 to 18, inclusive — in other words, that these sections shall cease to be in operation on the expiry of five years from their commencement unless a resolution has been passed by each House of the Oireachtas. That tends to emphasise that this is emergency style legislation, that it is a major change in our law and, as such, is one which may well require review having been in operation for some time. That is why so many Members are concerned at present to ensure that it will be right when put into operation.

Sections 3 to 8, inclusive, do provide for a period of detention in the case of arrests without warrant which will come as a surprise to many people eventually when the provisions of the Bill come into force. Of course the primary purpose of this detention is to enable the Garda to [1627] detain and interrogate suspected persons within Garda stations, a concept fairly unknown in our law at present. The Chief Justice has written and I migh quote from 1980 IR 316 as follows:

It has been stated many times in our courts that there is no such procedure permitted by law as holding for questioning or detaining on any pretext except pursuant to a court order or for the purpose of charging and bringing the person detained before a court. Any other purpose is unknown to the law and constitutes a flagrant and unwarranted interference with the liberty of the citizen.

The exceptions to this procedure are section 30 of the Offences against the State Act and section 2 of the Emergency Powers Act, 1976. These deal with the question of persons who are suspected of involvement in subversive crime. Without going into any further references we can see that there is a very major change being proposed here which is why the Minister has correctly introduced a time limit.

The amendment proposed by The Workers' Party is for too short a period — one year would not allow adequate time to review the operation of the provisions of the Act. On Report Stage perhaps the Minister would consider having a review at the end of three years of the operation of these sections by which time there will have been considerable experience gained of their operation and the Minister would be in a position to make any adjustments necessary. We support his five year amendment at present and would ask him to give consideration to a three-year period on Report Stage.

Mr. O'Dea: Like Deputy Woods, I welcome this provision because it constitutes an improvement of the Bill as originally drafted and will afford us an opportunity to reconsider the matter in five years' time in the light of experience of the operation of the provisions within that period.

I might take up a technical point with [1628] the Minister. I take it that if any of the sections referred to are amended by this House at any time in the course of the next five years this provision will apply to the section as amended — in other words, that the sections, as amended, will automatically lapse just as the section in its original form will automatically lapse. That is my interpretation of the provision but perhaps it would be as well to have it written into the Bill.

Mr. G. Mitchell: I am one of the people who advocated that there should be a time limit imposed. Therefore I welcome the Minister's introduction of a time limit on these sections. However, I wonder whether the five-year limit is too long — certainly I accept that one year is too short — because the problem is that we do not know when the five-year period will commence. It will be five years from some future date but presumably we will be well into the term of office of the next Dáil before this review arises. Between now and then a lot of things will have happened. In five years' time I wonder what will be the excuse advanced for the then crime problem if the provisions of this Bill have not dealt adequately with it? For example, will we be seeking more severe legislation at that time? Given that this Dáil has another three-and-a-half years to run it would be a good idea if this section were looked at again during that period — perhaps in three years' time — so that some people who have listened to the arguments advanced and indeed to some of the abuses could compare the performance with the provisions and ascertain whether they needed to be changed at that stage. I accept the five year review period at present proposed. But perhaps on Report Stage the Minister might consider a three-year period so that this Dáil — one that has concerned itself very much with crime, given the committee that has been established — will be afforded an opportunity of reviewing the legislation within its lifetime.

Mr. Molony: I want to deal primarily with one point made by Deputy De Rossa. I do not like to see any of our laws changed in so far as they restrict, or, as [1629] the Minister said on an earlier occasion, remove anything from the pool of freedom we have as a society. But to assume that our laws can remain unchanged while society changes is to be naive, because the reality is that society has changed. To suggest that these are emergency powers and that Ireland is in some way unique in this respect is nothing less than true. The fact is that in every other European country with the exception of Scotland, where the powers of detention are limited to six hours — and, even there, there is provision for a local magistrate to extend a period of detention to 24 hours — there are powers of detention, in some instances, of up to three or four days, but in most instances up to 24 hours. Therefore we are not unique or different in that respect. What is sad is that our society has now caught up with the crime rate that has obtained in other European societies. I regret that as much as any other Member of this House.

