Seanad Éireann - Volume 105 - 19 September, 1984

Criminal Justice Bill, 1983: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. McGonagle: The House will recall that yesterday I was welcoming the review proposed in the Bill over a four year period concerning detention for withholding information and of inferences to be drawn from silence. I pointed to the fact that the area of inferences to [304] be drawn from silence was most sensitive and that the people who will be dealing with that specific problem would have to be very sure that any inference they drew from silence would be correct. I pointed to the fact that it was fairly dangerous but I welcomed the four year review period. It was an intelligent proposition. For those people who are genuinely concerned, as well as the people who are in favour of the Bill, the four year period should be monitored by them or whatever party they belong to. At the end of that time both Houses will have to make their minds up as to what they are going to do about it.

The whole idea in any legislation like this, in the context of crime especially, is to win the confidence of the people. We have been told often enough here that the people are living in fear. I believe they are living in fear.

Mrs. Robinson: If I may interrupt my colleague for a moment, I find it somewhat alarming that there is no Minister in the Chamber for the debate. This is one of the most important Bills that this House has considered and will go on considering for the rest of the day. We are told that the Second Stage will conclude and, therefore, that the Minister will be responding to Second Stage and I think, particularly since the other House is not sitting, that either the Minister, or at least a Minister of State, should be present for the debate.

An Cathaoirleach: It is not a matter for the Chair. It is for the Leader of the House and there is nothing I can do to help the Senator. I do not disagree with what the Senator is saying.

Mrs. Robinson: This is a very important debate and there should be some Minister in the Chamber for it.

Mr. B. Ryan: May I join with Senator Robinson in protesting?

[305] An Cathaoirleach: The Senator may not.

Mr. B. Ryan: I have done so anyway.

An Cathaoirleach: I do not disagree with what has been said. Senator McGonagle is in possession.

Mr. O'Leary: For the information of the House, I should like to state that prior to the commencement of business this morning, as part of my responsibility as Acting Leader of the House, I checked that a Minister would be available. I was informed that a Minister would be available. In fact, a name was given to me of the particular person. All I can say is that I regret the absence of a Minister just as any other Member of the House.

Mrs. Robinson: I propose that we adjourn until there is a Minister present. As a matter of principle on a Bill of this kind we would wish to have a Minister here when the Second Stage is to conclude today.

Mr. B. Ryan: I support that.

An Cathaoirleach: Senator McGonagle is in possession and I cannot accept any motion on this. Can the Leader of the House do something about this?

Mr. O'Leary: I am doing something about it but bilocation is difficult.

Mr. McGonagle: It is imperative that the police, the courts, and the State have the confidence of the people. This has to be won. I believe that there is a job of work to be done by TDs, Senators and public representatives at local authority level. The police have to work hard to win the confidence of the people. I have already referred to the four-year period as an experiment and I believe this Bill is an experiment because if it goes off the rails it will have to be amended in some fashion to suit the requirements of the people who would be objecting to certain features of it.

I should like to go on to welcome what [306] is called a balancing exercise, the setting up of police complaints procedure machinery which will be independent. This is a good thing and should go a long way to restore confidence, where confidence has been lost. It is a good measure.

Mrs. Robinson: I must interrupt again to point out that now we do not have a Minister or any advisers present. This is absurd.

An Cathaoirleach: When we do not have a Minister present I am sure we cannot have his advisers present.

Mrs. Robinson: We should suspend the sitting.

Mr. T. Hussey: I support the move to suspend the sitting.

Mrs. Honan: I support Senator Hussey and Senator Robinson in their protests.

An Cathaoirleach: I agree with what the Senators are saying but Standing Orders do not permit me to do anything about this. It is the red tape. Senator McGonagle is still in possession. I regret I cannot do anything because I am with the thinking of the Senators the whole way.

Mr. McGonagle: I was on the point of welcoming the balancing exercise indicated by the setting up of the police complaints machinery. This should go a long way to restoring the confidence of the people. The setting up of this independent investigatory machinery into police activities simply means that the police are not above the law. The police should not be anxious or concerned because if they do not misbehave there will not be complaints against them and, if there are complaints against them, wrongly, surely the independent board will see that they are false claims or complaints. Therefore, the police complaints machinery being brought in simultaneously with the Bill will help the balancing exercise, help to [307] restore confidence and indicate that the State means business.

The Government have an obligation to see that the basic roots of the whole crime problem are examined. It is not good enough for any Minister to come in here and say that if unemployment could be resolved tomorrow morning the crime problem would be resolved. They will have to work harder at it because poverty makes its imprint inside the crime area, not all crime, but it makes a contribution. The State will have to examine the socio-economic basis where it makes a contribution to crime.

Senator B. Ryan rose.

Mrs. Robinson: May I at this stage, in order to comply with Standing Orders, propose that we suspend the sitting until a Minister is available?

An Cathaoirleach: I have a problem now in that I do not know if that is in order. If the House agrees to suspend the sitting I will do so.

Mrs. Honan: There is not a Minister present. I appreciate the official position but this is a most important piece of legislation which we have to deal with but the Minister is not present. I appeal to the Cathaoirleach to adjourn the House.

An Cathaoirleach: I said I would agree to do so if it was the wish of the House.

Mr. O'Leary: I suggest we adjourn until 11.20 a.m.

Sitting suspended at 10.47 a.m. and resumed at 11.20 a.m.

Mr. B. Ryan: I intend no offence to the Minister of State but I will have to add my voice to those Members who expressed astonishment at the apparent disinterest of the Minister for Justice and his Minister of State in this debate. I spend a lot of my time persuading people that parliamentary politics works, that [308] there is a way to change society through parliamentary politics and that you can be heard through parliamentary politics. This Bill has affected and concerned many of the younger people I and other Members of this House meet and they would regard the Bill as a manifest example of the inadequacy, the insensitivity and the lack of awareness of parliamentary politics in regard to people's real needs. The inadequate Governmental attention shown to the debate in this House has won the argument for those who would disagree with me on this issue, that perhaps there is a more direct way to get attention to your problems than through the tedious method of parliamentary politics. Perhaps they can draw their own conclusions.

The country has been subjected to the most astonishing wave of fear and hysteria about crime, its causes and its consequences over the past number of years. I came upon a document and I will identify its origins in a minute. It had a couple of things to say about crime. It said:

The ability of a police force to combat crime depends mainly on the degree to which it commands public confidence. The severity of sentences imposed on criminals is less relevant in deterring crime than the perceived likelihood of being caught. The key to increasing crime detection is the development of closer relations between gardaí and public. Extra care must be taken to deal firmly with any abuses by individual gardaí should they occur and the risk of crime being committed must be reduced as far as possible, but not at the price of increasing the risk of innocent people being wrongly convicted.

That would be described by many people as fashionable academic liberalism; in fact, it is from a document prepared by Young Fine Gael on developing a sense of community. I had actually assembled it in the hope that the Minister would be here since Fine Gael in particular are [309] much given to paying lip service to youth and to the contributions of youth.

We have been told that there is a crime wave of apparently astonishing proportions in this country. Horrific imagery of old people being beaten and battered is generated through large sections of the media with frightening abandon. Senator Higgins has already adverted to the fact that the major and fundamental effects of this sort of horrific propaganda is to frighten old people, not to frighten me or not to frighten other people through we are concerned, but the real fundamental consequence of this hysteria is that old people are frightened. Just to put it on the record, under that general heading of offences against the person which include murder, manslaughter, dangerous driving, traffic fatalities, possession of firearms with intent to endanger life, assault and rape and related offences, offences against the person are the ones that get the headlines and that have been portrayed for us with absolute and frightening clarity. There were 2,266 such offences in 1978 and there were 2,275 in 1982. In the category that is used most often to frighten us all about crime, the numbers of offences have remained more or less static in a period when other offences have spiralled at an alarming rate. I have not got the Commissioner's report but in 1983 I know the number of offences increased slightly but was still less than it was in 1979. The detection rate in that serious form of crime is of the order of 85 per cent. This dull, boring statistic does not fit in with in the image of a crime-ridden country which many people, including politicians, like to throw around the place because it is good for a bit of copy, for a headline and for a story. The truth is that the number of serious assaults of the kind I have just mentioned have remained static and the detection rate has remained high and that, of course, is as it should be. It does not fit in with the sort of imagery that we have had forced upon us in recent times.

There are other areas where statistics have been used somewhat selectively to convey imagery that is not entirely true. It is a fact that the number of indictable [310] offences per thousand of population in this country is less than in most countries in Europe. It is definitely and unequivocally true that outside of a certain section of Dublin city the crime rate is extremely low by European standards. It is also true that Dublin city has certain problems but nevertheless Dublin is a safer city than virtually any other capital city in Europe outside of Switzerland where they have, for their own unique political reasons, a very low crime rate. It is something that people could look at, why Switzerland of all countries has a uniquely low crime rate.

When you add in the fact that in this city there are somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 heroin addicts — they are the figures that are usually thrown about — and each of them needs somewhere between £50 and £100 a day to pay for his unfortunate addiction, the cost to those individuals of supplying themselves with heroin works out at somewhere between £20 million and £30 million a year. They do not get that money legitimately. Therefore, I think it is quite legitimate to associate the extraordinary rise in crime like burglaries and petty theft in Dublin with the needs of that frightened and oppressed community of drug addicts to supply themselves with the necessities of their addiction. If we were prepared to do something about drug addiction we could deal with a large part of this problem of theft.

The other part of this problem of theft that is not usually adverted to by people who are looking for the support of the more articulate in our community in their demands is that somebody must buy all this stolen property. It is not the people at the bottom with no money who buy the stolen videos and televisions and all the other stolen property. It is people who are relatively well off, people who are effectively pillars of society, who get their nodding acquaintance with somebody who can supply them with something that fell off a lorry. Those who often scream most about crime are probably benefiting indirectly from it. The figure of £20 million per year, which is my rough [311] estimate, to fund drug addiction in Dublin is about half of the value of all the property stolen in any given year. We can safely associate a large part of that sort of theft with the problem of drug addiction in the big cities.

We are told something is being done about drug addiction. There is nowhere in Ireland where a heroin addict under 16 years can receive treatment. In spite of the long speeches, the expressions of concern, the expressions of compassion, and so on, in spite of all that has been said and all the rhetoric we have heard, surely the most needy among those who are unfortunately addicted to drugs, those with a special call on our concern, the young, those under 16 years have nowhere to go, at a time when we are proposing to do something with the law which will bring them more frequently and more vigorously, to put it mildly, into contact with the law.

Then we have the glorious hysteria about car theft and joy-riding. I would not like to have my car stolen, that goes without saying. I had it vandalised twice and my house burgled once. I have also been beaten up once. There is hysteria about joy-riding in Ireland. This has to do with people finding a colourful option or a colourful story, and the politicians finding a colourful thing to hang on to. How many people have been killed in joy-riding offences? Probably, tragically, five, six or seven in the past 12 months. How many people have been killed because respectable income-earning, property-owning people drove their cars home drunk from public houses?

Where is the greater hysteria about the youngsters who irresponsibly and unjustifiably drive cars at 120 or 150 miles an hour along city streets, or against that large legion of respectable citizens who take lethal instrument into their hands ever night of the week and drive home and 500 to 600 people are killed as a consequence? Yet we have a hysteria on one hand and a kind of nodding approval, a “tut, tut” of disapproval but really is not that serious, on the other hand. We have created a situation where a car thief [312] can get a maximum of five years imprisonment and a drunken driver can get a maximum of six months. It sums up our priorities and our values, and the extraordinary inverted priorities we have, that we can use heavy prison sentences to deter those who steal cars and we will not use the rigours of the law against those who drive cars under the influence of alcohol.

When we talk about our crime rate we should look at the reality that a large section of the serious crime here is politically related. It is related to the terrorism north of the Border and to the need to fund that terrorism. To suggest that security and legal methods alone can solve the problem is irresponsible. We give lectures to the Government who are responsible for Northern Ireland about the fact that security measures alone will not solve a political problem. At the same time we try to persuade our own people down here that security measures alone will solve the problem down here. I have never understood why people use these convoluted and two sided values. We denounce rubber bullets in Northern Ireland and equip our own security forces with them down here. The two standards astonish me.

We have other things which lead inevitably to an increase in crime. We have a rapid, unplanned, unthought out and poorly funded urbanisation, a rapid and unique growth in population reflected in a very young population and a large proportion of crime, roughly one-third, is attributed to the under 17 age group. We have lost our safety valve for both political and criminal dissent, emigration. Those who in the past emigrated and committed their offences in other countries are now staying at home and, therefore, we have to solve our own problems at home. We are showing damn little imagination in the way we are going about solving them. We also have the frightening and rapid rise in unemployment.

The Bill is well summarised and well known to most people. We can go into the technical details of the Bill at a latter [313] stage. The Garda and the Minister recognise that central to this Bill is the apparent necessity to detain people for questioning. There are a number of things that must be addressed in regard to this extraordinary peoposal to increase Garda powers. First of all, is it necessary? Since the Minister has informed the House, the Dáil and the country that the Offences Against the State Act is not in any sense emergency legislation but is part of our normal legislation under normal circumstances, it is useful at this stage to read into the record what the Offences Against the State Act says. Every time I read that Act I get a slight chill down my spine at the actual powers that exist within it. For instance, if I happen to have a newspaper in my possession which refers to the IRA by name, that is a seditious document. If I have a seditious document in my possession I am presumed guilty of membership of an illegal organisation unless I can prove differently.

There are two sections I want to refer to, one of which is section 30 which states:

A member of the Gárda Síochána ..

may without warrant stop, search, interrogate, and arrest any person, or do any one or more of those things in respect of any person, whom he suspects of having committed or being about to commit or being or having been concerned in the commission of an offence under any section or sub-section of this Act or an offence which is for the time being a scheduled offence for the purpose of Part V of this Act or whom he suspects of carrying a document relating to the commission or intended commission of any such offence...

The interesting point about that is that it makes very specific provision for very specific offences under the Offences Against the State Act or offences prescribed under a particular schedule. It gives extraordinary wide-ranging powers. The operative words in this section are “whom he suspects of having committed”. The present Bill talks about “with [314] reasonable cause”. I could not argue about the difference between “reasonable cause” and “whom he suspects”. I suspect there is no difference. That is the core of the present power to detain.

I would like to look at the way that clause has been used because it is central to the arguments about this Bill. It is being used to arrest 3,000 people in any given year. Ninety per cent of the people arrested under section 30 go free without any charge whatsoever. That is under what is supposed to be a piece of legislation of limited application. We have no evidence to suggest that the same scatter-gun effect will not be involved when or if this unfortunate Bill ever becomes law. I would like to give the House a couple of indications of how the Offences Against the State Act operates in practice. These things are usually associated with nasty subversives with whom no Member of the Oireachtas would like to be seen to be associated.

I want to talk about a few of the people who have been the object of Garda attention under both section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and section 29 which gives very wide-ranging powers to search. In Cork there are a number of people who, under a number of headings, would be suspect to certain sections of the Garda Síochána and I suspect to the Department of Justice as well. Firstly they are young, secondly, they are unemployed and, thirdly, they have a certain sense of their need to organise themselves politically. They set up a young people's co-op called the Quay Co-Op in which they installed a bookshop which sells an enormous amount of interesting and very dissenting literature. None of it is illegal but it represents a broad sweep of dissent from the established consensus. They set up a food co-op and a restaurant. They set up an area for women to meet and a number of other facilities. Like any other restaurant or cafe, a large section of the population frequent that particular restaurant among them people who, in the eyes of the Garda, are members of illegal organisations or are suspected of being [315] so. One of them named as being a frequenter works in a respectable department store in Cork and is a member of a trade union.

Earlier this year the might of the Garda Síochána descended on the Quay Co-op waving a warrant under section 29 of the Offences Against the State Act in search of — they were not too precise about that — but they wanted to search the premises. They found documents and they took them away. Section 29 of the Offences Against the State Act states:

Where an officer of the Garda Síoch-ána... is satisfied that there is reasonable ground for believing that documentary evidence of or relating to the commission or intended commission of an offence... is to be found in any particular building...

they may search the building. If any document is found they may:

seize any document or thing found in such building... which such member reasonably believes to be evidence of or to relate directly or indirectly to the commission or intended commission of an offence...

In other words, if the Garda suspect that there is evidence of the commission of an offence they may seize the documents. Let me tell you what the Garda with whom we propose to entrust these enormously widened powers took away. They took away the list of the membership of a food co-op which they allegedly reasonably suspected to be a document connected with the commission of an offence. They took away the list of the membership of the entire co-op, a document which is freely available in the office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and they allegedly said those documents in some way indirectly related to the commission of an offence.

Let me conclude on what they did there. One of the members of the Garda Síochána appeared in the restaurant, [316] looked very suspiciously around him and asked the young lady who was working there what it was. When she said it was a restaurant he looked at her extremely suspiciously and said: “I suppose it is a vegetarian restaurant”. Apparently that is evidence of subversion as well. At the end of it all, the Garda issued a somewhat grudging admission that the Quay Co-op was not involved in subversive crime. The only scrap of evidence they had to justify that was that certain people whom they suspected of subversion had been seen going in and out of the place. No illegal organisation and no party associated with an illegal organisation ever had a meeting there. That is the way section 29 is operated.

Some friends of mine who shall be nameless were raided under section 29 with a warrant which made reference to arms being on the premises. The Garda found no arms but because the friends of mine were involved in the contraception action campaign, they found substantial quantities of contraceptives which they took away under the Offences Against the State Act presumably for further scrutiny and then ludicrously attempted to suggest that some of the contraceptives could have uses in the manufacture of explosives in order to justify their own behaviour. This is the force to which we propose to give enormously extended powers. The ordinary individual member of the Garda Síochána working on the street is a model of how a policeman should behave but there is a substantial minority within the Garda to whom that particular accolade does not apply and to whom it should never be applied.

