Seanad Éireann - Volume 80 - 10 April, 1975

Order of Business.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: It is proposed to takes Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in that order.

Mr. Yeats: I move the following amendment to the Order of Business:

To delete item No. 1.

I do this appreciating that all Senators welcome, as a general rule, the introduction of Bills in the Seanad. It is a useful practice and it should be done more often. We had a Bill yesterday, which we dealt with to considerable effect, which could well have been introduced originally in the Seanad. Anyone who looks at today's Order Paper for the Dáil will see a number of Bills which could [140] have been introduced in the Seanad or could, with advantage, be transferred to the Seanad.

However, this particular Bill, the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1975, is of another order altogether. This is a Bill which is of fundamental constitutional and political importance. One could say with accuracy that never since the first Seanad Éireann met in 1922 has a Bill of such supreme importance and implications been introduced first in this House. The reason obviously is that while the Seanad is, or could be, an extremely effective legislative assembly from the point of view of debating and dealing with amending legislation, the primary responsibility under the Constitution is given, rightly, to Dáil Éireann since it is the properly directly elected House and it is to Dáil Éireann that the Government are responsible under the Constitution.

At no time in the past half century has a Bill of this nature been introduced in the Seanad but one can also say that never in all that time has a Bill of this supreme importance been transferred in this manner from one House to the other. This whole procedure, and particularly the manner in which it was conducted and railroaded through Dáil Éireann yesterday, is another example of this Government's apparent supreme contempt for the parliamentary process.

An Cathaoirleach: I would be glad if the Senator did not comment on the proceedings in the other House——

Mr. Yeats: I appreciate the position is that we cannot normally discuss proceedings in the other House, but I do think, a Chathaoirleach, with the greatest respect, that it is impossible to consider this matter before us today without adverting to the fact that it has been transferred in this hole-and-corner way from Dáil Éireann to Seanad Éireann. It is impossible to consider this matter at all without adverting— I have no intention of going into any great detail about it——

An Cathaoirleach: I appreciate that, and I am sure the Senator appreciates the fact that the Bill was discharged [141] from the Dáil and is quite properly a subject that can be introduced here. But the manner in which the proceedings were conducted and the manner in which the other House dealt with the business before it on a previous occasion cannot be commented upon.

Mr. Yeats: I have no intention of continuing on that topic but I should like to refer very briefly to the legislative situation as it exists at the moment in Dáil Éireann, not in any sense of criticising or discussing the behaviour of Deputies. The problem is that the Government by their ineptitude, by their inability to deal with the real matters of importance at the moment in the country, have reduced the whole business of the other House to a shambles. As I understand it, this Bill is being introduced here today against all precedents going back over half a century.

According to the Government and the Minister for Justice, it is impossible to get a Bill of this kind through the Dáil between now and next August. The reason is that there are four Finance Bills before the Dáil at the moment. Three of them are of an exceptional nature, dealing with various forms of capital taxation, and have clogged up the business of the Dáil to such an extent that as a legislative assembly it appears Dáil Éireann has ceased to exist. These Bills not only are irrelevant to the people at present because of the fact that we have over 100,000 unemployed, enormous balance of payments problems, budgetary problems, but they are actively increasing the problems. They are making less likely the possibility of any economic recovery. This is the reason the Dáil is apparently unable at present to deal with this Bill. I must ask the Leader of the House if he can tell us what is the urgency that has made it necessary to remove this Bill from the Dáil.

The Bill arose originally out of the Sunningdale affair over a year ago. After the usual inordinate delay which one associates with this Government's legislative programme, it finally emerged and was introduced in the Dáil last November. Some five months have elapsed since then during which [142] nothing was done, which is typical of the Government's legislative programme. Suddenly we find it necessary to deal with this problem. Who wants the Bill? It is ridiculous and irrelevant. It is unconstitutional and in some respects extremely dangerous. Nobody in Ireland wants it, except perhaps the Minister for Justice and the Northern Unionists.

Having apparently reduced the proceedings of the Dáil to a shambles, I cannot understand why the Government now propose to reduce Seanad Éireann to the same condition to deal with this ridiculous Bill that nobody wants, that has no relation to the real needs of the country, that is absolutely dangerous and unconstitutional. Why can they not get down to dealing with the real problems of the nation? We propose to vote against taking it today. When the Bill has gone through the Order of Business and when it is placed on our Agenda, we will oppose it in the manner a Bill of this stupidity and irrelevance deserves to be dealt with.

Mr. McGowan: I oppose the introduction of the Bill on the grounds that it is irrelevant at the moment. The Bill was agreed to by the Government as part of the Sunningdale package. Unfortunately the Sunningdale package has never materialised and we know the reasons. The present state of affairs in Northern Ireland will not be helped by the introduction of this Bill or its implementation in the south at present. It might do a lot of harm if we did that. After 800 years of democracy in Britain the British Government are still not able to administer justice in Northern Ireland. A case in point was the farmer's son who was taken out and executed by a British soldier. There was a sham trial but the soldier was let off scot-free. In other words, the British were right to be in Northern Ireland and were right to commit murder in the way they did. If this is justice how can we go hand in hand with an administration such as that?

The Bill is entitled an Act to extend the criminal law of the State to certain acts done in Northern Ireland and it refers to the law in Northern Ireland. [143] That is the operative phrase—there is no law in Northern Ireland if a British soldier can commit murder and get off free. According to the justice and system of administration of law that exists there he was found to have done what was right. Without being patriotic, without going back to 1916 and waving flags, how can we stand up and be sincere and talk about hopes and prospects of uniting our people and our country? We cannot close our eyes to the situation as it is. If the Government fail in their duty to tell the British that they are concerned with the way justice is being administered in Northern Ireland, then the individual Members of the Oireachtas have a responsibility to tell Britain that we are not blind to the way they are administering justice in Northern Ireland. There is no future and no confidence in any administration like that. I will oppose any common law enforcement when we have no respect for the law as it is at present administered in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Dolan: I wish to join with the other speakers in opposing the Bill. It is one of the most important Bills to have come before any of the Houses in the past 50 years and we will have to study it carefully. I cannot see why it has to be introduced in such a rushed fashion. Perhaps it is because the other House is bogged down with financial legislation. They want to do the same as far as Seanad Éireann is concerned.

I cannot see what the urgency is with this Bill in view of the fact that it was before the other House in November, 1974, was left lying in abeyance over the last six months and suddenly it reappeared in the Dáil. There must have been some collusion between the Government and the British Government in this matter. We do not know if it was Harold Wilson who cracked the whip or a British agent but the majority of the people believe there has been underhand work.

This Bill would entitle people from Northern Ireland to give evidence in courts here and the same would [144] apply to people in the South giving evidence in the Six Counties. We do not want that. We consider our country a unit and if there was a supreme Parliament to govern the whole of the Thirty-two Counties we would be in favour of something like this. As it is we would be put in the position of backing up the British Government in their efforts to keep certain people here under submission. We are not so naïve as not to realise that for the past 700 years the British have been trying to keep us in subjection and in that time we have experienced examples of British justice. The performance she is tolerating in the Six Counties is no credit to the British Government, the so-called mother of democracy. Thousands of troops are harassing the population with the type of treatment that they have been meting out to the unfortunate people in Long Kesh and various other places in the Six Counties. This treatment cannot be forgotten and anybody in the Twenty-six Counties, irrespective of their politics, who helps to perpetuate a situation such as that is doing a disservice to this country.

We have been for too long trying to get rid of them. That is the only solution. We know and they know, and the Government should know, that Sunningdale is in a shambles. It was known months ago. It will not work and this is a last effort to try to revive it. We on this side of the House will not in any way support this proposal. It shows contempt for the Irish people and it is wrong to try and put it across the people.

The Minister for Justice and the Government have the main responsibility in this and it is time that the people of Ireland saw them in their true colours. It is no pleasure for me to say it. Let us take a glance back at their history since this State was founded in 1922. We know the secret agreements of 1925 that were signed behind the backs of the Irish people. We know the agreements in 1949 that declared a Republic for 26 counties here and cut off the other six. These are things we must remember and they are things that elected representatives must speak out on at [145] a time of crisis like this. We are not going to desert our people in the Six Counties. We are not going to connive in any way whatever with the British Government or with the Government here to try to bring into effect legislation which would be detrimental to the best interests of our people on both sides of that unfortunate Border.

I shall have some time later on to discuss this if it is introduced. I want to make it quite clear that the media here, the elected representatives all over the country and everybody who has the national interest of this country at heart must consider this Bill very seriously. In my opinion there is something very sinister and underhand in the way it has been handled. Now there is urgency because there are some Convention elections coming up in the Six Counties, and because of some hint from the British Government it has now been shoved on to us. I am totally against it.

Mrs. Robinson: I do not propose to support the Fianna Fáil amendment to the Order of Business despite the fact that I have considerable sympathy for the views expressed by Senator Yeats. I think that the real issue posed by the proposal to remove the Bill from the Dáil Order Paper and produce it here today in the Seanad is one of political wisdom. The Government have chosen to make progress on this Bill by introducing it here in the Seanad because of the impossibility of making much progress in the Dáil. The question is whether this is politically wise, rather than whether it is open to the Government to take that step.

The Dáil is the popular Chamber where Deputies are directly elected and, therefore, it is the Chamber which would reflect accurately the views of the population here on the political content of the Bill. Although this Chamber will debate the Bill very seriously, and I hope very usefully, when it comes to Second Reading, it will not reflect accurately the political will involved. This Chamber, as we [146] all know, has a very strong majority in support of the Government. This is ensured by the fact that 11 Members are nominated by the Taoiseach. It is a fact that the Opposition are less represented in this House at present than they have been for a considerable time, so that the Bill will not be debated initially by a Chamber which would reflect accurately the degree of popular support for the Bill. However, it will be given a very serious scrutiny. It will be examined probably in a more thoughtful and leisurely way, as is the tradition in this House. I have no doubt that there will be a substantial gain from such a debate.