Secondly, in relation to the other major power in the Bill — the matter of the right to silence and the way that is being interfered with — I do not want to see that interfered with. Later on I shall be thanking the Minister for his amendment proposing to withdraw section 16. But the reality is that very eminent people, including, let me say to Deputy De Rossa, Judge Barra Ó Briain in his report, suggested that that right to silence was being abused. It has been abused — I regret to say it has been abused — because I never wanted to see that law changed. It is a cornerstone of our legal system but Judge Ó Briain in his report, to which Deputy De Rossa referred, said that this had been abused and referred to the fact that many very eminent jurists had suggested that changes would have to be brought about in relation to it. The changes the Minister proposes are precisely those changes recommended by Judge Barra Ó Briain. I hope Deputy De Rossa acknowledges that in the course of this debate.

There is a view being expressed that we on this side and, judging by The Workers' Party's stand on this, Fianna Fáil, want to introduce draconian measures [1630] and are people who believe in repressive legislation. These arguments are being made by Deputy De Rossa on the basis of presumptions. He is being less than fair. If he is going to deal with each section of the Bill and each amendment he has down on the basis of reason as he sees it, I ask Deputies to bear in mind that he is opposed to the Bill in its entirety. I want to make my position clear. I believe it is also the position of the vast majority of moderately minded Deputies who are neither to the right nor to the left in terms of our politics. We regret that there should be one drop removed from the pool of our freedom but we do not see it in the context of something unique or different. It is happening in every European country. I regret that but we must take cognisance of the difficulties presented by modern technology as far as crime is concerned and also the problems caused by our social and economic difficulties. These must be addressed particularly in relation to Dublin.

Unfortunately these measures are necessary. I welcome the Minister's proposal to review these measures in five years. I hope that society will not have changed so much in five years time that it will be nothing but a nodding through the House. It will not be a reflection on the composition of the House but rather on the sad change which will have taken place in society over that period. On balance five years is probably the correct period. I hope we will see the kind of changes we want to see. I agree with other speakers that this is just one part of a package. We must address ourselves to the social, economic and other problems which exist. Perhaps there will be an argument for reviewing these within five years. It is unusual in the House to see such interest in this and I hope that when the legislation is passed we will address ourselves to some of the other problems and perhaps then we will be able to talk about reviewing this in two or three years time.

Mr. D. Andrews: I support Deputy Molony entirely in what he said. The legislation before us is emergency legislation. [1631] Those of us who have a view of moderation and liberality will see this as emergency legislation. We do not want this legislation. We do not want section 3 as introduced by the Minister or the other sections but unfortunately we are living in rather unreal times.

The Garda have something to say about criminals. They are becoming the dominant factor in our society. We must deal with that problem. That is what we are doing here. I do not want the Offences Against the State Act on the Statute Book but there are people representing themselves as republican going off and shooting young people and blowing up people in the name of democratic Ireland. If that is their point of view I do not agree with it. As a democratic nationalist and democratic republican I see my position as being very clear in relation to the Bill. I do not want it but I am prepared to support it on the basis that it will achieve soemthing in society and bring about a return to normality. That is what I want it to achieve. In the meantime I am prepared to put up with it and support the Minister and Deputy Woods and the views they have expressed in relation to its operation for five years.

Like Deputy Molony, I hope that in five years' time we can abandon these sections. However, I do not think that will happen. The Workers' Party are opposing this Bill in its entirety. They have a strange philosophy. It is only in the recent past that they have emerged into the democracy of Dáil Éireann. I do not want to be wrong-footed by The Workers' Party and have them seen by people outside the House as paragons of liberal Ireland or the upholders in some way of liberality. I do not want Fianna Fáil to be wrong-footed in that regard.

