O’Keeffe criticised for referring to Magdalen women as ’employees’

Saturday, September 19, 2009

PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

MINISTER FOR Education Batt O’Keeffe has been strongly criticised for his description of women committed to Magdalen laundries as “employees” of those institutions, and for his rejection of their eligibility for State compensation.

Head of the Women’s Studies Department at UCD Dr Katherine O’Donnell said yesterday that, where news of spending cuts in sensitive areas is concerned, it was increasingly the case that “Batt O’Keeffe is turning out to be the big thug of this Government it’s a role he seems to relish”.

A spokesman for the Minister said he did not wish to comment on what he described as a personalised attack.

Dr O’Donnell was speaking in advance of a celebration of women who had been in the laundries, as well as psychiatric hospitals, and institutions investigated by the Ryan commission, which takes place at the Student Centre in UCD from 1pm this afternoon.

She pointed out that “an employee voluntarily gives his/her labour; is properly rewarded; and has a right to represesentation /free association with a union.” None of these were available to women in the Magdalen laundries, she said.

The State had “a responsibility to all of its citizens”, she said, including the many referred by its courts to the laundries. Of added relevance in the context was that for much of the 20th century “the special position” of the Catholic Church was recognised in the Irish Constitution (1937 to 1973).

She said that, anecdotally, indications were that the survival rate of women who had been in the laundries was “extremely low,” while their suicide rate was high. There was, she said “an obligation on the part of the citizens of this State” to look after such people.

Following representations by Tom Kitt TD, acting on behalf of Dr James Smith of Boston College, Mr O’Keeffe responded by letter that “the Magdalen laundries were privately-owned and operated establishments which did not come within the responsibility of the State. The State did not refer individuals to the Magdalen laundries nor was it complicit in referring individuals to them.”

He referred to the women as “former employees of the Magdalen laundries”.

Dr Smith has since pointed out that “the Irish courts routinely referred women to various Magdalen laundries upon receiving suspended sentences for a variety of crimes”. He can support this with documentary evidence, he said.

He also took grave exception to the use by the Minister of the word “employees” in the context.

The Irish Times

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  1. Dear Sieglinde

    Thank you for response to my comment, but I don’t agree with you that Ireland is the same as other industrialised countries just as I don’t accept that ALL of us are in need of healing.

    Not every Human was born and raised by brainwashed parents and guardians in the so-called Christian West. Most yes, but not all of us!

    I agree with you that its up to us Irish to rid ourselves of the rot we have allowed Rome to infest our collective psyche with – but the fact is, the Irish, per se, are SO fucked-up by their internalised Roman Catholic tradition, they are still very tolerant of their home-grown psychopaths! Its called Stockholme Syndrome, I believe?!

    Best wishes,

  2. Hi:
    One other issue to consider:

    Were the Magdalen women considered as indentured?

    An indentured servant is a laborer under contract to an employer for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for their
    lodging and other necessities.

    Unlike a slave, an indentured servant is required to work only for a limited term specified in a signed contract.


  3. To Martin John Petty (O’Callaghan) — could you e-mail me privately at mari_tee@yahoo.com? I have a question for you regarding your name. And on behalf of Justice for Magdalenes (www.magdalenelaundries.com), many thanks to everyone for your commentary, most especially Mr. Petty and his excellent archival material! We need all the help we can get in our fight to achieve justice for Magdalene survivors. Let’s keep this in the spotlight!

  4. Martha, don’t believe that other countries are much better off. Perpetrators, large and small are everywhere,- where ever you find religion and power hungry politicians. Nearly every industrial country had institutionalized child slavery. Some countries still do. It’s up to the Irish people to clean up their country, the rot the Catholic Church has created for many hundreds of years.
    In Germany many people denounced the Church, while others, who were abused by clergies and in institutions, are still running to Sunday-Mass.
    What we all have in common is severe “childhood trauma” that needs healing.

  5. Thanks to Martin John Petty O’Callaghan for posting up all that legal info – but one doesn’t need to read all that stuff to know that Ireland is one of the most (covert) morally corrupt countries in the world!

    One only has to take a look at what’s going on today in Ireland’s political system to see that the same gangsters have been running the country for centuries. Our so-called leaders continue to cater for the Rich & Powerful, namely, the Catholic Church and Corporate America – with their symbiotic “special” relationship.

    It will a very bloody revolt by the Irish people (if they ever wake up from the collective stupor) to rid Ireland of this systemic rot.

    As for myself: I’m getting out of this country as soon as I can, as I don’t see any sign of positive change happening on the horizon.

  6. Kathy you say: “It seems that the Magdalen Women had NO rights.”
    According to the Human Rights adoption in 1948, yes they do have rights.
    My suggestion is a petition to the human rights commission, asking for an investigation on the behave of Magdalen slaves, according to Article 2. + 3.
    I assume, this gets the ball rolling.

  7. • December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Article 2.
    • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty
    Article 3.
    • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
    Article 4.
    • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
    Article 5.
    • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
    • It seems that the Magdalen Women had NO rights.

  8. The Magdalen women as employees??????
    Is this how Juvenile-Slavery is covered up in Ireland?
    How much did these girls, these employees, get paid?
    Did the employer pay in to their retirement?
    Was it common practice, legal in Ireland that employers abuse their employees?
    What a dubious cover up.
    Shame on all who support such human rights violations!
    Sieglinde Alexander
    Adults Abused as Children Worldwide

  9. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)

    I think on the above subject, I have left you with enough to read and digest.

    God Bless you, regards, Martin.

  10. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)

    Dáil Éireann – Volume 183 – 28 June, 1960

    Committee on Finance. – Criminal Justice Bill, 1960—Second Stage.

    Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor) Oscar Traynor


    [555] Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor): I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. This Bill contains a number of amendments of the present law relating to the treatment of offenders, which experience has shown to be desirable and appropriate to our particular conditions. As such it will, I trust, commend itself to the House.

    Before dealing with the particular provisions of the Bill, I should like to refer briefly to the present state of the law, to the main changes which have taken place in prisons and prison conditions here since the foundation of the State, and to various reforms which have been adopted or are planned in neighbouring countries and whose applicability to Irish conditions has been considered.

    The statutory provisions governing prisons and prisoners are scattered over a large number of pre-1922 Acts. They go back to 1826. Many of them have fallen into disuse. For example, apart from certain legal consequences of a fairly limited kind, there is now no difference in the actual serving of a sentence of imprisonment, a sentence of imprisonment with hard labour or a sentence of penal servitude. All prisoners convicted of criminal offences receive the same kind of treatment. The statutory classification of offenders into first, second and third divisions is no longer of practical significance as no sentences of imprisonment in the first or second division have been imposed for many years. It would be desirable to eliminate all this “dead wood” in the statutes and to have the essentials of the law contained in a single comprehensive measure. The preparation of such a measure would, however, be a long and tedious task and I hope that at some time in the future it will be possible to undertake it when other legislative proposals of a priority character have been disposed of.


    Although no substantial modifications in the statutory code for the treatment of offenders have taken place since the establishment of the State, a number of improvements in prison conditions have been effected by administrative action. Prisoners receive more [556] substantial meals of better quality, have more time in association, are allowed more books and periodicals, letters and visits, and are permitted cigarettes or tobacco at particular times of the day. In Portlaoise Prison, where long-term prisoners are housed, the cigarettes and tobacco are supplied at State expense. I think I should say that the views of the prison governors are that the amelioration of prison conditions which has been brought about gradually in the past 40 years has not resulted in any disregard of discipline. In fact, I am told that discipline has been more easily maintained since prisoners have been allowed to smoke, the threat of a withdrawal of the privilege being a more effective sanction than the old-time imposition of a bread and water diet.

    As is well known, too, no doubt, the prison garb of former days has been changed for the better and it is the practice, in the generality of cases, to allow prisoners to wear their own clothes. Corporal punishment for breaches of prison discipline had not been imposed for over 20 years before it was formally abolished by the Rules for the Government of Prisons made in 1947. These rules also increased the remission for good conduct and industry of ordinary prisoners from one-sixth to one-fourth.

    It is in regard to young offenders that the most encouraging progress has been made. In 1956, the Borstal Institution in Clonmel was transferred to Dublin as the number of youths committed by the Courts for Borstal training was too small to enable the institution to function satisfactorily. Since the transfer to Dublin virtually all youths under 21 years of age who have been committed to Mountjoy to serve sentences of imprisonment have been transferred forthwith to the institution next door now known as St. Patrick’s and the character of the institution has, to a considerable extent, changed from being a Borstal institution to a place for the detention of young offenders, most of whom have been sentenced to comparatively short terms of imprisonment.


    Having regard to the preponderance of offenders serving short sentences, prolonged training in the accepted [557] sense is impracticable for most inmates of St. Patrick’s and for them the institution must remain primarily a place of detention. Yet even for these “short-terms” a period spent in St. Patrick’s can contribute to their betterment and this is because the spiritual training of the Catholic youths, who constitute virtually all the inmates, has been in the hands of a full-time Chaplain since the institution was transferred from Clonmel. There is also a part-time Church of Ireland chaplain.