I also think that the problem here raises the issue of the manner in which the Oireachtas is responding to the complexity of Government and administration in Ireland today. This is a very important and very crucial question. The reason the Dáil is blocked and the reason it is not possible to make progress with Bills is because there is not sufficient co-operation in devising ways in which legislation can be dealt with in a serious and constructive way, in order to give people here the reforms in legislation, and in taxation which they should have. I have little sympathy with the viewpoints expressed by the Fianna Fáil Senators who contributed this morning about the blockage in the Dáil. It stems from their unwillingness as a party to participate in special committees on the major pieces of taxation which are being proposed. I think that they will have to face up to their responsibilities as an Opposition in this matter. They will have to show more co-operation if they are to uphold the democratic principles which they have been championing this morning.

I regret the fact that as a country we have not paid sufficient attention to the importance of our Parliamentary institution being able to cope with the complexities of modern government and administration. There is very little research, very little study of how Parliament is responding, very little examination of how more radical improvements than mere improvements in procedure can be made.

[147] An Cathaoirleach: The Senator is travelling somewhat far from the Order of Business.

Mrs. Robinson: I appreciate that. I have made the points which I wanted to make. This is essentially a matter of political wisdom and, therefore, I do not propose to support the Opposition amendment on the Order of Business.

Mr. McGlinchey: I oppose the proposal that this Bill be included on the Order Paper today or indeed on any other day. I can promise the Minister for Justice a long hot summer in this House in his efforts to have this legislation passed. I will join with my Fianna Fáil colleagues in opposing this Bill, section by section, line by line. I think Senator Yeats was wrong when he said that nobody wants this Bill. Of course, there are people who want this Bill. Mr. Wilson wants it, the British Tories want it.

Mr. Yeats: I said nobody in Ireland.

Mr. McGlinchey: Fine Gael in particular in introducing this Bill return to the traditional role of the old Cumann na nGaelhael Party by once again becoming British collaborators. I say that anyone in the House or in any other place who supports in any way the proposal before us this morning is nothing short of a British collaborator. I expect that at the end of this year the Minister for Justice, the Taoiseach, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and the Minister for Foreign Affairs will be awarded the OBE and possibly the CBE for their services to the British Crown. History is repeating itself in the House this morning. We should tell Mr. Wilson and the British Government that, instead of legislation such as this, they have the solution to the Irish question completely in their hands. It is a simple solution: get to hell out of this country and leave the future of Ireland to be decided by Irish men and Irish women.

I am not surprised at the attitude of Fine Gael in playing their own traditional role. I must confess that I am surprised that the oldest Republican party in this country, the Labour Party, should in any way associate [148] with this despicable measure before us this morning. I wonder is this attempt at liberality to be all one-sided. If the RUC man who meets a young man on the streets of County Armagh, pulls out a revolver and pumps four bullets into him could be arrested on this side of the Border, what good would this legislation be? What I have said about the RUC man is a true incident. It did not occur five years ago, five months ago or five weeks ago: it occurred five days ago, when a young man left a building site in my native Letterkenny to return to his wife and children in County Armagh for the weekend. On Saturday morning he walked down the street to see his friends, and a member of Mr. Wilson's police force stopped him and said “Is it you, you bastard?” and poured four bullets into his stomach. Over the weekend, that young man's life was in grave danger and, indeed, when I left home on Tuesday he was not expected to live more than a few hours. Is that the type of police force that the National Coalition Government are asking the Irish people to cooperate with? Is that the kind of justice that the Minister for Justice believes in in this country? A leopard never changes its spots.

Mr. J. Fitzgerald: You changed yours.

Mr. McGlinchey: I never changed my spots at any time and my views on the Irish question are no different today than they were in 1969.

Mr. J. Fitzgerald: Ask Deputy Blaney.

An Cathaoirleach: The Chair would like to hear Senator McGlinchey on the Order of Business without interruption.

Mr. McGlinchey: I want to say to Senator Fitzgerald that at no time have my views on the Irish question changed and as regards the immortal name that he mentioned, simply because I did not believe that he should be the Leader of Fianna Fáil does not mean to say that I have changed my views. Senator Fitzgerald will be given an opportunity in the course of this [149] discussion and let him quote. I challenge him to state in what way I have changed my views. I believe today, as I did in 1969 and in 1970, there was only one solution to the Irish question. It is for the British to get to hell out of this country. Until they do there will not be peace in this country.

When I said that a leopard never changes its spots, 700 years of Irish history should have taught us that the British leopard will never change its spots. I cannot understand how any Irish Minister should consider it necessary to fraternise in any way with the British Government in this country. I believe that the Minister for Justice is only bringing trouble on himself by introducing legislation of this kind. I shudder to think what the public reaction will be if a young man or woman is arrested in any corner of the Irish Republic and charged with the offence of escaping from a British jail in Belfast or Armagh. I shudder to think what the reaction of the vast majority of the Irish people will be, irrespective of their political viewpoints, and irrespective of whether they are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour. I feel that they will not accept a decision of guilty in an Irish court. Any Government that attempts to punish these people in the Republic of Ireland is bringing on its own head the anger of the Irish people.

This legislation is a shame. Anyone who supports it should bow his head in shame. I have no doubt that Senator Fitzgerald and that great organisation of which he is a member, its members in Belfast and throughout the entire Six Counties, will treat this legislation with contempt. If the members of the GAA had taken action when the British occupied Casement Park, or if Casement Park were occupied in the future and if, for example, some members of the GAA dealt with the British soldiers as British soldiers deserve to be dealt with in this country, and should they come across the Border, then Senator Fitzgerald will be very embarrassed if the Minister for Justice drags them into court and sends them to jail for daring to defend their democratic rights in the city of Belfast. That is what could happen [150] under legislation of this kind.

While I deplore the death of anyone, irrespective of his religion or his nationality, I do say that the British Army are occupying part of this country against the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Ireland and if, in so doing, they should suffer in any way for it, it is not the responsibility of a court in the Republic of Ireland to comment in any way on any action that might be taken against the British Army or against the British Government. For too long we have pussy-footed with our friends across the water, to such an extent that I believe that there are Ministers in the present Government who would like to apologise for being Irish, and who, when they enter the Court of Westminster seem to think that it is the “in-thing” to placate the British. That can be the only explanation for the introduction of a Bill that can in no way help the Irish or help the people in the Republic of Ireland. If, for example, a member of the UVF or the UDA is caught on this side of the Border blowing up a public house, an electricity station or anything else, he or she can opt to cross the Border and be tried on the other side. One has only to read the judgment of Justice McDermott to realise the type of justice that is dished out across the Border.

On the other hand, if someone sympathetic to either branch of the IRA —I want to say I hold no brief for the IRA nor did I ever—is caught on this side of the Border they may opt to remain here and to be tried. They may feel that the sentence and the treatment that they would get here would be more congenial than that which they would receive on the other side of the Border. We can take it that supporters of the UDA and the UVF, if arrested on this side of the Border would, under no circumstances stay here but under the provisions of this Bill would opt for trial in the Six Counties.

The only conclusion that I can come to is that this Bill is designed wholly against the interests of the people living in the Six Counties who oppose British oppression in that part [151] of Ulster. I feel that it is wrong and should not be included in this Order Paper today and I believe that anyone in this House or in Dáil Éireann who in any way supports this measure can be described as a British collaborator. I realise that at this juncture we cannot go into the measures contained in the Bill but, as I said earlier, if the Minister for Justice and the Government think that by bringing this Bill into the Seanad they will ease in any way its passage, we on this side of the House want to assure them that we are opposed to this Bill and we will oppose it, as I said, section by section and line by line.

Mr. Mullen: I must say that I take the point made by Senator McGlinchey that a leopard never changes its spots and I could not therefore describe any member of the Fianna Fáil Party as being a leopard. Certainly, I welcome their change of attitude towards legislation of this kind because it must not be forgotten that the Fianna Fáil Party introduced very severe legislation—the Offences Against the State Act, for example. It is on the record also, that when Republican prisoners escaped from Crumlin Road jail and came down here to take refuge they were put in the Curragh Camp and interned by the then Fianna Fáil Government. That is why I welcome the change of attitude. Everybody is entitled to change his mind and should change his mind for the right to launch the gun in the right cause.

I object to the introduction of this Bill. I am not concerned whether it is introduced in the Seanad or the Dáil. I object to it for a number of reasons. As a trade unionist, I object to its introduction. I am mindful of the fact that the trade union movement, through the medium of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, is on record as being against this type of legislation. My own union, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, is on record as being against this type of legislation. I am also mindful of the fact that the Labour Party, of which I am a member, is on record as being against this type of legislation. [152] That being so, I am at a loss to understand why it is being introduced.

It should also be borne in mind that every single anti-unionist element in the Six Counties is against this Bill. Surely the Government are not going to appear to be going right over to what the Unionists want. There is no doubt about what I have just said. You can take any of the extremes, they are all against the idea of this Bill. We know that this was part of the Sunningdale pact, but Sunningdale flopped, mainly due to the actions of the Ulster Workers' Council, a gang of fascist thugs who brought down the Sunningdale Agreement and brought down the Assembly. Are we going to play into their hands? For what reason should we play into their hands?

Mindful of what Mr. Gerry Fitt very often says when he is being interviewed, I would ask why at this point in time is this legislation being introduced? People have been speculating in this country as to whether or not this legislation would be put to one side. Everyone had good reason to believe that it would, despite what the British were doing in their House of Lords and their House of Commons. I am at a loss to understand how British newspapers can state that this matter is going to be introduced in the Dáil without a mention of it in any of the Irish newspapers. That is rather strange. I advise anybody to look at some of last week's English newspapers. There is a positive report in them that this matter was being introduced in Dáil Éireann this week. Our own newspapers were saying that it was likely to be pushed to one side. That type of thing smells. I agree with the speaker who asked who was prompting this, who is giving the instructions. I should like to know at whose instigation this Bill is now being introduced. It is certainly not provided for in the 14-point programme that this Government submitted to the people.

We are already too tied up with Great Britain—whether it is “great” any more remains to be seen. We certainly find that we are tied up financially. If this Bill is passed it will, in [153] my estimation, complete the tie-up. Perhaps it will satisfy the minds of some people who appear to be advocating, not publicly but slyly, that we should go back into the Empire.

Senators: Hear, hear.