They are being dishonest in their approach to the Bill. I support the views expressed by Deputy Woods and the Minister. This is emergency legislation. We are living in emergency times. I achieved what I set out to do in relation to the Bill. I asked the Minister to abandon section 16. That, in fairness, is what the Minister has done. I see my role in relation to the Bill as having been [1632] achieved. If The Workers' Party are going to express views such as those represented by Deputy De Rossa I will remain in the House and challenge them throughout the course of the Bill. We in this party will not be wrong-footed by the views expressed by The Workers' Party. The views they have expressed are dishonest and I will continue to challenge them.

Mr. O.J. Flanagan: We are discussing a very important aspect of this legislation. Reference has been made to civil liberties and the rights of the citizen. It is no harm to remind the House, whether we agree or disagree, that Deputies also have rights. I do not hold it against Deputy De Rossa for expressing his views. Every Deputy when elected has a right to express his views in parliament.

I do not agree with the liberalistic attitude of The Workers' Party. Nevertheless I accept that The Workers' Party Deputies when elected have a right and a duty to speak and be heard. Like Deputies Andrews and Molony I totally disagree with the attitude that party have taken in relation to the Bill. I want to make a recommendation both to the Minister and Deputy Woods. It is that they should stick to the five years in relation to the review.

Reference was made to the 1939 emergency. I am perhaps the only person who is still a Member of the House who was a Member during the early days when the 1939 emergency legislation was being passed. Deputies are wrong to make a comparison between the 1939 emergency legislation and the emergency position we now have with the breakdown in Irish society. Whether we like it or not, Irish society has broken down and I am glad that so many Deputies have agreed with that. This legislation is a prop to try to keep it up. The 1939 legislation dealt with war-time circumstances and conditions. It may be of interest to Deputies to know that the 1939 legislation is still law and was never amended or declared to be ended by parliament. Many people may wonder why this legislation still exists. There may not be any need for it in times of peace. Nevertheless the legislation in [1633] relation to those emergency provisions still exists.

There is a great difference between the war-time emergency powers and the emergency provisions taken by the Minster under this legislation. People like Deputy De Rossa speak about people's rights. Nobody has a right to break or smash windows. Nobody has a right to participate in arson or in the stealing or burning of motor cars. Nobody has the right to aquire, retain or sell stolen goods. Nobody has the right to beat up people or to prevent people from walking in the streets, to participate in rape or in any action that will take from citizens the rights that they enjoy as people keeping and obeying the law. When people like Deputy De Rossa speak of civil liberties and rights, what liberties and rights are they referring to? Nobody has the right to deprive a citizen of his freedom. Nobody has the right to retain firearms for the purpose of endangering the life of his neighbour or to use those firearms recklessly or to have firearms without a permit or to loan or give firearms to others to the danger of the ordinary citizen.

The expressions of opinion of a judge or judges in relation to emergency legislation have been referred to. I am glad to see that in this House we are all making up our own minds in relation to the Criminal Justice Bill and, whilst we consider the views of judges if they wish to express them and the views of the Garda if they want to speak, it falls on this House to make the laws and we do not need dictation from either the Judiciary or those who will be administering the law. It is our duty and our function as parliamentarians independently to make the laws which will be upheld by the Judiciary and administered by the Garda. In present circumstances to think of having a review 12 months after the passage of this Bill is farcical. It has taken two generations to bring Irish society down to the depth it is in today. It will take a long time to elevate Irish society to any standard of decency, integrity, respect for law and order and Parliament, respect for the aged and respect for the views and opinions of others, tolerance. Irish society has crumbled. [1634] It is breaking up like stale bread. That the Minister for Justice should have to review legislation of this kind after 12 months is extremely unreasonable. I hope that both Deputy Woods and the Minister will see the importance of the five-yearly review. One is always foolish in presuming, but I hope that in five years after the passage of this legislation we will see a considerable improvement, a tightening up, and if the police, the people whom we entrust with the administration of the law, suspect people of endangering life, being guilty of murder, participating in arson, holding stolen goods, trafficking in or making money from stolen goods, not alone should they have the right but it is their duty to investigate fully and see that citizens are safeguarded against people who participate in activities of this kind to the detriment of all in Irish society who want to live honourable, decent lives. I ask the Minister that, no matter what pressure comes from any source in this matter, he will have a review at the end of five years. In a lesser period one could not expect to be able to review with the certainty of seeing an improvement. The five-year review is reasonable. I only hope and trust that as a result of the full implementation of this provision at the end of five years the criminal activities of at least some of those who are seriously involved in crime for profit, through ignorance or from lack of anything else to do will be eliminated, to the benefit of all honourable, decent people.

