Dáil debates

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2010: Report and Final Stages

 

2:30 pm

Photo of Noel O'FlynnNoel O'Flynn (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 6 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, lines 4 and 5, to delete "a fine not exceeding €400" and substitute "a class E fine".

These amendments arise from the new classification system introduced by Part 2 of the Fines Act 2010 in the case of fines for summary offences. Henceforth, fines will no longer be expressed in monetary amounts in the case of summary offences but will instead be referred to by class. The Fines Act established five classes, from A to E. Each class has a ceiling, for example, class E relates to fines not exceeding €500, class D covers fines not exceeding €1,000, and so on. The classification system relates to fines not exceeding €500,000, the maximum amount that may be imposed on summary conviction.

The Fines Act provides that all legislation enacted after the commencement of Part 2 must use the classifications in that Part wherever fines are provided for in respect of any summary offences. Part 2 was commenced with effect on 4 January and the requirement to use classifications rather than the maximum monetary amounts therefore applies to this Bill. The purpose of these amendments is to replace the amounts currently indicated with references to the corresponding classes.

Amendment No. 1 relates to the maximum fine proposed in section 2 in cases where there is a conviction for begging. It does not alter the part of the penalty which stipulates that the person may additionally, or as an alternative, be sentenced to up to one month's imprisonment. The maximum fine originally proposed was €400, which is a class E fine. Similarly, amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 6, amend sections 3, 4 and 6, respectively. The offence under section 3 arises where there is a failure to comply with a direction to cease begging and to move from the area. A maximum fine of €300 had been proposed, which is a class E fine under the new classification. In section 4 a maximum fine of €200 was proposed in regard to the offence of failing to give a name and address or giving false information, which is also a class E fine. In section 6, which concerns the offence of living off the proceeds of begging, a maximum fine of €5,000 is replaced by a reference to a class A fine.

As a result of these amendments, we are, for the first time in Irish legislation, setting fines by reference to class rather than monetary amount.

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Minister for his clarification of these amendments. Fine Gael has no objection to the proposals.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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There has been a great deal of discussion in the House today about what legislation may be enacted in the lifetime of the Government. Looking at the Government's press release, it is difficult to assent to the proposition that a Bill on begging should be a priority given the other matters and challenges that confront the country. Having said that, I have no objection to the Minister's amendments. They are necessary in order to bring the legislation into line with the Fines Act.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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The reason this Bill was mentioned in the Chief Whip's press release is that it is one of the Bills which is nearing completion in the House. Equally so, it is a fairly simply Bill but one with an important effect. Given the High Court decision in the Dillon case some years ago, which set down the parameters for the law and for the constitutional constraints that exist in this regard, the Oireachtas was obliged to set down those parameters and to produce this legislation. Some have argued it does not go far enough while others say it goes too far. I am confident it represents a balanced approach.

It is incorrect to suggest that there is somehow a skewing of priorities at play. As a Dublin representative, Deputy Rabbitte knows this is an important issue and that action has been called for by representatives of traders, particularly in Dublin's city centre, for a long time. However, it is equally an issue in my own town and in towns throughout the State. A great deal of time was taken up by this issue on Joe Duffy's popular radio programme in recent days. It is important that we pass the legislation as soon as possible. These amendments marry the Bill with provisions of the Fines Act, the relevant portion of which was commenced on 4 January.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I am pleased to hear the Minister is listening to Joe Duffy's radio programme. If he does so consistently he will find a great many other issues are raised on that programme which warrant legislation. However, let us be grateful for small mercies.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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During the Christmas period I heard Joe Duffy claiming credit for the legislation on head shops. I and this House also had something to do with that.

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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We all contributed to it.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Yes, that is what I said.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, lines 39 and 40, to delete "a fine not exceeding €300" and substitute "a class E fine".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 3:

In page 6, lines 1 and 2, to delete "a fine not exceeding €200" and substitute "a class E fine".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Noel O'FlynnNoel O'Flynn (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 4:

In page 6, to delete lines 19 to 21 and substitute the following:

"(a) on summary conviction to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, or".

These amendments increase the penalties for offences under section 5, which creates an offence of organised begging. Persons being prosecuted under the section may be proceeded against summarily or on indictment. Subsection (2)(a) deals with summary proceedings. It originally proposed maximum penalties of up to six months' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding €3,000 or both.

