Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998: Motion.
Jim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
Fine Gael supports the renewal of the provisions of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act. I support the motion because I believe that in the absence of a permanent and peaceful resolution to the conflict on this island, we cannot compromise the capacity of the State to act decisively to deal with terrorism and dissident activity. In analysing the need for the renewal of the legislation, I have identified four areas on which we need to focus.
First, we should bear in mind that these provisions followed the horror of Omagh. We should also bear in mind that those responsible for that dreadful outrage and other like-minded individuals continue to plan similar types of activities on this island. They have not gone away, and as long as that is the case we need the instruments to ensure that as far as possible they will be brought to justice and, if they are arrested, that we have the processes and procedures to bring them to justice and make them answerable for these terrible crimes.
The second reason that motivates me is that of the unholy alliance that now appears to have emerged between some of these pseudo-republicans and their allies in the area of what has been referred to as "ordinary crime". This alliance between these pseudo-republicans and patriots and criminal gangs is a very sinister one. There is no doubt that many of these pseudo-patriots acquired a certain amount of expertise in firearms and munitions. It is horrific from the point of view of the safety and security of the lives and property of the people in this country that they are, apparently, now prepared to make that expertise available to criminal gangs. This is an issue we must investigate in greater depth because more information is needed if we are to assess the full extent of that threat. It is a chilling development and we must consider every reasonable means to counteract it.
The third reason for the continuation of these provisions relates to developments internationally, including the murderous threats from terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda. I have considerable insight into this because I have a family connection in Darfur. Given the difficult and threatening situation there, one can imagine the turmoil that may develop in that unfortunate country. The problem is that the world has become such a small place that terrorists can easily establish international connections. There is occasional evidence, whether in regard to ETA in Spain or other such organisations, of these connections being used to seriously negative effect. We cannot ignore these developments in regard to international terrorism.
The fourth and most compelling reason for the renewal of these provisions is that some of the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe remain at large. These provisions and any others that are necessary should be used to bring these people to justice and to secure their convictions. If these provisions can be of any assistance in this regard, they are justified on that count alone. There is a duty on any citizen of this State with information on this matter to make it available to the Garda Síochána.