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 Header Item Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2019: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2019: Referral to Select Committee
 Header Item Defence Forces (Evidence) Bill 2019: Second Stage (Resumed)

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 987 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton] He also commended TG4 on its support for the ladies Gaelic football and camogie finals. I am told that in 2017 our own Department added a designation order to make these events free-to-air, so we are claiming some of the credit there.

I look forward to the Committee Stage debate on this legislation. We are on a journey and have not arrived at a destination. It is very challenging to define how to move prudently to protect the qualities of public service broadcasting. None of us can doubt the value of public service broadcasting and its ability to provide an objective arena for debate. Other Deputies have commented on the extreme nature of broadcasting in the US, where diametrically different views are presented by different camps within the media. That is not a direction in which we want to travel. We have to protect what we have and recognise the immense value of local broadcasting, which is currently only recognised to a limited extent in our legislation. I look forward to the debate on Committee Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2019: Referral to Select Committee

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I move:

That the Bill be referred to the Select Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment pursuant to Standing Orders 84A(3)(a) and 149(1).

  Question put and agreed to.

Defence Forces (Evidence) Bill 2019: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I concluded the last day by saying that an item of evidence obtained under Part 6 of this Bill in connection with an offence or alleged offence against military law may be used in any court martial proceedings concerning the alleged offence. It is important to note that Part 6 also has detailed provisions for the destruction, after specified time periods, of evidence obtained under section 34. This will occur when proceedings concerning an offence against military law have not been instituted within a 12-month period of the taking of the item of forensic evidence, or in cases where proceedings have been instituted but the person in question has been acquitted, charges have been dismissed or the proceedings have been discontinued. In addition, the item of forensic evidence will be destroyed where the person's conviction is quashed or the conviction is declared to be a miscarriage of justice under section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1993. Part 6 also includes some necessary provisions concerning the analysis of fingerprints taken from persons in service custody.

Part 7 deals with the destruction, after specified time periods, of samples taken for the purposes of the DNA database system and the removal from that database system of DNA profiles generated from such samples. This Part sets out the circumstances in which samples and profiles may be destroyed or removed from the DNA database. It also provides for the extension, in certain circumstances and for specified time periods, of the retention period of such samples and associated DNA profiles. This will occur where the provost marshal determines that it is necessary to retain any such evidence to assist in an investigation. However, as a safeguard, the Bill provides that an affected person may submit an appeal to a summary court martial against any such decision taken by the provost marshal. Again, the procedures for the retention and destruction of forensic evidence under this part are similar to those contained in the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014 and also in Part 6 of this Bill.

Part 8 sets out the offences and arising under this Bill and the penalties that may be imposed for such offences. Part 9 provides that the Minister for Defence shall, not later than six years after commencement of this Bill, review the operation of certain aspects of Parts 6 and 7 of the Bill and thereafter conduct similar reviews at such times as the Minister considers appropriate. Following any review under this Part, the Minister may, by ministerial order, reduce the periods set out in Parts 6 and 7 for the retention of evidence obtained under these Parts. A similar review provision is included in the 2014 Act. Before making any order under this Part of the Bill, the Minister for Defence shall have regard to any order made by the Minister for Justice and Equality under the equivalent section of the 2014 Act. This is to ensure that there is consistency between the provisions of this Bill and the 2014 Act.

Part 10 includes miscellaneous provisions such as the delegation by the provost marshal of the functions assigned to him or her under this Bill to members of the military police, the making of regulations by the Minister regarding the taking of samples and procedures for the transmission of samples for forensic testing. These provisions are technical but are important to ensure the effective operation of the legislation.

Part 11 sets out some minor amendments to the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014 which are required on foot of this Bill. The amendments have two principal purposes. First, the functions of the DNA database system oversight committee established under Part 9 of the 2014 Act will be extended to cover the DNA military police database system. Second, amendments are being made to Part 12 of the 2014 Act which implement, among other matters, the DNA and fingerprint data aspects of EU Council Decision 008/615/JHA in Irish law. As Deputies will be aware, the Prüm Council Decision contains provisions concerned with the stepping up of cross-border co-operation, particularly in combating terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal migration. These amendments to the 2014 Act are necessary to apply the provisions contained in that Act regarding the reciprocal searching of DNA databases and automated fingerprint identification systems maintained by states for criminal investigation purposes to any DNA or fingerprint data obtained by military police in the course of their investigations.

Part 12 includes some miscellaneous technical amendments to the Defence Act 1954 and the Courts-Martial Appeals Act 1983 which arise from this Bill. The primary purpose of these amendments is to provide that a summary court martial may deal with applications concerning various matters arising under this Bill.

I am very pleased to submit this legislation for the consideration of the House. I commend the Bill to the House.

Deputy Jack Chambers: Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers Fianna Fáil will support this Bill, which was published several years ago. I hope that some of the recently announced measures progress at a faster rate. The heads of this Bill were approved in 2015. They were published almost five years ago but we are only seeing the Bill and debating it for the first time now. It shows that there must be a more active attempt within the Department of Defence to update much of the legislation contained in the legislative programme. The programme lists a defence Bill, the heads of which were approved in 2018. Is there a five-year timeline for the implementation of legislation? Can the Minister of State clarify why we have had to wait nearly five years for this legislation to be brought before the Dáil? This is the first defence Bill to be brought before the Oireachtas since 2013. It is incumbent on the Minister of State and his Department to provide more active implementation of various reforms.

Many in the defence community would like to see an update of legislation concerning the working time directive, which the Department of Defence and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have been working on. I note with some disappointment that this legislation has been listed as "Other" legislation, the lowest priority which could be attached to it in the legislative programme. As such, it is unlikely that we will see any progress on it in this Dáil. That is very unfortunate. It will be a blow to the Defence Forces' representative associations that this Bill is not getting the degree of priority it should.


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