Mr. Mullen: I would expect the present Government to take into consideration what would seem to have been the attitude of the majority when they were in Opposition. The majority of them, Fine Gael and Labour, opposed any attempt to introduce any more restrictive legislation. Remember the time the bombs went off outside Liberty Hall and other places and people were killed. There was a right rí-rá going on in Leinster House that time. The bombs were dropped, I submit, conveniently. As a matter of fact, at a meeting a few months ago in one of the rooms of this House Mr. Stanley Orme informed the Labour group—I was present—that they have the people who did that in jail in Belfast but they could not bring them to trial because they would not be able to get them convicted. This bears out some of the points that have been made by the previous speakers.

I will address my remarks now to the Labour Ministers in the Coalition Government: they should read up their Connolly—I am referring to James Connolly. If they take in what he has written, and he has written many things about our entire country, it will be driven home to them that this is not the type of legislation that should be foisted on the people. If we want to introduce legislation to deal with criminals there is great room for reform in that regard affecting adults and children. The Minister and the Government would be better occupied in concentrating on that.

Professor Quinlan: I rise very briefly on this issue as an Independent Senator. I hope to hold independent status in both periods of Government.

In approaching this issue, the main essential is that the bi-partisan policy on Northern Ireland be preserved. To my mind, that is the most essential contribution. It is the only cornerstone on which we can build [154] policy on Northern Ireland. Therefore I will look then at the present scheme to introduce the Bill in this House in that context. Like many others, I feel that this legislation could have been left where it was a week ago. In other words, I cannot see the urgency for it, because it was part and parcel of the Sunningdale package and Sunningdale unfortunately is at present in complete disarray. We see little hope of getting back to the dreams we had then. Everything depends on the Assembly elections coming up in the North and what can be fashioned as a result of that. Any commitment on our part should not be rushed. We must see what pattern is emerging in the North and what type of co-operation we can have with whatever form of Government or Assembly that emerges there. Obviously, we cannot judge that for a long time ahead. Therefore this present legislation is very much premature. I hope that its passage will be delayed and that it will not be given a high priority on our list. I hope we will move with the pattern that emerges and move in step with the development of that pattern.

If the Bill is to be introduced it is better that it be introduced in Seanad Éireann. I believe that we will have a more rational discussion here. At least, there will be a hope that in Seanad Éireann we will insist on the bi-partisan approach in our dealings with the North. If the debate here over the next few months succeeds in strengthening or indeed rescuing the bi-partisan policy, then Seanad Éireann will have helped immensely with the Northern problem.

I am not happy with the lack of bi-partisanship I find in both the present and previous Administrations. It is very wrong for us to lecture the Northern people on power-sharing and everything else when none of our Administrations has shown any inclinations to share power. That is very much evident at the moment. We must make a start. I hope that this Bill, if we are to discuss it here, will provide an opportunity for that examination of conscience to find out how are we faring in bi-partisanship and how the present Government are measuring up [155] to the standards of power sharing they are preaching to the Northern community. I regret as an Independent, to have to say that; but as long as I stay on the Independent benches I will speak my mind without fear or favour on this matter. The call that should go out from Seanad Éireann is for a complete demonstration of practical power sharing here, practical power sharing between the parties and indeed practical power sharing between the Cabinet and the Houses of the Oireachtas, something which is almost nonexistent.

I welcome Senator Mullen acting as a spur to the Government from the back benches. I hope the Fine Gael backbenchers will get on their toes and express in equally strong terms their discontent with many of the things emerging from the Government today. Only then can we rescue democracy in this part of the country, or claim that we are evolving a democratic pattern which may ultimately lead to a united Ireland, in which all shades will be represented and to which all parties and groups will contribute to the fashioning of national policy.

In that context, without any reference to what is in the Bill, I intend to support the introduction of the Bill in the Seanad. I will be looking for a low priority and, at an early stage, to commit it to a Committee of the Seanad to discuss in great detail and in great depth what is at issue, what are the alternatives and the dangers of what is proposed. There is a very serious job to be done. I hope we will approach it in a serious way as the Seanad has done in the past, and that the Seanad will be the medium of rescuing the bipartisan policy on Northern Ireland.

Mr. Deasy: I support the First Reading of this Bill. We, as Members of Fine Gael, are accustomed to being called traitors, collaborators and all such low, mean terms as we have heard today from people like Senator McGlinchey. People use these expressions when they have nothing else to offer. It is very hard at times like this to be constitutional in your outlook [156] and to be for constitutional Government. It is so easy to throw mud and be insulting. The Government and Minister for Justice are putting forward a Bill which they see as being correct and in the best interests of people North and South of the Border. We will not be deviated by this slagging and insulting behaviour from what is proposed to be done.

The introduction of this Bill has rejuvenated people who have been dormant for at least six years, since the present troubles in Northern Ireland started. It has given them a new lease of life. They now say they can now come back and pretend to be what they always were—sham republicans. Where have these people been for the past six years? Why have they not spoken? What have they got to offer? Their Leader, Deputy Lynch, was honest. He made fair statements and tried to reconciliate people of all sections in this country. People in his own party tried to knife him from left, right and centre. He still has not got over that treachery.

An Cathaoirleach: The Senator should keep closer to the question before the House.

Mr. Deasy: We heard Senator McGlinchey saying today that it was time the British got out and left the Irish to themselves. What a great old Fianna Fáil slogan that has been over the years. For the sake of political gain—and that is what that type of slogan is invented for—they would let the majority in the North massacre the minority. They are not concerned with the minority although they may pretend to be. This is cheap political talk. It does not deal with reality.

This Bill would make it possible for people, such as the Dublin car bombers, as well as the people from the North who have committed murders and who have maimed people, to be brought to justice, something that cannot be done at present. If I can help by my vote to see that this Bill is brought to this House, I will gladly do so. Of course there have been dreadful acts done in the North by the Judiciary, by the soldiers and by the police. Our duplicity is not [157] helping the minority in the North. We all deplore the decision that was given the McIlhone case in County Tyrone. We are going to get these type of decisions while we are seen to be partial. Too many people in this part of the country are seen to be partial in their views on Northern Ireland and are seen to have given active support. Senator McGlinchey said that he had no brief for the IRA. One would find that hard to believe, listening to what he had to say. One would get the very opposite impression. Words are cheap but that sort of a statement is cheap, too, and is very hard to swallow. Overall I support the First Reading of this Bill and I am not ashamed to do so. Words, threats and abuse will not deter me from doing so.

Mr. Yeats: Senator Quinlan has accused the Government of bipartisanship.

Professor Quinlan: Bipartisanship depends on both parties. There is a duty on both Government and Opposition to maintain a bipartisan policy.

Mr. Hanafin: I oppose the introduction of this Bill and intend, as we all do on this side of the House, to oppose the Bill in toto when it comes before this House, as it undoubtedly will because the Government have a majority here. The Leader of the House has not given us the reason this Bill is being introduced in this House. He has not told why it is so vital that this Bill should be introduced at this time or at any other time.

Senator Mullen made a responsible contribution. I was pleased to note that he reminded the Labour members of the Cabinet to examine the writings and the teachings of Connolly. He could also have added Larkin. I would also remind the Labour Members of this House to ask themselves what would Connolly and what would Jim Larkin have done in the event of a Bill of this kind being introduced. If they conscientiously examine what James Connolly and James Larkin would do, most certainly [158] all Labour Members would oppose this Bill. The Labour Party are very quick indeed to boast about Connolly and Larkin, and they are entitled to do so because they were two great Irishmen of their time. Let us see whether they will support the views and teachings of Connolly and Larkin or are now prepared to renege on them.

It was said that Fianna Fáil introduced the Offences Against the State Act. I would remind the Senator who said this that he was right when he said it was opposed by the Labour Party. When a member of the present Cabinet, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, was asked “What do you intend to do about the Offences Against the State Act now that you are in Government?” he said “Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

I am tempted to ignore the rather hysterical speech made by the last speaker. I do not think it is part of that Senator's nature. I know him very well. I am rather surprised he was so carried away and that his speech was so full of venom against the Fianna Fáil Party. Is it because they are so short of speakers on the other side of the House to support the introduction of this Bill that he was picked out of the hat and told “For God's sake, go in and say something.” I know it was contrary to the man's nature to make such a speech.

We must ask ourselves why is this Bill being introduced at the present time? Why is it that a Bill of such extreme importance is not being introduced in the Dáil? We can only speculate on the reasons. We do not know because we have not been told. Is it because the members of the Labour Party in Dáil Éireann are having problems of conscience and the Government could not be assured of getting the Bill through although in this case, I am sure the Taoiseach will vote with the Government? Is it that they are worried about the Labour members in Dáil Éireann? As I say, we can only speculate on the reasons.

Senator Yeats pointed out a significant fact that not since 1922 has a Bill of such extreme importance been introduced in this House. We shall have [159] a lot to say when this Bill is being debated. At the moment we are merely opposing its introduction. Senator Robinson attacked the Fianna Fáil Party in Dáil Éireann and said that they were holding up legislation and should agree to a committee system. I was rather surprised to hear that, because she is a responsible person and contributes much to debates in this House. This is contrary to what she has been pressing for as long as I am a Member of this Seanad. That would destroy the system of open debate and deny the right of the backbencher to contribute. Why has she changed her mind now? Perhaps she is not fully acquainted with what it would mean if legislation was to be dealt with under a committee system, as she suggested.

We are obliged to oppose, first of all, the introduction of this Bill and secondly, the Bill itself when it is brought before this House. Is there anyone here—I address my remarks particularly to people in the legal profession on both sides of this House— who would depend on justice being dispensed from the benches in the North of Ireland? Is there anyone here from the legal profession who can say he is perfectly satisfied at the way in which justice was dispensed in the past? People with Nationalistic aspirations were victimised by the oppression of which we are all aware, but when they went before the courts, expecting justice, that was the one thing they did not receive. In fact, they received the exact opposite.

We must oppose the introduction of this Bill, not because of what Senator Deasy said, using the term “sham Republicanism” and “traitors within the Fianna Fáil Party” and all sorts of nonsense. I could talk about mongrel foxes but I do not wish to bring this debate down to that level.

Mr. W. O'Brien: Mind your boss does not hear you. He will not like that. Will he vote with the Government?

Mr. Hanafin: I am sure the Taoiseach will vote with the Government [160] on this Bill. This one would be close to his heart.

Mr. W. O'Brien: I am talking about your boss.