As I have said, anyone who keeps the law need not be afraid of any provision in this Bill. Such people can snap their fingers, hold up their heads, meet the Garda Síochána ten, 20, 30 times a day with nothing to fear. Nobody has anything to fear from this Bill except those engaged in depriving other citizens of the right to live their normal lives. As has been said on both sides of the House, we are dealing with an emergency situation in which so many of our citizens have lost their senses completely. They have lost a degree of consideration for others and have respect for neither life nor property. We want to bring some form of realisation into the hearts and minds of these [1635] people that they cannot act in that way, they cannot get away in Irish society with such activities. I support the Minister's proposal of a five-year review and I hope that the main Opposition party will do likewise in the interests of the people who are clamouring for provisions of this kind and who want to live in peace and without fear. It is a dreadful situation that families and individuals are living in fear, fear of being beaten up, of loneliness and of having their homes broken into. We must endeavour to bring about a situation in which this is no longer the case. The activities of the criminal are more prevalent in the cities than elsewhere.

I wish the Minister well in regard to this legislation and I hope there will be no review until after the full five years have elapsed and that if necessary the legislation will be continued after the five-year period. Deputy Molony tells us that Ireland is now only catching up with the remainder of the Continent in terms of crime but there are many countries in Europe to which we could give lessons in crime. I do not accept that there are countries in Europe in which society has broken down to the extent that it has broken down here, to the extent that it has crumbled before the eyes of parliamentarians. This Bill provides us with the one opportunity of endeavouring to do something about the problem. That is one of the reasons for my sitting through this debate. Any contribution I make will be in the interest of encouraging the Minister and the main Opposition party in their attempts to restore some sanity to society. We are living in abnormal circumstances. Consequently, we need abnormal legislation. That is why I support the Bill wholeheartedly and why I am anxious that there be no review of the legislation one hour earlier than the five years being provided for. The main political parties are dealing with this legislation on the basis of finding a cure for the social unrest, the social cancer, that has beset our society. At the end of the five-year period this House will be in a position to assess the legislation in terms of effectiveness and so on and then to decide whether to extend it or otherwise.

[1636] Mr. Shatter: The Minister's amendment is useful and practical and will ensure that the legislation to which the five-year period applies will be reviewed in five years' time. Too often in the past this House has not been as vigilant as it might have been in regard to reviewing legislation. The provision for a review after five years will reduce some of the worry being expressed regarding the possibility of the sections in question being on the Statute Book for many years, perhaps without ever being reviewed by the House. There is justification for such concern because of our failure in the past to review legislation.

At the end of the five-year period, the House would be in a position to decide whether the legislation had been meaningful and whether the sections in question were having a real effect on the operation of our criminal law in terms of assisting the Garda and the courts in obtaining convictions in respect of those properly before the courts. After the five years, too, we would need to know whether the detention sections in particular were working. A review must mean something and by the time this review is due to be held, we should have statistics as to the number of offences committed, as to the number of people prosecuted and as to the number of convictions obtained. In that way we will have some criteria on which to judge whether the legislation has been successful.

To some extent in dealing with sections 14 to 18, these statistics will assist us but I am not sure as to how, in five years time, the House will review the effects of the detention sections. Will we review them simply by saying, “Yes, they are there. People have got used to them so we will leave them there” or will we say, “The Garda are securing more convictions than was the case before. Consequently we are justified in retaining the provisions”? If, for instance, the crime rate has fallen by then would we be likely to extend the detention period to 24 or even to 48 hours? Because we do not know the criteria that will be used in the review, there is a gap in the legislation. That gap should be filled in the context [1637] of amending section 2, and particularly within the context of sections 3, 4, and 5 and others concerned with detention.