Let me remind the House that we have 11,000 gardaí. If there are 5 per cent of them who are not worthy of the powers we are giving them they, that is 500 members of the Garda Síochána, do not deserve these powers and that is enough to raise a fundamental question. I suggest that there is a greater number than that. Let me quote, in this whole area of how the Garda generate reasonable suspicion, something that was said by a senior member of the Garda about the travelling [317] community. This is a quote from the transcript from a “Today Tonight” programme on the travelling community:

Well, itinerants are a fairly big problem and are pretty difficult to deal with because they are mobile, a lot of them have similar names, they look very much alike a lot of them because they are related family wise and so on and in the city particularly the crime is committed by the juvenile element mostly, the adults have a tendency to move out the country into the rural areas and remote places and commit very serious crimes particularly on old people living alone and so on.

That is the opinion of a senior member of the Garda Síochána not about a particular crime or a particular individual but the travelling community in general. If that does not indicate that in that garda officer's eyes every single member of the travelling community is an object of reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence, I do not know what is.

Quite justifiably, the travelling community have raised very vigorous objections to this Bill and, in fact, they are more perceptive than most. They say it is not so much that they object to the Bill because what is in the Bill operates on them anyway but it is actually giving legislative effect to what is done to the travelling community.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Could we have the exact date of the “Today Tonight” programme for reference?

Mr. B. Ryan: I cannot give it to you now. I will have to look it up. I think it is 24 February. I will give it later.

At the core then, is this reasonable suspicion that the Garda are supposed to have. I have demonstrated fairly clearly in a few cases what reasonable suspicion means. It means that they want to do something. I have demonstrated fairly clearly what one senior Garda thinks of a section of our society. Incidentally, if he said that about a black minority or indeed our Jewish minority all hell would [318] have descended on his head. I have been engaged in most fruitless correspondence with the Garda Commissioner about the remarks of that particular superintendent to find out whether the Garda Commissioner approved of the remarks and if he did not what he proposed to do about the matter. It was an utterly fruitless and pointless exercise in which I got absolutely nowhere. I am still waiting for a reply from the Minister for Justice to a letter I sent last May on the same issue.

We are talking about the willingness or otherwise of the Garda to look at what they call reasonable suspicion. The crunch here is that if anybody attempts to find out the basis on which the Garda form these suspicions, the Garda will promptly claim privilege in court and that the source of the information is privileged information and, therefore, you will never find out. That is the substantial record of the courts. Whenever the Garda claim to have this sort of information they say it is based on information received. When asked where it comes from they claim privilege. So in fact we do not know where the information came from. I still do not know where the information on which the Garda based the raid on the Quay co-op and the raid on my friends' house came from. I think it came from the fact that my friends were seen on a H-Block march and the Quay Co-op was one of these suspect places. After all, there were young people, gay people, women and all sorts of other slightly suspect groups using it and a couple of people they did not like went into it. Therefore that justified keeping an eye on it. That, incidentally, fits in with the experience of both CND and Friends of the Earth in Cork who have had informal, friendly but, nevertheless, visits from members of the Garda intelligence and security section. When they protested to the senior Garda officer in Cork at the time he said, “I know you are good organisations but the Government need to know what people like you are doing”. So you get involved in a situation whereby those who are supposed to be defending the security of the State are, [319] in fact, becoming the channels of information for the Garda, so presumably every vegetarian restaurant in the country is now being reported to the Government as well. Reasonable suspicion could be put down to being either a grudge or a feeling or a notion or an association or a previous record.

There is that other Act which provides powers to search people and that is the Misuse of Drugs Act. Again it is difficult to believe that that Act is being operated fairly. A good friend of mine and somebody who in the past has been slandered implicitly by the Department of Justice, Joe Costello, the chairman of the Prisoners' Rights Organisation, has been searched by gardaí who apparently had reasonable suspicion that he was in the possession of drugs. It is mysteriously coincidental that he was coming out from a meeting of the Prisoners' Rights Organisation where presumably either gardaí suspect they smoke dope, or just do not like the look of the Prisoners' Rights Organisation.

I have a long list of complaints including one from a journalist who wrote an article on drug abuse in Dublin and who was visited by gardaí the following day. They searched his flat for drugs. Also, a friend of mine who works with children informs me that gardaí descended on her with a mysterious warrant which was at one stage not from the drug squad but later was supposed to be from them. Her flat was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Oddly enough, she was involved in the Communist Party and the search for drugs was concentrated on looking at her communist literature. There was very little done by way of searching for drugs. What I am saying over and over again is that there is ample evidence that the present powers of search, the present powers of detention are being consistently abused by a section of the Garda, not with any fundamentally malicious intent but because they are there and, therefore, when it is convenient they will use them.

We have been promised safeguards and many Members of the Oireachtas [320] have qualified their approval of this Bill by saying they are in favour of it so long as there are adequate safeguards. What has fascinated me is being the only Member of the Oireachtas in Cork city or county to have vigorously and publicly opposed this Bill. One would assume therefore, that all the other Deputies and Senators from the city and county were in favour of it. But on half a dozen occasions producers of both local and national radio programmes have been unable to find a Cork Member of the Oireachtas who is prepared to defend this Bill but they will all claim credit for it once it goes through. This suggests to me that regardless of whether we win the political argument those of us who are opposed to this Bill have won the intellectual argument hands down.

We have been promised safeguards. Some of those are to come, some have been brought in and perhaps some of them will do some good. However, I have a profound scepticism about the capacity of Ministers for Justice in particular to operate safeguards and to know what the gardaí on the ground are doing. This goes back to a salutary education I got in July 1969 when I took part in a housing demonstration in Dublin which involved a large number sitting on O'Connell Bridge. The Garda in their wisdom decided that we could not stay on O'Connell Bridge any longer and decided to move us on. I, in the process of making a verbal protest, was struck very vigorously and very forcefully by a garda baton and as I limped around for the following days wondering whether my reproductive capacity had been permanently damaged I heard that the then Minister for Justice had promptly denied in the Dáil the following day that batons had been drawn. I had the evidence — I could not really show it to him — to demonstrate conclusively that the Minister was entirely misinformed.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and at the Department of Social Welfare (Mr. Donnellan): Did the Senator recover?

[321] Mr. B. Ryan: The Minister would need to ask someone else that. Ever since then I have had a profound scepticism about the sort of information that comes to a Minister for Justice. When Nicky Kelly was on hunger strike I had to tell the Minister the conditions in which visitors were being received in the Curragh Military Hospital because the Minister was misinformed. He thought that certain things were not there and, in fact, when I told them they were there he said they were not. He checked and he has since confirmed that I was right and he was wrong. So one wonders about the information. I do not know if any other Member of this House has had the dubious pleasure of being followed home by members of the intelligence and security section of the Garda Síochána. We are told that innocent people have nothing to fear from these powers. I was an innocent person and I have never been involved with an illegal organisation either directly or indirectly. In fact, I took a lot of stick in Cork about the H-Blocks question because of my position within the trade union movement and of what I did to try to prevent the trade unions being unjustifiably entangled. When a lot of people who now shout and wave the law and order banner were talking about humanitarian and other reasons I and other people like me in the trade union movement were trying to protect that movement from exploitation on that issue. At that time I was followed by a carload of these protectors of the security of the State and they were so organised that at midnight one shift went off and a further shift came on to inspect my house, all because I was drinking in a public house which in the eyes of the Garda was known to be frequented by subversives, whatever they are.

To draw the House's attention to a couple of other dubious practices, there is a misfortunate poor man, a member of the travelling community whose name I will not give, who was alleged by the Garda to have confessed to robbing a house at No. 37 Paddocks Estate, Naas, on 16 April 1983. This man was in Mountjoy Jail on 16 April 1983, the day [322] on which gardaí alleged he had confessed to committing an offence. I have a photocopy of the certificate of imprisonment from the Governor of Mountjoy.

We could go on and on. The point I am making is not that all the gardaí are wrong or evil or anything else. The point I am making and that I will continue to make is that there are enough of them there who either for reasons of poor training, personal inadequacy or the pressures of their position are prepared to bend the rules and bend the law and no amount of ministerial assurances will make any difference to that. Let me give two final examples of this. There was a murder in Cork seven or eight years ago and a solicitor whom I know was called to the Garda station where people were being detained under the Emergency Powers Act. He is an eminent, well known Cork solicitor. On arriving at the station he heard groans, shouts and screams coming from the cells where people were being detained and he demanded to meet his own client. His client came out with white dust all over his knees from crawling around the floor and, in the words of this solicitor “with burn marks as big as tenpenny pieces on his chest and complaining of severe headaches”. When he was examined by the doctor the following day he was found to have a perforated eardrum. There were a lot of such allegtions at the time. There were claims that the allegations could not be substantiated. The major issue here is that the solicitor, being a very conscientious man, made formal complaints to the Garda, to the Minister for Justice and to the Director of Public Prosecutions about the way his client was treated but he has heard nothing about any of them. How can I believe in a promised complaints procedure, how can I believe in assurances of control when the record is there of a succession of abuses of this kind?

There is another guarantee. That is that all Garda photographs of people will be destroyed. Senator Higgins and I had the privilege of being videod by the Garda Síochána when we were marching outside this House when President Reagan was here. The gardaí said they [323] were making the video recording so that in the case of trouble they could identify the troublemakers. That is fair enough. There was no trouble and when asked if they would destroy the video, they replied, “no”. What does it matter if the formal photographs are destroyed? They will have informal records anyway. There are lots of ways of identifying people, such as from fingerprints. The formal way will not matter. I do not believe in any of these assurances. I think the evidence is that they do not work.

We have ample evidence — and this needs to be put firmly and in detail on the record — from that misfortunate visit of what the State can do with its existing powers if it wants to. An example of this was the experience of the Phoenix Park women. Let me remind the House that there are allegedly regulations under which people in custody must be looked after. I have here a file of statements from people who were detained because of having taken part in the Phoenix Park demonstration. I do not want to read all of it but I want to read a part of it. This is a statement by a girl named Anne Claffey. I have their permission to use their names. She says that one woman in the cell was on the point of using the toilet when two men entered. There were no apologies offered or anything like that. All of these statements confirm the same thing that Senator Higgins said last week, that none of these women was allowed to make a phone call for 36 hours. Many of them were refused visitors for long periods of time. A considerable number of them had difficulty even getting access to a solicitor and let me remind the House that these are people who were in Garda custody, who had not been brought before a court, who had not been charged before a justice of the peace and who had been refused bail for reasons that the Garda Síochána refused to divulge to me or indeed to the people's solicitors simply on the basis that it was not appropriate, or something like that. All of these statements show that people were arrested at about 6 o'clock or 7 [324] o'clock in the morning, that it was seven or eight hours before they were charged and that it was seven or eight hours more before most of them got access to a solicitor or met visitors and none of them was allowed to make phone calls. One of these women had a 12 year old son — she is a deserted wife — who did not know where his mother was who could not find out where she was, and she was refused permission to contact him. One of the women was in the middle of her period and had her tampons confiscated by the Garda Síochána, presumably because they were a threat to prison security. I do not know why. There is a long list of horrific complaints, apart altogether from the horrific conditions in the Bridewell. That is a place where people are going to be taken to be detained for questioning. We are told innocent people have nothing to fear because innocent people will simply have to demonstrate their innocence. If to demonstrate your innocence you have to spend five or six hours in the physical environment that these women have described in the Bridewell, then no innocent person should ever be there in the first place.

I do not believe that the authors of this Bill are either aware of the circumstances and conditions in which people are detained or that people can now actually describe what happens to them — and that is the unfortunate error that the Garda made. Unlike the usual unfortunate, inarticulate poor illiterate and poorly credible people who usually end up in Garda stations, these women were articulate, educated and able to describe what happened to them. What happened to them was a disgrace to justice, a disgrace to the Garda Síochána and a disgrace to this country and augurs very poorly for so-called safeguards. In spite of the assurances we have been given in successive speeches by the Minister for Justice, the sort of thing that these women describe can happen. If I had speculated that these things could happen before they happened, I would have been laughed out by the Minister for Justice and by most of the present Cabinet and told it was impossible, that that could [325] never happen. It happened and nobody did anything about it. These women were left there because it suited the powers of the State to keep them out of the way because they were a nuisance. One of these women was detained under the Offences Against the State Act in another prison for reasons that escape me and escape her. The experience of the women in the Bridewell is probably the most damning indictment of this Bill and the powers. It is unfair to give the Garda those powers, apart from whether it is right or whether they would abuse them. It is unfair because the expectations that would be put on them by the public, the politicians and their own superiors will inevitably lead to abuses. I have no doubt that it was not the gardaí who arrested those women in the Phoenix Park who should be blamed or punished for what was done to them. But those who put such severe pressures on the Garda to make sure that this nuisance was removed from the Phoenix Park, irrespective of the methods by which it was done, should bear the blame.

This Bill has caused profound unease among the section of our community who are best described as the gay community. Under a most antediluvian piece of nineteenth century legislation, homosexual acts in private carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Do not ask me why, or how anybody can justify that, but it is there and nobody apparently wants to do anything about it. During the Charles Self murder inquiry—it still has not been finally settled — 1,500 gay men were contacted by the Garda in their homes, in their places of work and in many cases with a profound lack of concern for people's feelings or for whether their families or their fellow employees knew that they were part of the gay community. Detailed statements were taken from all these people and they are presumably still on file. Therefore, 1,500 people are already aware that the Garda have more than a reasonable suspicion that they are involved in an offence which in this country carries a sentence of life imprisonment. Is it any wonder that our gay community are campaigning against the [326] Bill? One person from the gay community I know who made this point vigorously to the Minister for Justice was treated to a pat on the head and an assurance that he had nothing to worry about. I am quite sure that in that particular case the Minister for Justice does not dream that anybody would use the Bill in the way I am suggesting.

I return again to the evidence that in every other legislation which gives powers of this sort they have been abused and that any extra powers will be abused, because we do not have the capacity to control their use in a way which would justify us giving them in the first place. When people make a statement like this the reply is that no complaint was received by the Garda. I had the experience of going into a Garda station with what I know to be a perfectly justifiable complaint about the treatment of an innocent individual with no criminal record who complained that he had been roughly handled by the Garda. That particular individual complained to me. The following morning I went to the Garda station, which is what my solicitor advised me to do, to make the complaint. You would want to feel the atmosphere in a Garda station when you go in and say “I want to make a complaint that a member of the Garda from this station assaulted a friend of mine”. I was lucky. I was reasonably secure, articulate and even at that stage, a somewhat prominent individual in Cork. Therefore, I had a certain immunity. If I was poor, inarticulate and did not know my rights I would not have the courage to go in and say that, in the light of the frosty reception I experienced. There was a large number of gardaí there and a number of conversations being carried on, but the minute I mentioned the possibility of an assault on a friend of mine by a member of the Garda Síochána the atmosphere changed, and I had an audience of 35 listening to every word I said. There was no privacy, there was no opportunity to make a statement in private. Anything I had to say was said in the presence of 35 gardaí. I was lucky I was able to get out of it, but other people cannot.

[327] If that is the case, what has been the response? The response has been extraordinarily widespread and perceptive. The Roman Catholic Church through various agencies, the Commission on Justice and Peace, the Conference of Major Religious Superiors, the Sisters for Justice, etc., have vigorously opposed the Bill. There has been a certain reluctance apparently on the part of the non-Roman churches to be critical of the Bill and it is regrettable that they have not found the same capacity to be critical of this issue as they have been on many other issues. One suspects a certain law and order instinct in some of the ascendancy churches that perhaps would be better if it were not there. It is wrong to suggest that, for instance, the National Conference of Priests are out of touch with community realities when they say that these powers are excessive. One of the things that has bothered me most is the number of Members of this House and the other House who have quietly assured me that they do not believe that the Garda can be trusted with powers like this but who at the same time will publicly vote for the same powers and will publicly say that they are in favour of them. Surely churchmen, priests and nuns working in the community have a reasonably good perception of what is going on in our society. Surely, people like them have an idea of what is going on. Will they not be listened to before it ends? I would like to know who is in favour of this Bill. The travelling community felt obliged to complain about this Bill. The Law Society officials and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have complained about this Bill. May I read briefly from a press release issued by HOPE, the voluntary organisation for homeless and unattached young people and children, dated Tuesday, 14 February:

Young people, and particularly homeless young people, are gravely at risk under section 18 of the Bill, which covers inference from the accused's presence at a particular place, about the time an offence is committed. A combination of high unemployment [328] among young people and a lack of youth facilities results in many young people “hanging about the streets”. This in itself can hardly be regarded as criminal but, if a stolen car is crashed when a young person is around, he is suspect; if he runs away so as not to be associated with the event, he is suspect; if in interrogation he has nothing to say about the event, he is suspect. We are forced to ask what is “reasonable suspicion”? If there is proof there is proof and there is no need for such a vague concept as “reasonable suspicion” to be written into our legislation.

People from voluntary organisations like that are too easily dismissed as do-gooders, because those people have to deal with crime daily. They are often the victims of crime. I can speak from my own time in Simon. I had to deal with people who wanted to steal and rob, people who were nasty, dangerous and violent. I am aware of what crime is like, and often more aware than many people who talk a great deal about it. Anybody working in a voluntary organisation in an inner city area or in a deprived community knows full well what crime is and what it is like to be threatened by criminal activity. It is not some sort of middle class do-goodery; it is the exact opposite of that. People who know precisely through their own experience what crime is like raise the most vocal objection to this.

