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Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 and Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009: Motions (Resumed)

Vote from 19/06/2013

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The following motion was moved by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, today (19th of June):

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Background information

The following motion was moved by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, today (19th of June):
That Dáil 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, 2013 and ending on 29th June, 2014.

Section 2 allows a court, in proceedings for membership of an unlawful organisation, to draw appropriate inferences where an accused person fails to answer or gives false or misleading answers to questions. However, a person cannot be convicted of the offence solely on the basis of such an inference. There must be some other evidence which points towards a person’s guilt.

Section 3 requires an accused, in proceedings for membership of an unlawful organisation, to give notification of an intention to call a person to give evidence on his or her behalf.

Section 4 provides that evidence of membership of an unlawful organisation can be inferred from certain conduct, including matters such as movements, actions, activities or associations on the part of the accused.

Section 6 creates the offence of directing the activities of an organisation in respect of which a suppression order has been made under the Offences against the State Act 1939.

Section 7 makes it an offence to possess articles in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable suspicion that they are in possession for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of specified firearms or explosives offences.

Section 8 makes it an offence to collect, record or possess information which is likely to be useful to members of an unlawful organisation in the commission of serious offences.

Section 9 makes it an offence to withhold certain information which might be of material assistance in preventing the commission of a serious offence or securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of a person for such an offence.

Section 10 extends the maximum period of detention permitted under section 30 of the Offences against the State Act from 48 hours to 72 hours, but only on the express authorisation of a judge of the District Court following an application by a Garda of at least superintendent rank. Furthermore, the person being detained is entitled to be present in court during the application and to make, or to have made, submissions on his or her behalf.

Section 11 allows a judge of the District Court to permit the rearrest and detention of a person in respect of an offence for which he or she was previously detained under section 30 of the Offences against the State Act, but released without charge. This further period must not exceed 24 hours and can only be authorised where the judge is satisfied on information supplied on oath by a member of the Garda Síochána that further information has come to the knowledge of the Garda about that person’s suspected participation in the offence.

Section 12 makes it an offence for a person to instruct or train another person in the making or use of firearms or explosives or to receive such training without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

Section 14 is, in effect, a procedural section which makes the offences created under sections 6 to 9 and 12 of the 1998 Act scheduled offences for the purposes of Part V of the 1939 Act. This means that persons suspected of committing these offences may be arrested under section 30 of the 1939 Act. This provision was used on 98 occasions during the period under report.

Section 17 builds on the provision in the Criminal Justice Act 1994 providing for the forfeiture of property. Where a person is convicted of offences relating to the possession of firearms or explosives, and where there is property liable to forfeiture under the 1994 Act, the court is required to order the forfeiture of such property unless it is satisfied that there would be a serious risk of injustice if it made such an order.

Full act can be read here - http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1998/en/act/pub/0039/

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