Thursday, 20 January 2011
Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2009: Committee and Remaining Stages
Peter Power (Limerick East, Fianna Fail)
This goes to the heart of the legislation, the successful and efficient prosecution of serious offences, including terrorist offences, which increasingly in recent examples, including the Omagh bomb, point to the fact that the ability to use data and information on telephone communications and, increasingly in terms of white collar crime, Internet data efficiently can go to the heart of a successful prosecution of serious offences. We must be mindful of that when considering any proposed amendment, although I absolutely understand the intention behind the amendment to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the Bill. That is understandable but we must keep our eye on the ball.
The intention of the Bill is to prosecute serious offences and terrorist offences with possible multiple fatalities. We cannot undermine those prosecutions with mere technicalities. There was a time in the 1970s and 1980s following the most heinous crimes in this country, the killing of men, women and children, when the overwhelming body of evidence pointed to the culpability of terrorist organisations but investigations and prosecutions failed because there were technical issues with evidence.
While it is important to protect the rights of people at all times, there must be a balance. This issue was decided many years ago. Mere frivolous or minor transgressions in the technical processing of these requests should not undermine a serious criminal prosecution.