Mr. Killilea: He will probably bring in the mongrel foxes under the Wildlife Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: The Chair deplores the bi-partisan conversation going on in the House at the moment. I would ask Senator Hanafin to return to the discussion on the Order of Business.

Mr. Hanafin: It is very interesting to hear the remarks of the uninformed and to listen to points being made on the other side trying to justify the introduction of this Bill. I ask the Labour Members of this House to remember that when they were accusing Fianna Fáil one of the remarks they used was: “If you are not prepared to help the Nationalists in the North, please do not hinder them”. Such remarks were made in this House and in the Dáil. Let the Labour Members stand up and be counted now and we will see if they can stand over the remarks they made. I must question why this Bill is being introduced at the present time. Has it something to do with the Convention elections? Because if this Bill is introduced and passed it can only help the Unionist Party in the North.

An Cathaoirleach: The question before the House is whether Item No. 1 should be part of the Order of Business for today.

Mr. McCartin: In circumstances like this it is very difficult for any Senator to claim with absolute confidence that he is perfectly sure that what he is doing is right and consistent with policies over the past years and perhaps may be proved right in the future. I do not propose to be so infallible or so far-seeing that I will be able to look back on this in 20 years, if I am alive, and say that what we did was the right thing. On the other hand, neither do I believe that my friend and colleague, Senator Mullen, was wise to advise his colleagues or that Senator Hanafin was wise to advise the Labour Party members, [161] to consult Connolly before they made up their minds about what they should do here. After all, Connolly has been dead for 50 years. There have been two world wars and many minor wars since. The map of Europe has changed; politics, attitudes and outlooks have changed.

It is not fair to Connolly to bring him into a situation like this and expect him to have provided for every situation and every crisis which might have arisen and will arise in the next 50. Perhaps Senator Mullen or Senator Hanafin would expect the writings of Connolly to solve the problems for hundreds of years to come. I have not that sort of confidence to support the introduction of this Bill. I believe that in the democratic interest I am right in saying that I support the introduction of this Bill. We, as Senators, complained that sufficient use was not made of this House; that this House did not get the opportunities it deserved and was not making the contribution that it could make. I feel this would be a very good atmosphere in which to debate legislation of this sort. I regret that we had to commence with such an emotive contribution from Senator McGlinchey because it is not consistent with the kind of things he had been saying privately and, indeed, publicly over the past number of years.

I proclaim myself as good a Republican as anybody on the other side of the House or anywhere in this country, but I do not use that phrase to secure me votes of a particular kind at a particular time. I believe that this is what has been done. I have seen over the past few months, particularly when the Government were blackmailed by hunger strikers in Portlaoise, people flying to this so-called Republican banner. They had not got the guts to join the IRA. They have not got the loyalty to be true to the leadership of their own party and their own leader. We have been treated to this at council level and I hope we will not be treated to this sort of double-thinking and double-talking in the Seanad. I expect [162] more from Senators.

We can deal with this Bill, line by line and section by section. The majority of people in the Six Counties and in the Twenty-six Counties want peace and reconciliation. This must come before territorial unity. We all believe and accept this. I believe the majority of people in the Six Counties want no part of the type of justice being meted out in the courts or the sort of justice that is being meted out by the gunmen on street corners. I honestly believe that the majority of people on both sides deplore this sort of situation.

If somebody in County Fermanagh, five or six miles from where I live, can walk into a school, shoot a man in the presence of seven or eight children, get into a car, cross the Border, claim political immunity and get away with it, what sort of trial would we expect to get from the majority of people in the Six Counties? We cannot forget the case in County Tyrone last week.

Mr. Killilea: I agree and do not take me up on that. We cannot forget the time they shot the mentally deficient man.

Mr. McCartin: I recognise that such cases have occurred and deplore them as much as anybody on the other side. We cannot solve that problem by allowing the people who shot the school teacher in County Fermanagh and drove into my parish to go scot free because they claimed to have done it for political motives.

Mr. Killilea: Why was he not arrested?

Mr. McCartin: We do not know why they did it. They might even have been mad or borne a grudge against somebody. We have no way of knowing when decisions are made in the dark of night and executions are carried out by private executioners. We will not help solve these problems if we allow the murderers to escape here and get away with it. I would like the Minister for Justice to say: “We are introducing this legislation. We had discussions with our counterparts in Britain and the Six Counties [163] and we have come to certain agreements. They intend to do this and we intend to do the other.” It is not always possible for Ministers to say exactly what discussions they have had recently. It has been stated publicly that our Ministers are in constant contact with their Northern and British counterparts. Nobody, not even Senator McGlinchey, believes that if our Ministers are in constant contact with their counterparts in Britain they are selling out the national interest. I cannot believe that that is accepted by the majority.

The majority of people know well that if our Ministers are having such discussions that they are in the national interest and in the hope of improving the situation. I believe such discussions are going on. While I am a backbencher, and a newcomer to this parliamentary forum, I do not expect to be kept informed of all these matters. Facts have come to light recently where weighty and important decisions were made by a father of their party, Mr. de Valera, when he was Taoiseach. The vast majority of the people in the Fianna Fáil Party knew nothing about them. Decisions were made by him which could have radically altered the situation we have at present. I am not saying if he was right or wrong but he did not inform his party of everything he said. He did not tell them every deal he had made. In democracy such things should never be.

Mr. Killilea: Who said so?

Mr. McCartin: I know this and so do you. Senator Mullen spoke as a trade unionist. During the years I had great hopes that the trade union movement could have solved the problem we are facing at present. The fact that the trade union movement, which was in a unique position, could not solve the problem we have in Northern Ireland, does not reflect on the movement. It reflects the complexity and the difficulty of the situation that exists here. Senator Mullen is rash in his assertion—although I admire his courage and independence—that the solutions are so simple: ask the British Government [164] to withdraw from the Six Counties. I do not want to see any British soldier here. I do not want to hear any emotive talk about the British not changing their spots and being our enemy. We are a member of a community of nations. If we work together, we can help solve some of these problems.

I do not believe that the present British policy is right. If we are to win the goodwill of the majority of the people in the Six Counties we must let it appear that we are doing everything that can be done to ensure that innocent people cannot be murdered on one side of the ditch and the murderers can come across the Border and get away with it. For this reason I want to see this Bill debated sanely and soberly. I expect the Minister to listen carefully to what the Opposition have to say. It is a wrong attitude to take if somebody says: “We are going to debate this line by line, section by section, and oppose everything.” We should discuss it first. I acknowledge the right of Members to vote whatever way they wish.

Mr. Killilea: On the point spoken of by Senator McCartin, the basis underlying the Bill will be, and Senator McGowan first mentioned it, under the law of Northern Ireland. I question here what is the law of Northern Ireland? How is it applied? Who applies it? That should have been explained to us first. Then we could understand the reason this Bill was introduced. I am an Irishman. I have not seen in the last ten years, or indeed ever, in Northern Ireland, the law of democracy as I know it. Therefore, the principle of this Bill is incorrect. We are talking about a law that is incorrect and we are trying to enforce a law that is incorrect.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: We are not discussing the principle of the Bill.

Mr. Killilea: The principle of the Bill is written here and the Leader of the House has his name under it.

Mr. Alexis FitzGerald: We are not discussing it.

[165] Mr. Killilea: We are discussing this motion. We are discussing what Senators McCartin, Deasy and Mullen were discussing. I am discussing the same sentiments and will give my opinion. If Senator Alexis FitzGerald has an opinion to give he may do so. He spoke on the Broadcasting Bill a few weeks ago and I did not stop him. I am saying what every other Senator said on that side of the House this morning. I notice that the Labour Party have vanished from the other side of the House. There must be a conference on opinion now. There must be some controversy about what Senator Mullen said.

An Cathaoirleach: It is not proper to comment on the presence or absence of Senators in the House. I would be glad if Senator Killilea would address himself to the question.

Mr. Killilea: What is the reason for this motion? Why are we opposing the Order of Business today? I firmly believe, as a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, that this is nothing less than domiciling for the Convention elections due in a few weeks time. As Senator Mullen stated, it is nothing less than lackeying to the British Government. He emphasised that point by stating that British papers circulating here last week carried a statement saying that this Bill would be in the Seanad or Dáil this week when none of the Irish papers could do so. That is evidence that there is something very low behind the motives of this Bill. For this reason I oppose the Order of Business today.

It is clear that the nation should legislate for the Republic alone. Some legislative measures need to be brought in. They would be of vital importance to the people living with inflation and need to be dealt with urgently. This Bill is just to rubber-stamp a British Government desire. It is easy for Senator McCartin to say that a school teacher was shot in one instance and to forget what happened in another earlier instance.

Let us go back two or three years and see what the law of Northern [166] Ireland was and how it was upheld. I remember an incident, which I will remember forever, where a man who was mentally retarded was shot dead at the back door of his house by the British soldiers. We know when a person suffers a mental retraction such as that man had obviously could have no part in any matter in Northern Ireland. Yet the British Government could use their artillery and their firing squads to shoot such a person. Three years later they ask the Government and the people here to come through this House to condone such a Bill as this.

I ask Senators and in particular the Labour Party, to have the confidence of their convictions, convictions that they themselves used for many hours during legislative measures that were taken in this House and the other House previously. I ask them to come across the floor of the House, the same as the Leader of the Government did on another occasion, because this is not in their 15-point programme or their 16-point programme—to come across the floor of the House as Senator Mullen suggested. It is not good enough to talk about it. The Labour Party must use their votes and their votes will be counted when they vote for us, with us in this proposal.

Dr. Martin: I should like to support the First Reading of the Bill, ironically enough for many of the reasons that have been put forward against its First Reading, notably by Senators McGowan, Dolan and Mullen.

An Cathaoirleach: The question is that the Bill be part of the Order of Business.

Dr. Martin: That is what I meant to say. In other words, I support the question that the Bill be part of the Order of Business for many of the reasons which have been given for its not being made part of the Order of Business. Basically I find myself as uneasy about the provisions of the Bill in relation to this as many of the people who have so far opposed it. One of the things that has emerged in this debate, an extraordinarily long debate on the Order of Business, is that there is a [167] great deal of thinking going on in the House, a good deal of frustrated contemplation of the present crisis in Northern Ireland and its bearing on the situation in the South. This thinking and meditation and agonising is not finding a voice within the parliamentary forums.