The keeping of statistics by the Garda will be very important. In that way, we will be able to measure the extent to which they achieve what they say they hope to achieve on foot of this legislation. These statistics, too, will enable the House to judge whether the provisions in relation to detention are being used properly.

In order that the review section may work, the Bill should provide for the keeping of statistics by the Garda in relation to the number of persons detained in Garda stations throughout the country, the number of people prosecuted following such detentions and the number of successful prosecutions that follow. Without such statistics I do not know how we would review the operation of the detention sections. We in this country object frequently to the manner in which the authorities in the UK operate the prevention of terrorism legislation. That legislation enables them to detain Irish citizens at points of entry to the UK. The main objection to the operation of those powers is that the vast number of those people who are being detained by way of that legislation have not been prosecuted subsequently. They have simply been detained and released.

In common with every other Member of this House I have no sympathy for those involved in subversion or violence, whether in the UK, in Northern Ireland or within this jurisdiction. I have been vociferous in condemning people involved in such crime but equally I am anxious that in dealing with the problem of crime we ensure that the measures we enact will be implemented properly and will protect the civil liberties of all of us while assisting the Garda in their fight against crime.

When we come to review certain provisions of the legislation in five years' time we will need to know how they are working in terms of the sort of statistics I have outlined. In accepting the Garda case that there is a need for detention provisions there is also a danger to the Garda. Even if the provisions are working well, [1638] though there will always be some people who will be detained and not charged subsequently, there will be allegations that large numbers of people are being detained wrongly. Therefore, it is in the interest of the Garda to ensure that these provisions prove helpful. That is why I say that there should be an obligation on the Garda to keep statistics relating to detentions and so on. It is on the basis of that type of information, together with general crime statistics, that this House will be able to review the effects of these sections, which some of us wish, in different circumstances, were not necessary. We as legislators should be able to review it on the basis of comprehensive information before us and not on the basis of gossip, rumour or sensationalism in the media if the Garda make a mistake in the context of one or two individuals. It is essential that we can look at the manner in which the sections are operating and discuss that in the context of the review on the basis of solid, certified information available. At present, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that that information will be there.

In welcoming the Minister's amendment I believe that a five year period is appropriate. I do not believe one could properly review the manner in which this legislation is working without seeing it in operation for a number of years. I do not believe The Workers' Party amendment, which suggests that a review should take place in 12 months, is serious. It is part of the attitude they have brought to bear on this legislation. Effectively, they take the view that it is not needed. I have no doubt that most of what is contained in this legislation is needed and their suggestion that we should review it in one year cannot be a serious proposal. I ask the Minister to again look at the possibility of requiring the Garda, in their own interests, in the interest of this House and of the general public to keep the type of statistical information for which I am asking so that they and this House can participate properly in five years' time in any discussions which may take place about reviewing sections which the Minister intends to have reviewed in five years' time under he amendment he has tabled.

[1639] Mrs. Barnes: I should like to add briefly to what Deputy Shatter put forward regarding constructive use being made of the five year period by the Minister. Not alone should we have statistical figures regarding crime and the detention of prisoners but it should also be used in a much more constructive and rounded way and not taken in isolation. Part of the problem of this legislation is that it seems to be seen in isolation from the other structures of law and the social ills which bring about our high crime rate. We should not confine ourselves to a review of certain sections; it should also take in statistics regarding return to prison by prisoners who because of their high detention rate get nothing from the penal system except a higher level of depression——

An Ceann Comhairle: We are now getting back to a Second Stage speech.

Mrs. Barnes: We must ensure that these five years are used constructively, not just in regard to these sections, but also in relation to the whole penal and judicial system.

Miss Harney: Before we get into the question of semantics regarding one, there, or five years, if innocent people suffer under this legislation it will not really matter how long the time is. I take the view which was taken on Second Stage by many Deputies from the Government and this side of the House that this possibly is not the right approach to our current crime problem.