We had a discussion on Committee Stage about these penalties and the question of aligning them with the penalties provided for in the event of a conviction for an offence under section 6, that is, living off the proceeds of begging, that offence also being a summary one. I undertook to reflect further on this matter. Following a thorough examination of the matter, I am satisfied it is appropriate to increase the penalties. Amendment No. 4, therefore, increases the penalty from a maximum of six months' imprisonment to 12 months' imprisonment. The fine is also to be increased to a maximum of €5,000 but, due to the commencement of Part 2 of the Fines Act, which we have just discussed, it is necessary, since the offence is a summary offence, to express the fine as a class A fine.

On Committee Stage, we also discussed the penalties in cases where there is a conviction on indictment under subsection (2)(b), particularly the level of the fine. Currently, the Bill provides for a maximum fine of €50,000, or up to five years' imprisonment, or both. Following further consideration, I am satisfied the fine should be increased significantly in light of the dangerous and sinister activities of those who organise and direct begging. Such activity is very lucrative. We are entitled to take these factors into account in setting the penalty and, therefore, I propose a maximum fine of €200,000. That, together with the potential sentence of up to five years' imprisonment, provides the clearest signal to those involved in or contemplating operating an organised begging operation in this State that we regard this type of organised crime as being just as unacceptable as any other form of organised crime. These new penalties will act as a deterrent to anyone planning such activity.

I listened to the arguments of both sides of the House on this issue and accept we should send out a very strong signal. The biggest problem with begging in this country is the strong possibility that it is being organised not necessarily by large organised criminal gangs, but by a number of individuals. On Joe Duffy's show this week, at least one listener who rang in indicated clearly that there are people who deliver people to city and town centres with a view to having them beg and to taking the proceeds from them when they have finished. Most public representatives would be aware of the phenomenon. It is important that we respond to it. We had discussions with An Garda Síochána on the matter. While the Garda is not substantially worried about the matter, it is important that we send out a very strong signal to those who are organising begging on a large scale or living substantially off the proceeds of begging.

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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It is very ironic that we are dealing with this legislation when the IMF is in town and the State itself is looking for assistance. We had our own begging bowl out. The week in which we discussed this legislation on Committee Stage was the week the IMF came to town, despite the fact that it was said by certain individuals that it was not coming.

Begging is associated with poverty, homelessness and the need for access to social services. The Government would be best to consider why people end up begging. I welcome the two amendments because I raised this issue on Committee Stage. There are criminal gangs directing the most vulnerable people in society to beg and organising begging. I welcome the amendments and certainly support them. They encompass what I was trying to achieve in my amendments on Committee Stage.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I accept there is a qualitative difference between the ordinary, everyday beggar on the street and one who is organising begging and living off the proceeds of begging by some of the more unfortunate citizens and individuals who may not be citizens of this State. I accept there is a distinction to be drawn between pimping on the misfortune of people at the bottom of the ladder in society and the activity of the common or garden everyday beggar on the street.

The Minister warned us at the time of the taking of the Estimates about where more severe penalties and mandatory sentencing are landing us in terms of the acute problem in our prisons. I would have thought these amendments would only be justifiable if the Minister had hard evidence that there are organised begging rackets in this country. I confess ignorance of the phenomenon. I do not confess ignorance of begging as one only has to walk outside this House of Parliament to witness begging by unfortunate citizens and others. However, I do not know or did not know that there are criminals in this country exploiting people by way of setting them about begging. I am open to persuasion based on information the Minister and his agents may have. Is profiteering of the kind in question achievable from begging? It is scarcely like pimping and prostitution, which undoubtedly constitute a lucrative business in this country. We briefly touched on this matter on the Order of Business. From the way I read the statement of the Minister in that regard and from the way it was presented in the paper of record, I believed he had committed to publishing legislation to criminalise the purchase of sex. I ask him to permit us to read the outcome of the study of the Dignity project. A number of individuals are anxious to see the evidence for proceeding to deal with what is undoubtedly a very serious matter in this State. What evidence has the Minister to suggest we have a serious problem owing to individuals, irrespective of nationality, organising begging? I have some difficulty in believing organising beggars on the streets of Dublin, Ennis or Dundalk is a meritorious enterprise.

It is ironic that Deputy Joe Carey should mention the fact that we have handed over our economic sovereignty to the IMF. The iconic photograph that was published on the front page of the Financial Times will forever be the epitaph of this Government's period in office. I do not know whether the photograph was staged. It depicted a beggar thrusting his begging bowl towards Mr. Chopra of the IMF and his colleagues from the ECB. The photograph brought home to Irish people in a most dramatic way the implications of what has happened and what has contributed to their humiliation over the pass to which we have been brought. The analogy used by Deputy Joe Carey is useful.