    The activities of the inmates are arranged so that they are kept usefully occupied throughout the day. They are given instruction in the assembly of motor-cars and cycles, in tailoring, shoe repairing, carpentry and they are employed in wood-cutting and in the maintenance and repair of the buildings. As regards recreation, facilities are provided for football, boxing and other indoor games. Football matches are arranged from time to time and boxing tournaments are regularly held during the winter months. Films of entertainment and educational or religious interest are shown during the winter season and lectures are given by interested outsiders. A library and reading room are available, though the educational standard of most of the inmates is regrettably low.

    The institution is most fortunate in having available to it the services of a visiting committee about whose zeal and whose interest in the welfare of the inmates I cannot speak too highly. They have been most assiduous in looking after the inmates’ interests, in providing useful entertainments and in persuading employers to take suitable inmates on discharge. Here I may say that one of the greatest obstacles in the way of rehabilitating offenders is that it is so difficult for them to obtain employment. This is not surprising as employers naturally prefer to engage youths with unblemished records but some employers have been helpful in this respect and have co-operated in the appeal made to them by the visiting committee. I take this opportunity of thanking them publicly for their co-operation.


    I must also say a word about the [558] after-care of youths discharged from the institution. This work is in the hands of the St. Patrick’s Welfare Association. Members of the Association pay regular weekly visits to the inmates to become acquainted with them and with their problems. On their discharge the members visit their homes and keep in touch with them as best they can, finding employment for them whenever possible. The material needs of the youths on discharge are taken care of by the Guild of St. Philip. Both of these after-care organisations receive subventions from the State.

    While there has been some criticism of the fact that St. Patrick’s is sited in close proximity to Mountjoy male and female prisons, I do not think that there is much substance in the criticism. St. Patrick’s is separate and distinct from Mountjoy and it has an atmosphere of its own. While I should like to see, some day, an entirely new institution in semi-rural surroundings, the cost would run well into six figures and, until I see my way clearly, I would not be prepared to ask the Government for the money. I am not against change if change would serve a sufficiently useful purpose but in prison administration there is constant pressure from well-intentioned persons to do this or that for the sake of change itself, without advertence to the cost.


    These are some of the modifications that have taken place in the prison system. What are the possibilities of introducing further and large-scale reforms? Any consideration of this question must take into account the smallness of our prison population— inclusive of all classes, whether prisoners on remand, awaiting trial, debtors and contempt of court prisoners and those under sentences, the average is about 400 — the fact that there are now only four prisons for the detention of offenders, the high proportion of short-term sentences— 60 per cent. of the sentences are for periods of under three months — and the expense of providing additional institutions in relation to the use likely to be made of them and the other demands on our resources. These [559] factors combine to make it impracticable to carry out classification and segregation of prisoners to any great extent. In particular, it is impossible to provide any really useful training for offenders sentenced to terms of less than three months. These are the realities of the situation.

    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon

    Mr. Dillon: Oh, oh!

    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor

    Mr. Traynor: We shall come to that later. On the question of restricting the committal of young offenders to prison the Bill goes a long way. It authorises the Courts to commit youths to St. Patrick’s under sentence rather than to prison and I should think that it will be only in special circumstances that youths will in future be sent to Mountjoy or Limerick Prisons. Provision is also being made for remanding young offenders in custody otherwise than in prison. I understand from the Minister for Education that it is hoped to replace the present place of detention at Marlborough House by an institution for the detention of offenders under seventeen years of age for short periods.

    In general, I think it fair to say that, taking into account the difficulties arising from the smallness of the prison population, the preponderance of short sentences and the necessity for using our limited resources to the best advantage, our arrangements for the treatment of offenders are fairly satisfactory. It must not be forgotten, when comparisons are being made with other countries, that there is often a wide divergence between what is planned and what is in fact being achieved. In Britain, for example, there is general acknowledgement that there is serious overcrowding in prisons — in some places sleeping three and four to a cell —and no immediate prospect of its being relieved. Here, on the other hand, a single cell is available for every prisoner and there are a lot of cells left over.


    I shall now deal with the particular provisions in the Bill. Section 1 proposes to authorise the release on parole of convicted prisoners and criminal lunatics. As regards convicted prisoners, the intention is to apply the [560] grant of parole to cases where a close relative of a prisoner has died or is in imminent danger of death or where the domestic circumstances are such as to make it desirable, for humanitarian reasons, to grant parole; additionally, parole leave may be granted at intervals to selected long-term prisoners to enable them to regain some experience of freedom and perhaps to arrange for employment. The question of granting parole leave to selected prisoners on other occasions, for example, at Christmas or during the harvest, will also be considered.

    As regards criminal lunatics, that is, offenders who are or become insane and are transferred from prison to a mental hospital, there is at present no power to authorise their temporary release, even where they are not dangerous to themselves or to others. This is somewhat anomalous as under the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, other mental patients who are not dangerous may be permitted by the chief medical officer of the institution to be absent on parole for a period not exceeding 48 hours or for trial periods of up to 90 days. It is the view of the medical officers of the mental hospitals concerned that the proper treatment of criminal lunatics with a view to their ultimate discharge also makes it necessary to have a system of parole so as to allow the gradual readjustment of the patient back into society; the patient might, for example, be allowed out occasionally for a few hours in charge of a relative or reliable friend and later on perhaps by himself. Section 3 accordingly authorises chief medical officers of mental hospitals to release on parole criminal lunatics who are not dangerous to themselves or to others but the Minister for Justice’s consent will be necessary for the grant of parole and for any conditions that may be imposed.


    In practice, parole will not be granted where there is any reason to suspect that the parole will not return when the period of parole expires, but it is necessary to provide penalties for a prisoner who does not return. Subsection (4) of Section 6 provides that in such an event the currency of the prison sentence will be suspended for [561] the period he is at large and under Section 5 the Minister may suspend the currency of the sentence for the period for which the prisoner was temporarily released, that is, if the Minister had not done so already. A prisoner who fails to return will, therefore, still have to serve his sentence and will, under provision to be made in the Prisons Rules, lose the usual remission for good conduct. In addition, he may be charged under subsection (2) of Section 6 with the offence of being unlawfully at large and be liable to imprisonment on summary conviction for a term not exceeding six months.

    The object of Section 8 is to extend the powers of the Minister for Justice in relation to the places in which criminal lunatics may be confined. Under the present law, the only district mental hospital in which persons who become insane in prison while on remand or awaiting trial or serving a sentence may be confined is the local district mental hospital. “Remand” or “awaiting trial” cases cannot be sent to the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, either from prison or from the local district mental hospital. As so many local prisons have closed since the present law was enacted in the last century, criminal lunatics have tended to become concentrated in the mental hospitals serving the districts in which the remaining three prisons are situate, that is, Dublin, Portlaoise and Limerick.


    For some of the patients at least, it would be desirable to transfer them to a mental hospital nearer to their relatives. There are some criminal lunatics who become insane while on remand or awaiting trial and who should be in the Central Mental Hospital because they are prone to escape and their treatment requires them to have reasonable freedom within the institution. This section enables the Minister for Justice to transfer to any district mental hospital or to the Central Mental Hospital any person who becomes insane while in prison and to transfer any criminal lunatic from a district mental hospital to another such hospital or to the Central Mental Hospital or from there to a district mental hospital. In practice, of [562] course, the Minister will consult the Inspector of Mental Hospitals and the chief medical officer of the hospitals concerned before ordering a transfer from one hospital to another.

    Sections 9 to 11 deal with the proposal to authorise the Courts to remand young offenders in custody, with their consent, otherwise than to a prison. At present any person of the age of 17 years and upwards, who is remanded in custody, must be committed to prison. As a result, many young persons, including first offenders, are remanded to prison who are subsequently adjudged not to deserve a sentence of imprisonment at all — one out of two youths and one out of four girls. While every care is taken to segregate prisoners in appropriate categories, any period spent in prison may have a harmful influence on, say, a young girl charged with a minor offence who had to be remanded in custody while the police were getting in touch with her family.

    I acknowledge, with grateful thanks, the assistance of His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin who has made arrangements that St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum, Seán MacDermott Street, Dublin, will accept Catholic girls who may be remanded in custody. The number of girls who are remanded are very few —not more than 30 yearly—and owing to the fact that the population of the country is predominantly Catholic there are very, very few persons of other religious denominations to be taken care of as remand prisoners. The Bill provides that a person cannot be remanded in an institution conducted otherwise than in accordance with his religion. Should the occasion arise, similar facilities will no doubt be arranged by other Church authorities.

    As regards youths in the 17-21 age group who have to be remanded in custody, it is desirable also that they should not be committed to a prison, particularly where they are first offenders, but no obviously suitable institution is available. The question of adapting portion of St. Patrick’s for the purpose is being considered, however.


    This brings me to the final provisions of the Bill. Section 12 proposes to drop the term “Borstal”. This term derives from the name of the English [563] village in which the experiment of training young offenders was first tried. It has no native associations with this country. It invites comparison with the British system and the comparison is misleading because in Britain the numbers are very much greater and segregation into classes is possible. At present the population of St. Patrick’s is 90, of whom 34 have been sentenced to Borstal. It will, of course, still be open to the Courts — normally the Circuit Court or the Central Criminal Court — to sentence young offenders to a minimum of two years’ detention in St. Patrick’s in the same circumstances as they are now authorised to send an offender to Borstal.


