Posted on May 7, 2015 3:17 PM   |   Permanent Link   

Speaking on the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2014

I am pleased to be able to speak on this important legislation concerning terrorist offences as a member of the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

The Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill is a significant piece of legislation, with two primary objectives, namely, amending the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Act 2005 in order to give effect to EU Directives agreed under the Lisbon Treaty and secondly, the Bill will allow Ireland to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism.
The Bill creates three new offences in relation to terrorist activity which are covered by the amending Framework Decision and also the Council of Europe Convention, to which Ireland is already a signatory. These three new offences are:

1. Public provocation to commit a terrorist offence;

2. Recruitment for terrorism; and

3. Training for terrorism.

This Government is committed to combatting terrorism. This legislation demonstrates that. Ireland needs to legislate to be able to combat terrorism in all of its guises and that includes being able to confront, when required to do so, incitement to commit terrorist offences, recruitment in order to commit terrorist offences and training in order to carry out terrorist activities. Our own history demonstrates why legislating for these offences is important, and should enable Ireland to be able to look abroad to our fellow European countries and focus on combatting terrorism alongside them, so that citizens of the European Union can be protected.

Those who would threaten the lives of ordinary people by engaging in acts of terrorism, whether on this island or elsewhere, must be brought to justice and know that the international community will not tolerate their activity and will take all possible action to prevent and punish it.

Of course, is possible to criticise comments like this and see it as some sort of right-wing cheerleading, but as I referred to previously, our own history must be considered when it comes to legislation such as this. But not only our own history, we should look at recent events in Paris, look at the bombings in Madrid in 2004, or the bombings in London in 2007. Another event that comes to mind in all of its horror, and easily one of the most despicable acts of terrorism carried out recent years, in my view, are the attacks carried out in 2011 against the people of Oslo and the Norwegian Labour Party. They come to mind because of two copycat attempts that occurred in the Czech Republic and in Poland, and that is directly relevant to the legislation before the House here today.

While the threat level to Ireland from international terrorism is considered low, we must remain vigilant, particularly where the possibility of lone wolf type actions witnessed elsewhere in Europe is concerned. The random and unpredictable nature of such attacks makes them a particular matter for concern.

It is very important, therefore, that we have all the relevant tools at our disposal to deal with terrorist threats, in all their forms and at all stages, including incitement and other preparatory activities. By criminalising the terrorist-linked activities of provocation, recruitment and training, this legislation further strengthens our hand in this regard.

I am pleased, therefore, to commend the Bill to the House.