Home > Seanad Éireann debate. Offences against the State Act 1998 and Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009: Motions.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Éireann debate. Offences against the State Act 1998 and Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009: Motions. (22 Jun 2021)

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

Senator Robbie Gallagher: I move:

That Seanad Éireann resolves that sections 2 to 4, 6 to 12, 14 and 17 of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 (No. 39 of 1998) shall continue in operation for the period beginning on 30th June, 2021 and ending on 29th June, 2022. 

Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I thank the House for taking these two motions today. The two motions seek this House's approval to continue in force certain provisions in both the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 which are aimed at tackling terrorism and in the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 in respect of organised crime. Given the nature of these provisions, the Houses of the Oireachtas has decided they should be routinely reconsidered. As Minister for Justice, I am required to lay reports before the Oireachtas on the use of the relevant provisions in the two Acts. Reports covering the 12 months up to 31 May 2021 were placed in the Oireachtas Library on 18 June… 

Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 is also the subject of a motion before the House. It refers to a small number of serious organised crime offences that are set out in Part 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006. Section 8 of the 2009 Act makes these scheduled offences for the purposes of Part 5 of Offences against the State Act 1939, which means trials for these offences are to be heard in the Special Criminal Court, subject to the power of the Director of Public Prosecutions to direct that the offences be tried in the ordinary courts. The purpose of this provision is to guard against the possibility of interference with jury trial by ruthless criminal groups. Trial by jury should be preserved to the greatest extent possible. However, we cannot ignore the fact that organised crime groups have shown a particular viciousness in their activities, including attacks on witnesses and the intimidation of jurors. 

The report on this section that has been laid before the House includes information provided by the Garda Commissioner on the use over the past 12 months of the provisions in question and details of the offences in question. No one can be under any illusion as to the threat our communities and the entire criminal justice system face from organised crime groups who will stop at nothing in pursuit of their criminal activities. The Garda authorities are working intensively to bring immense pressure on these criminal groups, to disrupt their activities and to seize their drugs and cash. The Garda deserves praise for the considerable successes it has had against these groups, which have been remarkable in the past year. With the Government's support and with the support of this House, that work will continue. The views of An Garda Síochána are set out clearly in the report. Its view is that the continued operation of this provision is required. It is my view, therefore, that section 8 should continue in operation for a further 12 months. 

[For the full debate, click on this link to the Oireachtas website]

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
22 June 2021

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