I am prepared to assent to the amendments before the House if the Minister can demonstrate his reason for increasing the penalties contained within the original Bill. There is no point in us talking tough in the House if there is not a real problem. The figures shown to me yesterday indicated that the increase in committals between 2008 and 2009 of persons serving three months or less was 63%. These are the Prison Service's figures. Every Deputy will appreciate that this situation cannot continue. I am not saying that the offence in question is a minor one. I draw a distinction between the poor unfortunate citizen who for whatever reason finds himself or herself begging on a street or the appalling sight of children begging and the Minister's claim of people profiteering and exploiting the phenomenon. If the latter is the case, it should be addressed, but we should respond in a proportionate and balanced way that is based on evidence.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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In principle, I am in favour of changing the law regarding prostitution and of moving in the direction recently indicated. I have stated this in reply to parliamentary questions. I was encouraging of the visit by the Dignity Project. Some officials from our human trafficking unit also visited Sweden to review its experience since changing the law more than one decade ago. However, there is a difference. While Sweden experienced a dramatic decrease in prostitution on open streets, there has not been as much of that trade on Irish streets in recent years. In principle, the Oireachtas should consider the matter in the coming years as well as the constitutionality of any change. For this reason, it has been sent to the Attorney General's office.

As Deputy Rabbitte knows, there is no exact parallel. However, there are some parallels between the issues of street prostitution and street begging. The 2007 Dillon case clearly set down strict parameters as to why the legislation cannot ban begging, namely, freedom of communication, freedom of expression, freedom of congregation and the other human freedoms built into the Constitution. As much as possible, the Bill will set down legislation within the parameters outlined by the Dillon case. As I stated on Committee Stage, we examined the possibility of appealing the case to the Supreme Court. On the Attorney General's advice, it was believed that the High Court's judgment was correct. We have gone as far as we can with this legislation.

Regarding organised begging, the Garda does not allocate resources to investigating activities that are not currently offences, so there is no official evidence in respect of begging. However, we asked the Garda to give us indications. I am not referring to an organised collection of data. I will give an example from this document. It states:

A member in a large rural town stated that in his view Roma Gypsy women and children are being dropped off in various urban centres around the country on a daily basis for the purpose of begging. They are then collected at the end of the day with their "takings". The member welcomes the proposed legislation to deal with begging. He further states that the begging activity engaged by the Roma Gypsy network is also, at times, accompanied by young children.

A Chief Superintendent whose area covers South Dublin states that there is evidence of organised begging. An example of this occurred over the summer months at a Church. Local Gardaí observed a group of up to five foreign nationals (all adults) gathering each Sunday morning at mass times in the vicinity of the church.

These persons would sit at each of the entrances to the church begging. Gardaí used their powers under the Public Order Act, 1994 to move them on, where applicable, but they were limited in how they could follow up the matter owing to the lack of legislation regarding begging.

Another example states: "In January 2010 a Chief Superintendent for a Division covering the Inner City tasked the crime prevention unit with putting in place an operation to establish to what extent begging was organised and if there was evidence of directing and living off the earnings of begging activity." According to this document:

A total of 172 incidents and intelligence reports were recorded. Initially the majority of these incidents were recorded against members of the Roma Gypsy community.

Examination of these reports showed that organised or planned begging was attributable to begging by individual family members of the Roma Gypsy Community only. These people were mostly female and they belonged to different Roma families. It appeared that identified families had established their own specific begging beats and they strictly adhered to those areas. From surveillance carried out these females were clearly observed handing over the proceeds of their begging activities to a family head, usually the father or grandfather. It was subsequently discovered that this handing over of monies was in part due to the fear of their money being confiscated by the courts or Gardaí when arrested.

The families were also observed assembling on a daily basis with family leaders directing the women to their optimum begging locations. Together with the above (collecting of monies) this constitutes a form of organised begging.

Another Chief Superintendent for Dublin states that there is one continuing occurrence of begging which could be interpreted as "organised begging".

This incident occurs every Saturday and Sunday along a busy Road. These individuals will enter traffic which has stopped at the red lights and beg for money or attempt to wash car windows in return for money. Some members of this family can be quite forceful and Garda Stations receive a number of complaints in relation to same. These individuals move on when approached by a Garda however they return when Gardaí have left the area.

There are no incidents of begging recorded on PULSE for this area to date in 2010, however there are 11 incidents of Traffic Endangerment.