Since the opposition has been so vigorous and widespread, one must ask where did this Bill come from? I think it came from the perception of the Garda of their own inadequacies in dealing with a more sophisticated society. Where the logical, rational and proper response would have been an improvement of Garda training and an extension of their resources and of their capacity to respond to new situations, the simple reaction was to say that they want more power. There is no evidence to suggest that any such powers will bring about any improvement. The fact that there are no statistics to suggest that people are getting off on much talked about technicalities is ignored entirely. The fact that there is no evidence to suggest that large numbers of people will [329] be caught by these powers and what will happen I will discuss later. This is based entirely on the opinions of the Garda and, I suspect, on the views of Department of Justice. That Department have certain things to answer for, for which presumably the Minister is responsible, in particular the freedom with which they use the word “subversive”. It has been branded on the Prisoners' Rights Organisation and in the past it was branded on one of the most humane and humanitarian men I know, Ian Harte, a founder member of the Simon Community, who was not acceptable to assess the young people in Shanganagh Castle because he had spoken, in the words of the Department of Justice, “to a subversive organisation”. Therefore, he was branded with the title “subversive” also.

At this stage my view on the Bill is fairly clearly on the record. The question, then, is what will happen if this Bill goes through. First of all, one thing of any significance that will not happen is a difference in the crime rate. I do not think there will be any greater detection. There may well be more confessions, but they could easily be from people who did not commit half the offences and who would confess for convenience. If a poor, misfortunate traveller can be persuaded to confess to something that happened when he was in prison, then it will be quite easy to get many people who are frightened and terrorised at the prospect of being inside — I am not saying that they will be beaten up — to confess to all sorts of things. It may improve and do wonders for the detection rate in some areas, but it will have no significant effect on crime.

The first and major area of problem will be with young people. One-third of our crimes are attributable to people under 17 years of age. Therefore, young people will be a major object of suspicion. Since one of the great public obsessions at present is the matter of joyriding — it seems to be young people who do a great deal of that — we will have problems there immediately. There is enough tension, enough conflict between young and old with various groups in society, [330] there are enough problems without increasing the alienation of young people from the Garda Síochána. We have the additional question of changing values, of young people and old people having different perceptions, and of the Garda tending to be custodians of traditional values, but young people will be alienated. Then, of course, throughout all of this the poor will be the victims, as they are the victims now of our repressive society and, as Senator O'Mahony said, of the way this Oireachtas does its business.

Let me give some evidence on the present structure of the prison population just to get this firmly on the record once and for all. Of those committed to prison in 1981, 76.9 per cent were between 15 and 29 years of age and only less than 8 per cent were over 40. I suppose it is not entirely a coincidence that the 15 to 29 section represent something like 50 per cent of the unemployed. Also most prisoners come from socially deprived urban backgrounds, from families who have problems with poverty, marriage difficulties, alcoholism and unemployment. Their work skills are minimal and usually they have a history of unemployment. A high percentage of them have been juvenile offenders — in other words they have already gone through the so-called system of deterrents and it has not deterred them in the least; probably it has made them worse. Frequently other family members have been engaged in criminal activity and their standards of education are usually poor, many of them being illiterate and, indeed, quite a number being innumerate. Apart from not being able to read or write, they cannot add at all. The Catholic Bishops' Council for Social Welfare said the following:

This is not to imply that only the deprived commit crimes of dishonesty. The forms of theft more likely to be committed by the better off — the educated, the employed, for example — include pilfering from the workplace, abuse of expense accounts, use of inferior materials in building or manufacture, [331] and indeed abuse of state grants or subsidies. These are much less likely to be reported as crimes and even when they are detected, the perpetrators may not be charged and if convicted they are most unlikely to be sent to prison.

Equivalent thefts of equivalent amounts of money in one case are called fraud and in another case are called theft. Whereas with fraud you have a chance of a suspended sentence and, as in one famous case, you have the distinct possibility of half the Roman Catholic Church lining up to give you references, if you are a kid and you steal £100 from somebody then you are locked up because that crime and the other thing are different.

The final outcome of this Bill will be abuse, mistrust and alienation of a large section of our society. I do not trust all members of the Garda sufficiently to give them these powers. I do not believe they have the skills, the training or the controls necessary to use these powers and even if they had all these, those powers are not in the least necessary. Trust is a very complex thing and trust in our society has broken down. Trust between the Government and the community has broken down. Trust between the Garda and the community has broken down. Trust between young and old probably has gone also. If we are to rediscover and encourage trust as a basis for any sort of rediscovery of a sense of common purpose in this society, we must introduce things like communication, understanding and respect. Loading the powers on one side in the enforcement of law will do the exact opposite to that. It will produce alienation, distrust and fear.

There is ample evidence already of that alienation. The Garda Commissioner has adverted to it and some of the speeches by representatives of the Garda when they talk about homosexual rights being somehow a sign of corruption of society and certain remarks attributable to senior gardaí, in Cork at least, about politicians holding up the Criminal Justice Bill and therefore being responsible for the crime rate, suggest that there is not just alienation [332] but a frightening beginning of politicisation on the part of the Garda. The way the Garda were reported and complained about by people in Cabra who have handled the problems there recently; the fact that the young man who was chairman of the youth development association and who was obviously a very sensible, respectable and dedicated young man felt obliged to say that the Garda had over-reacted, had mishandled it and had caused more trouble by their presence — all this adds to the problem. What will we end up with? We will end up with prisons which are already over-crowded and useless becoming more overcrowded and even more useless. Prisons do not work. They may be an excuse. They may give us somewhere to put people so that we can say we are doing something, but manifestly they do not work. Increasing penalties will not work either.

The usual question is what people like myself propose should be done about crime. Usually we are accused of being very negative and critical. Let me put a series of proposals. The first is that Garda training should be changed fundamentally. A quick ten to 12 week training period is entirely inadequate. A garda's training should last at least two years. An Army officer gets about three years' training and I suspect even an Army private, who has a far less delicate and difficult job to do, gets a longer period of training than the gardaí get at present. Fundamental training of about two years followed by further and further levels of training should apply. We should have degrees in police work. There should be a whole series of qualifications in police work, not just one blank qualification. Gardaí should be experts in all the areas of social sciences not just the forensic areas; there should not be just one sort of token specialist wheeled out on occasions to meet members of the community. Large sections of the Garda should be specialist in a large number of areas. It should not just be left to the good natured gardaí who work in youth and football clubs and community groups to improve the Garda image. The Garda should be [333] part of the community, and to be part of the community they have to understand the community. The reflections of prejudice and hostility, which sometimes are close to class warfare, often attributed to the Garda in urban working class areas must be got rid of. It can be dealt with only by education, and the best place to start with such education and training is in the Garda.

There must be a transformation of community policing. We had a fine document from the Garda Sergeants and Inspectors Association. I disagree with them in many things but that document contains many almost revolutionary suggestions. They accept that there is a growing gap between the Garda and the community and that the only solution to that is to have the Garda become members of their own communities. The image of the garda that I have referred to before, the gum-chewing garda with his elbow out the car window and his dark glasses on cruising through estates, is like something in an American movie: it may make the garda feel good but it does not do anything for Garda-community relations. That should be ended quickly.

Until we deal with jobs, housing, education and the environment we will not be able to deal with crime. The entire court system must be modernised so that those who go to court will not feel that they are on one side and that solicitors, Garda, the Judiciary and everybody else are on the other side — that is a permanent perception by many people, particularly of the District Court. In the Children's Court the idea of branding seven-year-olds as criminals and the fact that we can produce this Bill at such short notice when we cannot introduce children's legislation which has been promised for many years, are a most eloquent reflection of the distorted priorities we have in public life. Our children have to suffer on under antiquated and non-existent legislation, but we as a community have decided that our criminal law must be amended to allow children to incriminate their parents if there are stolen goods around the place.

Access to the legal profession will have [334] to be looked at. That profession contains within itself a class bias and perception in regard to what is important in society. It has a bias towards property which is overwhelmingly evident.

It is astonishing that right through the debate in the Dáil, when Deputies suggested that many in detention would not be able to afford to pay for solicitors, the national economic circumstances were put forward to explain why we could not give them free legal aid. Effectively, what we are saying is that anybody who is detained has the right to have a solicitor in theory but, if they cannot afford it, it is hard luck and they will have to do without it. Since the evidence is overwhelming that most of those detained would be poor, it is obvious that most people affected by the Bill will be poor and therefore unrepresented legally.

One could go on to say an enormous amount about the Bill. At its core it is a reflection of the way we as a society see ourselves, a society riven with fear, based sometimes on fact — for instance, the Northern problem — sometimes on our economic circumstances and our levels of unemployment, and there is the fear in those of us who have done well in the last 20 years that somehow this has all come to an end in various ways, because of State policy and because of crime. Consequently, there is a tendency to put up barricades, to dig moats and to pull in the drawbridges to protect those of us who have privileges from those who have not.

Effectively, that is what this Bill will do. It provides another weapon in the armoury of the privileged to protect themselves from the often incoherent reaction of the underprivileged to the injustices in our society — it is a protection of those of us who have something against those who have nothing, a protection of the relatively comfortable middle-aged people who dominate this and the other House against the restless and disaffected young who are such a large section of our society and who think poorly, if they think anything, of those of us who are Members of the Oireachtas. It is a Bill that will do the opposite of [335] what its conceivers hoped to do. It will not deal with crime; it will deal with one or two trivial complaints that the Garda have magnified and which the Department of Justice and successive Ministers have found it useful to rely on. It is a situation in which we have to do something but at the same time we throw our hands up in horror and say we can do nothing about unemployment or the other basic economic circumstances. There are many Members of both Houses who believe we cannot do anything about unemployment.

Therefore, we have found an area in which we think there will be a good public response. We wanted to be seen to be doing something and therefore the Criminal Justice Bill became a major issue. It is divisive legislation. It is a Bill that will produce fundamental divisions in our society, largely, I hasten to say, on a class basis. The Garda, instead of becoming the Garda of the community will become the Garda of the ruling class, outside of which will be the unemployed, the homeless and the disaffected young, being treated not as part of the community but as the other side of a struggle between them and the Garda about the enforcement of law.

This Bill is not capable of amendment — the only amendment possible would be to have section 4 removed completely, in which case a number of other sections would fall and the Bill would be meaningless. The only proper thing that can be done with this Bill is to withdraw it and later to introduce legislation covering the minor matters. I have opposed this Bill since it was drafted. Amendments will make very little difference to the fundamental questions involved. Therefore, the Bill must be opposed and I hope it will continue to be opposed.

Mr. T. Hussey: I will be very brief because anything that can be said on the Bill has been said already. I am sure that the Minister will take note of the recommendations that have been made by the various speakers. At present, any measure that would help to curb the [336] serious wave of crime and lawlessness now afflicting the country should be welcomed by all law abiding citizens. I believe that 99 per cent of our citizens have nothing to fear from this legislation. There is a small element in our society who have something to fear and the job of the Government should be to protect the vast majority of citizens for whom they are responsible.

In the past decade we have experienced a dramatic rise in crime, especially in our cities. The Dublin metropolitan area, with only 30 per cent of the population, accounts for almost 60 per cent of recorded crime. A similar situation exists in our major growth centres. It is a terrible reflection on society that today tourists visiting here are advised that certain areas in Dublin are no-go areas. People are being advised to watch their handbags, to beware of pickpockets, to take precautions with their cars and so on. Apparently the traditional Irish welcome no longer awaits visitors in parts of Dublin. That is to be regretted.

One could advance many reasons for the rising crime rate. It could be because we have a very young population many of whom have never known what it is like to hold steady jobs. The frustration of young people is understandable but it does not give those people a licence to go out and rob, maim and cause malicious damage to property. They must be made aware of their responsibilities to society, and here perhaps our educational system is wrong because it does not help to create a greater awareness of civic responsibility at an early age. Parental control should also be examined. Have parents lost complete control of their children and do they care about the company their children are keeping or the activities they are involved in? If parents were made responsible for the damage caused by the young joy-riders in this city to cars and property we might soon see a decline in this activity.

Juvenile crime accounts for 33 per cent of all crime. It is well known here in the city of Dublin that a small number of youths is responsible for over 50 per cent of all juvenile crime. It is very difficult for the Garda to deal effectively with [337] those juveniles. They are taken to court and sentenced and then there is no place to send them. It should be possible to find some place of detention for juvenile delinquents of this kind. It is not good enough to waste the time of the Garda hauling those criminals to court only to have them discharged again to carry on their illegal activities.

What has happened to the Community Service Order Act? Why is it not being enforced? It was intended to deal with people involved in minor crime. It would help to take some of the pressure from our prison system, a system that is in danger of disintegrating at present. According to reports in today's papers, the Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism were shocked at the conditions obtaining in the women's prison at Mountjoy. That Act should be put into force immediately and I call on the Minister to implement that measure which was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas some months ago.

At present the community are not convinced that the forces of law and order are capable of overcoming the huge wave of crime and vandalism that has now descended on us. It is not just the cities that are affected by this crime wave. In the rural areas old people have been beaten up and robbed in their own homes; property has been stolen and vandalised. People are living in fear and the authorities are not doing enough to minimise that fear.

A few months ago an effort was made to introduce a system of rural policing and were it not for the objections and the protests made by the community in those rural areas that rural policing system would have been forced on us. Under this scheme it was proposed to close down a number of rural Garda stations and have one central station, serviced by a squad car or by a number of squad cars to cover scattered rural areas. That was a very retrograde step and it was no way to tackle the crime wave that has now descended on the rural areas as well as on the cities. I hope that whoever thought up that scheme will now have second [338] thoughts about it and that it will be scrapped because it was completely wrong to think of closing down rural Garda stations, taking the gardaí away from the rural community and transferring them to a central depot. There is no way that gardaí can keep in touch with the local community under a system like that. There is no way that they can detect crime if they are going to be taken away from the rural community and made to service that area from a squad car. It has not worked satisfactorily and the gardaí themselves admit that. It has not worked satisfactorily in the pilot schemes that have been introduced and it will not work in the areas that have been designated for its introduction at a later stage.

I hope the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner will scrap the idea because in the rural areas we do not want to see our Garda stations closed down. We want to maintain their strength and ensure that there is full co-operation between the local community and the Garda. The garda on the beat has the local knowledge and he has a better chance of detecting crime. There is no way that a gadget attached to the door of a Garda station will substitute for the local Garda station. If that is the system they are talking about, where a person in trouble has to come in and talk into this gadget, where his message is relayed to a central station and then gardaí in the squad car come out to try to arrest the offending people, the criminals will be given an excellent opportunity of getting away from the area. They will not be dealt with as effectively or efficiently as they are at present.

We have seen an increase in the use of drugs in recent times. This is to be regretted by all decent members of society, parents, teachers and community leaders. More will have to be done to make people aware of this serious problem. Gardaí in every area must be trained in the detection of those drugs, in being able to identify them and so on. As far as drug pushers are concerned, there should be no mercy for them. Their activities an destroying the lives of innocent people and I would like to see the courts deal [339] more severely with them. Bank robberies have also been on the increase. Here again, one wonders why the Army could not be used more in sending money around the country to post offices and the banks. In the present situation a car with one or two gardaí following a van loaded with money is not sufficient, particularly in view of the type of criminal now involved in that area.

I understand that £250 million is being spent on crime-related services in this country. That does not include the cost of services being provided by the Department of Health for the drug problem or by the Department of Defence for security and assistance to the civil power arising out of the activities of subversive criminals. When you consider the number of jobs that money could create it is very sad to think that it is costing a poor country like this that amount of money. Border security is another item that is costing a lot of money.

If we are to tackle crime we will probably have to put more gardaí on the beat and make sure we have better security. As well as that there must be economic recovery. There must be an effort made by the Government of the day to create jobs for young people. As I said at the outset, one can understand the frustration of young people who have no jobs and who seem to think that there is no future in this country for them. That leads to crime and all the other things that follow. It is up to the Government of the day to try to create jobs for those people and I think until such time as that happens we are going to have to contend with this serious crime wave.

I hope that the Bill being introduced will in some way help to curtail the activities of those criminals. If that happens, this measure will have the full support of the vast majority of the community. People involved with the mentally handicapped have expressed reservations about this Bill and are concerned about the effects the legislation might have on their members. Mentally handicapped persons can get involved innocently in crime and because of their degree of [340] handicap they may not be able to explain their position adequately to the investigating officer. For that reason it is imperative that a parent, supervisor or guardian be present during questioning to plead their special case. I hope the Minister when he is putting this legislation through the final stages will think of the special case of the handicapped person and those who might get involved in crime.

Mr. Deenihan: This Bill is an effort to amend the criminal law and balance a number of freedoms as in most criminal legislation. In this case the two major freedoms involved are (a) the freedom of our citizens to live in a crime-free society and (b) the freedom of individuals to have a full and fair defence of any accusation made against them and a fair trial. The first freedom I mentioned is one that is much abused and its abuse is well documented and spoken of. There is virtually nobody in society at present who is untouched by the wave of crime that has become so blatant, particularly in this decade. I need hardly emphasise that a society that allows the fear of crime to dominate the lives of many of its citizens is a society whose law is ineffective. Is this not the situation in many parts of this city within a mile of where we speak? Is it not true that old and young people, indeed, people in their full health, very often cannot walk the streets for fear of being mugged or injured, afraid for their property and their friends? Old people have suffered much at the hands of criminal vagabonds and hucksters, call them what one will. Many of our elders live in fear and misery in remote areas behind locked doors day and night. They are defenceless against the type of criminal I have mentioned.

In my own constituency of North Kerry there have been many instances where old people have been mugged, robbed and threatened by various types of criminals, especially itinerant traders. The people who perpetuate these crimes should be subjected to the roughest vigour of the law. Old people in our society have the right of the protection [341] of the law and everything should be done to ensure that they feel comfortable at home and are not threatened. This is not something we wish to admit in Irish society but we must both comment on it and admit it. The Bill is an effort to face up to that fact and to shift the burden of fear from the ordinary law-abiding citizen to the citizen who wishes to live outside the law of the land.