It seems that this Bill would give an opportunity, much as I dislike many of its provisions, and I would pledge myself to oppose most of the provisions in the Bill, for a discussion on the situation in Northern Ireland as it stands, but particularly as it has changed since the Sunningdale Agreement which, of course, was the occasion for this legislation. It would give us another angle of vision, an opportunity to review the situation in the North of Ireland while debating the substantive content of the Bill itself. Since the Sunningdale situation a number of things of the most disturbing kind have happened, not just the fall of the Executive but the changed attitude of Britain towards the situation in the North.

I would not see the UWC strike as the primary contributory element in the fall of the Northern Executive but the general election which was called by Mr. Heath back in February last year, which totally undermined the work of his colleague, Mr. Whitelaw, who had been working there for so many years to build up the Executive and Assembly. That decision of Mr. Heath to take on the miners at that time could be seen merely as irresponsibility or that he did not know the repercussions of that in Northern Ireland. I think it could be read in other ways, perhaps as an indication that England does not quite want to get out of Northern Ireland with the same alacrity as it did before.

I seem to be straying from the point. What I am talking about is the timing of this debate. It is very relevant to the timing of the fall of the Executive in Northern Ireland because it was in the context of that Executive and the Sunningdale Agreement that this Bill came into being. It is an unusual piece of legislation. I think the Minister for Justice would admit that himself. It has all kinds of [168] strangely angular legal provisions in it to get around the problem of extradition. All these decisions and concessions were made against the background of the Sunningdale Agreement. Now that the Sunningdale Agreement has, in fact, disappeared, the grounds on which this Bill is to be discussed are radically different.

Since then there has been among the distressing situations that have arisen in the North the continued harrassment of the Catholic ghettos, the extraordinary power that the UDA have achieved, the fact that the British Government have done nothing about the 100,000 licensed guns in the hands of Northern Protestants, whereas the Catholic ghettos are defenceless, the fact that the searches are still discriminatory and the fact that sectarian rhetoric has increased rather than decreased, particularly on the Unionist side in Northern Ireland. The situation has become extremely problematical. We are not talking about the same situation as we had after Sunningdale, though God knows that was problematical enough.

These would seem to be reasons for introducing the Bill, though from the other side they have been presented for not reading the Bill, for not putting the Bill on the Order of Business. Having regard to the fact that so much passion, indeed so much eloquence and reasoned speech too, have been lavished on the issue so far on the mere Order of Business debate it seems to me that there is a crying need in the Seanad to have the whole question of Northern Ireland at this moment re-examined. This Bill would provide a context, an angle of vision, a platform for review, so to speak, of what has happened in Northern Ireland since Sunningdale. The Seanad is the best place to initiate such a debate. A request for such a debate has been on the Order Paper for about nine months by Senator West and myself, Motion 23. We have only once debated Northern Ireland since this Oireachtas came into being and that was last July. It was a debate called the “12 Hours Notice”, where the Minister for Foreign Affairs came in, in many ways to block certain fissures that had arisen in the Dáil [169] because of the difficulty of the debate there. It was not a satisfactory debate. We had not sufficient warning of it. In despair of not having Motion 23 ever discussed and recognising the need to have the situation in Northern Ireland reviewed at the moment, I would with those reservations and for those reasons support the Bill being placed on the Order of Business today.

Mr. Whyte: I support the inclusion of the Bill on the Order of Business for the simple and sole reason that we have had opportunities enough in the past number of months and number of years to deplore the activities of people on both sides of the Border with regard to what has been going on. All sections in Church and State and at all levels have deplored the tragedies that have occurred and that are still occurring. It is very easy for us to do this and live within ourselves and say, as one of the Senators has said already, that we ought to concern ourselves with legislation for the Twenty-six Counties and the Twenty-six Counties alone. We have a far greater responsibility than just to think of ourselves alone. This will give us an opportunity to debate something that has been spoken about all over the country and all over the world. There have not been any opportunities in the last 12 months in either Houses of the Oireachtas to debate this question. It is a question which I think ought to be debated responsibly and calmly.

I am very disappointed that already in the House it appears to be used as a platform, maybe with an eye to getting votes, maybe with an eye to getting back to old entrenched positions that we had in past years and that we still appear to be harping back to. I think this is a mistake. All of us realise that there have been mistakes made in the last 50 or 60 years in this country. Nobody could say now: “What I said at that time was right and has been proved right.” As Senator McCartin has said, if anyone is to look for inspiration at the writings of someone who is dead for over 50 years, they were not [170] Solomons, they were not inspired, they were not God Almighty and they could not, with the best will in the world, visualise at that time the changes that would come about in the world and in this country over that length of time. We have to look at things as they are now and give ourselves an opportunity to debate things as they are.

We must ask ourselves what can be done to help the situation we find in our country. If by changing our laws here or helping to change them on the other side, there is something positive that can be done to help the situation, then we ought to discuss those changes that might come about.

Cáit Uí Eachthéirn: I will be very brief, as usual. Most of the reasons why this Bill should not be on the Order of Business have been given. My reason is that I feel it is unconstitutional. We will leave that one to the lawyers to hammer out. I believe it cannot be worked and I am convinced that anyone from the Twenty-six Counties who would be tried in any court in the North would not get a fair trial. I believe that until we have an all-Ireland court for an all-Ireland Parliament, we should not have a common law enforcement area.

Why is there this terrible rush at the moment? The whole thing was moved six months ago. Why come along today and change from the Dáil to the Seanad and rush it through as other legislation has been rushed through in this House? Somebody referred to Fianna Fáil and the Offences Against the State Act. It was very funny that a bomb could change the whole tone of the Opposition to vote with Fianna Fáil. Now they are in office and why have they not got the guts to repeal it? In this legislation, we have a recipe for civil war and I hope everyone in this House will take it very seriously because we do not want the Queen's writ to run through the country once more and have another Act of Union.

Dr. Browne: I have no objection to the introduction of this Bill into the Seanad or of its transfer from the Dáil, although its transfer from the [171] Dáil, as somebody said, is a measure of the general ineptitude of the Coalition Government in handling their business, which they have shown throughout their period of office. I wish to oppose the Bill in principle.

An Cathaoirleach: I take it the Senator is giving notice that he intends that, because this would be a matter for Second Stage.

Dr. Browne: I oppose the introduction of the measure for discussion on the Order Paper today. As a result of listening to the debate, it must be clear that this is a highly dangerous Bill. Listening to the intensity of the conflict, the angry exchanges between Senators—this is normally a very sedate and conservative and reserved part of the Oireachtas—the condemnations, the imputations, must give everybody some idea of the kind of feelings this Bill is going to generate in this House in the course of the debate and then, later on to a much greater extent, in the Dáil and thereafter, possibly, in the country. There is the possibility that the Government may have some idea that this could be turned into a good law and order issue at a general election in the absence of any other issue which they could safely go to the country on.

All of this has to be borne in mind in the consideration of the Bill. Above everything, it seems to me to be a very dangerous Bill, not at the moment anything like as necessary as it might have been said to have been at some stages in recent years. Therefore, the whole motivation of the Government in bringing the Bill in is a very devisive proposal at this stage and is particularly obscure. There is a possibility that it is part and parcel of the general move towards the creation of the two States idea—effectively extradition between two independent States, the Northern State and the Southern State. This, taken with the other measures, like the Broadcasting Bill which is before us, the provision for BBC being brought in here and, of course, the amendment of the Constitution Articles, a Constitution [172] determining the jurisdiction of the State, may be part of an overall plan of the Government.

However, in opposing the introduction of this Bill one has to be particularly careful that one is not put in the position because he opposes the Bill, of being opposed to law and order. It would be difficult to pin that particular label on me but I am sure, looking back at the number of labels that have been pinned on me from time to time, it would not deter anybody from trying to do so.

My approach to the problem of unity has always been different from most other people except a few members of the Labour Party at one time. There are many things that should be done down here first. At all times I have said I do not want to be united to a group of people who could only be united with me at the point of a gun. I would prefer to see a society in which there was unity by agreement. I could understand very well the reasons why the Northern Unionist Protestant would be very frightened to become part of a united Ireland in the terms of the ethos of our society and in the context of the laws and Constitution of our State.

For that reason, I believe the introduction of a Bill of this kind is a wrong decision on the part of the Government because of the many other Bills which should be introduced in the first instance if they were serious about their will to create the pre-conditions of a united Ireland. These are the obvious ones in relation to our marriage laws, in relation to divorce, contraception, a non-sectarian educational system and in the general upgrading of the standard of our people, the reduction in the number of unemployed and so on. All of these are obvious social improvements and freedom of conscience which must be provided for in this Southern State before we could expect the Northern Unionist Protestant willingly to come into a united Ireland.

An Cathaoirleach: I am afraid I must intervene and point out to the Senator that we are not debating the question of the unity of Ireland but [173] the question of the administration of law in the two parts of the country.

Dr. Browne: I accept your correction but I think the general pattern of this Bill was introduced in the wake of the Sunningdale Agreement which was directed towards the general policy of uniting Ireland in a particular way.

An Cathaoirleach: It is for that reason that the Senator was allowed to develop his remarks about the context in which the Bill was introduced but it would not be proper for me to allow him to continue at length.

Dr. Browne: I do not intend to continue in any detailed way but I presume that we will be allowed to do so if the Bill is eventually taken. This was obviously the way in which the Coalition Government should have proceeded, but instead of that of course they proceeded in exactly the reverse direction particularly in relation to the extraordinary behaviour of the Taoiseach in relation to the Contraception Bill.

This increased rather than diminished the fears of the Northern Unionist. The most important part of all is the extraordinary behaviour of the Labour leadership on this Bill, and especially of the Minister, Deputy Cooney, who in Dáil Éireann had created a remarkable all-party impression of being an extremely talented person and very liberal in his general attitude to legislation and to the use of the courts. Most of us who read his speeches or listened to his speeches three or four years ago were very impressed by the general broad vision that he had of the whole question of law and justice and the exercise of justice in our society.