This last point is because the begging in question is not an offence as such because the legislation was knocked down in 2007. According to the document, the 11 incidents of traffic endangerment:

relate to foreign nationals walking through moving traffic on the road attempting to beg. There are also 681 Public Order Incidents recorded on PULSE for this District to date in 2010, a handful of which relate to foreign nationals begging who have failed to comply with Section 8 of the Public Order Act 1994.

While "organised begging" is not an issue in a district covering a North Dublin suburb, members attached to the District Detective Office have been in regular contact with members of the Romanian Community who engage in the act of begging in Dublin City Centre on a daily basis.

This contact was made as part of an investigation into a particular murder in 2009. The document continues: "Further intelligence gathered suggested that members of the Romanian Community operated as an organised begging ring in the Dublin City Centre area". While the Garda does not have official figures, it is accepted that there is a substantial element of people living off the proceeds of organised begging on a relatively small scale.

Perhaps tongue in cheek, the Deputies equate this to the deal with the International Monetary Fund and the EU. I do not accept that we have given up sovereignty through the deal. One cannot equate the two issues. Equally, without that deal we would not be able to fund this country. The majority of that money was obtained by this country to ensure we can continue to have the services our people desire. It goes back to our problem, irrespective of who is on this side of the House, that we are spending more than we are taking in and as a result we must borrow or reduce services. It is far better to borrow the money from the IMF and the EU than to go into the market like Portugal did today to pay 6.7%.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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I understand the logic of the Bill, although I did not get the opportunity to attend the debate on Committee Stage. I have been aware for many years of organised begging; it is not a new phenomenon. Having said that, there are many other laws that could deal with this sort of organised begging. Given the scale of the problems we face economically, the urgency of this Bill is hard to understand.

There is organised begging, and I have seen it myself in Dublin and heard of it from people in other large towns. I take the Minister at his word that this legislation will not be used to harass those who are down on their luck and who are begging in the streets because they are in genuine dire straits, or to harass buskers, but that it will be used by the gardaí to target those who intimidate people going about their daily business, particularly those who are abusing children. That is a key element; many of those ferried into towns and cities are children and child abuse and public order legislation should be used to address the problem. Even the Road Safety Act could be used to prevent these activities.

In view of the organised begging, people who genuinely wish to help those in need have stopped providing donations of money and food to those down on their luck. Genuine cases of hardship are suffering because the unscrupulous are trying to make a trade of begging. I would prefer to see a situation where we did not have begging and people were not down on their luck but we seem to be able to pass laws on begging while we cannot lock up those who have defrauded the people of billions. There is proportionality involved and this legislation is ironic when we consider there will be increases in the numbers suffering hardship and who will end up begging due to the policies of this Government.

There are also those who do not want to see the consequences of the collapse of the economy, who do not want to see people begging in the streets. That has always been the case and it is shameful that a country might think the poor would be better hidden away. There are those who would like to criminalise the poor and the display of poverty. They would do better to concentrate on the criminalisation of poverty and making it illegal for people to made so poor.

I support the Bill on the understanding that it is intended to address the problem of organised begging. I have heard of older people being genuinely afraid to withdraw money from ATMs because of the activities organised in the fashion outlined by the Minister on Second Stage. I am sceptical because many laws have been passed in this House with one specific intention that end up being used for a different purpose later on. I appeal that this law be only used in the circumstances set out, to tackle the odious trade of organised begging, where people profiteer on the good will of the Irish people, because Irish people have been very generous to those down on their luck here and abroad. We do not want anyone to prey on that and that is what organised begging leads to.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I mentioned prostitution because there is an analogy, as the Minister accepts, with the Dillon case. The Opposition tabled an amendment that would have criminalised the purchase of sex when the Human Trafficking Bill or the first version of the Immigration Bill was proceeding through the House. The Minister's predecessor opposed the amendment and while I do not want to misrepresent him as saying it could not be done, he said it should not be done and seemed to believe there were constitutional obstacles in the way. I raise that because people have been in touch with me to ask if the present Minister, Deputy Ahern, meant was he was reported as saying he meant in The Irish Times.

I heard the remarks made by the Minister and by Deputy Ó Snodaigh about organised begging. I do not know what Deputy Ó Snodaigh has in his arsenal to adduce in support of his case but if the Minister was before a judge, he would not have compelling evidence. He started out by saying there is no official evidence before quoting from individual senior gardaí. Both he and Deputy Ó Snodaigh may be right but I do not know enough about this. Is the Roma Gypsy issue cultural or is it organised begging? I agree with the Minister that traffic endangerment is involved, I have personally experienced it, and there is no doubt members of the Roma community congregate and beg. I would like to know, however, and we have a lot of information about immigration these days, if this is cultural or organised.