People should be free to enjoy their private property and use public property without interruption or fear. Legislators must therefore choose the correct balance of civil liberties and social protection. It is essential when possible that reform of the criminal law, such as this Bill, should meet with broad approval. We must recognise that we are in a difficult and sensitive area which is also controversial. We cannot please everybody. Indeed, we must deliberately displease many. Therefore, we must where necessary proceed with caution and full consideration of all aspects.

The second point I should like to speak about in this balancing of the scale of justice is the civil right to protection by the State from self-incrimination of an involuntary nature by the accused and the right also to a full and fair trial. It is in this area that most concern has been expressed about this Bill. This is only proper in a world where the standard of civil liberties seems to be very often on the decline. Ireland should not join the ranks of those countries where civil liberties are abused directly or indirectly. We have had a good record on this and we should be anxious to maintain it. As a nation we showed great concern about the trial of one of our citizens in the Phillipines recently. Let us express in legislative and judicial form and practice the right of all citizens to the full enjoyment of their personal civil rights. This involves freedom from oppressive laws, procedures and judgments. Pre-trial investigations must not be oppressive or seen to be oppressive. Most criminal trials, to put it into a context within which I am familiar, involve many of the elements of a game, serious as it may be. Unless the teams have equal opportunity, [342] have equal rights of attack and defence, the trial becomes a game besmirched with fouls, injuries and casualties. The casualties in a criminal court are those who are convicted though innocent. Such liabilities bring a loss of confidence in justice, in our courts and in our Garda force. It is essential that justice be and be seen to be fair and open to all.

In this context it is necessary to recognise the frustrations of our Garda in trying to deal with crime. Most citizens regard the Garda with respect, but this respect must be diminished by their apparent failure to stem the criminal tide that washes up to the very doors of our people. Criminal legislation will not of itself stem that tide or solve our crime rate. It may help and should not be found wanting. This pernicious tide can only be eliminated by striking at the source of crime, its social, environmental, economic and attitudinal causes.

It is in the context of balancing these freedoms that this House should consider this Bill and the provisions considered controversial. Fortunately, many of the reforms which it proposes are uncontroversial and, indeed, are welcomed virtually universally. Thus the provisions as to offences committed on bail, notices as to alibis, theft of vehicles and many others need not take up the time of the House. As the second House of the Oireachtas, rightly removed from the cut and thrust of the political arena, it is up to this House to calmly assess how balances of the criminal law in the controversial areas are to be adjusted. In doing this we must take into consideration the views of law enforcement agencies and also of such groups as the lawyers, whose job it is to help to defend and often vindicate the rights of individuals.

I now turn to consideration of some of the sections involved and the objections made to them. Ths first concerns the changes in pre-trial procedures. Lawyers tell me of their grave disquiet about these provisions. Police say they are necessary for a higher conviction rate. It is generally accepted that higher detection and conviction rates are desirable. When an accused is faced with the might of the [343] State he would seem to me to start with a considerable disadvantage. He normally knows little about the law and less about proper procedures. He will usually have limited or no financial resources and will often not be capable of even understanding the language of the law. Naturally, he will be upset or, indeed, frightened as the forces of the law move against him. Such a person needs protection. Reputable lawyers say he has not enough now and that this Bill will reduce whatever protection he has. There are other criminals who know both the law and the procedures and how to use them to their mischievous advantage.

There is another aspect of this. The controversies about the manner in which statements are taken appear almost daily in our papers. Public controversy ran high over the Nicky Kelly/Lynch cases. These controversies may and often appear to be a serious attack on the fairness of our Garda. The Garda want protection from these attacks. Their good name and standing must be protected by an independent, satisfactory monitoring agency of pre-trial actions. This matter was dealt with in the Ó Briain report which, as far as I am aware, has not been implemented. It is a situation that requires constant vigilance as a price of the liberties and reputations it seeks to protect. The complaints procedure promised by our Minister must be carefully examined and it is a pity its introduction has not been concurrent with the introduction of the Bill.

As regards detention, at the moment there is no power to detain for the purposes of investigating a crime. The question is: is it reasonable to give that power to the Garda? Bearing in mind the safeguards which the Bill contains, it is not an unreasonable power. It is unrealistic for anyone to say that the Garda charged with the duty of investigating serious crime should not have the power to detain for a period of 12 hours in connection with investigating that crime. I believe this legislation is necessary. What this House must do is make sure it does not go too far, or is not abused or misused.

[344] Mr. Mullooly: All available statistics indicate that the crime situation in this country has deteriorated very considerably over the past decade. While this is true of all parts of the country, by far the greatest increase in crime has occurred in the urban areas, especially in the Dublin metropolitan area. I have the most recent report on crime presented by the Garda Commissioner to the Minister for Justice. This report is titled “Report on Crime, 1983. Report for the year ended 31 December 1983. Commissioner, Garda Síochána, to the Minister for Justice”. It is dated May 1984.

According to this report a total of 102,387 indictable offences was recorded in 1983. This was an increase of 4,761 on the figure for the previous year. The extent to which the situation has deteriorated in the past decade can be gleaned from the fact that between 1974 and 1983 the number of indictable offences recorded increased from 40,000 to the 1983 figure of over 102,000. The seriousness of the situation as far as Dublin is concerned is borne out by the fact that in 1983 over 60,000, or 59.2 per cent, of all crimes occurred in the Dublin metropolitan area. Another very disturbing statistic in the Garda Commissioner's report is that the detection rate in the case of indictable offences has dropped from approximately 50 per cent in 1974 to just under 33 per cent in 1983. In view of these statistics it is hardly to be wondered at that there is an increasing perception on the part of the general public that it is the criminals and not the Garda Síochána who are winning the battle.

I believe that this fact has been a significant contributory factor in the increase in crime that has taken place over the past few years. Let me put it another way. Crime appears to be becoming more profitable and the criminal's chances of getting away and holding on to his spoil seem to be getting better all the time. Garda figures indicate that in 1981 the value of property stolen was £20 million and only 9.5 per cent of this was recovered. In 1982, the value increased to £29 million of which 7.2 per cent was [345] recovered. In 1983, the value of property stolen was almost £40 million of which only 5.2 per cent was recovered.

The growing perception in the past few years that crime pays and that the chances of not being apprehended are improving all the time is bound to have aggravated what was an already serious problem. We now have a situation which must be reversed before it gets out of hand completely. The general public want to see the present situation reversed. They want to see the increase in crime halted and more law breakers brought to justice. They want to be able to go about their ordinary business in peace and safety.

Elderly people and people living alone want to be able to feel safe in their homes. The Garda must be given every support and assistance by all law-abiding citizens in their efforts to deal with the muggers, the car thieves and handbag snatchers, as well as the more sophisticated criminals. The general public want to see the Garda being given the resources to prevent crime in so far as it is possible to do so and to detect any crime that they cannot prevent. In my view the most essential resource as far as the Garda Síochána are concerned is adequate manpower. More gardaí on the beat, especially in the urban areas, would have the effect of reducing the crime rate. In this regard I am disappointed that the Government have not honoured their commitment to increase the strength of the Garda force to the promised figure of 12,000.

I also agree with the other speakers who emphasised the importance of improving police-community relations. Some years ago the Garda were in much closer contact with the communities they served than is the case today. This is especially true in the case of rural areas. The advent of the patrol car and the closing of small rural Garda stations meant that the gardaí no longer move among the people in the community as they did in the past. It is not so long ago since practically every house in every rural area was visited by one of the local gardaí at least twice every year. One visit was for the purpose of taking agricultural statistics, and usually the other visit was [346] ostensibly in connection with dog licences, noxious weeds, or some such matter.

As far as the Garda were concerned these visits were invaluable from the point of view of the intimate knowledge of the local community they provided. It is also common knowledge that, during the course of these visits, very valuable snippets of information were picked which contributed in no small way to the solution of a very high percentage of the crimes which occurred in these rural areas. Because of this regular close contact between the Garda and the members of the public in their areas a great degree of trust and goodwill was generated. The vast majority of people who were used to these regular visits from gardaí felt quite at ease when the garda called. His visits did not raise eyebrows in the neighbourhood. Usually the conversation which took place was totally uninhibited and very often the garda was offered and accepted some hospitality, usually a cup of tea but, in some cases and perhaps depending on the time of the year, something stronger.

As I have already said, this situation came to an end with the advent of more widespread use of the patrol car and because of the fact that gardaí are no longer involved in such matters as the taking of agricultural statistics or the carrying out of a census of population. Many of the smaller Garda stations were closed down, and one of the reasons advanced for their closure was the very low crime rate in the areas served by these stations. What was overlooked was that it was the existence of these small stations, and the relationship that existed between the gardaí who manned them and the local community that were responsible for the fact that the crime rate was so low in so many rural areas.

Today we have a different situation. If a garda calls to any house in any area today the purpose of his visit is a matter of intense speculation to the whole neighbourhood. The free and easy rapport which was there in the past, and which was so helpful in so many ways, no longer exists. It is vital that every effort should be made to re-establish that rapport and [347] relationship between the gardaí and the communities they serve.

The neighbourhood watch idea has the potential to improve the relationship between the Garda and the community and to break down the barriers which seem to have developed in recent times. The promotion of neighbourhood watch schemes by the Garda in as many areas as possible would have a two-fold effect. First, it would lead to a significant reduction in the crime rate and, secondly, it would considerably improve Garda-community relationships. I am satisfied that the full co-operation of the public is one of the best weapons the Garda could have in their efforts to combat crime.

I have dealt with the extent to which the problem of crime has increased over recent years and I accept the purpose of this Bill is to tackle that problem. There is fairly widespread acceptance of the need for new legislation to redress the situation where the balance of the existing law is unquestionably tilted in favour of the lawbreaker. There is no doubt that under existing law the best efforts of the Garda were constantly frustrated by the exploitation of loopholes which enabled obviously guilty persons to secure acquittal on technicalities. The situation whereby crimes committed by a person on bail were dealt with by way of concurrent sentences was also totally unsatisfactory. This was an incentive to a person, once he was satisfied he would be convicted any way, to go out and commit additional crimes while on bail. He had nothing to lose if apprehended as long as the practice of concurrent sentencing obtained and perhaps in his view he had much to gain if he got away.

Another problem that seems to be becoming more widespread, and which must also be very frustrating as far as the Garda are concerned, is that law breakers who are convicted and sentenced are being released in a matter of days due to the lack of adequate prison accommodation. Due to overcrowding in prisons more than 1,300 prisoners were released [348] prematurely last year. Some of these people were in trouble with the law again and were back before the same courts that sentenced them long before their previous sentences expired. It is no wonder that these cases provoked caustic comment from many of the district justices involved.

The Government, instead of increasing capital expenditure on prisons, actually reduced the 1983 Estimate by £6 million. If that £6 million and the corresponding figure for 1984 had been provided and expended on the provision of additional prison accommodation, we would be moving some way towards an improvement in the present position. I wonder what the situation will be when this Bill becomes law if it has the effect, which I hope it will, of bringing more criminals to justice.

The Government must tackle the present crisis in the prison system as a matter of urgency. I agree with the speakers who urged a review of the present Garda training system. There should be a much longer and more comprehensive training course for Garda recruits and a greater emphasis placed on in-service training for members being promoted to the higher ranks within the force. This is something which is long overdue and which, if implemented, would have very beneficial results. Gardaí of all ranks who wish to pursue courses of studies which will equip them to be better police officers should be facilitated in every way.

Before I move on to look at some of the provisions of the Bill and to comment on them in a general way, I want to condemn those appalling scenes of violence which took place at Dalymount Park last night. I want to sympathise with those gardaí who were injured. Incidents such as those which occurred last night should serve to bring home to people the debt of gratitude we owe to the gardaí who are prepared to put themselves at risk in order to protect life and property.

Section 4 of the Bill is one of the most controversial sections. This section proposes to empower the Garda to arrest [349] without warrant and to detain on suspicion a person suspected of having committed a serious crime. It is a pity that when we are dealing with this section we have not got details of the complaints procedure which the Minister proposes to introduce. In his speech to this House on 11 July 1984, at column 1170, the Minister stated:

The Government gave a commitment when the Bill was published that the provisions giving increased powers to the Garda would not be brought into operation until new procedures for the handling of complaints against them, introducing a strong independent element, were in force. I want to reiterate that commitment here today. The Bill to give effect to it is being prepared at present and consultation with Garda representative associations are proceeding. I hope to have it published in the autumn. While I cannot at this stage comment on the substance of the new procedures, I am confident that they will be widely accepted as being independent and fair and that they will help towards improving the image of the force and the confidence of the public in them.

More than two months have elapsed since the Minister gave that commitment in this House. The Bill in question still has not been published. It would be of considerable help to Senators if that Bill was circulated before we deal with the Committee Stage of the Criminal Justice Bill next week.

If an independent and adequate complaints procedure is brought into existence I am satisfied that the provisions of section 4 of this Bill will be of considerable assistance to the Garda in dealing with criminals and with the very high rate of serious crime that we have at present. I agree with the Minister when he stated that many people were under the impression that the Garda had these powers already. I was one of those who felt that a person had very little choice if somebody was invited by the Garda to go to the station to assist them in their inquiries. [350] It is not an unreasonable power for the Garda to have and in the present crime situation it is necessary. The complaints procedure will safeguard both the individuals who will be detained under the section and the Garda from unjustified allegations.

Section 5 of the Bill states that a person who is detained under section 4 shall be informed without delay that he is entitled to consult a solicitor and the garda involved or in charge of the station shall cause the solicitor and another named person to be notified as soon as practicable. I would prefer if the section stated that the person arrested would be informed on arrival at the station or on entering the station that he is entitled to consult a solicitor. I am not all that happy with the words “as soon as practicable” in section 5(1). I wonder what the situation would be if the solicitor arrived at the station on being notified of the detention of the person in question and sought consultation with his client immediately. Will that be allowed; and if that consultation continues for the duration of the period of detention, will that be allowed? If such a situation arose then the value to the Garda of having the person in detention would be questionable.

Section 6 states that where a person is detained pursuant to section 4 a member of the Garda may demand his name and address and then search him or cause him to be searched and so on. I wonder why in that section it is not provided that the person's age should be ascertained also by a garda since there are certain procedures to be followed in the case of a person under the age of 17 years. It would be important for a garda to ascertain the age of a person who might be detained under section 4 as well as ascertaining his name and address. It might not in all cases be necessary for the arresting garda to ascertain the person's age in that it might be obvious in a lot of cases that he was over 17, but in some cases there would be a doubt as to the age of the person and in those situations it should be written into the Bill that the person's age as well as his name and address should be ascertained.

[351] Section 11 deals with sentences for offences committed while on bail. I welcome the fact that consecutive sentencing is introduced in this section. Section 14 deals with the increase of penalties for firearms offences. I doubt if the increased penalties set down in this section will ever be implemented since the proposal is to increase the term of 14 years to imprisonment for life. At present persons serving sentences of imprisonment for life are usually released after approximately seven or eight years. If that is the situation I cannot see the increased sentencing proposed in this section having much effect.

Sections 15 and 16 deal with the withholding of information regarding firearms and regarding stolen property. It is right that people would be required under threat of penalty to account for the possession of firearms and stolen property

Section 20 deals with notices of alibi in trials on indictment. This section proposes that an accused person would be required to give notice of his intention to put forward an alibi. This is necessary. In the past guilty persons did benefit from producing concocted alibis at the last minute. The section deals adequately with that situation.

I support, too, section 25, which deals with majority verdicts. Not being a lawyer I am unsure whether, when members of a jury are deciding on their verdict, that verdict is arrived at by way of a secret ballot. If the situation at present is that verdicts are not arrived at by way of secret ballot, this is something that should be introduced when majority verdicts become the order of the day. I am satisfied that many people serving on juries experience a certain amount of fear regarding their being subjected to some intimidation afterwards as a result of the stand taken in relation to a verdict. If verdicts are not arrived at by secret ballot we should consider changing the practice and introducing this system.

Finally, while I am satisfied that this Bill will be of some assistance to the Garda and the courts, I am convinced [352] that if we are to come to grips with the growing problem of crime we must tackle it on a number of other fronts as well. Many excellent suggestions were made in the course of the debate regarding what needs to be done in addition to enacting legislation. I hope the Minister will give all these suggestions careful and sympathetic consideration.

Mr. Robb: Towards the end of this long discussion on the Criminal Justice Bill I should like to add a few points. They are germane to the debate that is going on in the Republic at the moment as I will allude to the effect of repressive legislation in Northern Ireland and how repressive legislation has got very little to do with the suppression of crime.

I have no doubt that in the course of time this Bill, without a great deal of modification, will become law; but equally I have no doubt as to its not solving the serious problem of crime. I do not believe it would be possible, even if the Bill had been drafted by the Divine Draftsman, for it to deal with the social state that confronts this State. Had this Bill been introduced in conjunction with a new social charter, with a very forceful policy and approval of community policing and with the idea of pushing ahead with up to date prison reforms in line with contemporary thinking about prisons and prisoners, it would have been easier to have seen it as a practical attempt to try to cope with the more outrageous aspects of the crimes that are committed particularly in the streets of Dublin and of other cities.

Inevitably the question arises of how one deals with the drug question, the muggings, the stealings and sexual exploitation which are now on such a drastic increase in Dublin as well as violence in general — kidnapping, knee cappings and so on. Against that level of crime, which more than 90 per cent of citizens are appalled by and want to have no part of — those who could loosely be termed as the law-abiding and who look to the law enforcing agencies to protect them against such — we have to look at the [353] style of society that has evolved in Ireland, both South and North. We have to look at our unemployment rates. There are 220,000 plus unemployed in the Republic and 120,000 unemployed in the North. Many of those cannot anticipate in their lifetime the possibility of a job.

Let us ask ourselves how much political imagination is being put into the alternatives for creating meaningful activity in the time that those people must pass while they spend their three score and ten among us. What have we done to provide facilities for creative work? What have we done to give the people the power to make the participation, which we are always asking them to become involved in, effective? What do we say about the appalling inequity in the social space that is available in Ireland today?