    Under Section 13, it is proposed that any Court may sentence a young offender to detention in St. Patrick’s for the same period as it might have sentenced him to imprisonment. Accordingly, the District Court will have power to sentence young offenders to detention in St. Patrick’s [564] for a period of up to twelve months —the maximum sentence which may be imposed by the District Court — unless the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed for the offence is less than this. Having regard to the discipline and training available in St. Patrick’s it is not improbable that the Courts will tend to impose a longer sentence on the under 21’s than they might if they were restricted to sentencing an offender to prison. The Courts will, no doubt, be alive to the advantages of doing so.

    As I said at the outset, the proposals in the Bill are aimed at achieving reforms which our experience has shown to be desirable and practicable in our own conditions. I commend it to the House and ask that it be given a Second Reading.

    Debate adjourned.

    The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 29th June, 1960.

  11. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)


    Dáil Éireann – Volume 490 – 30 April, 1998
    Written Answers. – Magdalen Laundries.
    Mr. Gilmore Mr. Gilmore
    43. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will consider some form of investigation or inquiry into the treatment of young women in the Magdalen laundries to acknowledge and help heal the pain still being experienced by those who suffered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10185/98]
    Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. Fahey) Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. Fahey)
    Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. Fahey): The laundries in question were operated by Catholic religious orders. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for the State to establish a public inquiry into their operation and there are no proposals to do so.

  12. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)


