Dáil debates

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998: Motion.


1:00 pm

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)

The real reason that Deputy Ferris made those remarks is that he still clings to the idiotic ideology of the Provisional movement that somehow their acts were not crimes because they were carried out at the behest of the army council, in whom, the idiots all believe, the Irish people's powers of government are somehow vested. It is the sad delusion of fanatics, and the sooner they abandon that reasoning and stop making stupid statements based on it, the better. They must realise that they are citizens of the State, sit in this House as such, and owe that State and no other their loyalty under Article 9 of the Constitution. I also agree with what Deputies Howlin and Jim O'Keeffe said about the emerging evidence that certain such people have decided to sell their munitions and explosives expertise to drug warlords. That is a sad fact. It is not the first time that this has taken place because the Provisional movement tried to sell its expertise to drug warlords in Colombia for far more money but was foiled in the attempt.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh persistently raises the question of my actions in respect of Frank Connolly. The rules of this House provide that anyone who thinks he or she has been maligned can go to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and have his or her side of the story put on the record, but this never happened in the case of Frank Connolly. No effort has been made in public or on the floor or on the record of this House to rebut one word I said. This silence is extremely eloquent. Anyone who believes his or her good name has been adversely affected by anything said in this House is entitled under its rules to have his or her side of the story put on the record, but this has never happened in the case of Frank Connolly for very good reasons.

The Government decided to establish a second chamber of the Special Criminal Court but has not appointed judges to it because the situation in respect of delays in the court has improved dramatically. The reason for the Government's decision at that time was that the Supreme Court had ruled that bail legislation which provided that people could be denied bail on the basis that they would commit a further serious offence was overridden if the State could not provide a reasonably proximate trial. I faced a situation where people were arrested at training camps in the south east and other places. There was every reason to deny them bail because the activities they were engaged in suggested an intent to commit further criminal offences. The Bail Act 1997 should have been available to deny them bail but the fact that there would have been a delay in holding their trials would, under the Supreme Court's reasoning, amount to a reason for their release. Given that I faced a threat of this kind, it was prudent to provide for a second chamber of the Special Criminal Court. Happily, it has not proved necessary to proceed with it.

This legislation has been described as emergency legislation. It is not emergency legislation, it is legislation which is put in place with the one requirement that its provisions be annually renewed.


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