Some time ago when I was speaking in this vein an irate someone in the audience of the privileged middle classes jumped up and said, “We are all workers now. You work maybe 16 hours a day. What are you talking about?” The big difference between the work I do and the work the under-privileged in Ireland do — and remember we are not talking about the 300,000-odd who have no work at all — is that I have the social space in which to make elegant choices in my life, and they do not. If there is no possibility of changing things at a time when so many expectations have been kindled by more extensive — and note I did not use the word “better” — education and greater access to the media, by a consumer capitalism coming into our homes nightly, there is bound to be frustration. It would not be human if there was not envy, and out of that frustration and envy come the feelings of violence which herald subsequent acts of violence. No man, if he has any dignity will be content throughout his life not to strive to take positive action which establishes his right to be. In the context of that right to be, I would ask on the one side that we acknowledge that we cannot exist in isolation and, on the other, that we should be free to determine with whom and how we will associate in order to give meaning to our lives.

[354] In Ireland today the right to be must be tempered by the need to belong. In that context I ask whether the people against whom this legislation is most likely to be used — and statistically it is almost certain that 90 per cent of the people against whom it will be used will be out of the deprived societies of the underprivileged — really feel they belong, and what kind of communication can they establish with those of us who feel we belong, and how can we begin to create a two-way method of communication? That is at national level, but let us now go down to community level. We have law enforcing agencies; we have the law-abiding people who yearn for protection and for a loss of the fear which increasing numbers have, and then we have the frustrated people living in communities with high levels of unemployment.

In Northern Ireland over a period of five years there were 28,000 arrests. Of these 28,000 arrests, 80 per cent were discharged without a charge being made against them. These arrests were made under the Emergency Powers Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. If you contract the population from which these arrests were made into those small ghetto areas, you can see that a very high proportion in a small underprivileged community were arrested on suspicion and subsequently released. You can imagine the great resentment that boils up in the minds and hearts of these people.

The people of the Republic and their leaders must be prepared to consider a new social character and that is what the New Ireland should be about. There is a need for complete prison reform so that people do not waste in their over-crowded cells and come out more frustrated, more diminished, and more violent than ever before. They must bring in a new concept at community level of community policing in relation to the need to devolve power back to our communities so that the people can make their participation effective and their choices relevant to the lives they want to live in their own areas. In that context we need to re-establish the dynamic [355] which the late 20th century and the next century are going to have to establish if man is to become transformed in time between the citizen in the community and the central institutions of the State, a debate which I would suggest needs to be headed by the line, institutional power and community powerlessness.

This Bill will undoubtedly become law but it will not solve the problem. I dare say it will not be much longer before, in relation to the forces I have mentioned, what starts out as a Criminal Justice Bill forces more and more people to come into the categories covered by the Offences Against the State Act. That is what I fear most of all — that we are doing this as a part of the whole, that we are taking this out of the context of the whole as if we had the sort of society which the founding fathers of this State once dreamed of. If that were so, there might be many things in this Bill which I would be prepared to support because it would be done in the context of consensus, a consensus of the people as a whole. It would be done in the context of trust which comes out of such consensus, and therefore it could be done knowing that the garda on the street would be sufficiently aware of the totality of the community he serves, to be highly selective, to be fair, and to be trusted in his application of this Bill. We would go back to the old thing of commonsense, intuition and the common good in the local community, but as we have not got that sort of society, but have moved away from it, we will have to consider urgently the way in which Ireland will be restructured at community level to give people a greater sense of confidence so that when law and order is applied, it is related to justice and opportunity.

Mr. Ross: I do not share the enormous fears of the most vocal opponents of this Bill who believe it is a draconian measure, that it is a fascist measure or that it is a purely repressive measure. I do not think that is true, because I do not think the Government's motive in bringing this forward was a particularly repressive [356] one. I think the Government's motive for bringing this forward was a response, a misled response, a misguided response, but it was a response to a demand, and a very great demand, to solve the problem of crime in this country. This demand was, and is still to a large extent being whipped up by the media because every day that there is a very nasty horrific crime committed, the media by nature, or by definition, highlight it and so the public awareness of the crime that is going on in this country is very high but the public awareness of this is to a large extent a media creation. There is certainly a crime problem, but the problem is not as great as we are made to believe. I believe the Government were to a certain extent a victim of this media creation of crime. There certainly is crime but the problem is not so great that it merits a response such as this Bill.

I welcome the Government's willingness to attack the problem of crime and I welcome the willingness of the Minister in the Dáil to accept amendments to this Bill. I suspect that he was not quite sure whether it was a good Bill or a bad Bill. There are good and bad things in this Bill. I believe the Minister tried to create a balance in this Bill and that he was genuine in trying to create a balance between the need to protect the weaker in our society and the need to give the Garda more powers to solve the crime problem.

Yes, there was a need to tackle the crime problem but, as so often in this country, it is being tackled the wrong way. The basis of this Bill is punishment, increasing penalties, increase in sentences and more powers for the Garda. The basis of the Bill is to attack in a very piecemeal way the problems of crime. It would have been done for more sensibly by putting a great deal of research into the reasons crime is committed. So often we hear that the twin great problems in this country are crime and unemployment. The Minister and the Government fail to see that there is a direct relationship between crime and unemployment. What should have been done was to examine the reasons for crime and why [357] criminal activity is so high. As Senator Robb so rightly pointed out, when this Bill comes into law, as it will, it will be used against the oppressed members of our society. It will be used against those who are already underprivileged, because that is where crime occurs on the whole. We should ask why it occurs there. The reasons for poverty and for people being underprivileged should be attacked basically and people should not be just penalised for their reaction to this.

I challenge the basic assumptions upon which this Bill was based. Although many people say that this is not an attack on civil liberties, it is only a matter of an interpretation of what civil liberties are. Some have asked what about the civil liberties of the people who are attacked, the old people in their homes who are attacked. Are they not also due civil liberties? Certainly they are. Others are due civil liberties which this Bill, particularly section 4, offends, and there is an attempt to balance it; but I do not believe that by introducing section 4 or any other section in this Bill you will reduce crime itself. What the Bill does, which is harmful, is that in depressed areas, and especially in Dublin, it further fosters that “them and us” mentality which we are building up all the time. By increasing Garda powers we will push this attitude even further.

I was sorry to hear Senator Lennon yesterday talk about the need for these measures because of the collapse of our society. He mentioned the need to restore respect. I do not believe there is any danger of our society collapsing in this way because of the crime problem. There may be all sorts of other reasons why our society will collapse, but not because of the crime problem. All we are doing here is increasing the alientation between the forces of law and order and the citizens. Garda co-operation with the public at the moment is extremely limited. We should ask why it is so limited and what people's attitude to the Garda Síochána is. The attitude to the Garda is strange and ambivalent and different from the attitude to the police in other [358] countries. People should take a straw poll on their attitudes to the Garda. Is a garda a friend or a foe? The response in this country probably would be different from that in many other countries in that many regard the gardaí as foes. That, I suspect, must be the fault of the gardaí themselves because the Garda public relations appear to be very bad. I do not know why this is. Perhaps they are more aggressive and bad-mannered than the police in other countries, but the underlying hostility to the Garda here is very dangerous. This Bill will do absolutely nothing to decrease this alienation between the Garda and the people.

What is necessary is a great deal more community involvement in preventing crime. If those who enforce crime law are outsiders, people who can be identified as being in uniform and being enemies, then crime will continue. Much more necessary in tackling this problem is a far more fundamental approach to the problem. Had there been an attempt for more community involvement then action taken would have created far more trust between the Garda and the community which would not make the gardaí appear to the people of this community as foes, as the Bill does.

Much has been said about the complaints procedure. I could not possibly vote for this Bill while the complaints procedure is undefined. The complaints procedure is the sop in this Bill. The Government know full well that the Bill is a repressive Bill which gives the Garda increased powers and so to balance this they set up a complaints procedure. That is a noble effort at balance, but how can you possibly support this Bill on the blank promise of a complaints procedure which is undefined? How do we know it will be an independent complaints procedure? Who is to appoint the people who run this procedure? How do we know what this complaints procedure will be? How do we know how it will work or whether it will work or whether it will be set up at all? It is wrong for the Government to come to this House and say that they want us to vote for this but assuring us that it will not come into power until we [359] have an independent complaints procedure. Until we see the colour of their money we cannot possibly vote for this type of measure, which is unprecedented except for section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The striking thing about this Bill is its very short-term, unthought-out motives. Undoubtedly as a result of this Bill more people will go to prison. That is the purpose of the Bill, to a large extent. More people will go to prison for longer periods, and yet there appears to have been no attempt alongside this Bill to tackle the problems of the prisons, to enlarge the prisons or to define more closely why people are sent to prison. That needs consideration. We have heard from several Senators that last year 1,300 prisoners were released prematurely. If the prisons are so full, how on earth are we to send more people to prison, and why?

I believe this Bill has been introduced because an atmosphere of fright and fear has been created. It is a reaction to something which the Government believe exists but which they have not examined. To a certain extent the Government are legislating under the threat of the media in the shadow of the last general election when crime was stated and believed by the people to be such an enormous problem. But the Government did not examine the causes of this crime and they took a sledgehammer to the problem and tackled it without also tackling it in a way a so-called socialist-liberal Government would do. They tackled it without attacking any of the underlying problems such as poverty, recession, unemployment, though it is in those areas that this Bill will be exercised.

There are only two criteria in this Bill. One, is it just? On that it falls because it deprives people of civil liberties without any quid pro quo. Even if it is just, will it work? There is no evidence to suggest that the increasing of police powers will in any way reduce crime.

Mr. O'Mahony: I do not usually speak on matters relating to criminal law [360] because it is not an area in which I have any particular expertise, but I feel compelled to speak on this occasion. The policy behind the Bill, in my view, is deeply misguided. It is based on an incorrect analysis of crime, its nature and its solution. I suggest that the extension of police powers proposed in the Bill will have little impact on the detection rate, the conviction rate or the crime rate itself. Further, I am deeply concerned that some of the additional police powers proposed may be counter-productive in terms of further separating gardaí from the communities in which they work and by altering our system of policing from one based on consensus and community support for the police to one based on confrontation.

Like everyone else, I am not under any illusions about the scale of the crime problem, it is below international standards but nonetheless it is serious though not as serious as one would imagine from reading newspapers and hearing other media reports. In 1951, 14,181 offences were recorded by the Garda; in 1981 the figure had increased to 89,400, an increase of 500 per cent. It is against this background of rising crime statistics that the demands from Garda representatives and others for extra police powers have arisen. It is argued that the Garda's ability to investigate crime is limited by a range of legal constraints, the principal ones felt by the Garda being related to the right to silence, the legal conditions surrounding arrest and detention of suspects and the operation of the bail system. The Minister, the Garda and others argue that the removal of these constraints would increase the detection rate and consequently the conviction rate and ultimately, as a result of both, would reduce the crime rate itself.

So far no one has produced research evidence to suggest that this sequence of events will occur. On the other hand, all of the research evidence in the UK and the US, which have accusatorial legal systems similar to ours, suggests that the desired end result will not occur. The research instead suggests that what will occur will be a loss of confidence in the [361] Garda, particularly in poorer communities, and increase alienation from the Garda which, of course, would be disastrous from the point of view of all of us. This consequence would arise most directly from the detention powers proposed in this Bill.

My argument is that the potential outcome of the proposed powers for the Garda could be loss of public confidence in the force and a serious reduction of the good-will and moral support of the public which the Garda need to carry out their duties. The destructive powers of the process proposed in the Bill have been most vividly outlined in a comment in an article entitled “Police Powers and the Problem of Crime in Ireland: Some Implications of International Research”, by Ciarán McCullagh, published in Administration, volume 31, number 4, 1984. In that article, John Alderton, a senior police officer in Britain, speaking about the outcome of a process similar to that contained in this legislation, said that if policemen are disliked, distrusted or even hated, people will not go to court as witnesses in police prosecutions, that people in juries will not believe their evidence, that people will not line up in identification parades, that lay magistrates will not believe the police, and the whole system of criminal justice will be diminished. I have respect for John Alderton because I know of his work and his views. It is the point he makes that gives me greatest concern about this legislation.

Though the crime rate in Ireland has risen dramatically in recent years the important thing to note is that the detection rate has fallen equally dramatically, from 53 per cent of criminal offences in 1951 to a mere 37 per cent in 1980.

The rising crime rate is common to all societies. It is associated with urbanisation, a reduction in social cohesion, a growth in the young population and economic and social conditions which create alienation and foster discrimination. The growth in crime will not be constrained by additional police powers. Most crime can only be dealt with by changing the economic and social climates within [362] which it exists. I submit that that is clear from all the evidence available to us, and it is folly to refuse once again to take on board the evidence so readily available from abroad.

The fall in the Garda detection rate to 37 per cent of criminal offences is serious and requires explanation. I believe it has substantially to do with the structure of the force and its management. In the article from which I quoted earlier a further point is brought out which I should like to draw to the attention of Senators. There is a myth that police generally spend most of their time combating crime. I will quote from the article:

The myth is that the police are crime fighters, organised, trained and fully occupied in the pursuit of crime. This myth, however, is not consistent with research evidence. A variety of studies have shown that the police spend a small proportion of their time on activities relating to the prevention and detection of crime. Most of their time is spent on what might be considered as public service activities, like dealing with emergiencies and accidents, controlling traffic, involvement in domestic disputes and crowd control on public occasions.

The article points out that a very large proportion of police time is devoted to matters either unrelated to or marginally related to crime fighting objectives. That point must be borne in mind when we consider the low detection rate.

There is a management problem in the Garda. I do not say that in any critical way of the Garda as a force. To coin a phrase, some of my best friends are gardaí. Unless we recognise the management problems that exist there, nothing that is done in this Bill or anywhere else will affect the detection rate.

I suggest, too, that there is a further problem in the way the gardaí are organised and that has been referred to previously by other Senators. In most urban areas the reality now is that the gardaí do not live in the area, do not know the people there on a personal basis and, [363] therefore, have very little real contact with the community within which they operate. While I am not an expert on the matter and I would not suggest that I have any clear-cut solution, I think we will have to go back to the stage where the gardaí actually live in or are from the community within which they operate, where they patrol those streets, to know the people and understand what is going on in the local community. That seems to me to be a self-evident truth which has been mentioned over many years but has not been acted upon. If you have a situation where the gardaí are car-bound or bicycle-bound, where they do not live in the community in which they work, then the potential for a serious detection rate must be limited and, of course, is limited.

As Senator O'Leary said, we need to look at the rostering system within the Garda force. A three eight-hour shift system does not work, but as I am not an expert I do not want to suggest that I have any detailed proposals on these matters. The point I wish to make is that, in so far as crime is a problem, the essential part of the problem is the very low detection rate which persists. I am suggesting that the way to come to grips, with the detection rate is to improve management in the Garda and get the gardaí back into the local community as a matter of urgency.

This seems to me to be the correct approach to the problem combined with a serious attempt to change radically the economic and social conditions within which most crime takes place. It is not accidental that most crime appears to take place in poorer communities and appears to be carried out by poorer people. It is inevitable in a situation of high unemployment, serious social crisis and the alienation of a growing young population from their society that crime will increase. The way forward, therefore, is not to do with the measures concerned in this Bill but to do with matters of an organisational kind that I have mentioned.

I would like to look briefly at the specific proposals in the Bill which have [364] caused concern to many of us and see whether evidence suggests that they will lead to a rise in the detection rate and consequently to a fall in the crime rate. One of the most substantive proposals contained in the Bill is that concerned with modifying the right to silence. Irrespective of whether from the point of view of law this is a good or bad idea, the reality is that it is not going to affect the detection rate. The Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure in Britain in 1981 acknowledged that the right to silence is seldom exercised by suspects in any case. They said that not only do suspects fail to exercise their right to silence but they usually talk volubly and with little persuasion. This conclusion was supported in research sponsored by the Royal Commission in 1980 and is broadly in line with that of studies in the United States. It seems that the majority of defendants who are questioned by the police or who come before the courts in Britain and the United States — and I have no doubt that the same applies here — actually make statements to the police without any great difficulty or reluctance.

Therefore, the argument that modifying the right to silence will substantially affect the detection rate does not hold water on the basis of any research that is available to me. The great difficulty in dealing with Irish experiences is that the amount of research in this field is minimal to non-existent. That is something which should have been put right by the Department of Justice or some Department many years ago. These matters can only be dealt with on the basis of fact or researched evidence. In a matter such as how you come to grips with the problem of crime, you cannot deal with it on the basis of assertion, which is what we are doing most of the time.

The Bill has at its core the idea of increased powers of detention for the police. Assistant Commissioner McLoughlin has suggested, for example, that confessions and self-incriminating statements are important in about 80 per cent of criminal cases in Ireland. He said that any extension of the powers of the [365] Garda to secure confessions or statements from suspects generally can only increase the efficiency of the Garda in dealing with crime and criminals. However, quoting from the same article, very briefly it states:

The evidence from research in Britain and the United States does not support the importance which the police give to the role or interrogation in the detection of crime and to the role of confessions in subsequent court cases.

The Rand Corporation Study in 1977 in the United States, which was concerned with 25 police departments in that country, said that most serious crime was solved through information received from the public. Thus 50 per cent of offences were detected because someone told the police who committed them. In other words, the offender was detected because either the victim or a witness to the crime was able to identify the criminal. It was stated that a further 30 per cent of arrests were made by patrol officers working at the scene of the crime and this left 20 per cent of arrests. The study said that the activities of investigating officers were not, however, of major significance in these arrests. Many of them were solved by patrol arrests and routine clerical work — for example, checking licence numbers.