Deputy Molony referred very eloquently to the powers which the Garda have in other countries. We have learned from that that giving more power to the Garda does not in itself help to resolve crime. Arming policemen in the United States and other countries has merely escalated their crime problem. I wonder if our approach in terms of increased powers is the correct one. Deputy Flanagan takes the view that the building of more prisons, recruiting more gardaí and giving them more powers can help to solve the crime problem. The facts do not [1640] bear that out. The vast majority of people, particularly young offenders, come from deprived and disadvantaged backgrounds. They have a very poor standard of education and it is in this area that we should be solving the crime problem. Deputy Flanagan said that no innocent person would suffer under this Bill and that no person who kept and respected the law need worry. I wish that was the case. I do not mind giving the Garda powers if they are necessary ——

An Ceann Comhairle: I am slow to intervene but we will have to avoid Second Stage speeches on Committee Stage.

Miss Harney: I was replying to remarks made by Deputy Flanagan in your absence and I think they are relevant.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are discussing whether certain sections should be permanent or temporary and, if temporary, how temporary.

Miss Harney: That is what I am discussing. Under this legislation people will not be entitled to have their legal adviser present when they are being interrogated, which is a pity. I do not mind giving the Garda temporary powers if the proper safeguards, checks and balances are there. However, I see no reason why a solicitor or independent legal adviser cannot be made available to the person who is being interrogated. I regret that the Minister did not see fit to adopt that amendment. It is unfortunate that this legislation is being introduced as many of us feel it is not necessary ——

An Ceann Comhairle: I must discourage that sort of comment.

Miss Harney: Many of us wish that this legislation need not have been introduced. It may well be the case that in five years we will support its retention — time will tell. I hope that the kind of statistics to which Deputy Shatter referred will be available. I should also like the Minister to indicate on what basis he might support the retention of this legislation. Will [1641] it be on the basis of more people having been convicted, the Garda wanting the legislation to remain or on the basis of our crime rate decreasing?

Mr. L.T. Cosgrave: I also welcome the sensible amendment by the Minister to the effect that there will be a review after five years. This review concerns sections 3 to 8 and 14 to 18. Six of those sections are lumped under “detention of arrested persons in Garda Síochána custody in certain circumstances”. Two others relate to offences regarding the withholding of information and there are a few further sections relating to inferences which can at times be drawn where the accused person fails to account for being in a certain place. The Minister is proposing to review these sections after a period of five years. Perhaps he would indicate whether at that stage he will make the decision that a resolution will be put or if there will be a full sale of the problem and a detailed review of the operation of those sections? This is emergency legislation but we are living in critical times. This legislation has not been brought forward because the Minister thought his Department were not seen to be effective enough. It is being brought in because of a difficult and dangerous situation which exists at present. The Minister has accepted that some of the sections are far-reaching and may interfere with the rights of people, even innocent people. However, the rights of many innocent people have already been interfered with and that is why we have this legislation.

I think the period of five years is reasonable. In my opinion one year would be totally inadequate. By allowing five years this will give a sufficient length of time to see how the sections operate. I agree with speakers who say that statistical and other information should be gathered during this period to see how the Bill operates. I hope that after five years the Minister may be able to tell us that the crime rate has been reduced and that it will not be necessary to add anything further. We will have to wait and see. I wish to know if after five years there will be a general review of the entire [1642] legislation and what aspects will be taken into consideration. I presume that five years will start after the passing of the Bill and the complaints procedure.

Some of the comment on the Bill has been slightly misinformed. As legislators we have to do our part to protect the rights and liberties of all people. I urge the Minister to stick to the five years which I consider a sensible and worth-while proposal.

Mr. Briscoe: I note with interest that the Minister's amendment states that the sections shall cease to be in operation at the expiry of five years unless a resolution is passed by each House of the Oireachtas. I understand this will allow the House to debate the resolution when it comes before it. That will be a good opportunity to review the changes that have taken place. The only criterion I would have in reviewing the matter after three or five years would be the level of crime. It may happen that further amendments may be necessary at that time.