    Dáil Éireann – Volume 183 – 14 July, 1960
    Criminal Justice Bill, 1960—From the Seanad.
    Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor) Oscar Traynor
    Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor): I am accepting these amendments from the Seanad and I should be glad if the House would give me the amendments now.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: You know, Sir, that the Taoiseach unfortunately has entered a very strong caveat against this procedure. He objects to amendments from the Seanad being considered on the day they are presented to Dáil Éireann. In the circumstances, I do not think we can flout his authority, and I am sure the Minister would not wish to do so.
    The Taoiseach Seán F. Lemass
    The Taoiseach: Would the House be agreeable to take them after Questions?
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: We are always willing to accommodate the Taoiseach, provided he does not reverse himself. If the Taoiseach and the Minister wish them to be taken now, I am sure that my colleagues, in the circumstances, will make a very special exception.
    The Taoiseach Seán F. Lemass
    The Taoiseach: I appreciate that.
    The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.
    [1552] SECTION 9.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 1:
    In subsection (1), line 33, “seventeen” deleted and “sixteen” substituted.
    Under the section young persons between the ages of 17 and 21 years who are on remand awaiting trial or awaiting sentence may, with their consent, be sent to a remand institution instead of to a prison. This amendment extends the age group to persons aged 16. This does for remand prisoners what the amendment proposed by Deputy Declan Costello did for sentenced prisoners. In that respect they are related.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: There is just one question I should like to raise. What is involved here is the remanding of a person of 16 to 21 years of age to a remand home, instead of to a prison, with the consent of the young person. Does there not seem to be something a little odd in asking a young person of 16 whether he consents to be sent to a remand home instead of to a prison? Is it necessary to get his consent? If it is deemed desirable to send him to a remand home instead of to a prison, then why not send him there? It does seem to be a little odd to say to a boy of 16 years of age, in the dock: “I propose to remand you. The law requires me to send you to Mountjoy. Will you permit me to send you to a remand home?” My submission is that it would be perfectly proper for the district justice to say to a child of that age: “I am sending you up to St. Patricks.” Does it not seem a little odd to the Minister that the district justice should consult a young person of 16 as to whether or not that young person should go to prison or to a remand home?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: In the main, this deals with young girls who have been remanded in custody and who could be sent either to prison or to a convent. Now the girl may object to going to a convent. She may desire to go to a prison instead. Under this, she cannot be sent to a convent without her consent. [1553] As I say this affects girls in the main.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I see.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I do not think there is very much to it. There were some references made to a particular convent in the Seanad last evening. I do not think there is a whole lot to what was said, but we may be able to arrange that, as far as that convent is concerned, the girl can be sent to a particular part of it.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I accept that. I can appreciate that if the Court wishes to send a girl to a convent, which is not a prison institution at all, and if the girl is very recalcitrant and absolutely refuses to go to the convent, the fact is that the convent may not be able to control her, and it might therefore be necessary to send her some place where she would be under the control of trained women officers. In such special circumstances, I could understand this amendment but, in its general form now, might it not amount to a situation in which not only girls but boys will be subject to this? Does the Minister not think there is something wrong, or unsuitable, in the district justice consulting a 16 year old boy before he remands him? I do not think that is either becoming or desirable.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: The parent would probably be present. The boy would have the right, if he feels he would prefer to go to prison rather than to an institution, to say that he would prefer to be remanded to a prison.
    Mr. Coogan Mr. Coogan
    Mr. Coogan: Supposing there is a difference as between the views of the parent and the child, who will get priority? Suppose the child feels like being a hero and opts for prison and the parent thinks otherwise, who will decide?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: There is an option.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: Who has the option?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: The district Justice will decide that.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    [1554] Mr. Dillon: But that does not seem to be the position. I should be quite content if the Minister were asking for wider discretion for the district justice but, as I understand the Minister’s explanation, the position now will be that, if a 16 year old boy is brought before the district justice and the district justice considers it desirable to remand him, the district justice is now obliged to consult the boy as to where he will send him. I think that is wrong. I think the district justice must retain a discretion because the boy may be of a very recalcitrant kind who would wreck a remand home if he were sent there. In these circumstances it may be an inescapable but desirable development that he has to send him to Mountjoy. Surely it is the district justice who ought to decide this?
    Suppose you get a tough little lad of 16 years of age before the Court and the district justice is quite satisfied that superficially he is tough but fundamentally is not of the criminal type. He will not want to put him into contact with the criminal population in Mountjoy. Under the amendment, as proposed, if the justice says: “You are going on remand for a week to St. Patricks,” and the boy says “No, I am going to Mountjoy,” the justice’s hands are tied and he must send him to Mountjoy. That is wrong.
    The district justice ought to be entitled to say to a young person between the ages of 16 and 17 years: “You are going where I send you and I have it at my disposal to name the new Marlborough House or St. Patricks.” I think he would probably send the boy to Marlborough House, and even though the boy might say: “No, I am going to Mountjoy”, the district justice ought to have a right to say: “No, you are not. You are going to Marlborough House and stay there for a week.” Surely it is most undesirable for us to legislate that a 16 year old boy has a right to tell the district justice he wants to go to Mountjoy? I cannot believe that the Minister desires that and I would be opposed to any such proposal.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    [1555] Mr. Traynor: The 16 year old boys of today have quite a considerable amount of thinking power. They can make their own decisions if the district justices put the question to them. They can say they would prefer to go to one as against the other, but I want to remind the Deputy that this section only deals with remand prisoners. They do not associate in any case with convicted prisoners. In other words, the difference between the institution and the prison in this respect would be negligible.
    Mr. Coogan Mr. Coogan
    Mr. Coogan: A rose is a rose.
    Mr. Sweetman Mr. Sweetman
    Mr. Sweetman: I fully understand what the Minister says, that a great deal of power is given to a 16 year old boy, and that is what I am objecting to. I think that the power should be given to the district justice and it is more important on remand than it is after sentence. On reflection I think the Minister will agree that the proper way of dealing with this matter is to give the justice absolute power as between the ages of 16 and 21 years. I entirely agree it is better to go back from 17 years of age to 16 years of age, but the power to decide should be given to the justice. One of the things about Teddy boys is that they think they are grand fellows.
    That is part of the trouble with youthful offenders, that they are trying to build up their own importance, and the effect of the proposal by which they will be asked whether they will go on remand to Mountjoy or to an institution is further inflating their ego. What we should aim to do is to deflate them without being, if I may use the word, inhumane in the process, and the best deflation in regard to the remand sphere is to leave the discretion solely with the justice. So long as these young fellows are entitled to get up and say they are not going to do this or that they will think that they are grand fellows instead of being conditioned, so to speak, to be ashamed of themselves.
    Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
    Mr. Corish: Would it be satisfactory if a parent or guardian could answer for them?
    Mr. Sweetman Mr. Sweetman
    Mr. Sweetman: Perfectly.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    [1556] Mr. Dillon: I have no objection to the Minister extending the age back to 16 years but would he look at Section 9 of the Bill and consider, when inserting this amendment, in lines 35 and 36 deleting the words: “provided the person consents”? That would leave the discretion entirely in the hands of the district justice as to whether to send a boy on remand to prison or to a remand home. I would agree with the Minister, if we were conferring a power on the district justice to increase a penalty or to abridge the ordinary rights of a defendant, that the words: “provided the person consents” should be incorporated, but where this section operates to do what I understand it does—to give the justice a right of mitigating the rigours of remand—I would not agree with him. Ordinary remand means a cell in Mountjoy and the section gives the justice power to prescribe that, in the case of any individual juvenile, instead of going to a cell in Mountjoy he will go to a remand home, to Borstal, or to St. Patricks. Why must you get the boy’s consent to protect himself from a sojourn in a cell in Mountjoy? That is putting the justice in the ridiculous position of saying: “I would rather send you to St. Patricks, if you will consent to go there.”
    Certainly if I were a Teddy boy desiring to display my toughness to my neighbours in the district court in Dublin I would say: “Not so-and-so likely; I am going to Mountjoy.” I think I would expand and become an important person as I cheerfully announced my intention of facing the rigours of Mountjoy. District Justices should have this right and if the Minister will agree to delete the words: “provided the person consents”, then we shall have no hesitation in accepting the Seanad’s amendment, but I do not think we ought to give a 16-year old the right to tell a district justice where to get off
    General MacEoin General MacEoin
    General MacEoin: There is just one point I should like to mention. The Minister says that a boy is remanded to a separate section of Mountjoy but, generally speaking, a Sunday intervenes in the remand period and all the inmates will congregate together on [1557] that day. The inclination of the young lad or Teddy boy, whatever you like to call him, is to show how tough a fellow he is and the Sunday gives him an opportunity of displaying how tough he is to the other fellows in Mountjoy, by telling them he has selected Mountjoy as against a remand home. I think it is a very dangerous discretion to leave in the hands of a young fellow of 16 or 17 years of age. We all knew a lot when we were 16 or 17 but it was only in after life that we found out how little we knew.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: There is really very little in this. It the district justice wishes he has the alternative of sending the boy to Marlborough House because the boy is still a 16-year-old and would in the normal way be entitled to be sent there. But if the district justice thinks that the boy would be too unruly or depraved to be kept in Marlborough House, he can send him either to Mountjoy Prison or the Institution. This is related to the amendment we accepted from Deputy Declan Costello and Deputy Ryan in which they advocated reducing the minimum age at which an offender can be sentenced direct to St. Patricks from 17 years to 16 years.
    I said at that time that I was accepting that amendment with some misgivings, but in view of the case made by the Deputies, I agreed to substitute “16” for “17”. In this amendment we are doing for the remand prisoner what we did, under the Deputies’ amendment, for the sentenced prisoner. Deputy Declan Costello wanted the age reduced from 17 to 16 for the sentenced prisoner. He wanted the 16-year-old boy committed to the Institution instead of to prison. What we are doing in this amendment is to make the same provision for the remand prisoner as Section 13 makes for the sentenced prisoner.
    I do not think there is a lot in it. The provision is unlikely to cause any difficulty. The parents will probably object to the boy being sent to Mountjoy, and the alternative is here provided to send him to the Institution instead. I rather imagine it is for the Institution that the parents and the boy himself would opt.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    [1558] Mr. Dillon: I think the Minister is making a mistake here.
    Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
    Mr. Corish: The Minister knows more about Teddy boys than I do. There may be a difference of opinion between the boy and his parents. I would prefer if something were included in the amendment to the effect that the parents must be consulted. Many young fellows of 16 are rebellious against their parents. If the parents say “The Borstal Institution”, the young fellow may say “Mountjoy”. There is the conflict. I appreciate what is in the Minister’s mind because one of the Senators explained to me the reason for the inclusion of this amendment. I believe it is to deal particularly with the case of some female prisoners who in the past have been sent to an institution which has given them a certain brand, not deliberately, but that is what has happened. Would the Minister not consider including in the amendment something to the effect that the parents or guardian must be consulted?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: If the House wishes to press the question of taking out the words “provided the person consents”, I am willing to meet that. It merely delays the operation of the Bill.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I do not think the Minister need delay anything. Would the Minister have to go back to the Seanad with that?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: Yes.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: The Seanad will sit next week?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I do not know.
    Mr. Sweetman Mr. Sweetman
    Mr. Sweetman: It must sit for the Appropriation Bill.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I do not think they are meeting next week.
    Mr. Sweetman Mr. Sweetman