Without labouring the point — I refer Senators to the particular article I mentioned — there is absolutely no evidence that modifying the right to silence or increasing the powers of detention of the Garda will in any way lead to an increase in the detection rate. There is a mythology which says that the courts are by and large “soft” on crime. As has been referred to by other Senators, the conviction rate in Ireland in all criminal charges is 90 per cent. I do not imagine we could get a higher figure than that; in fact, it may be too high in the sense that people may be convicted who should not be convicted.

In summary, this is a profoundly important piece of legislation because, if enacted, it will change the relationship [366] between the Garda and the community in a most profound way. It is misguided in suggesting that modifying the right to silence or increasing detention powers will affect either the detection or the crime rate. What has happened is that the Garda, and others in society also, including, perhaps, Ministers of various hues over the years, faced with the rising crime rate have sought an easy legal option or an option which is easy and is within the legal sphere. The consequences of pursuing it will be not to have any effect on crime or detection but will be massively to alienate large sections of the community, particularly the young, from the Garda. That is something we must not condone.

The power to detain on suspicion has been devastating in its consequences in some English cities, Brixton, Toxteth or wherever. There is evidence already under existing legislation that gardaí sometimes, perhaps because they are not part of the community in which they operate and do not understand it very well, abuse their powers in relation to young people. This may well be a human failing but this House should not legislate to increase the certainty that the relationship between gardaí and communities should deteriorate. I have the most profound objections to the Bill because it will not have any consequence on crime or detection but will have enormous consequences on the role and authority of the Garda in the future and the way in which the community see them. It is the wrong solution. It is a conservative solution and it is doomed to failure, but in the meantime there will be very serious difficulties in urban areas if it is attempted to be implemented.

Mr. FitzGerald: I should like to take the opportunity to make a short contribution in relation to this measure. A great deal of time has been spent by officials of the Department of Justice preparing the Bill. That is not to say that the Minister, Deputy Noonan, did not take on a considerable new emphasis in relation to advancing the original Bill which was presented to Dáil Éireann. The preparation [367] of a Bill to update the criminal law code goes back to 1967. In that respect it is timely that we have this debate and deal with legislation in this area.

In more recent times the extent to which indictable offences increased has been unprecedented. We have been dealing with a huge problem of a crime wave affecting the entire community. The Bill, as passed by the other House, is a better and more balanced Bill than was originally presented in the Dáil. The Bill deals with areas of reform which are necessary to support the activities of the Garda Síochána and to support the correct procedures in court towards convicting those who are guilty. It ensures, as far as we can, that there is a code to work out the difference between the guilty and the innocent. In this respect the procedures in the Bill are a great improvement. The legal difficulties which have been faced in recent times by the Garda Síochána relate to the right to silence, the procedures in regard to questioning, and bail. Certainly, in those areas there has been a great deal of public anxiety and disquiet about the way in which trick-o-the-loop operations, often involving the most eminent legal brains in the country, can help people who are clearly and manifestly guilty get loose from the reins that have been tied on them ever so temporarily by the Garda Síochána. It is very frustrating for gardaí to tackle the difficulties if this kind of legal procedure can work against them and allow somebody who could end up with a conviction to be released and treated as innocent. In this respect these legal improvements are important and are to be welcomed in this House.

I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the vast majority of the Garda Síochána on the way they conduct themselves. Senator Ross spoke about the gulf between gardaí and the public and the lack of public relations in the way the Garda Síochána conduct their work. The vast majority of members of the Garda Síochána are very fine people who are much closer to the community than [368] police forces in some European countries. However, I have reservations and difficulties in relation to sections 4 to 10 in the area of detention. I am particularly concerned because of the way in which over the years we have ignored the need to improve the organisation of the Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána station in an established urban area is situated in the same place as it has been since the Garda Síochána took over from their predecessors. Those barracks are often quite a distance away from where people are living.

In many suburban areas of Dublin city the way these stations function is not to mesh sufficiently to the community. There is a great need for the Minister to deal with a report that was prepared about ten years ago on the housing of the Garda Síochána, particularly in regard to the Dublin region. The barracks arrangements is outdated and needs to be modernised. I strongly promote the suggestions made by the Minister's predecessors in relation to the creation of more sub-stations and the need for more members on the beat. If members were located close to their community rather than having to go too often backwards and forwards to the station we might see an improvement in this area. If sub-stations were developed and the men and women of the force located in a better manner so that they could become more familiar with the area the position would improve greatly. That has been serious in Dublin over the last number of years. It improved dramatically recently when a small number of Dublin people joined the ranks of the Garda Síochána. I am not saying that there is any great difference between the members who come from rural areas and those from cities but large areas of Dublin city require people who have the same accent, understand the local people and the local juveniles. It is about those local juveniles in the area of the detention powers that I have particular reservations. I hope that in the Minister's reply we will get some clarification on this matter. I am speaking about the large working class areas of this city where the increased detention powers [369] may be the forerunner to a new spate of alienation of young people from the Garda Síochána. I hope that part of the Bill can be made clearer so that Members of this House can be reassured.

Section 5 provides:

(1) Where a person not below the age of seventeen years is detained in a Garda Síochána station pursuant to section 4, the member of the Garda Síochána in charge of the station shall inform him or cause him to be informed without delay that he is entitled to consult a solicitor and to have notification of his detention and of the station where he is being detained sent to one other person reasonably named by him and shall, on request, cause the solicitor and the named person to be notified accordingly as soon as practicable.

I should like to know from the Minister whether it would be a practical and a suitable arrangement to have a panel of solicitors, particularly in the large urban Garda stations, young people in the lower socio-economic group could be given support. Many of these young people do not know a solicitor and do not know where to go to get legal advice. Many innocent people will need support for the rigorous questioning they may have to face. I hope we can have a panel of solicitors that can be called on to ensure that the rights of those under questioning are preserved. An element of difficulty may arise in the station. Over the years luckily we have had a minimal amount of ill-treatment by members of the Garda Síochána of those in custody. The extent to which it has happened is enough for me to demand that we can assure the public that behind this Bill is a very serious attempt to protect those under questioning from ill-treatment and from sordid behaviour in rare instances in regard to Garda detention.

The Bill provides that the Minister shall make regulations providing for the treatment of persons in custody in Garda Síochána stations. Subsection (3) provides:

A failure on the part of any member of the Garda Síochána to observe any provision of the regulations shall not [370] of itself render that person liable to any criminal or civil proceedings or of itself affect the lawfulness of the custody of the detained person or the admissibility in evidence of any statement made by him.

Subsection (4) provides:

A failure on the part of any member of the Garda Síochána to observe any provision of the regulation shall render him liable to disciplinary proceedings.

We have been hearing a great deal about the disciplinary proceedings, about the independent Garda Complaints Tribunal which it is intended to set up. This will be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas at a later stage before the major sections of the Bill are enacted into law.

My major concern is to allay public disquiet by ensuring that those in custody are given every possible support by way of legal advice. I would like to be assured that there will be a truly independent disciplinary procedure. Will the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána be represented on it? Will it be a tightly controlled body with severe powers? Only a tiny minority would be engaged in this form of activity and would blatantly disregard the regulations. We had instances in the recent past of a certain amount of brutality in Garda stations. I hope we will enshrine in this Bill and the regulations which will be adopted in due course a guarantee to the people that the Garda Síochána will have — as is done in other neighbouring countries — an independent tribunal. That will certainly go a long distance to ensure that behaviour that is out of court, that is against the regulations the Minister will adopt, will not be acceptable.

If necessary that independent tribunal can serve notice on a member that he is dismissed from the Garda Síochána in circumstances where his behaviour has gone beyond what is acceptable.

I hope the Garda Commissioner and the senior members of the force will not be represented on that body but will be there in a consultative capacity. They would be a greater support to the members of the force by acting in such a [371] capacity. I should like to thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach for giving an opportunity to speak today. I hope that when the Minister attends the House to reply to the debate he will take into account the points I have made.

Mr. Howlin: Much has been said in both Houses and outside about the legislation before us today. I, like my colleague Senator O'Mahony, rise with some trepidation because of my lack of expertise in the area and because of the complexity of the Bill before us. I feel, however, that I must make a few general comments on the Bill at this stage to set my own conscience at rest and to declare my position to the House. The underlying reason why this Bill is before us is obviously the genuinely felt fear and panic among sections of the general public and the media in relation to crime. Clearly the spiral of crime, particularly violent crime, must be addressed. This Bill is the Minister's response to the situation. Many have welcomed it as some positive action which will give relief to those who feel under attack and who in many instances are under attack. I wish to point out that this Bill has been many years in the making going back, as many Senators have pointed out, to 1967. It has, no doubt, been lying on dusty shelves in the Department of Justice for much of that period. The period of time involved in its preparation is not surprising, affecting as it does the procedure and the way in which crime is investigated and by which criminals are brought to task. I know that I have agonised over the implications of this Bill as I am anxious to bring relief to those who are victims but I am equally anxious to preserve the role of the Garda and the community support on which effective policing absolutely depends. It is only through the wholehearted support of the community that crime can be dealt with effectively.

I am concerned that sections of this Bill, far from gaining support from the community, will alienate some sections of it from the police force. In many countries abroad we can see that where the community is directly involved in policing [372] crime has been minimised. The police are of and from the community. This is a point which has repeatedly been made in speeches in this House and one that I wholeheartedly agree with. Too often the Garda are not recognised as part of the community. This was a point made by the previous speaker. Rather they are seen often as outside agents representing a power and authority from which many people feel excluded. In other words, they are seen as guardians of the status quo. In many areas, particularly in the city, there are people who feel deprived by the authority the Garda are seen to represent. They are let down by the system. Their fears and beliefs are only too often justified. The authorities not only offer no hope to them but what is more important offer no real hope for their children. In such a situation the rejection of authority and of the Garda as the apparent agents of authority is hardly surprising. The situation is compounded when we have mass unemployment, real problems in urban and rural areas and deprivation. When we can offer slim hope to our people then these sections of the community feel themselves under threat and will naturally react in many instances in a criminal way to that threat.

The question, therefore, is whether our response to this situation — this legislation is the response — is the correct analysis and the correct course of action for us to embark on at this time, whether, to use the Minister's own words, we have the balance right.

Senator Michael Higgins gave some statistics in his very lengthy address to the Seanad last week. I, for one, found those statistics surprising and worthy of repeat. There is one garda for every eight households. That is twice as many police per head of the population as, say, in the United States — a far more urbanised and open society than our own where people move freely from place to place and where the actual work of the police force must be much more difficult. Yet there are only half as many police officers engaged in crime detection in the United States as there are in this country. In a country like Norway which in many ways [373] would be comparable to our own we find, per head of population, that we have three times as many police officers as that country. That is disturbing. I do not believe that Ireland is three times as lawless as Norway or twice as lawless as the United States. Yet, as speaker after speaker has pointed out, the actual rate of crime detection in this country, far from being high among international standards, is low and, even more alarming, the rate of detection is declining.

Often the first and, in many ways, the easiest reaction and response for a politician or a Minister or a Government to make when they have a growing crime rate is to call for more gardaí, more expenditure and more powers. It is almost a catch cry. We have in recent elections made many offers to the public, “Tell us your need and we will make an instant response to your difficulties. Vote for us and we will get you out of them.” The increased expenditure and the increased numbers of gardaí that we have seen over the last number of years have not been matched by any visible results in crime detection or in a reduction of the crime rate.

It has been pointed out that we have had in recent times no proper analysis of the causes of crime. Maybe if we had carried out proper analyses, proper surveys and statistical research before this Bill was drafted it would have been far more appropriate.

Clearly there is much to be welcomed in the Bill. Few will be sorry, for instance, to see the requirement of notice of any alibi. This, hopefully, will stop the practice of sprung alibis that we witness sometimes in our courts. Majority verdicts equally have been generally welcomed by the legal profession and those involved with the work of the police. However, there is very much in this Bill that causes us concern, none more so than the fundamental change which would be brought about whereby the concept of detention for the purposes of investigation and interrogation would now be the rule of law. The Garda must be empowered to question suspects or persons who they genuinely have cause to believe are responsible for committing crime. The [374] continued use of section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act is something that we must address ourselves to. My fear, however, is that there are not enough safeguards in relation to, for instance, young people detained. I welcome the amendments in the other House whereby children under 12 are specifically excluded. There are not enough safeguards in relation to the proper supervision of interrogation and in relation to the right to silence. A genuine fear has been expressed in this House that this fundamental right has been significantly eroded despite amendments passed in the other House.

Much of the detail of my criticisms are more appropriate to a Committee Stage debate. I will keep them until that Stage rather than itemise, in section after section, my fears, worries and opposition. I will confine myself to stating my general observations and reservations on the measure before us.

I am concerned at the way in which the Minister, the Government and the Oireachtas have set about tackling the real problem of crime. The problem is real and the solution to that problem is extremely complex. How did we go about it? The Oireachtas was presented with a highly complex involved and detailed Bill of great importance and having great range and scope. There was no preceding White Paper outlining options or possibilities on which we could have had a debate.

The Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism were not formed in advance and allowed the opportunity and time to analyse the root cause of crime or to take submissions from all those affected by crime, victims as well as perpetrators. Had that been done, had that course of action been followed, we might have a very different Criminal Justice Bill before us.

I return finally to my basic contention that all the powers, all the Garda numbers, all the resources in the world are infinitely less valuable to the police force than the active support, respect and acceptability of the general public. I believe that the measure before us, while it increases the powers of the Garda, will [375] strike a heartfelt blow at the confidence and support that the Garda currently enjoy throughout the community. No matter what gloss we put on it, the situation is clear: the people in our community who will be most affected by this legislation will be those in whose communities crime most regularly occurs and from whose numbers criminals are most regularly convicted. That is quite often the most deprived, the most needy. They are alienated enough from authority. This measure will compound that alienation and frustration and will do damage in the area of the detection of crime. No matter how I examine this piece of legislation I find aspects of it extremely disturbing.

Mr. A. O'Brien: I wish to pay tribute to the Garda Síochána for the service they have rendered to the people since the foundation of the force. That service has been widely appreciated down through the years by politicians of all parties. We can be proud of our police force. They have served the people well irrespective of changes of Government and so on.

It is also fair to say that our police force is one of the most dangerous in the world to serve in. This has been borne out by the number of gardaí who have been killed while on duty — more than 20 since the foundation of the force with ten or 12 of those murders having been committed in the past ten years or so. We must be ashamed that Irish people have shot down some of their own police.

It is difficult to understand why there should be so much more sympathy for the wrongdoer than there is for the victim. We avail of every opportunity to make things easy for the criminal and forget the experience of the victim who has been mugged on the street, or whose home has been broken into. We seem to wish to appear as a people who have great concern for the wrongdoer, how he is treated by the police force and later in prison. That attitude can be overdone. It is right and humane that convicted persons be treated well but we must not carry our views in that regard too far.

[376] The Bill was introduced by the Minister after long study, and not before time. There was general agreement among the majority of the population that crime was getting out of hand and that it was necessary to tackle the problem in the best way possible. In the Minister's assessment and in the assessment of legal advisers, this Bill is the best way to deal with the problem.

We take the viewpoint of people who suffer as a result of crime. We take the viewpoint of parents whose children become addicted to drugs. These people are convinced that the Garda are not effective. I read recently that in, I think, Greystones, in Wicklow, a public meeting was held for the purpose of protesting against the availability of drugs in that area. Parents of young people who were hooked on drugs stated openly from the public platform that they knew the identity of the drug pushers concerned. If our police force are so hamstrung by regulations and red tape that they cannot deal effectively with drug pushers and have them put in prison for long periods there is something wrong with our system.

The result of all that is that the Garda are blamed whereas the blame may lie with us in that we have not turned out a legal system that would give the Garda a fair chance, a 50-50 chance at least, of being able to deal with these people. Bank raids and post office raids are common occurrences. We know that many of these are carried out in the name of patriotism but the point is that they are carried out by people with training, with sophisticated weapons and with high-powered means of escape. If we leave the Garda in a position of not being adequately equipped to cope with these people, to cut down the number of bank crimes, to reduce the number of bank raids and of killings, then we are the people who are at fault. It was in an effort to get rid of that situation that the Minister introduced this Bill.

Growing numbers of people are being mugged in the streets. Homes are being broken into. In certain areas of Dublin city and in other cities to a lesser degree, people are afraid to go out. We cannot tolerate that sort of situation.

[377] I read in the paper the other day that Dublin is regarded as the most dangerous city in Europe to bring a car to because of the number of car thefts, and this number is increasing. A car can cost £8,000 to £10,000 and if it is ever recovered, it is smashed and the owner is at a great loss and suffers inconvenience. The person whose car is stolen is convinced that we do not have an adequate system to protect property. People are mugged, homes are broken into, cars are stolen and some people are being hooked on drugs. A growing number of people say the police force are not doing their duty. We have good reason to think that the police force are not doing their duty because they are hamstrung with regulations, and are not afforded a fair opportunity to deal with known criminals. So far as this Bill gives the Garda a reasonable chance of dealing with known criminals, I am all for it. It was necessary to introduce this legislation, and there are people who share my view on these matters. They are of the opinion that it was a pity that the Minister watered down some of the original provisions.

Senator O'Leary dealt at great length with the right of questioning suspects and the right to search where there was reason to believe that a crime had been committed, and I am not going to go back on this. Those points were exceptionally well made and the Minister would do well to think them over and examine them carefully. It has been said here by Senators, who obviously carried out a lot of research, that as a percentage of the population, we have a high number of gardaí compared with other countries and that there is no need for an increase in Garda numbers. If that is true — and it probably is because it was said by Senators who researched this subject and I am quite certain they did not set out to mislead the House — it must mean that the powers of our police force are so limited that they are less effective than the proportionately smaller police forces in other countries, or that they do not have the sophisticated equipment necessary to detect and prevent crime at present, or else that the force is not properly [378] deployed. In other words, we have too many gardaí stationed in rural stations where there is little or no crime and there should be a greater concentration of gardaí in the city and in the areas that have bad records. These points would have to be looked into because, in the long run the taxpayer, who foots the bill, expects a better service, a reduction in the crime rate and is not happy to see the crime rate increase every year. Whatever steps are necessary to reduce the crime rate should be taken. If this means more sophisticated equipment is necessary, that should be provided; if it means that the force should be redeployed, that should be done, if it means that the Garda should have at least a 50-50 chance of dealing with suspects, that should be done too, and, in my opinion that is what the Bill sets out to do.