My colleague, Deputy Harney, said that many people engaged in crime come from a deprived background but most of the victims also come from a deprived background. We hear a lot about those who commit crime but not often do we hear about the people on the receiving end. We have to think about them. In relation to the review period, it would be desirable for the Minister to have available statistics of people who repeatedly commit crime. Some time ago I asked a question in the House about how many people convicted of crime had previous convictions but the figures were not available to the Minister for Justice. There should be some way on a computer system of finding out how many crimes are committed by the same group of people. Recently we read in the newspapers that about 50 people are responsible for the great bulk of crime in Dublin. If we could get those people off the streets the crime rate would show a tremendous decline. Stiffer penalties could reduce dramatically the crime rate in Dublin.

Mr. Taylor: It would appear to be a fairly widely held view on both sides of [1643] the House that the implementation of the measures in this Bill will in some way prove a panacea so far as tackling crime is concerned, that over a period, whether it be one, three or five years the implementation of the provisions of the Bill will make a dramatic impact on the crime figures. I doubt that very much. On the question of the severity of penalties and draconian police powers, the experience of history shows that increasing police powers and penalties does not necessarily mean a commensurate reduction in the crime figures. That factor has to be taken into account in deterniming what should be the initial review period.

There appears to be some dichotomy of thought perhaps on the part of the Government as to the permanency or otherwise of the Bill. When it was introduced it was put forward as being a permanent addition to the Statute Book. Then the question of the temporary nature of the Bill was introduced by the Minister's amendment. I suggest to the Minister that if the genuine intent is to regard these measures as temporary and on a kind of trial basis, he might consider amending the title of the Bill. He might consider interspersing the words “Temporary Provisions” in the title, to call it the Criminal Justice (Temporary Provisions) Bill, thereby making it quite clear that it was intended as a temporary measure. However, temporary legislative measures have a practice of hardening and becoming permanent. Some of these measures were referred to by Deputy Flanagan, such as The Offences Against the State Act. Equally, I could refer to the income tax code which was introduced in 1914 as a temporary measure. As we all know very well, that is still with us. Notwithstanding the Minister's amendment, this Bill is likely to be permanent and renewed.

I cannot see that the power of detention will add to convictions. The power of arrest is already there. At the end of the day convictions are based on evidence and the detention of people does not produce any additional evidence. If properly implemented and if that power of detention is conducted in a proper manner, [1644] it will not produce one iota of evidence.

The measures in the Bill are innovative. They constitute potential dangers to some, perhaps many, innocent people. I welcome the suggestion that there should be a limitation: I think five years is too long for a measure of this kind. In my view, a maximum of two or three years might be considered appropriate to see what impact, if any, the Bill will have on the crime figures.

An Ceann Comhairle: The question before the House deals with a period of five years or one year.

Mr. Taylor: I suggest it would be in order to ask the Minister to consider some figure in between the two figures. That was suggested already by Deputy Woods when he spoke and there is a good deal of force in that argument. A three-year period would be quite adequate to enable the crime figures to be examined and to enable the House to determine whether or not the decidely negative aspects of the Bill were made worthwhile by positive results obtaining in the achievement of an improvement in crime figures.

Mr. D. Andrews: In the course of my short contribution following that of Deputy Woods I did not advert to the Minister's amendment as such. The House should give the Minister the support he requires in relation to the operability of the section. It seems to be agreed that while we may find the sections in their generality distasteful they should be given an opportunity to work. I do not deny, as might be presumed by Deputy Flanagan's contribution, the right of The Workers' Party to move an amendment to the Bill. That is their entitlement and I respect their right to propose such an amendment. I do not agree with their amendment because, frankly, I believe it is a nonsense to suggest that the sections should be allowed to operate for one year only and then be subject to a review. The Minister is not far off the mark when he suggests that five years should be the review period.

[1645] I should like to ask the Minister under what criteria the sections will be reviewed? Will they be reviewed by the Government or, as Deputy Briscoe said, by the graph of crime figures five years hence, or on a resolution of the House? I hope the Minister treats that important point seriously. Much will depend on the Minister's response to that point. I am not intimidating the Minister; he is strong enough not to put up with any suggestion of intimidation but his attitude to my query might well form our approach to the future progress of the Bill. I do not offer that as a threat to the Minister because I am not in the business of issuing threats.