    Mr. Sweetman: They have to take the Appropriation Bill before the Recess.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I think the Minister meets the whole situation if in inserting this amendment he deletes the words “provided the person consents”. The matter is then passed over to the discretion of the district [1559] justice who, we must assume, will have due regard to the views of the parents, the probation officer and every other authorised person. If the Minister will ask the Chair to take the appropriate steps to allow for the incorporation of the Seanad amendment and the deletion of the words in lines 35 and 36 “provided the person consents”, as far as we are concerned we would be prepared to agree to the amendment proposed by the Seanad.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: We shall meet the requests of the Deputy.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: Is there a consequential amendment?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: The second one will be consequential on the first and will have to be reconsidered also.
    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
    An Ceann Comhairle: We agreed to amendment 1 as amended?
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: No, there is no amendment.
    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
    An Ceann Comhairle: Has the section not to be amended?
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I could not tell you, Sir. I am in your hands.
    Mr. Sweetman Mr. Sweetman
    Mr. Sweetman: Is this not the way to deal with it—to move an amendment to amendment No. 1 and that amendment No. 1 be then accepted with the deletion of these words in Section 9? Put the amendment to the amendment first, Sir.
    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
    An Ceann Comhairle: We are accepting amendment 1.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: Then the Minister, by leave of the House, moves the consequential amendment to delete the words “provided the person consents”? I do not know whether that is the correct procedure or not?
    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
    An Ceann Comhairle: That procedure is all right. We have agreed with the Seanad in respect of amendment 1, but there is still what may be considered as a consequential amendment to delete the words “provided the person consents.”
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: May I make this suggestion to the Minister? We do not want to delay him; on the contrary, [1560] we want to facilitate him. This is rather an unusual procedure. If the Minister would consider what is the appropriate procedure to achieve this end, it would not be too much trouble——
    Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
    Mr. MacEntee: Take it after Questions.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: ——to come back after Questions. We could dispose of it in a minute after Questions and then there would be no procedural difficulties arising thereafter.
    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
    An Ceann Comhairle: I do not think there is any procedural difficulty. We have accepted amendment 1.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: Can we make the amendment at this stage at all?
    Mr. MacEntee Mr. MacEntee
    Mr. MacEntee: Yes.
    An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
    An Ceann Comhairle: Of course, we can.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: What I want to ensure is that the Minister will not be involved in any inconvenience or trouble if we are all satisfied.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I am not satisfied but I am accepting the view of the House. What we are doing here is this. We are removing the right of the girl to opt for the place to which she should be sent. We want the girl to say, if she wishes to say so, that she does not want to go to the convent, that she wants to go to Mountjoy or whatever prison is involved. With the removal of these words we give discretion to the district justice to send her wherever he wishes. He can commit her either to the convent or to prison.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: Let us do nothing rash or foolish. I think this a perfectly safe thing to do, provided the district justice is a competent person —and I have no doubt he is. If a girl says: “I would sooner go to the Convent than to Mountjoy,” I cannot see any rational district justice saying: “You must go to Mountjoy whether you like it or not,” if she wants to go to the Convent and desires to embark [1561] on a path of reform. Do any of our lady colleagues here see any objection?
    Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
    Mr. Corish: But she does not know the significance of going to a particular convent and will not know until later.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: Is there not a probation officer?
    Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
    Mr. Corish: She may offer to go and discover afterwards that she is blamed in the wrong. Why not consult the parents and be done with it?
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: That is a very wide amendment.
    Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
    Mr. Corish: Most of them have parents or guardians.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: Our job is to legislate. The suggestion is that if a girl goes to a convent there is some reflection on her sexual purity whereas if she goes to Mountjoy there may be a reflection on her reputation as a law-abiding citizen in regard to other matters, but no suggestion of sexual immorality. Surely the probation service, the district justice, and the courts can find some way out of that complication? A convent can be found other than a Magdalen institution for this special function. There are one hundred ways of resolving this problem and, if it is generally stated that this is a problem that girls have to contend with if they get into trouble, I have no doubt that the Minister is a sympathetic man and he will arrange that a convent other than a Magdalen institution will be chosen for the purpose of remand.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: We cannot do it just like that; we are in the hands of the ecclesiastical authorities.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I shall go up to the ecclesiastical authorities with the Minister.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: When we consulted the authorities when we were framing this Bill, we felt that it would be desirable to send a young girl who might be innocent but who would be charged with an offence on remand to a convent rather than for her to suffer the stigma of Mountjoy, but the view of [1562] the Senators was the view that has been expressed by Deputy Corish— that there would be a greater stigma in remanding her to the particular convent than in remanding her to Mountjoy. We must keep that at the back of our minds also.
    Mr. Corish Mr. Corish
    Mr. Corish: I do not know anything about the courts; I do not think I was ever in court in my life, thank God, but when the section says that the teenager is consulted, does that necessarily mean that the teenager has an opportunity of consulting his or her solicitor as to what is the best thing to do or does the justice say: “Where do you want to go?” Has the young person any opportunity of consulting anybody at that stage, solicitor, parent or guardian?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: Right off, I could not say, any more than the Deputy could. The boy may be a young scamp who is outside the control of his parents. He may not be represented either by parents or by solicitor but we know that district justices are very humane gentlemen and when they are dealing with that type of boy they would say to him something like this: “I am going to send you on remand and you can go to Mountjoy or to St. Patrick’s Institution. I would recommend you to go to St. Patrick’s Institution. Are you satisfied to go there?” The boy would probably say: “Yes, sir.” That would be the end of the matter. There would be no question of forcing him to accept one or the other. I am pretty certain he would be guided by the words which the justice would apply to his case. I think that would be all. In fact this problem would hardly arise in the case of boys at all; the provision was intended in the main to cover girls in the circumstances which I have described. Now, we have been involved in this discussion which brings in another matter and which, in my opinion, takes away the right of the individual girl, at any rate, to say that she would prefer to go to prison rather than to a convent.
    Mr. Coogan Mr. Coogan
    Mr. Coogan: Are the constitutional rights of parents not involved in this question?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    [1563] Mr. Traynor: However, I am accepting the amendment.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I do not know why we should be mealy-mouthed about this. As a Catholic layman I have no hesitation in saying—and anyone who does not like it can lump it—that if there is a problem here in which a girl feels that remand to a Magdalen home involves her in a background which is to her a grievance and a humiliation I cannot believe that the ecclesiastical authorities of our Church, the Roman Catholic Church, or of the Protestant Church or of any other religious communion will not help us, the legislature of the country, to surmount that difficulty by providing for us a convent which is not associated with that glorious charity of the Magdalen homes but which is prepared to provide a different charitable service —the care of prisoners without reference to the nature of their crime. I think we have a right to expect that of our ecclesiastical authorities and I have no hesitation in saying that if, in the judgment of this legislature, it is desirable that that should be done I cannot conceive it as probable that the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church of the majority, or of the minority, will refuse whatever we want.
    I feel that the resources of the charitable Orders of the Catholic Church in Ireland are abundantly ample to provide such a service if called upon to do so but I cannot imagine that if we apply to the ecclesiastical authorities they will refuse us. I sympathise with the problem envisaged by the Senators and mentioned by Deputy Corish. I can understand a girl remanded on a shoplifting charge or on a variety of other charges we can imagine, being a simple person and feeling that remand to a Magdalen home may hereafter be upcast to her as evidence that she was guilty of unchaste conduct in the past. That is something with which I have sympathy and something from which we should not recoil or be afraid to mention here because we have a duty to discuss that problem. I think we can find her a suitable retreat to which she can be sent on remand other than prison and which [1564] will not have that association from which she recoils.
    I am not a bit shy about facing that problem and declaring my views on it. I say that quite deliberately and I want to go on record as saying that I think the Minister for Justice has a right to expect from the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church to which he and I belong, the assistance requisite to make that facility available if and when the Oireachtas take that decision and I cannot doubt that he will get it. But I think what I have heard from the Minister is the right and proper course. I believe that the difficulty connected with the remand of a female prisoner can be surmounted while at the same time we restore to the district justice his discretion as to how juvenile persons on remand should be disposed of.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I have no doubt in my mind that his Grace would accede to a request to make another convent available but when we made the request originally his Grace was kind enough to suggest this particular convent. The fact is that this is a convent in which work is carried on. Most convents are of a very private character and deal in the main with matters religious and they do not cater for any outsiders whatever. I am pretty certain that this will limit the number of convents that can be made available.
    There are other convents of the same type as St. Mary Magdalen’s but the same stigma would operate if they were to be selected and I can see certain difficulties from that point of view. As I pointed out in the Seanad last evening, I was conscious when this convent was nominated of the limitations which existed and I emphasised to my officials that when we were dealing with this matter we should try to ensure that the girls in question would not in any respect be associated with the type of person to whom objection is taken.
    Although I made that statement in the Seanad I do not think it was generally accepted as the remedy for the difficulty which had been raised but, as I said in the beginning, I cannot select a convent. I cannot say, “We [1565] will remand the girl to this place, that place or the other place”. It is for the ecclesiastical authorities to agree to make these facilities available.
    We could have avoided all that, and this discussion also, by simply leaving matters as they are and letting the girl be remanded in the ordinary way to prison but I was conscious of the fact that while quite a number of girls are charged with criminal offences at least some of them are acquitted subsequently and that in those circumstances the stigma of being associated in any respect, even for a week or two or a few days, with Mountjoy ought to be removed. I thought the suggestion of the convent was an excellent way out. I am somewhat doubtful now, because of the discussions that have taken place in the Seanad in respect of the particular convent and the discussion that has taken place here, if the remedy is in fact a remedy at all and if matters would not have been better left as they were.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I think the Minister is doing the right thing in the right way.
    Question put and agreed to.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I move:
    “In lines 35 and 36, to delete “provided the person consents”.
    Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 2:
    Before subsection (2) the following subsection inserted:
    “( ) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section, the power conferred by section 10 of the Criminal Justice Administration Act, 1914, to commit to prison shall be deemed to be a power to commit in custody for sentence.”
    As the law stands, the district court can commit persons of criminal habits of not less than 16 and not more than 21 years of age to prison until the next Circuit Court which is empowered to sentence them if it thinks fit to Borstal detention or to imprisonment. This amendment will enable the district [1566] court to send such persons to St. Patrick’s Institution until the circuit court decides what to do with them. In other words, it is in line with the one which was proposed under Section 13 of the present Bill, that is, that they may be remanded to the institution until they are brought before the circuit court.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: May I take it that the Criminal Justice Administration Act of 1914 provides that where a criminal is remanded in custody to be dealt with by the circuit court that carries with it the implication that he must be dealt with at the next session of the circuit court?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: It means in effect that the district justice cannot sentence a prisoner to a period of imprisonment longer than 12 months and if he deems that the person before him is deserving of Borstal detention he must refer him to the circuit court which has the power to sentence him to such detention of two years or a maximum period of three years.
    Mr. Dillon Mr. Dillon
    Mr. Dillon: I do not think I have made my point quite clear. I have a passion, if I may say so, for the principle of general jail delivery. What I want to ensure is that under this criminal justice code if a district justice remands a juvenile to St. Patrick’s in order that he may be dealt with by the circuit court there will be an implied condition that the juvenile must be produced to the circuit court judge of the next circuit court that sits. Is that clear?
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: That is correct.
    Question put and agreed to.
    Amendments reported and agreed to.
    Ordered: That a message be sent to the Seanad accordingly.