He, together with the Labour leadership, now seem to be doing one of the most spectacular policy somersaults the National Coalition could have done in introducing this Bill. As Senator Mullen said, the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union Congress and the Labour Party are all opposed to this kind of repressive legislation. We set [174] out to oppose this kind of legislation.

Fianna Fáil are in the difficulty, of course, that they have put on the Statute Book some of the most repressive laws—indeed the most repressive laws—that there are on the Statute Book. They were opposed by the Labour Party and in particular by Deputy Conor Cruise-O'Brien who was the Labour Party spokesman on the North, and these laws were recognised as the most repressive laws in Europe or in North America. This was the description given to them by Deputy Cruise-O'Brien at the time.

It is absurd, in that context, to talk about democracy or to talk about maintaining, preserving or protecting democracy when the courts do not observe the simplest recognised rules of Common Law. People are arrested, tried, convicted and sent to jail in the most summary fashion and this Bill proposes to continue and reinforce the existing grossly illiberal laws already on the Statute Book to which all of us in the Labour Party were completely opposed.

I know I am not allowed to deal with the Bill in detail, but anybody who looks into section 19 will see the extraordinary provision where any person may arrest in certain circumstances. It seems to go much further than even the existing very repressive Offences Against the State laws.

An Cathaoirleach: The Senator has already confessed that he knows he is out of order in discussing a section of a Bill discharged in the Dáil.

Dr. Browne: I am not discussing this. I just referred to it and left it.

An Cathaoirleach: The Senator is not entitled to refer to it.

Dr. Browne: I am trying to establish my case for the illiberality of the law, that is all. It is obviously very difficult to see how we can justify here the introduction of a Bill which would allow for giving power to the RUC or the various security services in the North of Ireland who on their record have shown themselves to have little concern for justice or the rights of individuals before the courts. In [175] recent months we have been pursuing at Strasbourg the behaviour of these people in torturing persons whom they have taken into custody, alleging that they have tortured them.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: What on earth has that got to do with this Bill or the Order of Business?

Dr. Browne: They are the people to whom we are going to entrust certain powers under this law.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: It is quite the reverse.

Dr. Browne: It is not the reverse. These people will be brought as witnesses down into our courts. Is that not true?

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I hope to have an opportunity to speak.

Dr. Browne: Can these people be permitted to give evidence in our courts in the light of our experience in relation to their treatment of people in their custody in the North of Ireland? There is the further danger that the fact that this civil war which now exists in the North of Ireland, as a result of this interchange of the various police forces, the various special branches, the security forces and the giving of evidence, the fact that our Government will have to collaborate more obviously, more openly and more frequently with these forces of the North of Ireland—all of this must add to the likelihood that the civil war already existing in the North will spread to the south. We will find ourselves in the same position as they are in the North, with continual sporadic appalling killings and murders between the various sects and groups which have built up there since this first started. For these reasons I intend to vote against putting this item on the Order Paper.

Mr. Kennedy: While I share the viewpoint of my colleague, Senator Mullen, that some sections of the trade union movement have already expressed opposition to this Bill in whole or in part, nevertheless I am in favour of a First Reading. I am in favour of it because I clearly believe [176] that no question or issue can be properly resolved without full, frank, open and democratic debate and discussion. If we fail or refuse to discuss any question coming before this House, then that moment is a dangerous one for the parliamentary and democratic process.

However, I am opposed to the implication that in referring this Bill to this House it will have a much easier or more speedy passage here than in the other House. That will not be so. It is already clear and beyond all doubt that many Senators hold very strong views about this Bill, especially bearing in mind that the Bill postulates the application of fair and impartial justice not only in this part of the State but in Northern Ireland as well. Those of us who have any experience of the judicial system in Northern Ireland will, of course, have very serious reservations about certain sections of this Bill.

I am tending to do what so many speakers before me have done, that is to discuss the Bill itself. I shall refrain from doing that but I will give notice that in agreeing to a First Reading, or in voting for a First Reading for that matter I reserve my decision.

Mr. Cowen: I would like to add my voice to that of speakers on this side of the House against the introduction of this legislation on the Order Paper today. I was surprised when I heard Senator Robinson saying that she thought it political wisdom on the part of the Government to introduce this legislation in the Seanad. Most Members have said that we would like more legislation to come before us but if we have legislation coming before us I would like to see it coming in the front door and not through the side door or the back door. This legislation was laid before the Dáil and it came out the back door yesterday evening. Indeed, when there is legislation of this type, legislation that can be so significant in the future if implemented and that can have serious consequences from a national point of view, I honestly think that the proper place to debate it is in the Dáil where we have the elected representatives of the people to [177] pass judgment on it. That is not taking from the status of this House. Legislation of this type should be debated fully in the people's Parliament and that is in Dáil Éireann.

As I said earlier, this legislation was placed before the Dáil and taken out a side door. If we, in this House are going to deal with any legislation before it goes to the Dáil I think it should come in the front door and not as it has happened in this case.

There are many reasons why we object to this legislation. We in the Fianna Fáil Party, in the first instance, think that it is unconstitutional and that I feel quite certain will be proved when it is properly debated. I cannot say more than has been said already on this side of the House in regard to the reasons why we object to even giving this Bill a First Reading. We will vote against it.

Mr. Garrett: I wish to add my voice in opposition to this Bill on the Order Paper today. The Bill is unworkable and unconstitutional. Some months ago after the Sunningdale Conference, of which this Bill is part and parcel, the Taoiseach made a statement in Dáil Éireann. He was questioned on this particular aspect of that conference and he said the Sunningdale Conference and Agreement was a package deal and that no part of it could be dealt with in isolation. This is a package within that parcel and now, at the whim of a foreign Government in collusion with our Ministers of State, the package has been taken out of that parcel and has been foisted on the Irish people. There is no need for anybody to be in any doubt at all that this Bill is being foisted on the Irish people and being forced into Irish legislation at the whim of the British Government. The British Government have already enacted a Bill through the House of Commons. That Bill is unworkable and untenable unless a similar Bill is brought through both Houses of the Oireachtas. Then co-operation will be found.

I doubt the wisdom of Senator McCartin when he tells us on this side of the House especially that we can [178] trust our Ministers in conference with their counterparts across the water. I doubt very much if that statement would go down with some of the people throughout the length and breadth of this country because we know—and it is not very difficult to get proof—that secret agreements were made between a Cumann na nGaedhael Government in this country and the British Government. We know that none of these secret agreements were discovered until after the election of February, 1932. One of those secret agreements was the paying of the land annuities. Our memories are not so short and I would like Senator McCartin to remember that. Our trust in some of these Ministers is very, very low.

Neither I nor anybody else here believes that there is justice being dished out by the courts in Northern Ireland. I think every speaker here today has expressed the opinion that there is no such thing as justice being meted out by the courts in Northern Ireland. Why then are we asked to introduce a Bill in the southern part of the country to co-operate with the unjust system in the North of Ireland? I believe that if this Bill does eventually find its way on to the Statute Book it will be the cause of more bloodshed. It will not ease the strife that exists in the North at present; it is my belief that it will even increase bloodshed and killings which I would be very, very sad to see happening.

I do not think that there is any necessity for the introduction of this Bill or taking up the time of this House. The legislation I should like to see coming before both Houses of the Oireachtas is legislation that would reduce unemployment which now stands at the staggering figure of 103,000. We need legislation now to reduce the cost of living and the number of redundancies. I am sure that everybody in this country realises that this Bill is of no benefit or credit to the people of southern Ireland. It has been introduced at the whim of the British Government. They cannot enforce their legislation until we bring in a Bill—a counterpart of the British Bill—so that both [179] Governments can get together and operate the legislation.

Those are sufficient reasons for me to oppose the introduction of this Bill on the Order Paper today.

Mr. Markey: This House has always prided itself in having within its four walls a less political atmosphere than that which exists in the Lower House. I have been listening to some contributions this morning, and I hope that that standard will continue to apply. I also hope that, after what I regard as the first emotional outbursts on a Bill such as this we will be able to maintain certain standards in the Second Reading debate.

I can express only pious aspirations, an expression of hope that there will be a more intellectually honest attitude towards the provisions of this Bill, that there will be a less simplistic attitude towards what it is trying to do, less simplistic in regard to everything in a black and white light, with no grey area whatsoever. I hope that there will be much more awareness of the reality of the effects of both bomb and bullet on the human body, on the jobs and livelihoods of people, and the difference in having or not having a job. I hope there will be on all sides much less talk about the Bill being unconstitutional—the place to prove its constitutionality or otherwise is in the courts, after it has gone through both Houses.

There were two points running through the Opposition's words this morning, namely, the urgency of the Bill and its relevance. The Bill is attempting to deal with, as an urgent matter, the effects on people and their livelihoods, and on the economic life of this country. That is an urgent matter which has to be attended to and it certainly has relevance in anything that we attempt to do. I hope that every paragraph will be digested here in this House, because I am confident that, through its being digested constructively and responsibly, the public will brush away a lot of the cobwebs that have been allowed to collect in this [180] country over 50 years. Let us have no more talk about 700 years submission to British rule. We had enough talk about that in the past and it has left the country in the state it is today.

If the Bill is unconstitutional, let the courts so decide. I do not think it is within the ambit of anybody in this House, or in the Lower House, to so decide. Our job is to discuss the provisions of this Bill in a sensible cool manner as befits the standards of this House.

Mr. Brennan: I do not propose to speak for long. Coming from an area near this unnatural geographical Border, I have more interest in this than might appear at first sight. In my view, it is idle to contend that this House is equipped as well as the Dáil in any way to deal first with this Bill.

Senators know that the Seanad is far from being as democratically elected as the Lower House. This prompts me to ask how we became so important, notwithstanding the fact that I would very much like to see us being asked to legislate and there is no reason why we should not. At present, there are five vacancies in this House, some of them of 12 months' standing. That is the importance that is attached to the Seanad.

Senator Markey spoke about bringing the Bill to the courts. There are far too many courts in the country. In 1967 An Cathaoirleach served on the Committee on the Constitution. Page 29 of the report of that committee states that the possibility of improving the composition of the Seanad by ordinary legislation within the framework of the Constitution should be reviewed from time to time. Now is the time to do this, when there are five vacancies in the Seanad. I would not mind if this were an ordinary piece of legislation. It would not make a bad situation such as exists in the North—and in fact in the Republic as well—worse. I am still at a great loss to know the reason for the indecent haste for this legislation. As mentioned by a previous speaker, this Bill has come to the Seanad by the back door.