Miss Flaherty: While I do not share the level of concern expressed by some Deputies in relation to this section those who followed the Second Stage debate will be clear that the two sections of greatest concern are those referred to in this limitation section. A question in relation to them is whether the Bill as a whole will be effective in reducing the level of crime and whether it will interfere radically with civil liberties. That these two sections are to be reviewed within five year is a welcome amendment. I hope that many of the Members who are present today will be in the House in five years' time to give the review the same attention that they are giving the Bill. Deputy Taylor expressed a lack of optimism in relation to the measures and indicated that such measures historically had not succeeded. There is a different situation currently. Draconian measures in the past generally were imposed on an unwilling population but there is a tremendous body of goodwill out there for the success of the legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: We should back off from a Second Stage debate.

Miss Flaherty: The amendment is a wise and judicious response to the level of concern expressed in the House in relation to the operation of these sections. It will be a useful mechanism to ensure that if the Bill is ineffective in those areas or if it unduly interferes with [1646] civil liberties we will have an opportunity to reform it within a reasonable amount of time.

Mr. Skelly: I am sorry that the debate has taken the turn it has with the contributions of Deputies Molony, David Andrews, Flanagan and Liam Cosgrave. It is news to me that this is emergency legislation in emergency times. The legislation has been promised for some time. I am not making a Second Stage speech but referring to what has been said.

An Ceann Comhairle: I want to take the Deputy away from a Second Stage speech.

Mr. Skelly: The legislation has been promised by several Ministers and what it is doing — I do not agree with the way it is attempted — is reviewing the criminal law legislation. To listen to the Deputies I referred to, one would think that this was emergency legislation that needed to be rushed through the House in order to safeguard the community outside who are under attack from all sides. It appears that we are being told that if we do not get this through fast, like the Bill that was passed some years ago, the whole State will be in a state of collapse. I do not think that is the case at all. We have legislation. I should like to refer briefly to the fact that the system of criminal justice is haunted by the spectre of the innocent person convicted.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair regards this as a Second Stage speech.

Mr. Skelly: I should like to ask the Chair if he has anything against me. Every time I stand up the Chair interferes with what I have to say. Deputies have spoken this afternoon and made reference to this. It would be very unfair if I was to be cut down——

An Ceann Comhairle: Order. Other Deputies have related their contributions to the amendment before the House but, as the Chair sees it, the Deputy is embarking on a general discussion on the entire Bill. That is not in order. It is as [1647] simple as that; there is no mystery about that.

Mr. Skelly: I wish to take issue with the Chair because Deputy Flanagan who made a long speech about extra powers being brought in said that no innocent person need worry. Deputy Harney referred to the innocent and, in response to Deputy Flanagan's contributions, I wanted to say that I was not worried about the criminal but I am concerned about the innocent. Other Deputies have made similar remarks. Will the Chair tell me how that can be judged a Second Stage speech in relation to the section under discussion?

An Ceann Comhairle: The matter before the House is amendment No. 1 which seeks to confine four sections to five years. There is an amendment to that amendment which seeks to confine those sections to one year. If the Deputy can relate what he is saying to the proposed temporary nature of those sections he will be in order but if he does not he will not be in order.

Mr. Skelly: I am referring to the temporary nature and the amendments tabled. I was about to give my reasons as to why my suggestions should be accepted. I was referring to the existing legislation. The point has been made by three or four Deputies in succession that this is emergency legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy may not be aware that when we dispose of these amendments the next question will be, that the section, either as originally drafted or amended, stand part of the Bill. General remarks about the contents of the section will be more relevant then than at this stage.

Mr. Skelly: I have to preface my remarks about this section with an explanation as to why I consider certain action should be taken. That is all I wanted to do. I was expressing concern about the innocent and was about to say that we have existing legislation but nobody has [1648] asked how effective the Garda are in the operation of that legislation in tackling crime with the powers they have. We are talking about giving them extra powers.

An Ceann Comhairle: As the Chair sees it, that would seem to be an argument against the section either in its permanent form, its temporary form or a more temporary form. That would be more in order on the question, that the section stand part of the Bill.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.