Dáil Éireann - Volume 199 - 24 January, 1963

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Abolition of Death Penalty.

46. Mr. S. Brady asked the Minister for Justice if the Government are considering legislation to abolish the death penalty.

Mr. Haughey: The Government have had this matter under consideration for some time past and have now decided, in principle, in favour of the general abolition of the death penalty, although with some exceptions.

Proposals for legislation are being prepared and will, I hope, be ready for introduction in the Dáil during this year.

Mr. Dillon: I hope we are not going to have the British system of two different qualities of murder, so that if you want to go out to commit a murder, you would need to bring a legal library with you in your hip pocket.

Mr. Cosgrave: Is it proposed to retain the death penalty for murder?

Mr. Haughey: No.

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: For some degrees?

Mr. Haughey: The decision, in principle, is that the death penalty for murder generally will be abolished but it will be retained for certain specific types of murder.

[433] Mr. Dillon: Surely we are not going to have——

The Taoiseach: The Deputy has been informed that the Government have taken a decision in principle——

Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: Will the Taoiseach let his Ministers answer for themselves?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Corish: You will have to catch the murderers first, anyway.

Mr. Dillon: Are we going to have the situation in this country in which you can go out and murder a man with impunity or at least with the assurance that you will spend a period in jail, but if you steal a button off his apparel, you are liable to be hanged? Will it be the position that if you rape a lady in the process of murder, you are safe from the supreme penalty?

An Ceann Comhairle: That seems to be widely outside the scope of the question.

Mr. Haughey: There is no such intention. The decision is a decision in principle and the detailed proposals will be submitted to the Oireachas in due course.

Mr. Cosgrave: Will the Minister bear in mind that it is the general view that the recent British change in the law is not satisfactory and that precedent ought not to be followed?

Mr. Haughey: I am fully aware of the position in regard to the death penalty in Great Britain and of the criticisms made in regard to the present position there and I shall have due regard to them in any proposals I bring before the Oireachtas.