There was a good deal in what Senator Howlin said — that in order to be successful a police force needs the support of the people. I do not say that the Garda have not the support of the people, but I do say, without fear of contradiction, that the support for the Garda would be greater if there was less harassment of people in different parts of the country over very minor offences. There was a time when a person who committed a very minor offence was warned by the Garda but that practice is dying out. Young fellows coming out from the depot must have their pound of flesh. People who are by no means inclined to subversion, or who do not have a history of being opposed to law and order, are annoyed and aggravated to such a degree by this niggling or prodding by the Garda for the smallest thing that they are less than helpful when a major crime is committed. It would be a good thing if they got back to the old spirit of developing a friendship with the people, giving a young person whose car has a minor defect, like a bald tyre or being parked on the yellow line for a few minutes, or some other trivial offence, a word of friendly advice and telling him, “You know you are breaking the law, this cannot continue.” Unfortunately, the tendency is to have a long list of summonses for the next [379] District Court and people who would be friendly and co-operative in other circumstances are turned against the Garda.

As far as I have been able to ascertain no effort is made in the police training school at Templemore to provide a course in human relations. That should form an essential part of a policeman's training, because he will have to deal with the public. He is the custodian of the citizen's rights. He should have an understanding of the people and, above all, he should have some training about how to deal with them. There are many ways of cleaning up small offences in a community without taking people to court. This should be tackled immediately.

In addition to the serious offences I talked about earlier, every member of every public authority knows the huge increase in the claims for malicious damages. A change has been introduced and these claims will be no longer the business of the local authorities. This is a clear indication of the need for co-operation between the general public and the Garda. Many people who are guilty of malicious damage to private and public property could be dealt with if there was the close co-operation between the Garda and the General public to which I have referred.

The garda have a difficult task on their hands. Many sections of the community are not happy with the kind of protection from the criminal provided for them by the Garda. The fault is not to be laid entirely at the barrack door; it can be left at the Houses of the Oireachtas. It has taken too long to put the Garda into a position of being able to deal effectively with criminal suspects whom they know to be guilty. If this Bill does something to make life more difficult for the criminal and give the Garda reasonable hope of being able to deal effectively with him, and if it gives the public more confidence that we are on the way to law and order and to a man being safe in his own home, then the Bill will have done something good for the community.

[380] Mr. Magner: I do not share Senator O'Brien's view that the Minister watered down this Bill. The Minister worked on the principle that if you give a little you get a lot. He is getting in the main the sort of Bill he set out to get in the first place. The deletions from the Bill were what the British Tory Government threw out in England on an exactly similar Bill. It would be more beneficial if the Bill were not the Criminal Justice Bill but a Garda management Bill. There seems to be a view that if you pass this Bill tomorrow morning things will pick up, the muggings will be stopped, cars will not be stolen or, if they are stolen, that those responsible will be caught within the hour. There is a lot of flak about this Bill, which I think will do nothing to alleviate the problem of crime in the community. Some sections, such as the provisions relating to bail, are needed; but should we accept those other profound provisions which affect us all? We are somewhat insulated in this House because we do not come into contact with the Garda in an aggressive way during our lives. Anything that we put into legislation that changes the gap between the police and the public is a very serious matter.

The idea that there is a crime wave has been dealt with adequately by Senator Michael Higgins. The idea that this Bill will prevent crimes occurring or will improve the detection rate is false. What has been going abroad is that if we pass this Bill the police will perform better. It is not going to make the police any more efficient. If we pass this Bill tomorrow they will be no more efficient next Friday than they were on Tuesday. They will still be slapping parking tickets on cars and going around knocking at pubs to see if a fellow is having a pint at 12 p.m. and someone getting his head kicked in around the corner. In other words, they are engaged not on crime but on matters which are not their function. Traffic matters should be a matter for a traffic corps of civilians. The licensing laws are daft enough in Ireland, but the idea of sending squad cars around and peeping through doors of country pubs or city pubs is [381] ludicrous. If we have a crime wave why do the pubs and traffic have such priority?

When we hear the Garda screaming for more power it is time to look at what they do with the powers they have and how that huge resource of the Garda Síochána is managed. Unfortunately, down through the years competition developed between political parties at election time. Who can fill Templemore the quicker? I can put 200 in and we will put 300 in. Who can train more policemen? It was part of a package presented to the electorate and it became quite irrelevant whether they were necessary or not, and we wound up having one garda for 80 households. It will not improve the performance of the police. If there is high crime we know the cause in many cases and I am not going to parade the bleeding heart. There are thugs and people who prey on their neighbours and on old and sick people, and they must be dealt with. I have no sympathy for that gangster element. In areas of high crime, largely deprived areas, areas of high unemployment, no one will dispute that there is a very tangible link between lack of opportunity, lack of education and a cynical view of the Garda and of the State. This House should examine the whole management of the Garda, not giving them more powers but seeing how they utilise the powers they have in their policing.

One section of the Garda which has been very successful is their juvenile liaison section. I have had some experience of this in Cork. If we were serious, that division would be expanded many times over. It is obvious from meeting the people involved in the juvenile squad in Cork that they have been chosen with great care. They are gardaí who can create and maintain a relationship with teenagers. They become involved in the clubs and are familiar figures in the neighbourhood in boxing clubs, swimming clubs etc. A real friendship builds up between the juvenile liaison garda and the teenagers, and this is extremely important. Recently I asked a Garda superintendent if it is part of the training in Templemore that gardaí cannot smile. [382] If you say “Good morning” to some of them all you get back is a grunt. Gardaí patrolling any major city do not really look at people. I have read of various Ministers for Justice going down to Templemore at passing-out parades and telling the young recruits how important relationships were, but every new crop of gardaí seem to come in a stereotype form. They still do not smile or say “Hello.” It is so typical of most gardaí whom one meets that it must be built into the structure in some way. Keep your distance. You cannot keep your distance and become involved at the same time. That gap between the police and the public is there and Garda do not do too much to bridge it. The only place they have done so is in the juvenile liaison group.

To put a soldier in the field three or four back up people from the Army are required in the barracks. I do not know how many gardaí are available for patrol, but the officer in charge of Store Street had three men at his disposal one evening to patrol his area. He might have had 90, but a number of them were off duty. The courts are chock-full of policemen waiting for what I would call social charges — car parking offences and so on. Hours are spent by the Garda prosecuting relatively minor traffic offences, something that could be handled by peace commissioners.

I have not commented in detail on the Bill because it has been done by my party colleagues, and very adequately by Senator O'Leary. However, as I said at the beginning, I question the necessity for the Bill and I seriously question the adequacy of Garda management, which I suggest should be looked at seriously. It is an appalling waste of resources to have those well trained people running around sticking tickets on motor cars and at the same time we are told that crime is out of control. If crime was out of control, I, as manager, would start looking after people before property.

Mr. Burke: This is probably one of the most widely debated pieces of legislation to have come before the Oireachtas for some time. I will not detain the House [383] very long but I could not let the opportunity pass without expressing my concern about some aspects of the Bill. Prime among the matters dealt with so far has been the objectiveness or lack of it of the Garda. Next in importance has been the question of whether there is a real genuine need for the Bill and whether we will be justified in putting it on the Statute Book.

Many Senators have said that this Bill may be a response to headlines in the media and so on, that individuals put themselves forward as spokespersons and said we are on the point of a break down of law and order. Those people said that crime is rampant everywhere in the country. I do not share that belief. I do not accept it. In the 1983 Crime Report just issued we are told there has been a crime rate increase of only 4.9 per cent which, by comparison with other countries in western Europe, is not unduly alarming. We have an increasing population, and another factor worth noting is that 50 per cent of our population are below the age of 25 years.

I will not bore the House by giving statistics but one that will contradict what has been said by many Senators is that in the reported crime rate among the under-17 years of age group there has been an increase of only 1.6 per cent. Youths have been much maligned by certain Senators and Deputies. They have been blamed for the alarming increase in the crime rate. We must take into account that 30 per cent of the population live in the greater Dublin area and it is here that 60 per cent of recorded crime is committed. If we think that this Bill will result in reducing the crime rate we are fooling ourselves. It will not. I do not think it will achieve such an improvement, through many provisions in the Bill are very welcome.

The point made most strongly was in relation to the effectiveness of the Garda. Senator Michael D. Higgins outlined in great detail the crime wave and the rate of crime detection. There lies the most important provision in the Bill, but I am afraid it will not improve the detection [384] rate to any great extent. The solution lies in the training of Garda recruits. At the moment there is a 22-week intensive training course for young people inducted into the Garda, many of whom have just left school and very few of who have had experience of life or work in any other capacity. They are brought to Templemore and intensively trained.

Like Senator Magner, I question the type of training they get in the development of their personalities as persons who can go into society and treat those with whom they are in contact courteously and respectfully, particularly those they come in contact with when taking them into custody. When any of us going about our work are stopped by a garda we immediately experience a sense of confrontation. This fear has spilled out into the community at large. There is suspicion, and without it being declared there is an element of confrontation between the public and the Garda force. Whether that suspicion is legitimate or otherwise, it is there and, while it is, the force cannot be fully effective.

The Garda have had successes, one of the greatest of them being the in-course training groups who have been recruited internally, like the Drugs Squad and the divisional task forces which, unfortunately, were disbanded some time ago. I ask the Minister to consider how effective they had been in the short time of their existence. One of the returns we can see for that investment in training is the noticeable decline in the armed crime rate. During the late seventies and early eighties the increase in such crimes was alarming. People were not accustomed to such crimes and the Garda grasped that problem and have successfully contained it.

The provision in the Bill that causes me greatest concern relates to detention. I am not indulging in Garda bashing in any way when I state in simple terms that I do not trust the Garda — I will qualify that by saying that I am referring to certain members of the Garda — with people they may detain and what happens behind closed doors. All too often a certain percentage of those detained in such [385] a fashion have suffered violently at the whim of a sadistic element within the force. It is that that has caused much of the alienation between the public at large and the Garda. In rural Ireland I have seen people — they are few, of course — who have been brutally attacked by certain members of the force. I accept that in a force as large as the Garda Síochána, like any other group of people, a certain proportion — small, thankfully — are bound to go overboard. It is not good enough that the people who act in such a fashion can, if challenged through the court, emerge unscathed. That is why I am reluctant to accept that portion of the Bill. The opportunity to challenge legitimately such abuses has all too often in the past been swept under the carpet by the protection of the courts. A person accused of a crime who alleges assault in the course of an investigation may bring a case before a local court. The opportunity exists for those people accused of such brutality to perjure themselves in court or they are allowed clear themselves. The person alleging the torture has to hang his head. The detention section has been watered down and I welcome that. It is not so much the time limit but the need to have protection and safeguards in the public mind. From that there results a great division between the acceptability of the Garda as a force and whether we can accept them or reject them. It has meant the isolation of gardaí in many areas.

The claim for greater powers for the Garda has been made. From the records that we have I do not think an increase in powers should come at this stage. What the Garda need is an increase in resources, not necessarily manpower alone but effective powers so that they can deal with the ever-increasing crime rate. Any Member who visits any rural Garda station will see the primitiveness and bareness that exists. People who are forced as citizens to go to a Garda station, or go of their own free will, cannot but be alarmed at the bareness and the coldness of the surroundings. On the other hand, we hear people talk of the luxury those in our prisons enjoy, that it is next to [386] grade A hotel standard. That may be so but the conditions under which many members of the Garda have to work — particularly in rural Ireland — do not encourage them to perform more efficiently and effectively. I should like to ask the Minister how many new Garda stations have been opened in recent years. I believe we are closing most of them down. It is time to condemn most of them as places of work for anybody let alone the Garda as a working force. How many new stations have been renovated over the years?

In the course of the debate many calls were made to increase the number of gardaí on the beat. Therein lies the answer to the call for a greater rate of detection. That may help the position in greater urban areas. The day of the local sergeant on the bicycle in rural Ireland has long since passed and encouraging improvements have taken place. We must thank successive Ministers who have seen to it that we have effective motorised groups of police on patrol in rural areas. At the same time I believe high-powered motoring is not the answer. We had a phase when motor-cycle police were a common sight but, unfortunately that is not so today.

There has to be a re-examination of the whole process and procedure of training and redeployment on the ground of gardaí. What is necessary for urban centres such as Dublin or Cork might not necessarily be effective in rural Ireland. All the young trainees undergo the same type of training. We should look at that system and from an early point in training identify those who have special capabilities in certain areas and deploy them in those areas. There should be a greater input of resources to make them more effective in their specialised way. That is why I link that call with my request to the Minister to re-establish the divisional task forces. With morale at a low level in the Garda we should increase and improve them, thereby creating a more effective force.

My greatest fear in this Bill is the question of detention and what it will mean. [387] I will not be satisfied until we know precisely what the complaints procedure will be, who the members will be and how it will present itself to the man in the street. Will it be window dressing and a rubber stamp for what has gone on before?

People who are in for questioning have rights. I believe what happens to a person while in detention must be known to the public at large if we are not going to have a complete collapse in confidence. The right to silence has also been discussed. I fully agree that it is an intolerable situation at the moment. It must be frustrating for members of the Garda when they have clear evidence of a person's guilt and when that person claims the right to silence. I welcome what is proposed in the Bill in regard to this matter.

I welcome the Bill and I hope an early announcement from the Minister will allay many of the fears that have been expressed by Members in the debate with regard to the composition and effectiveness of the complaints procedure. It is regrettable that it has not been part of the Bill to date.

Mr. Harte: I would like to start my contribution by saying that in adopting the approach I am about to adopt I do not necessarily disagree nor am I necessarily in conflict with the other contributions. I feel that our obligation to the police force has not been given sufficient emphasis in this debate and therefore, I have chosen that particular angle on which to make my contribution. The Conway report, Chapter 2, entitled The Role of the Policeman says:

His primary function is to maintain law and order and to protect the person and property of the general public. This is done by preventing crime, by detecting any crime that has been committed and seeing that the offenders are brought to justice and in less serious cases by deciding whether a prosecution should be instituted and by carrying out these prosecutions in many cases.

Based on that primary function of the [388] policeman it seems that one of the main reasons the Bill is before the House is the policeman cannot give full effect to his primary function and, therefore, he needs all the possible assistance he can get particularly in the area of detection. The obligation is on the community through the Legislature to assist the force in every way possible.

The other reason is that public opinion believes that the police are not adequately assisted and, secondly, they believe that if the police are not given wider powers as, for example, in the case of the concerned parents regarding drugs, other forces will begin to apply their brand of discipline. Those reasons were factors in the Bill being produced in its present state. I do not agree with everything in it but I believe these were the causes for bringing the Bill in initially.

The question of getting convictions is not the real question. The nub of the problem can be found in the drop in the detection rate while the rate of crime is soaring. The policeman, through this Bill, appeals to public opinion — having got the support of public opinion in the first instance — to have the rules changed so as to assist him in improving the detection rate. He does so because the movement in rate and pace of crime and the change in the type of crime have left him behind in the struggle to detect. The struggle for the policeman is getting harder with the inevitable consequences that if it is left as it is the only result will be a greater imbalance between the rate of detection and the rate of crime.

This poses the question of how you go about giving this assistance. Are we seriously concerned to assist the policeman in pursuing his obligations in accordance with his primary function as laid down in the Conway report to protect the lives, the freedom and the welfare of all the citizens? If we are serious we must think out measures to halt the growth of the devastating, tragic and frequently indiscriminate acts carried out against the citizens such as kidnapping, murder, taking hostage, robbing with violence, drug trafficking, the destruction of young addicts, the terrorising of old people, the [389] vandalising of community areas, the wrecking of homes and the lives of ordinary citizens, fraud, forgery, rape and other forms of sexual attacks. Collectively, it can be said that all these things are aimed at attacking democracy. Individual criminals may not set out to do that but certainly the organised criminals are well aware of the effects.

All of those things I mentioned are not happening in some remote part of the world, they are happening in our cities and towns and to some extent in our rural areas. Major crimes are being committed every hour, and even every minute of the day. We may try to believe that the incidence of crime both in the South and the North of Ireland can be kept away from our own doors but that is not so. It threatens our liberty. The problem must be faced up to and the best means is to take on the task of raising the detection rate. Therefore, the question is how do you do that?

Arguments have been advanced that the means suggested in the Bill take away civil rights. Whose civil rights are we talking about? What are the criteria for civil rights? Do they relate to the particular social stratum one is representing?

When those who live in freedom abuse that freedom to destroy lives and deliberately maim people for life, or to terrorise citizens, old and young, and attempt to destroy our democracy through acts of crime, it is they who are taking away the fundamental rights and liberties, and not the legislation that is forced upon us.

Admittedly, it is a very delicately balanced argument. As I said earlier, what means civil rights to some people means something else to somebody else. Those I associate with or identify with in my movement around the city are working-class people who believe that the civil right they know and wish to enjoy is to be able to live in peace and go about their daily business without perpetual fear of being attacked, robbed, terrorised, or vandalised in some way. That is their criterion.

People in different social classes will take different interpretations. Those [390] making the arguments will be influenced by the social background they come from and are representative of. While we may argue with one another and debate this in a constructive way, the criminals do not consult with anybody. They consult their own feelings only. They are not likely to be concerned about the question of taking away people's liberty. They are antagonistic and, without good detection methods, this antagonism will be insurmountable in the not too distant future.