I would be very sorry to make any uncomplimentary remarks about the [181] Minister for Justice in his handling of this or about any other Minister, but he is absolutely wrong in bringing in a Bill of this magnitude and of such a dangerous nature to this House. His action is bordering on lunacy.

However, I am giving my views on it. I have lived with Northern people all my life and I hope to die with them, but I would strongly advise the Minister to withdraw the Bill from the House. Many people who contributed here this morning, although they said they were going to oppose the Bill, said they would vote for its introduction here, which, to my mind, is a very peculiar frame of mind. I have maintained almost a total vow of silence since I came into this House, but I could not let an occasion such as this pass without speaking, knowing as I do the implications and the seriousness of this Bill.

Mr. A. O'Brien: The vast majority of the people of this country disapprove of violence. They believe firmly that violence will not solve the problem of Partition. They believe that violence tends to exacerbate conditions in the North and to perpetuate divisions. Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and leaders of Church and State have condemned the outrageous acts that have been committed in the North by all sides. Many different factions are implicated in the feuds that exist in Northern Ireland. As long as these violent deeds are perpetrated, there is no hope of bringing all sides together and the hope of uniting northern and southern Ireland is diminishing every day.

If this Bill, which is being introduced today, does something to eliminate violence and to bring about the knowledge that violence is not the accepted way to achieve their objectives, and if it enables people to come together to talk over their problems, it will have done something worthwhile. For that reason I support the introduction of this Bill into the Seanad. I do not see why its introduction is opposed by Members of the House. As one of the two Houses of the Oireachtas, this is a suitable place to introduce it and I hope the Bill will be examined dispassionately and [182] objectively. When Members on the other side say they will oppose the Bill, section by section, line by line, word by word, I would prefer if they took the attitude of examining the Bill section by section, line by line and word by word and make their contributions towards producing a good piece of legislation. That would do something to remove violence from this country and to bring nearer the day when people, having accepted that violence is not the way to reach a peaceful solution—it perpetuates bitterness and strife—realise that the way of violence will not be tolerated. In this way people are more likely to come together in an effort to settle their differences and bring about a way of living together while still holding on to their different views. This can be done only by peaceful means. You cannot get the best out of a man or a community by generating hatred and anger.

The Opposition should fulfil their role in a democracy by contributing in so far as they can towards what they regard as possible improvements in the Bill rather than opposing the measure totally. They say they condemn acts of violence so some measure must be introduced to combat violence. This Bill is an honest attempt to do this and, for that reason, I support the motion that it be included on the Order of Business.

Mr. W. Ryan: I support the motion proposed almost two-and-a-half hours ago.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Perhaps we should agree that in the circumstances, having regard to the length of time taken, we should sit through lunch?

Mr. Yeats: We should settle the Order of Business and then adjourn for lunch.

Mr. W. Ryan: We have wandered away from the motion. I welcomed the change of attitude on the part of the Government when they decided to introduce Bills in the Seanad. I felt this was a very good thing because it gave us an opportunity of discussing Bills at greater length than in the past. [183] Up to now we have had to rush Bills through this House at Christmas and Easter and in the summer at very short notice, with, perhaps, only three or four hours' discussion. But this Bill is of a different type and this is not the House in which it should be introduced. Some other speaker mentioned that the passing of this Bill through the Seanad would not be a true reflection of the thoughts of the people.

At present, in the Seanad the Opposition are outnumbered two to one. We had the misfortune to lose some of our Members through deaths and resignation when a Member took office in the other House. When the vote is taken on this Bill it will be two to one in favour because of the lineup on the Government side. The Labour Members must vote with the Government; perhaps one or two may not. This will be published in newspaper headlines and on the radio and television and it will be made known to the British Government that this Bill has passed through the Upper House in Ireland by a very large majority. It should be the other way about.

We saw what happened in the other House last night when the motion to transfer the Bill to this House was carried by only two votes. If this Bill had been fully discussed, if the Second Stage had been taken in the Dáil, it might not have come here. There might not have been any need for it to come here as it might not have got through the Dáil. It is not proper that the Government should decide yesterday to bring in a motion in the Dáil asking that a Bill be transferred to the Seanad. When the motion was passed, the Bill was put before us within 24 hours. This House should get longer notice of the Business we have before us. We never know what business is to be transacted when we come in. It is often changed at the last minute because Ministers cannot attend. As far as this Bill is concerned we should have got at least one week's notice that the First Stage was coming here. The same should apply to other Bills.

So much has been said about the Bill that I do not think there is any need [184] for me to say anything except, as the other speakers on this side of the House have said, that I am opposed to the Bill. It is a Bill that is not necessary now as it was part of the Sunningdale package. It is the only part of the Sunningdale package left and it should go the way Sunningdale did.

Senator McCartin mentioned Connolly and he said Connolly was dead 50 years and why should we bring back his name now. The attitude of the Fine Gael Party now is to forget the past. We already had experience of that when they suggested that Easter week commemoration ceremonies should not be held, that we should have one commemoration ceremony on St. Patrick's Day.

We should not forget Connolly or the past. The Labour Party of Connolly's time is not the Labour Party of today. I hope the Labour Party in this House, when we come to vote on the Bill, will do what they did some years ago in the other House when the Offences Against the State Bill was presented by Fianna Fáil.

Mr. Halligan: Much of what has been said in this debate on the Order of Business will, I feel, be regretted later when passions have cooled and when people read in cold print what they said this morning. Those who spoke from the Opposition benches, not least the Senator who introduced the motion to have the Order of Business amended, will realise that, perhaps, had the confines of the debate been restricted to the premises which he set the damage which has been done might not have been done. One can never estimate what exactly is going to happen when one lets loose the dogs of war and they were let loose with a vengeance this morning.

Two important principles, as distinct from the Bill, are involved. In the first place there is the right to print a Bill; in the second place there is the question of whether or not the Seanad should be used as a mechanism for introducing legislation in the Oireachtas. I abhor the attitude which has been taken by the Opposition on this matter. Very often in the past they have lectured us on the duty of running this House properly [185] and on the principles by which a parliamentary democracy should be conducted. I have said previously, even on an occasion when I disagreed with the Leader of the House, that it seems to be a fundamental principle of the proper running of this House and the Oireachtas in general that Bills should be printed irrespective of how one felt about the contents, that there was no other way in which issues could be debated openly in a democratic fashion other than by having them printed in legislative form and brought before the House and a debate conducted under the rules as laid down in the Standing Orders.

When we were in Opposition, we consistently opposed attempts to muzzle us in the use of Private Members' Time and consistently sought changes in the Standing Orders of the various Houses so that it would be automatic that any Member or group of Members could have Bills printed and laid before the House. Those measures were decided on as a result of a proper debate.

Many members of the Opposition shared my belief in that principle and I believed that Senator Yeats, for example, shared it. I find this morning that there is an attempt being made to frustrate the printing of a Bill. I do not think the Opposition can run away from whatever they are trying to do in respect of the principles on which this House must be run. They will be reminded of it continually in the future when again they attempt to set standards of behaviour which, apparently, we alone are supposed to abide by but from which they can, with impunity, depart whenever party political advantage dictates that we should do so.

The second point about the use of the Seanad itself I found quite extraordinary. Senator Yeats opened up this avenue when he used the phrase that the Bill should be in Dáil Éireann “where it rightly belongs”. “Where it rightly belongs” was the phrase the Senator used.

Mr. Yeats: But I started by saying that I was entirely in favour of introducing legislation in the Seanad. I [186] said there were a number of Bills on the Dáil Order Paper which should be introduced here.

Mr. Halligan: I do not think that one can distinguish between Bills of one type and another. If we begin to introduce a distinction between the right of this House to decide on legislation vis-a-vis Dáil Éireann we will only be placing this House more firmly and more deeply in a subordinate role to which it has too long been relegated. I had hoped that the growing use of the Seanad as a means of initiating all types of legislation would have the whole-hearted support of the Opposition who have complained through Senator Yeats as spokesman in past times of the fact that there was too little legislation before the Seanad. Now, when legislation comes before the Seanad there is objection to the fact that it is coming.

Some people are voicing objections to it on the ground that this is a less accurate reflection of the popular will than the other House. On reflection, they will see this to be a very dangerous analysis of the Seanad and of its character. This would lend support to those who wish to see this House abolished because that is one of the grounds upon which people normally have objection to the existence of a Second Chamber at all.

Senator Yeats was correct when he said earlier in his speech that yesterday's business in the House lent weight and support for the very existence of a Second Chamber. By their opposition and attitude here this morning they have damaged the case for the existence of a Second Chamber and for its proper use in the whole legislative process. Apart from this departure on grounds of party political advantage from two principles which I know many Senators really adhere to, we have had a debate which in many ways has been unfortunately and regrettably a regression to civil war attitudes. We have had a reemergence of a species of a political animal which in my naivety I thought was extinct. It has been shown this morning that it is very much alive, and extremely vocal.

[187] I do not believe that the cause of national unity or, in fact, the cause of reconciliation or peace in this island has in any way been advanced by the type of sentiments which we have heard here this morning. I firmly believe that the only beneficiaries of much of the content of this debate will be those who go into the Convention election on the same platform, of having absolutely nothing to do with the other part of the island, which they regard as a foreign country. I believe that they will refer to many of the sentiments and opinions and views expressed here this morning as evidence of the justice and correctness of their policy position.

As regards the Bill itself which is an extension of the criminal law I want to say just two other things. Murder is murder no matter where it is committed, no matter by whom it is committed and no matter for what purpose it is committed. However people may object to labels being put on them I think that those who oppose the very principle behind this Bill cannot object to the fact that they are going to be, on occasion, put into the situation where they will be seen to be, whether they like it or not, condoning those who perpetrate murder in a part of this country for whatever reason they may do so. People die by bullets and by bombs. They are no less human because they belong to a different political culture than us, or even because they belong to a different island and are the servants or the agents of another State.

We have a situation here at the moment where those who it is alleged are associated with and may be, in fact, responsible for the violence leading to loss of life or grievious bodily harm, can use the confines of this State as a haven to avoid arrest. If we wish to have that situation continue I think we should have the honesty to say so.

