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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Penalties for Disorderly Conduct.

Tuesday, 25 January 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 220 No. 1

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103.

Mr. Moore: Information on Seán Moore Zoom on Seán Moore asked the Minister for Justice if he proposes to increase the maximum penalties which may be imposed on persons who are convicted of causing disorderly scenes in Dublin streets, as advocated by a District [57] Justice in the Dublin District Court on 3rd January last.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan I should like to make it clear that, where disorderly conduct involves any assault, however slight, or any malicious damage to property of any kind, the existing law allows both substantial fines and prison sentences to be imposed. The penalty of £2 to which the question relates refers to incidents that do not involve assaults or damage to property, but such things as threatening or abusive language. Even in these cases, the court has the additional power to require offenders to enter into recognisances for their future behaviour.

However, I have under consideration the question of an increase in certain maximum penalties and I hope to include a suitable provision in a Bill which I will introduce later in the year.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Does the Minister not know that increasing the maximum penalties does not do a ha'porth of good for the correction of this type of crime and that the only effective measure is the prospect of certain apprehension which is brought about by adequate Garda control? Would the Minister not turn his mind to that rather than to an alteration of the maximum penalties?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan On that aspect the detection rate of the Garda Síochána is the highest of any police force in the world—it is in the region of about 75 per cent, which is 25 per cent ahead of the detection rate of the British police.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon I am not talking about detection. I am talking about prevention of crime. If you want to prevent this type of crime, the Gardaí on the beat should be increased.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan The Deputy said— the certainty of apprehension.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon Apprehension and prevention. The best method of ensuring certainty of apprehension is the peripatetic patrol on the beat, not increasing [58] penalties, which does not matter. It is getting caught that matters. Nobody asks himself: “Will I be fined £3 or £4?” The question is: “Will I be caught?” If there is a policeman around the corner, he is pretty sure he will be caught, but if there is not a policeman, there is a good chance that he will not be caught.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan I should assume that the high detection rate I have mentioned, the highest in the world, does involve the certainty of apprehension which meets the Deputy's point of view. Further to that, I agree with him as to the importance of foot patrols and we are making them more efficient by providing them with radio equipment.

Mr. Dillon: Information on James Matthew Dillon Zoom on James Matthew Dillon If the Minister had said that at first, we would be nodding our heads at each other.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Surely the Minister knows there are six unsolved murders at present and he must know the public disquiet and alarm at the number of serious incidents occasioned by young blackguards in the city of Dublin at present and does he intend to prohibit the carrying of dangerous weapons such as flick knives, chains and broken bottles?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan It is quite apparent that the Deputy's time in the House has not been used assiduously because I announced here some time ago in answer to a Parliamentary Question that I am bringing in legislation to deal with the sale and use of offensive weapons such as flick knives.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange Under pressure from people on this side of the House. Six months ago the Minister refused to do it and said he would not do so.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan I am afraid that the Deputy's hearing is at fault because some months ago I assured the House that I would bring in this legislation which in fact is what I am doing.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange You refused until you were forced to do it.

[59]Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan I would ask the Deputy to examine the records.

Mr. L'Estrange: Information on Gerald L'Estrange Zoom on Gerald L'Estrange You were forced into it.


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