To deal with the question of freedom or liberty from another standpoint, let me say that there are accompanying responsibilities in the getting and possessing of civil liberties. Those responsibilities clearly lay down that all liberty is relative to other people's liberties. There is also the fact that, on the question of freedom, we are free only to act within society if our action does not have an effect on the rights and welfare of others.

Obviously, where civil liberties and freedom seem to be threatened, where it is necessary to produce something that might encroach on them, there is bound to be heavy moaning and suffering of agonies by each of us, no matter which standpoint we take and no matter what our criteria of civil liberties are. We sincerely hold our views on what constitutes civil liberties. I speak from the standpoint of one sector of society whom I represent. I believe their criterion is: “Leave me in peace. That is my freedom and my liberty”. Unfortunately, these are the people the criminal elements prey on more than others.

Other people take a deep intellectual view. I suppose my middle of the road approach in a debate like this could be said to be extreme in view of the delicate nature of the arguments. Equally, a substantial number of citizens would consider it extreme to try to deny a procedure that could bring the matter at issue to a new decision. That is what most of the people who have been arguing about the encroachment on civil liberties and freedom have been arguing about: bringing it to a new decision. That may be enlightened selfishness to protect my class. That is my motivation.

[391] Let me be clear. It is not intended to deny civil liberties or fundamental rights to anyone. I believe the rate and pace of crimes subject the bulk of the citizens to indiscriminate and barbarous crimes which inflict destruction and despair. That is taking away liberties and freedom. The citizens as a whole have to come to terms with the fact that they cannot and must not remain inactive or provide a hiding place, because all of our rights are being attacked. Since those rights are not automatic and there is no guarantee of security, we must fight for them, earn them, plan for them and guard them.

To do this it is necessary to make a concession in so far as we are concerned individually. We must ask ourselves: which is the greatest threat? An escalating crime rate that wreaks havoc on our society, or the yielding on our part to a more effective means of detection, particularly when the medicine may be no worse than the malady. We live in a society where there are many paradoxes, many evil minds, many untruths, half truths, quarter truths. We live in the midst of murderous, selfish, cruel and unjust people. In such a situation it is difficult not to be drawn towards asking for a temporary sacrifice, if that is the word, to heighten the struggle against crime, organised and otherwise.

There are, relatively speaking, weaknesses in the procedures and methods of detection. If this is the case, surely the obligation is on us to give authority to the people in the front line, the police. We must calculate this weakness and see how we can deal with the problem. Let us be blunt about it. At the moment the system of detection is a kind of frontal attack. The criminal has become very sophisticated. He knows how to get out from under the problem very quickly. The frontal attack does not work very well any more for the policeman. In fact, it bogs a policeman down.

The detection of crime is the great objective, but it is being tackled at great odds. The criminal could be said to be [392] the adversary and, as so, capable of manoeuvring. It is beginning to look as if one is David and the other Goliath, and not necessarily the police being Goliath. Something must be done about the level, rate and pace of crime. Other forces have not taken over in situations where the police have not been adequate. These are reasons why the Bill is before the House. I have to draw attention to the fact that, if you are dealing with an adversary and he is attacking your Achilles heel, as is the case with the criminal versus the policeman on this question of detection, then it is up to the police and us to find some way of giving assistance to the police which will enable them to find out the Achilles heel of the criminal elements.

We argue on a regular basis about how the conditions and living standards of our people must be improved. We argue for changes in methods when our industries do not come up to the standard we expect of them. We allow the crime rate to change rapidly and yet we are rather reluctant to yield a little when it comes to making changes that would enable the Garda to become more effective in detecting crime. We have a situation where people argue for civil liberties and freedom from the standpoint of the social strata they represent, while others like myself argue it from the standpoint of what working-class people believe to be their rights. They want the criminal caught and punished. They want to live in peace and harmony. They do not want to be in a position where somebody can break into their homes. Frequently when they break into the homes of the elderly, one of them sits at the bottom of the bed with a knife to the person's throat while the other ransacks the place. The working-class idea of civil liberties is to be free of that and be able to walk the streets unmolested.

In case anybody gets carried away with the idea that I am speaking pro-Garda that is not the case. I pre-empted my contribution by saying that I was not in conflict with a lot of what was said. No one has looked at it from the angle of our obligation to support the police up to a [393] certain point. The position seems to be that we may be a little afraid to support the police. We may argue that inefficiency, idleness, indecision and so on are the real reasons why the detection rate has decreased. In the absence of any evidence, I had to take the view that the reason the detection rate has decreased is because we have not kept pace with the rate of development of crime. We have not thought out a strategy which would allow the police to get away from a frontal attack and use some other strategy.

It should not be too long before we debate the accusatorial system and the inquisitorial system. It would be a much wider debate. In both Houses we have had a very detailed examination of and a very wide exchange of views on the contents of the Bill. The Labour Party succeeded in getting some alterations made to the Bill, although not totally to our satisfaction. That is evidence that democracy is being protected and will be pursued. While I might differ from some people, as long as we have vigilant courageous voices and the organised effort of free speech and criticism, we have not a lot to fear. The encroachments made into civil liberties will not be to the extent that people have said in the course of the debate. I do not believe that autocracy will triumph over democracy. I do not believe that equality before the law will be affected by the Bill.

I am not happy with all of the Bill. I am not in conflict with a lot of what has been said but we have placed too much emphasis on what is wrong with the Bill with little consideration for the people we put in the front line and who risk their lives on a daily basis. It is from that angle I make my contribution. It is on that basis that I will be supporting the Bill. I say that coupled with the fact that we have already had some alterations made to the Bill through our efforts in the Labour Party.

One point must be made and I hope that someday it will be put right. The real dilemma for us all in this debate is that no category of rights has been spelt out. Obviously we cannot get a guarantee of [394] security, but there are no rights shelled out in the provisions guaranteeing the security of the individual from interference by others, including the State. Consequently that brings people who are of like mind into conflict. If we had such a category of rights, we might not have this conflict when dealing with matters of a serious social nature.

Mr. McDonald: I welcome this Bill and, indeed, any measure designed to assist the authorities in their fight against crime. We all accept that this is a difficult time for the upholders of the law. When dealing with a Bill of this kind we must keep foremost in our minds that over 99 per cent of our population are ordinary, law-abiding, God-fearing citizens. The weaker sections of the population must be protected. Our senior citizens, especially those living alone, the disabled and disadvantaged and the younger generation must be protected in appropriate ways against the small number of ruthless and selfish criminals who have no allegiance to either God or man. In that regard this Bill does not go far enough. At the same time individual members of the Garda must be ever vigilant against leaning too heavily on either a person or a family who may have a minor criminal record. The Garda must guard against making such people tough just by pulling them in for everything that happens in a locality. I would hope that the Garda at all times would use a great deal of commonsense. It is important that they be as close as possible to the public because without the co-operation and support of the public their work in the detection of crime will be all the more difficult.

The function of any police force may be described as the prevention and detection of crime, the protection of life and property and the maintenance of the peace. In the discharge of their duty it is imperative that the Garda operate within the ambit of the law.

I should like to take a brief look at the legal position as it affects the police operation and in the ultimate the police [395] service to the public, which is all important. It is by this latter criteria that the effectiveness and efficiency of a police service must be assessed in that they exist only to serve the ordinary members of the public.

The question arises as to whether the Garda are meeting that public need. It seems to me that the answer must be in the negative and that their principal explanation for this is the stultifying and negative effect of legal constraints which have emerged in recent years. I often wonder, when reading the headlines in the papers week after week concerning criminals or people who are accused of crimes calling on the various articles of the Constitution, whether our Constitution only offers protection to the minority who like to sail close to the wind, as it were, or who have absolutely no respect for the Constitution itself. If one reads the reports of the Commissioner for the past ten years, one finds that crime is shown to have increased by 156 per cent and that in the same period crime detection has fallen from 48 per cent to about 34 per cent. In former years the right of the Garda to detain suspects for the purpose of collecting evidence was not clearly defined. This form of detention was not seriously contested in the courts at that time. This scenario was however contested in recent years. The current position was clearly spelled out in such notable decisions as The People v. O'Loughlin in 1979, The People v. Walshe in 1980 and The People v. Shaw in 1982, to name just a few. The net effect of these judgments is that the Garda are not entitled to arrest or detain a suspect for the purpose of securing evidence.

I wish to refer to two categories of crime which always affect people and which hit the headlines. These are rape and the unauthorised taking of motor cars. In these cases legal problems arise in regard to investigation. The same legal constraints apply to a wide variety of other serious crime, including murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, false imprisonment, blackmail, burglary, housebreaking, robbery, forgery and all [396] types of larceny and drug offences. I understand that the legal constraints in investigative work to which the Garda are subject seem to be unique in the EEC countries. I am told that in Belgium, for instance, if a person merely fails to produce his identity document on demand he may be detained for 24 hours. In Holland an arrested person has to be brought before a subsidiary public prosecutor as soon as possible after arrest. This official may authorise his detention in police custody for a period of six hours. The hours from midnight to 9 a.m. are not counted. On the expiration of that period, if the offence in respect of which the person has been taken into custody is found to be of a more serious nature the subsidiary public prosecutor may authorise his further detention in police custody for a period of 48 hours. At the end of this latter period the prosecutor may extend his period of detention for an additional period of 48 hours in police custody. That provides for a total of four days plus in police custody. It is a matter worthy of mention that all officers of the Dutch police above the rank equivalent to that of inspector here also hold the office of subsidiary police prosecutor. At the end of those four days, but under more stringent circumstances, there is provision whereby the prisoner may be brought before an examining magistrate who may remand him in custody to a prison for several periods of 30 days detention. That is not news to anyone in this country because we all remember just a couple of years ago when an Irishman who was found in possession of a camera adjacent to an airfield and was detained in custody for a very long time. That was the subject of many representations by large numbers of people from this country.

The most valid comparison from our point of view with the present legislation can be made with Britain, our nearest neighbour and with whom we have the same common law background. In a court of appeal, the criminal division in England, it was held in the case R. v. Malcherick, 1973 Criminal Appeal Reports, that a person arrested for an [397] ordinary or non-terrorist offence may be detained in custody for a period in excess of 48 hours. This period is greater than that available in our country, even for a subversive-type offence. As I have already pointed out for ordinary crime there is no power of detention here except——

Mr. M. Higgins: On a point of order, perhaps the Senator would give the references.

Mr. McDonald: I have given the references.

Mr. M. Higgins: I apologise.

Mr. McDonald: It is also worth mentioning that in Ireland a prisoner has an absolute right of access to his solicitor. I am told that no such right exists in some other countries. I cannot understand why our courts assemble, even on bank holidays, to facilitate the lawbreaker. This must be a great expense to the taxpayer. Last August bank holiday a court was assembled to facilitate a young hooligan who had held a ten months old baby girl to ransom. I cannot understand why, in order to protect the constitutional rights of these few hooligans or lawbreakers, or however you like to describe them, that the entire system can be brought out at a moment's notice but there is nothing about the rights of the families of the people who are either attacked or harassed in such a horrendous manner. Of course, it is true that there is not much benefit to be had from speaking about the rights of the majority of the ordinary people. If you want to make a name for yourself you must champion the cause of the under-privileged. The under-privileged in the main occupy the category of people who do not want to work and anything they get, they want to get it for nothing. If they cannot have it, they just take it by force or any other way. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the motivation of people, like Senator O'Higgins, who seem to have a sense of fair play for no one other than the people who find themselves in the dock. This is difficult to understand.

[398] Mr. M. Higgins: That is a disgraceful distortion of my speech——

Mr. McDonald: I know that——

Mr. M. Higgins: That is a disgraceful distortion of my several speeches on the subjects of poverty and justice.

Mr. McDonald: I am talking about the Criminal Justice Bill.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Senator McDonald, without interruption, please.

Mr. McDonald: The vast majority in this country are ordinary, law abiding people — I should imagine 99 per cent or even more because there are only a few hundred at present behind bars. Granted the crime detection rate is lower than 40 per cent, nevertheless, the number of people who commit crimes are a very small percentage of the population.

I find it difficult to understand the opposition expressed strongly against equipping the Garda effectively to counter modern crime.

There is absolutely no opposition expressed to the work of the Garda if, in the course of their duties they are working among the ordinary members of the public. Take the case of persons brought in on suspicion of crimes of robbery with violence, armed robbery, rape or murder. There is little expressed opposition to the much stronger powers the Garda have under the Road Traffic Acts, the Diseases of Animals Act, and the Noxious Weeds Act. The garda has more power to deal with the farmer who has allowed noxious weeds to grow on his land than he has to go after a person he suspects of committing a very serious crime. That is something the public seem to lose sight of. Nobody has any great sympathy for a motorist who, perhaps through a weakness or in a moment of celebration, may have had a pint or a half pint too many. He does not even have to be involved in an accident. If he is [399] breathalised and the tests prove positive he can be arrested. Nobody worries about how many hours he stays in the Garda barracks. He is made to give a sample of blood and a sample of urine. Nobody seems to worry about that. His liberty can be very much curtailed if he is not allowed to drive after that. It is only a very small percentage of the public that the prominent pressure groups seem to get particularly worried about.

I cannot understand why a member of the Garda can have so many powers under, for instance the Noxious Weeds Act, which does not affect many people except the farmers next door who can have an unwanted crop in the following year, or the Diseases of Animals Act. It is more important that the law covering the diseases of animals should be administered properly than to have the Garda apprehend somebody who has committed a crime of rape, murder with violence, or the murder of some old age pensioner living alone for £10, £15 or £50? We must get our priorities right. At present criminals are very modern in their approach to crime, they equip themselves with the fastest of cars — always at somebody else's expense — but our Garda are not given the equipment and the facilities to apprehend the people whom they have strong reasons to suspect of perpetrating these crimes.

For the last couple of weeks there have been a number of prisoners on hunger strike. At one stage they went on hunger strike because they were deprived of runners to keep them down off the roof. I do not understand this. I thought if you were sentenced to jail you were deprived of your rights as a citizen. The cost of pandering to a handful of prisoners in our jails at present is absolutely staggering. The ordinary taxpaying members of the public, who are put to the pin of their collars to survive, are tired reading day in and day out stories about these people who are dissatisfied with their lot and who want all these extra concessions.

I am also disappointed that the Bill is not stronger and has not tackled the question of the right to silence. I believe [400] that if a member of the Garda should catch or detain a person red-handed in the execution of a crime the person so caught should not be allowed to sit back and say nothing and make the whole process of the law much more difficult and much slower. For the benefit of Senator O'Higgins I should like to quote——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Senator McDonald, I ask you to stick to your speech.

Mr. M. Higgins: On a point of order, there is no Senator O'Higgins a Member of this House. There is a distinguished Senator, Senator J. Higgins, a member of Senator McDonald's party with whom I share the privilege of a seat in the Seanad.

Mr. McDonald: I apologise for using a very old, honoured Irish traditional name——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I would prefer that you would stick to the Bill and not provoke comment from Senator O'Higgins or Senator Higgins or Senator Michael D. Higgins.

Mr. McDonald: I would like to quote from Judge Barra Ó Briain's report. In his addendum to the report he recommends safeguards for persons in custody and members of the Garda Síochána and says of the right to silence:

I consider that this rule of law should be somewhat modified and that a suspect should be required to answer certain questions. A refusal or a failure to do so might be made the subject of comment by the judge at the trial and/or by the Prosecution with the leave of the trial judge. The jury should be told to draw what inference they think proper and commonsense from a refusal to answer all or any such question. Such questions might relate to identity and address, marital status, explanation of stains on clothing, or property (including money) found upon the suspect, an account of his dealings with a vehicle believed by the [401] Gardaí to have been used in a crime, his movements for a specified period of time before and after the crime, and some other kindred questions to be set out in a statute and strictly limited. Outside of such matters the suspect person would retain his right of silence, as at present, quite unimpaired.

I am disappointed that when we are bringing in this new Criminal Justice Bill after a period of unparalleled violence the Government did not find it possible to make the measure as effective as possible to equip the Garda to deal with the problems of the times.

Section 11 of the Bill deals with consecutive sentences. While I may very well be reading the section incorrectly, I think that on the question of consecutive sentences the Bill is a little lenient. Regarding offences committed while on bail, a stronger line should have been adopted in the Bill. We read in the papers of organised gangs or cartels and it would have been opportune under this Bill to have tackled that problem. When one is dealing day in and day out with the ordinary taxpayers especially in the private sector and in PAYE, who pay a very high percentage of their incomes in tax, and when one sees people, especially on the drug scene or in organised crime, in possession of very valuable property yet unable to show any visible means of support, the question of confiscation of such ill-gotten property should have been considered. It is not justice if the law-breaker can be seen to profit to a very large extent by his crimes. It is time that the Government, the Department of Justice and the Garda tackled organised crime here head on before its grip becomes greater. Unless they do that and it is clearly shown that people will not be allowed to amass huge fortunes at the expense of the underprivileged and the old and the weaker sections of our community, then an opportunity is missed. I hope that the Government will consider that.

That is all I wish to say. Again I welcome the Bill although I regret it has been softened a little too much.

[402] An Leas-Chathaoirleach: We do not seem to have any more speakers.

Mr. O'Leary: I understand that the arrangement is now that you would call upon the Minister to reply and that, having done that, I would ask for a sos until 5.30, to enable everybody time to recover after this long session. I understand that if you call on the Minister to reply that will conclude the debate except for the Minister. We can be sure that when he comes it will be only the Minister who will speak at that stage.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: So it is in order if I suspend the House now?

Mr. O'Leary: If you call on the Minister to reply now.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: An t-Aire.

Mr. O'Leary: Before the Minister replies I would like to propose that we have a sos until 5.30 p.m.

Sitting suspended at 4.17 p.m. and resumed at 5.30 p.m.