  13. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)


    Seanad Éireann – Volume 52 – 13 July, 1960
    Criminal Justice Bill, 1960—Second Stage.
    Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
    Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor) Oscar Traynor
    Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor): This is a simple Bill which proposes to introduce into the law, governing the treatment of offenders, a number of minor changes which experience has shown to be desirable.
    The first of these is the grant of parole to convicted prisoners. The necessity for making such an amendment of the law was first borne in on me shortly after I took office when an application for parole was made by a prisoner whose mother was dying and had expressed a wish to see her son. The circumstances were so tragic that I decided to grant the application although I was advised that I had no statutory authority to do so and that if the prisoner chose not to return to prison after a temporary release there would be no way of compelling him to return. In fact, this prisoner did return when the period of parole expired. Later, I had similar cases brought to my notice and I decided that it would be a good thing and in the interest of the rehabilitation of prisoners to have a power of parole for special cases. I intend to use the power sparingly but, perhaps, in time it may be possible to extend it to selected prisoners serving long sentences [2000] where this would be likely to help to rehabilitate them in society. I may consider granting it also to selected prisoners at Christmas. I shall feel my way as I go along and the extent to which parole is granted will depend on how the early cases honour their parole.
    Secondly, parole facilities are being provided for criminal lunatics who are not regarded as dangerous to themselves or to others. In this case no more is involved than extending to criminal lunatics what can already be done for other mental patients at the discretion of the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital concerned but, in the case of criminal lunatics, it has been considered advisable to require the consent of the Minister for Justice to the grant of parole. As in the case of some prisoners, parole will be granted to mentally afflicted persons for short periods to enable them to adjust themselves to conditions in the outside world before their final discharge. For some patients, perhaps, it might not be too much to say that temporary releases of this kind will go a very long way towards eventual restoration to full mental health.
    It is necessary to ensure that those released on parole can be compelled to return and the relevant provisions are contained in sections 5, 6, and 7 of the Bill.
    Section 8 of the Bill is designed to help to relieve the present position of having the criminal lunatics now in district mental hospitals concentrated in the hospitals near Limerick, Portlaoise and Mountjoy Prisons. Under the present law criminal lunatics must be sent to the district mental hospital in the area in which they are liable to be confined in prison: the provisions of Section 8 will enable a criminal lunatic to be sent to any district mental hospital. It is being provided, in addition that any criminal lunatic may be sent to the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, and be transferred from there to any district mental hospital. These provisions are in the interests of both the patients and the hospital authorities. The patients can be located in institutions nearer to their homes and relatives. Those of them whose treatment requires reasonable [2001] freedom of movement within an institution but who are prone to escape can be transferred to an institution such as the Central Mental Hospital where adequate precautions can be taken.
    The remaining provisions of the Bill are concerned with the treatment of young offenders. The object of these provisions is to keep young offenders who may not yet be set in their ways from association with habitual criminals. Section 9, for example authorises the Courts to remand young offenders in custody to a remand institution, with their consent. For girls, the remand institution will normally be a convent. Not a great many are involved, just a couple at a time up to a maximum of about 30 a year. I am indebted to His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, whose interest in youth problems needs no stressing on my part, for having kindly arranged to have St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum, Seán MacDermott Street, made available as a remand institution. I have no doubt that other convents will be willing to accept girls on this basis also. Only a very few girls of other religious denominations are remanded in custody but I shall be glad to co-operate with the Church authorities concerned with a view to providing similar facilities for these girls as far as may be practicable.
    As regards a remand institution for youths, the question of adapting portion of St. Patrick’s Institution for the purpose is under active consideration. St. Patrick’s is, of course, the Institution for youths sentenced to Borstal detention and also for youths between sixteen and twenty-one years of age who have been sentenced to imprisonment but who have been transferred to the Institution under the provisions of section 3 of the Prevention of Crime Act, 1908. Since 1956, when the Institution was transferred from Clonmel to Dublin by my predecessor it has been the practice to transfer to St. Patrick’s virtually all prisoners under 21 and now, out of a total population of about 91 youths only 36 are Borstal detainees undergoing the prescribed minimum sentence of two years. The remainder are serving short sentences, usually for not more than three months.
    The Bill recognises this situation by [2002] authorising the Courts to sentence young offenders between 16 and 21 years direct to St. Patrick’s instead of to prison. It also proposes to drop the use of the term “Borstal”, although the power of the Courts to send offenders to detention in the Institution for a minimum period of two years, in the same circumstances as offenders can at present be sent to Borstal, is being preserved.
    General criticism of our prison administration does not make sufficient allowance, on the one hand, for the practical difficulties that have to be faced and for the need for detention to act as a deterrent and, on the other, for the solid good work that is being done by the staff of St. Patrick’s and the voluntary workers who have interested themselves in the work of rehabilitation. The youths in St. Patrick’s are kept fully occupied from day to day; many of them receive instruction in useful crafts; they have facilities for healthy recreation, both indoor and outdoor; they have lectures of an educational or religious character; a most enthusiastic Visiting Committee and Welfare Association interest themselves in the youths practically individually; and, what is of importance, too, there is a full-time Catholic Chaplain and a Church of Ireland Chaplain to advise them and to minister to their spiritual needs.
    Whatever defects the Institution may have, I have no doubt that the efforts of all concerned in its day-to-day administration go a long way towards overcoming them. I am satisfied that a proper balance is being maintained between the discipline which is essential in any institution—but particularly in an institution where most of the inmates are young men many of whom have been convicted several times of serious crimes, including crimes of violence—and the humaneness which must be extended to fellow-creatures whose offences, in many cases, are due, in part at least, to bad environment or bad upbringing or lack of education or mental retardation. Many glowing tributes to the work being carried on in St. Patrick’s and to the manner in which the buildings have been adapted to institutional needs have been paid [2003] by visitors with experience of such institutions abroad.
    Of course, in an ideal situation where cost need not be counted, young offenders, youths and girls, would be classified into three or four or more categories, for example, remands, short-term offenders, long-term offenders, maladjusted offenders, etc., and separate institutions including some of the “open” type, established for each separate category in various parts of the country. The cost of doing so would be entirely extravagant in relation to the number of offenders concerned in this country.
    At present the prison service costs the taxpayer around £4,200 a week or £220,000 a year for keeping a daily average of 475 prisoners. This cost would be enormously increased if a number of new institutions, with separate staffs and amenities, were established. And, apart from cost, the number of persons likely to be sent by the Courts to the institutions might easily be so low as to make it impracticable to run them at all. For example, over the last ten years the daily average of Borstal detainees has not exceeded 24. In these circumstances it would be hard to contemplate establishing an institution exclusively for such offenders.
    All this is not to say that I do not realise the importance of trying to ensure that a period spent in detention will help to turn the offender away from the path of crime. But it would be wrong to ignore the difficulties I have referred to or the amount of good work which is being done, quietly, in this respect by people who are determined to make the best use of the existing facilities. To a large extent St. Patrick’s Institution is still in a development stage and it will not be possible to assess its worth until experience has been gained of the operation of the provisions of section 13 of the Bill, which allow the Courts to send offenders direct to it. It would be premature to consider major changes of an administrative character before such a review takes place.
    In conclusion, I should like to express the hope that the modest [2004] reforms which the Bill proposes will meet with the approval of the House and that the Bill will come into force with the least possible delay.
    Mr. Donegan Mr. Donegan
    Mr. Donegan: I should like to say that we on this side of the House welcome the Bill and particularly the introduction of the parole clause. It seems extraordinary that, in 1960, there was no clause which enabled the appropriate Minister, the Minister for Justice, to parole a prisoner for the humane reasons outlined, or any similar reason. It is only in accord with normal living in civilised countries that there should be such a provision and while it was extraordinary that none existed, I think the Minister was quite right in allowing that prisoner home to see his mother before she died. The Minister was placed in a situation where he had to take a personal risk which could react against him even from the point of view of questions being asked in the other House. In my view, it would have been wrong for him not to have taken that risk. I must congratulate him on doing that.
    His most instructive and very reasonable statement on St. Patrick’s we welcome also. The situation is very difficult. There are these delinquents, and particularly in the city of Dublin the situation has become such that crimes of violence are not unusual.
    Mr. Carton Mr. Carton
    Mr. Carton: I do not think the Minister said the criminals were all from Dublin.
    Mr. Donegan Mr. Donegan
    Mr. Donegan: Oh, no.
    Mr. Carton Mr. Carton
    Mr. Carton: They are a little bit further afield, too.
    Mr. Donegan Mr. Donegan
    Mr. Donegan: Dublin, is the largest city in Ireland, and there are usually greater numbers in the larger cities than in the smaller towns. As I was saying, the position is very difficult inasmuch as there are these delinquents who have perpetrated crimes of violence and with whom it was necessary to be tough. At the same time, we must have regard to their youthfulness and to the hope that even the most hardened among them may turn away from what they have been doing, and [2005] become proper and useful citizens. For that reason, I think that the underlining by the Minister, not only of the discipline necessary in St. Patrick’s, but also of the welfare committees and the attempts at rehabilitation was a proper and fair approach to the problem. I think these minor changes were necessary and I am glad they are being put through.
    Mrs. Connolly O’Brien Mrs. Connolly O’Brien
    Mrs. Connolly O’Brien: There is nothing in this Bill against which anyone can speak, with the exception of one section. The rest of the Bill wins the approval of all but there is one section in the Bill which aroused my indignation. I think it was thoughtlessness that caused it to be inserted, because I do not think any adult person in this country is unaware of the connotation of St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum.
    There is no corrective institution in Ireland for girl delinquents. When they go before a court and are found guilty of the offence with which they are charged, there is only one course open —they must be sent to prison. There is no provision for them such as there is for boys. This Bill is concerned in one section with removing the stigma of “Borstal boy” from male juvenile delinquents. That is right because after all “Borstal” is an internationally known term and carries with it a certain stigma. In Section 9 of this Bill, the Minister proposes that we permit unconvicted girl delinquents to be sent to St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum until they come up for trial, and any girl delinquent before she is convicted will be legally committed to St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum and suffer for the rest of her life the stigma of having at one time been an inmate of that asylum.
    I do not think there is any member of this House who is ignorant of what the stigma would mean to a girl if she had mended her ways, if she had been corrected and was leading a normal and upright life, and had to spend the rest of her life in the fear and terror of being charged with having in her youth been an inmate of St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum. I think to a girl when she becomes an adult the stigma of having been a “Magdalen” is even [2006] greater than would be the stigma of having been a “Borstal boy” for a boy delinquent when he becomes an adult.