On the Second Reading and the subsequent debate on this Bill we will have the opportunity of doing so if that is how we feel. But it would have been more appropriate that those sentiments would have been expressed [188] on the Second Reading and on subsequent stages of the Bill rather than on the Order of Business.

The names of Connolly and Larkin have been quoted here this morning. There is nothing that I have ever read on Connolly or Larkin that condoned murder. There is nothing that I have ever read of James Larkin in particular that leads me to believe that he was an advocate of violence.

In fact my own party from its inception has taken a particular attitude towards the democratic will of the people and has played its own unique role and made its own distinct contribution towards the establishment of this State but in particular towards the organs of democracy within this State, a contribution which I think it is now widely admitted was responsible for the stability of the State in its initial period and, in fact, might have been the sine qua non for their very existence and continued operation.

We do not really need to be reminded by the Opposition benches whatever about our own, about the writings, the attitude, the philosophy of Connolly because it has seldom if ever been the case that the Fianna Fáil Party had much time or regard or respect for the socialist critique of society which is Connolly's major contribution to the history of this country and to the history of the world of thought and especially to the history of international socialism. None of us is going to sit here on the Labour benches and take unctuous lectures and hypocrisy from the Fianna Fáil Party as regards Connolly or Larkin. We know what it is that they attempted to do through the formation of our party. We know who it is in this society who has consistently opposed the principles upon which that party was founded and who have been its political entities and adversaries over the last four-and-a-half to five decades. The policy of the Labour Party both in Opposition and in Government has been that when Bills are tabled, whether by the Government, by individual Members of the House or by groups of Members they should be given the right to be printed. They should also be given [189] the right of debate and the opportunity for a decision to be made on their content. We had this matter debated in a certain way on another Bill recently in the House. I made those points then. I make them now: irrespective of what is contained in the Bill, it is the duty of this House from a democratic point of view to permit the Bill to be printed. Objections in principle can be voiced on the Second Stage.

That really is the issue here this morning, not whether one is for or against this Bill but whether one is for or against the right of not only the Government but of Members of the Oireachtas to have Bills printed. That principle, regrettably and unfortunately, is being opposed here this morning by people that privately believe in it but who are compelled for party reasons to vote against it. I regret that very much indeed.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I hope Senator Yeats is satisfied with the debate he has initiated by means of his amendment to the Order of Business. For my part, I believe that some of the remarks made here today are a grave disservice to this nation. I believe they are demeaning of this House and have led to what many of us hoped we would not see in this House, such a lowering of standards that one finds it difficult to withhold contempt from some of the remarks which have been made.

I do not blame Senator Yeats for that. No more than anyone else, he cannot see into the future and obviously he did not realise what he was triggering off by the amendment to the Order of Business to delete Item No. 1.

I want to divide what I have to say into two main parts. I want to deal first with the general question which has been raised here of Government business in the Seanad and the desirability of having more Government business before us. This was referred to by a number of speakers on the Fianna Fáil benches who began by pinning their colours to the belief that more Government business [190] should be introduced here and then connected it up with the next part of their speech by a large “but”—but they did not believe that it should have been done in connection with this Bill.

It is not very long ago since those of us on this side of the House had to sit here with what patience we could muster to hear condemnations and fulminations coming across the floor of this House from those benches because the Government had not introduced enough Government business in this House. I want to refer briefly to the Seanad debate which took place on 12th February. We had the Leader of the Fianna Fáil group telling us that it was a matter of concern to Fianna Fáil:

that sufficient business is not coming forward to the Seanad for discussion, particularly in the form of legislation from the Government.

He told us that it was a

primary duty of the Government to bring forward legislative business to this House.

——to the Seanad. He went on——

To put it bluntly, they are not fulfilling that duty and we want to register our protest in this manner. We wish to state that the responsibility lies with the Government to bring in legislation and have it expedited so that we get a volume of legislative business.

That was a couple of months ago. Senator Dolan who contributed—let me be charitable—one of his least worthwhile speeches today said then:

If the legislation is not coming through from the Government side, then the Seanad does not meet.

He went on to say at column 501 of the 12th February:

I have a vivid recollection of a Parliamentary Secretary appearing on television and blaming the Seanad for meeting only two days inside the last term. He neglected to point out to the public and to the media at large the reason for this. The Senators are anxious to meet [191] and do their business if the business is given to them.

He is getting the business today and we all heard the kind of speech he made.

Mr. Dolan: That is quite correct.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Senator Hanafin who contributed here today spoke also on 12th February and as reported at column 503, said:

We are fully aware that it is a matter for the Government to give us business to do. Because there has been lack of legislation in the last year we have met only on a few occasions to deal with it.

I do not know if Senator Keegan contributed today so I will omit the quotation I was going to give from him. We all heard Senator McGlinchey today. This was Senator McGlinchey a couple of months ago:

I should like the Seanad to transact more business and I should like to think that the present Cabinet could be made capable of introducing legislation and so giving us more business.

That was Fianna Fáil a couple of months ago. We all heard them here today. I hope they can reconcile in some consistent manner the views which they were expressing today with that attack which was mounted on the Government a few months ago.

Mr. Dolan: We can thank the British Government for it.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Now, I should like to say a few words with regard to the Order of Business and the amendment proposed to it. I think possibly part of the explanation, and perhaps only part of it, for the type of speech made today by some Fianna Fáil Senators was crass ignorance of what is being proposed. It was a failure on their part to read the Long Title of the Bill which appears on the Order Paper. We heard speaker after speaker talking about the administration of justice in the North. We heard Senator McGlinchey in particular categorising those who supported this measure as [192] being collaborators with the British. That was the type of language that was used.

We were told Fine Gael were playing their old traditional role. We had this referred to as a “despicable measure”. He spoke of “pussyfooting” with the British. I think—again, I do not want to be too hard on him— that kind of speech was made because Fianna Fáil do not understand what is being proposed. They do not understand that this Bill proposes to enable the Irish administration of justice here to deal with offences.

Mr. Brennan: We understood Sunningdale, did we not?

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Do not ask me to answer for the understanding of anyone on that side of the House. That is what is being proposed here and that is what is apparent from the Long Title of this Bill. What is being proposed is that the jurisdiction of the Irish criminal law should be extended so as to enable certain serious offences, even if committed in the North of Ireland, to be triable and punishable under our law presided over by one of our judges in our courts and if witnesses to that act or offence in the North are afraid to travel down here to give their evidence, to enable a commission to be set up to go up there and get that evidence and to enable the accused to be present at that commission and to enable Irish judges to be present at that commission.

That is what is proposed and yet we hear all this talk about the lack of confidence in the administration of justice in the North, “pussyfooting with the British”, “collaborating with the British”. What we are trying to do is to ensure that Irish judges in Irish courts will adjudicate on these matters. What are these matters? They are serious offences, such as murder, maiming, kidnapping, burning churches, burning dwelling houses with people inside them. If that is done in the North of Ireland and a fugitive offender comes down here, we are not going to—to use a famous phrase—stand idly by and let him get off scot free.

[193] Senators: Hear, hear.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: We are not going to hand him over to be dealt with as others may choose to deal with him. We are going to arrest, try and punish him here if he is convicted. That is what Fianna Fáil are opposing. Let me be quite blunt about this. I do not think anyone in Fianna Fáil condones murder or kneecapping or burning churches or burning buildings with people inside them, but look at the position they are putting themselves in. Anyone who does condone murder should oppose this Bill. Anyone who does condone kidnapping should oppose this Bill. Anyone who does condone kneecapping should oppose this Bill. Anyone who wants to see churches burnt in the North of Ireland should oppose this Bill. Anyone who wants to see dwelling houses in the North burnt with people inside them should oppose [194] this Bill. This is the company Fianna Fáil voluntarily are stepping into by their attitude here today and in the Dáil yesterday.

I do not want to say anything more because I might say too much but I find it hard to forget that a young man who sat behind me on these benches after the last Seanad election, was one of the victims of the murder and terrorism that is rampant in part of this country. This Bill may help to stamp that out.

Senators: Hear, hear.

An Cathaoirleach: It is proposed that the Order of Business for today be Nos. 1, 2 and 3. There has been an amendment to omit Item No. 1. The question that I am putting to the House is: “That Item No. 1 stand part of the Order of Business.”

Question put.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 26; Níl, 16.

Barrett, Jack.

Blennerhassett, John.

Burton, Philip.

Butler, Pierce.

Deasy, Austin.

Fitzgerald, Alexis.

Fitzgerald, Jack.

Halligan, Brendan.

Harte, John.

Kennedy, Fintan.

Kerrigan, Patrick.

Lyons, Michael Dalgan.

McAuliffe, Timothy.

McCartin, John Joseph.

Mannion, John M.

Markey, Bernard.

Moynihan, Michael.

O'Brien, Andy.

O'Brien, William.

O'Higgins, Michael J.

O'Toole, Patrick.

Owens, Evelyn.

Quinlan, Patrick Michael.

Sanfey, James W.

Walsh, Mary.

Whyte, Liam.


Brennan, John J.

Browne, Noel C.

Browne, Patrick (Fad).

Cowen, Bernard.

Dolan, Seamus.

Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.

Garrett, Jack.

Hanafin, Des.

Keegan, Seán.

Killilea, Mark.

McGlinchey, Bernard.

McGowan, Patrick.

Mullen, Michael.

Ryan, Eoin.

Ryan, William.

Yeats, Michael B.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Sanfey and Halligan; Níl, Senators W. Ryan and Garrett.

Question: “That the Order of Business as originally proposed— Items Nos. 1, 2 and 3—be agreed to” put and agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: The Order of Business is Nos. 1, 2 and 3.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I suggest we break until 2.30 p.m.

Mr. Yeats: It is now 1.40, let us adjourn until 2.45 or 3 p.m.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: We have lost a lot of valuable time but we will adjourn until 2.45 p.m.

Mr. Keegan: Is it proposed to adjourn at 5 o'clock?

[195] Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: We will consider that over lunch. The options facing us seem to be either to carry on after 5 p.m. or sit tomorrow. Perhaps the parties would consider that situation over lunch.

Business suspended at 1.40 p.m. and resumed at 2.45 p.m.