Home > Dail Eireann debate. Criminal Procedure Bill 2021: Second Stage.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Criminal Procedure Bill 2021: Second Stage. (10 Feb 2021)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú: I add my voice to that of Deputy Daly. Sinn Féin supports the Bill proceeding to Committee Stage. Anything relating to the streamlining and speeding up of court operations must be welcomed, and that is also true of anything that allows for issues to be dealt with at pre-trial hearings. Deputy Daly mentioned technological advances, some of which are helpful, while others in the realm of cybercrime are not and create serious difficulties. There have also been legal innovations. If we can deal with some of these issues at pre-trial hearings before encumbering a jury with them, that would be incredibly helpful. 

I spoke last week of the need to ensure we have in place the legal infrastructure required to deal with the problem of cybercrime and protect our communications infrastructure. We also need to ensure we have a legal framework that can protect and also prosecute. I reiterate that point. I understand that there will be international jurisdictional issues that will need to be worked out. Legislation before the House this week deals with specific issues and that is welcome. However, we must also ensure that we have the capacity and specific skill sets that are required, particularly within An Garda Síochána. 

Nobody will complain if we are able to speed up court operations. We will need to follow up with resourcing. While we accept that Covid has created specific issues that are holding up certain court proceedings, there was a logjam long before Covid. When I spoke with the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland recently, they raised the difficulties around planning and how they were being impacted by logjams in the courts. 

The major issue I brought up previously with the Minister and with the Minister of State, Deputy James Browne, is the fact that even when we had huge Garda operations against serious drug dealers and organised crime figures that were successful, in some cases the hold up was at the courts level. That is one aspect we need to fix. I have said many times previously that we need a full multidepartmental response. Somebody has to lead that. If that is the Minister at Cabinet level that would be sound. We just need to ensure that it happens and that nothing gets dropped, as has happened over the years. 

This is a pandemic that is not disappearing. We need to get a date or a general idea on when we will be able to have a citizens’ assembly to deal with the wider issue of the drugs pandemic. I realise I am taking a liberty in terms of where I am going on this but if the Minister was able to come back to me on one or two of these issues I would very much appreciate it. 

I will mention two specific issues that came up at the joint policing committee, JPC, in Drogheda and in Dundalk. The Ardee JPC is under way at present. In fairness, the Minister was on the local radio station, LMFM, speaking about the proceeds of crime and said there is great support for delivering some sort of natural justice scheme whereby proceeds of crime that specifically relate to drug dealing could be put aside and issued to groups operating front-line addiction services and other necessary services. In terms of Dundalk and Drogheda, the likes of the Red Door Project, Turas and the family addiction support network will say that they need multi-annual funding that cannot be dependent on the money taken from drug dealers. This could be some of the pot, so to speak, and that needs to happen. It is very important. I welcome the fact that the Minister said she supports this and is talking to the Minister, Deputy Michael McGrath, with regard to delivery. 

I reiterate what has been said by my colleague, Deputy Pa Daly, in respect of a fit-for-purpose youth justice system. I refer to the report with which the University of Limerick was involved on the possibility of up to 1,000 children being involved in criminal gangs or in danger of being involved in criminal gangs. We all know of situations and stories of drug dealers using children because it is more difficult for the Garda to take action and there are some legal protections. We need to deal with all of that to protect the children and put these drug dealers and criminals out of action. 

The other issue that I brought up at the joint policing committee is the idea of these cross-border fines. Sinn Féin has strongly stated that we need to get on with the job of hotel quarantining and ensuring that anybody who is travelling into the country not only needs to have a pre-departure test but that there must be polymerase chain reaction, PCR, tests post arrival. Whether that is five days, ten days or whatever is the determinant factor, that needs to happen. 

It must be put on the record that we need everybody to not engage in anything other than essential travel. The members of the Garda at the JPC informed me that they will be operating the same discretion for cross-border travellers as they operate for people who are travelling from mid-Louth to Dundalk, that is, anybody who is operating on the basis of essential travel, whether it is for childcare, work or necessary food shopping, will not have any difficulties. We need to ensure that this is the case. I put it to the Minister again that we need the Government to operate and engage with the Northern Ireland Executive and with the British Government on that because we need to ensure, if at all possible, that we can deliver an all-Ireland response. That means that travel information needs to be transferred North-South and South-North. It also means that, if necessary, we will deal with the British Government from a point of view of delivering a two-island response because it is far too important an issue not to deal with these specific areas. Were the Minister good enough to come back to me on that, I would very much appreciate it.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
10 February 2021

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