    This Bill provides that a girl will have the choice, when she is being remanded, of going to prison or to St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum but the girl juvenile delinquents who go before a court may choose to go to the asylum under the nuns rather than go to prison while they are on remand, not knowing, not realising how the term “Magdalen” can work against her in after life.
    If I were asked to advise girl delinquents, no matter what offences they were charged with, whether to go to prison on remand, or to go to St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum on remand, I would advise them wholeheartedly to choose prison, because I think having a record of having been in prison as a juvenile delinquent would not be so detrimental to the after life of the girl as to have it legally recorded that she was an inmate of St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum.
    I think it was through thoughtlessness only that, when the Minister was looking for some place to put these girls, instead of prison, he allowed himself to accept that asylum and did not consider all the implications of sending them there, while on remand. I hope that now I have brought the point home to him, he will find some other convent, or establish a St. Brigid’s, as a sister institution to St. Patrick’s for these girls while they are on remand.
    Éamon Ó Ciosáin Éamon Ó Ciosáin
    Éamon Ó Ciosáin: My remarks on this Bill will be very brief because it is a measure which does not lend itself to long discussion. I must say that while I have a certain amount of sympathy with the point of view put forward by Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien as to a stigma being attached to young girls who are sent to St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum, I am afraid the Senator overlooks the fact that no young girl can be sent there without her consent——
    Mrs. Connolly O’Brien Mrs. Connolly O’Brien
    Mrs. Connolly O’Brien: Yes, but that is asking the girl to place the stigma on herself.
    Éamon Ó Ciosáin Éamon Ó Ciosáin
    [2007] Éamon Ó Ciosáin: ——so I think the position is not as the Senator represents it to be. After all, there must be some place of detention for such young girls who are remanded in custody for whatever time is thought to be necessary. However, the Minister is perhaps better able to deal with this question than I. I do not know whether it would be possible to find alternative and more suitable accommodation, but perhaps it will, as time goes on.
    I welcome this Bill because I think it represents a more enlightened and a more humanitarian outlook on this question of criminal justice. There is an awareness now obviously that it is not merely the idea to administer punishment to offenders of the type envisaged in this Bill that is to be the criterion, but also to do something towards the correction and rehabilitation of the people concerned. When the major statutes dealing with criminal justice were passed, the conditions of life were dissimilar to what they are now. We are living in a more enlightened age and therefore we have to deal with these problems on that basis. As regards the young offenders, they are a special problem in themselves. It is right to say that in many cases these young offenders find themselves where they are because of their upbringing, because of lack of parental control, and negligence on the part of their parents. That must always be taken into consideration.
    The elimination of the word “Borstal” is a step in the right direction. That word has been handed down to us from other days, but at the same time, it must be admitted that the Borstal idea was a good one as far as it worked. The only thing that can be said is that the young people who are committed to that institution are not kept there long enough, but probably that is due to circumstances over which we have no control, because, as the Minister said, there are only a very few people committed to that institution.
    Our present system as a whole is a reasonably good one, no matter what criticisms may be levelled against it. There is a way of ascertaining whether [2008] the system is working properly or not, through the medium of the visiting committees, and as far as I am aware there have been no recent complaints about the way in which prisoners are being treated in the prisons. As I said, this is a Bill which does not lend itself to much discussion. I welcome it because I think its provisions are the product of enlightened thought and consideration.
    Mr. Carton Mr. Carton
    Mr. Carton: Senator Ó Ciosáin has skated over a very important point. A girl chooses where she will go—to prison or to this home—but in fact she does not know what she is choosing. That is Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien’s point. The Bill is tremendously welcome, but for that point, and the Minister should answer it and give great thought to it. It is the most significant part of the Bill and requires profound and serious thought.
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington Dr. Sheehy Skeffington
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: We are all agreed that the concern on, the part of the Minister and the Government which has prompted the introduction of this Bill is a very good thing and something to be welcomed. I have said before in the presence of the Minister’s predecessor on the Appropriation Bill that we should have a far more radical change in our penal code. I welcome this Bill as at least a valuable first step towards that. I have always felt that in this country where many of our leaders, to their credit, have known the inside of jails, we have been very slow to change the conditions about which first-hand experience should have made us more compassionate in relation to the ordinary prisoner. The Minister in introducing this Bill is going very much in the right direction.
    This is the kind of reform that is required, and his own stressing of the introduction of parole facilities was a very valuable symbol of the spirit in which this kind of reform of the penal code is being tackled, because, to my mind, one of the most valuable things you can give a prisoner is trust. It is one of the most reforming things you can give him. It may occasionally be abused but that is very rare indeed. The Minister is certainly to be commended for laving emphasis on the value of allowing prisoners out on [2009] parole and giving them this very precious gift of official trust.
    The Minister threw out some figures, and some of them were startling. I noticed that it costs £10 a week to keep a prisoner. I think I am right in saying that, because he mentioned 400 prisoners and £4,000 a week. I wonder are we as a State getting full value for that, or is it, owing to antiquated buildings and equipment, being wastefully spent. Could we or the prisoners get better value for that £10 a week? There are other places where they could stay for £10 a week and have a much more entertaining time than can be afforded to them for that figure at present. On the other side, is good value being given to the citizens?
    I should like to come briefly to details of the Bill. First, Section 1 gives a definition of remand institutions, but the definition is not so illuminating because it refers simply to any institution which the Minister may approve. I should like to ask the Minister what kind of characteristics he will seek in an institution before he will give it his approval and recognise it as a valid remand institution.
    That brings me to the point raised by Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien and supported by Senator Carton. This is the question of the choice put to a girl who might perhaps be charged with petty pilfering, shop-lifting or something of that kind, of going to a Magdalen Home or jail while on remand—that is to say, a person who is presumed to be innocent. I feel (a) that the choice is not a very full choice, and (b) that, as Senator Carton has said in reply to Senator Ó Ciosáin, the girl might not by any means realise all the implications of the choice. It might be put up to her in particularly nice terms:— “Would you rather go to jail or to the nuns?”, without even mentioning what type of convent is in question. The Magdalen Homes might treat her with every consideration and compassion, but, as Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien has mentioned, it is a label that may well matter in her life, just as the word “Borstal” would matter in the life of a boy. Therefore [2010] I should like to add my support to what has been said in that matter.
    Section 3 refers to criminal lunatics. There is no definition of a criminal lunatic, and I should like to make the suggestion that there is no such thing. I do not think a lunatic can be regarded as a criminal, and I feel that for criminality to be there, there must be responsibility, and lunacy is the lack of just that thing. I am not happy about the use of that term. The Minister is changing the word “Borstal”, and his Department might well set about seeing whether it could recommend a happier phrase than “criminal lunatic”. It is, in a way, an unfair term. It seems unfair to attach the label “criminal” to a mentally ill person. Therefore, although a word may be convenient and we may be aware of what is meant, I feel “criminal lunatic” is a term that might with advantage be replaced. The minister might perhaps be willing to give that matter consideration or to give us his opinion on it.
    I notice in Section 9 (2), page 4, that a person shall not be detained under this section or under section 10 of this Act in a remand institution which is conducted otherwise than in accordance with the religion to which the person belongs. It sometimes arises that there is no equivalent institution of a religion or no religion to which the person adheres. Sometimes it is not found possible to find an equivalent Protestant or a Jewish institution. What is the Minister’s view on what can be done if the provisions of subsection (2) are to be maintained?
    I want to refer to the abolition of the word “Borstal”. It is only a name. Some of us have had the opportunity of seeing a picture by a very brilliant Irish writer, Brendan Behan, in his book Borstal Boy of what a Borstal institution in Britain meant to him. The book is banned in this country. One would have to go outside the country, presumably, to read it. In fact, it is a sensitive and compassionate picture as well as a humorous and frequently irreverent one. But the sensitivity that is there enabled Brendan Behan to give a picture of the Borstal at which he was a prisoner [2011] which in large measure is sympathetic. I would even say it is a picture which recalls his gratitude for what was done for him in such an institution, though it had this name.
    Bearing that in mind, I should like to ask the Minister, and I am sure I shall get a favourable reaction, to concern himself legitimately here with the name but also to concern himself with what is behind the name when changed. In other words, let us not be content simply to say: “We will not call it Borstal. We will call it another name” and that it will be the same old place.
    I want to ask very specifically if the Minister is satisfied now with the conditions in St. Patrick’s. He referred to the conditions and I think, in deprecating terms, suggested that it is the best we can do at the moment. It is all very well to call it “St. Patrick’s” rather than “Borstal” but the Minister will agree that that is not enough and that if we abolish the name “Borstal”, we must also abolish, as has been done in England without abolishing the name, the spirit that used to be regarded as “the Borstal spirit”. I am not familiar with the conditions in St. Patrick’s. I should like to hear from the Minister whether inside the building and in relation to the grounds, fields, accessibility of open air, and so on, he is satisfied that St. Patrick’s is the best we can do for such boys.
    This Bill constitutes a good step on the right road, the road towards prison reform. I believe the Bill will have to be followed by many more steps. I look forward to the introduction by the Minister of further measures of radical prison reform.
    Seán Ó Donnabháin Seán Ó Donnabháin
    Seán Ó Donnabháin: I join with other Senators in congratulating the Minister on the introduction of this Bill. Strange to relate, Senator Sheehy Skeffington has referred in extenso to the principal matter to which I wished to refer, that is, the use of the term “criminal lunatic”. All our legislation as an independent State has been directed towards doing away with the terms “lunatic asylum” and “lunatics”. We have used instead “mental hospital”, “mental home” and “mentally affected people.”
    [2012] When I saw these words “criminal lunatics” in the Bill, I did not like them and I join with Senator Sheehy Skeffington in hoping that before this Bill leaves the House, the Minister and his Department will be able to use some other term, if possible, within the law as it exists. I think it can be done within the law. It struck me that we might use the expression “mentally affected persons” rather than the words “criminal lunatics”.
    I also appeal to the Minister to look into a matter which has already been referred to by Senator Sheehy Skeffington. The words used by Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien do not appear in the Bill. I assume the Minister has secured and was pleased to get the services of the nuns in St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum. The fact that it is not in the Bill which we are about to enact signifies that it can be changed. It lessens the strength of the argument against having a prisoner or a detainee by choice going to a convent managed and run by nuns, irrespective of the name and implication of the convent.
    I object to the words “convicted prisoners”. Naturally people will think that a convent so named is not a suitable place for a young girl to be detained until her case is heard. I join in the hope that some better name than “Asylum”, as is referred to here in relation to the detention of young girl delinquents, will be used. There seems to be no difficulty as far as young boys are concerned in what we now call “St. Patrick’s” The abolition of the “Borstal” is good. Senator Sheehy Skeffington was able seemingly to get outside the country to read Brendan Behan’s description of a “Borstal”.