One cannot help but be struck by the irony that we are legislating for beggars while our laws are inadequate when it comes to dealing with those bankers who beggared the country and its people. The only reason there has not been more progress and that the Director of Corporate Enforcement has not brought the cases to conclusion is because, I suspect, our law is defective.

I do not wish to open a debate with the Minister about the IMF but we are not in the IMF and subject to the rescue package because our fiscal balance is out of kilter. We would have been able to handle fiscal correction. It is the fact that the banks have beggared us on top of that and it is this that has us in the hands of the IMF. There is some irony at this critical juncture in politics that we are legislating to cope with beggars on the street but the bankers, who have beggared the country, seem to be able to transfer their assets to their spouses and seem to be able to escape with impunity. This is what is driving much of the anger in this country.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I accept there is anger and there are none more angry than members of the Cabinet who have had to deal with this issue over the past two and a half years. I do not accept that the laws are inadequate. The problem, as always, is to obtain proof on the offences on the Statute Book. Last May I requested the Garda Commissioner, in light of the investigations into Anglo Irish Bank and associated issues, to propose suggested amendments to legislation and to tell us if, in his view, there was an inadequacy in the law. His response now forms part of the criminal procedure (white collar crime) Bill which is part of the Chief Whip's announcement and it is intended to publish the Bill towards the end of this month and to have it passed before the Dáil rises. We also liaised with the Director of Public Prosecutions with regard to the Bill but they are reasonably small changes.

I believe it is accepted we have sufficient laws to bring those people to court who, beyond all reasonable doubt, committed crimes. Ultimately, this will depend on the DPP's independent assessment of the evidence. It all boils down to evidence. I refer to Deputy Ó Snodaigh's point that this Bill should not be used as a sledge-hammer. It is a proportionate response to the parameters laid down by the Dillon case which stated that every individual under the Constitution has a right of expression and a right of communication and that to prevent this by banning begging would be flying against the Constitution.

On the question of begging, leaving aside the offences of organised begging and living off the proceeds of begging, general begging is banned and is a criminal offence when carried on in the vicinity of ATMs and business premises. This begging is intimidating and a nuisance to individuals. Before a prosecution can be taken, the Garda Síochána has to work within the provisions.

We should favourably consider a change in the law on prostitution. I have asked the Attorney General to examine the report and I have requested his views on the legal and constitutional implications of introducing such a ban. I have no difficulty in publishing the report once the Attorney General has examined it. From my knowledge of the law, there may very well be constitutional impediments on a complete ban. I am also somewhat reluctant to try to cure a problem and create another problem by bringing in a total ban which would make prostitution go more underground. There is a school of thought that a ban would do this, given the circumstances in this country. In principle, if I continue in this job and if there is an opportunity to look at the Dignity report before the Government falls, I would like to bring forward legislation in this area.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 5:

In page 6, line 23, to delete "€50,000" and substitute "€200,000".

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I move amendment No. 6:

In page 6, line 29, to delete "a fine not exceeding €5,000" and substitute "a class A fine".

Amendment agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I thank the Minister's officials and the Minister. I wish to enter a plea along the lines of what Deputy Ó Snodaigh said about the fear that this Bill will be used against common or garden beggars or buskers or people on the streets. I have heard many Ministers down the years give commitments in the House about what they intended but this does not count for very much if the Garda Síochána of the day decides to use this legislation against the common or garden beggar or somebody playing music in Grafton Street, for instance. The courts will look at the written word rather than the intention of the sponsoring Minister. I sincerely hope that this will not happen.

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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I thank Deputy Charlie Flanagan and also Deputy Alan Shatter for giving me the opportunity to deal with this Bill on behalf of Fine Gael. We support the Bill. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Deputy Rabbitte that commonsense must prevail in the administration of the law as contained in this legislation.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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I hope this Bill will not be used in a fashion which was not intended and I hope it targets those engaged in an odious trade. There is nothing shameful in trying to provide for a family when the world collapses around one. There are not enough safety nets for those who are down on their luck whereas the people at which this Bill is directed are those who are making a living out of this trade and are abusing children. If we can stamp this out, perhaps we can then concentrate on those down on their luck and give them the required supports and safety nets to help those who are suffering as a result of our societal structure. I welcome the Bill in its intention and I hope it will be applied in that manner.

Question put and agreed to.

^ Message from Seanad ^

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Seanad Éireann has passed the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2010, without amendment. Seanad Éireann has accepted the Appropriation Bill 2010, without recommendation.