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington Dr. Sheehy Skeffington
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I read it here before it was banned.
    Seán Ó Donnabháin Seán Ó Donnabháin
    Seán Ó Donnabháin: Irrespective of that, it is good to have such an institution named “St. Patrick’s” and to abolish the name of “Borstal.” Perhaps I may be allowed to refer to the methods of dealing with juvenile delinquents? It might be appropriate to refer to the appalling incident which occurred at Crumlin Technical Schools. Some young people went into the schools and with deliberation, [2013] smashed up every desk and press and even scientific apparatus. I have an idea which might require amendment of the law. I should like to see chaps who do these things, maybe for the first time, detained in some place where they would have to work sufficiently long to earn enough money to compensate for the damage that was done. The amount of damage in this case was, I understand, £2,000.
    It would be a long time before a youngster detained on a farm or in some institution could earn sufficient money to pay that amount, but what is running through my mind is that it would have a corrective influence if we had a system where a youngster would not be classified as “sentenced” or “imprisoned” but simply detained in an institution where he could earn sufficient money to compensate for the damage he and whatever associates he had caused. Perhaps this is not relevant to the Bill, but we cannot pass without thinking of the seriousness of such an incident as this where young lads can go into a school and cause such destruction for apparently no reason but to destroy.
    To my mind, it would be a magnificent thing if we had a new system to deal with such young delinquents: bring them to a school and say: “You have got to work here for such a time to help at least to pay for the damage you have done.” Instead of leaving young people, whether boys or girls, with the stigma of getting a sentence from any court, you could have such a system of dealing with juvenile delinquents which would also help the citizens generally.
    That is all I have to say. I have referred to the naming of the girls’ institute. I do not like the term “criminal lunatic” and if this could be amended in Committee, I should be glad.
    Mr. Carter Mr. Carter
    Mr. Carter: This Bill, as the Minister stated at the outset, deals with a number of amendments in our prison laws. Like every other country and especially England and certain European countries, it is inevitable that we should try to move forward. It is gratifying to know that our average prison population is small and that [2014] therefore this population can be contained in very few prisons. The big trouble, as I see it, is dealing with short-term offenders. You have a higher proportion of these than of long-term detainees and it is unsatisfactory in so far as you cannot classify them, punish them or train them to certain trades. Apart from that, they may be described as “in and outers”. In any country it is inevitable that you should have a higher percentage of “in and outers” than any other type of prisoner. Nevertheless, this situation entails passing legislation, taking note of it and offering opinions which might be considered helpful to the Minister in dealing with the matter.
    It is gratifying also to know that prison conditions in general have improved, that, for instance, rations have become much better, that prison clothes have been changed and that taking it all in all, prisoners are now treated in a more humane fashion.
    I want to make a brief point on Section 9: Senator Connolly O’Brien mentioned the Mary Magdalen Home. I do not object to the name. I do not see what is significant about it or what stigma it attaches to prisoners or to persons not committed to prison any more than any other name.
    Mr. Carton Mr. Carton
    Mr. Carton: You do not know the facts of life.
    Mr. Carter Mr. Carter
    Mr. Carter: It is a very fine name. She is one of the finest characters in history who played her part in one of the greatest plays ever written, if I may so describe the Gospels, the life of Our Lord. What better name could you put on an institution than “Mary Magdalen Home”?
    Mr. Carton Mr. Carton
    Mr. Carton: On an appropriate institution.
    Mr. Carter Mr. Carter
    Mr. Carter: We must not be too scrupulous about this matter. I can see no harm whatever in adopting this name for any institution dealing with corrective training of young—or old, for that matter.
    Criminal lunacy has been mentioned and some Senators entered the realms of jurisprudence. I am not sure that the term “criminal lunacy” is inappropriate [2015] because we have various degrees of mental illness and various degrees of lunacy and again we must not go too far and err in the direction of being too lenient in the names we place on criminals of this type. It is all in the mind and it is not a very easy matter to deal with.
    I am glad that the term “Borstal” is being dropped under this Bill. As we all know, the name derives from the village in England where this treatment was first tried on young offenders.
    It is a good thing also that costs are rigidly related to conditions and that the number of prisoners and detainees being small, costs are kept as low as possible. It is good also that the daily average of detainees is inclined to fall and we hope that in future it will fall still lower.
    The term “juvenile delinquent” often arouses a lot of sympathy to which he or she is not entitled. In my view, it might be no harm if the birch could be brought into play on juvenile delinquents, especially the “in and outers” who refused to be corrected and will not respect corrective training otherwise. I think they learned that lesson in England. Various ways of dealing with this matter were also tried in America and considerable sums of money were spent on corrective treatment of one kind or another, not always with the best results. We should not be too soft when we come to deal with the type, described here in the Bill, who refuse to respond to corrective treatment.
    Mr. Colley Mr. Colley
    Mr. Colley: I, like all the other speakers, welcome this Bill. It is, to my mind, a forward step more in keeping with our ideas to-day of the treatment of prisoners. I welcome particularly the granting of parole because I know that it was a very sad note in some people’s lives that they were not able to get parole. Unfortunately, they committed some error which put them in jail for a short time and tragedy happened at home. I welcome that section of the Bill very much. I know it is to a large extent [2016] experimental. Let us hope it will work out all right. I believe it will.
    With regard to St. Patrick’s Home, I confess I do not know anything about it. I should like to know something about the conditions in it. I am not one of those who believe, as some comments I heard would lead one to believe, that conditions in jails should be all comfort. I do not agree with that. On the other hand, I do not agree that they should be unduly harsh but one thing which I think should be part of the routine in St. Patrick’s is some type of work for the young offenders during the day, something to occupy their minds and something to try to inculcate in them the value of work, the use of work, and give them the idea of work. Unfortunately, some of them appear to think that everybody else should keep them. I put that to the Minister. I do not know what the rules and regulations may be. I think that work for some hours a day should form part of the routine for the people in St. Patrick’s.
    As regards St. Mary Magdalen’s Home, I find myself agreeing with Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien. I think it is an unfortunate choice. I know it may not be easy to find alternatives to which to send young delinquents. In fact, they are not proved delinquents—they are only on remand. I think it would be very unfortunate, as Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien said, that some young girls who may be ignorant of what the Home meant, should choose to go there to keep out of jail, as they thought, and later on, perhaps, after being acquitted, find they had been in such a place.
    I think the choice of the place is unfortunate. Personally, I would rather see the position as it is than just have that. Surely, it should be possible, at least in the framing of this measure, not to state specifically that Home but to leave it in some general way as some home or convent approved by the Minister. Within a short time, I am sure if the Minister sets himself out to do so, we shall be able to find some alternative convent or home.
    I think it is a mistake to have that [2017] there for all classes who may come up and be remanded and who may possibly be innocent. Even if it were only a case of one or two girls, I think we should not pass it without some further effort to find alternative accommodation to that Home for these girls.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: I said in my opening remarks that this was a simple Bill. That does not mean that it is a Bill that cannot be criticised. I certainly welcome the criticism to which I have just listened. I think that it will be helpful and useful in regard to future consideration of matters of this kind. Let me deal first with the criticism which was made by Senator Mrs. Connolly O’Brien in respect of the place of remand for girls.
    I should like the House, first of all, to remember that I am in the hands of the ecclesiastical authorities in this matter of remand institutions. I cannot just say that we will remand girls to this convent, that convent or some other convent. When we decided that it would be a desirable thing not to remand young girls who might be innocent of the crime with which they were charged to a prison, we began to discuss what other place or institution, would be suitable. We thought it would be desirable that young girls should be remanded to convents rather than to prison. We had to see whether we would be allowed to remand girls who were charged with crimes to such institutions and his Grace very kindly suggested that we could utilise the services of the sisters in St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum in Seán MacDermott Street.
    I want to impress upon the Senator who first raised this matter that I myself was conscious of all she was conscious of. I discussed the matter with my advisers and I made it clear that girls so remanded should be remanded to a portion of the convent where they would not be in contact with the type of person whom the Senator has in mind. Whether or not that would be possible, I do not know. I have not got a reply on that matter.
    I should also like to remind the [2018] Senator that in the course of my opening remarks, I said:
    I have no doubt that other convents will be willing to accept girls on this basis also.
    I do not know whether or not we shall get the use of other convents. I hope we shall, but if we can have these girls remanded to St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum and if they will not be in association with the type of inmate which the Senator has in mind I do not think we can object very strongly. It is just a question of whether the indignity of being remanded to St. Mary Magdalen’s Asylum is a greater indignity than being remanded to Mountjoy prison.
    Senator Sheehy Skeffington was the first to raise the question of the criminal lunatic. He said that there was no such person as a criminal lunatic. I think there is and I shall give an example. A person who is sentenced for a serious crime may be in prison for a year or two years when he suddenly loses his mental balance and becomes insane. He has to be removed to a mental hospital, He is sent there as a criminal lunatic.
    Then there is the individual who has been charged with, say, the murder of some person and in the course of his trial, he either becomes insane or feigns insanity and the jury decides he is insane. He is not sentenced to death; he is sent to the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum, as it was called, during the pleasure of the Government. That is another example of the type of person who is included in the term “criminal lunatic”.
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington Dr. Sheehy Skeffington
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: But he is not responsible; he is recognised as not being responsible.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: He may not be responsible in the second instance, but he would surely be responsible in the first instance which I have given the Senator.
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington Dr. Sheehy Skeffington
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: I agree.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: However, the question will be settled in the near future as we shall be bringing in a Bill dealing with that particular question and [2019] it is quite possible that we may be able to get rid of the term. It is not a nice term, I admit, and it is not one that we want to inflict on somebody who in the course of time may leave the mental hospital and resume a normal life.
    Senator Sheehy Skeffington asked whether the prisons paid. I do not think any prison pays. I do not think they are meant to. They are millstones around the necks of the unfortunate taxpayers.
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington Dr. Sheehy Skeffington
    Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: My question was not whether prisons paid but whether we get adequate value from our expenditure.
    Mr. Traynor Mr. Traynor
    Mr. Traynor: That would depend on what would be regarded as adequate value. If, for example, the prisoners were being sent out completely reformed, then I would say we were getting full value, but do we succeed in doing that? I do not think we do. However, if it is a question of whether the prisons pay for themselves they do not. Of course, there is valuable work being done in them. For instance, they manufacture all the mail bags for the Post Office and they make quite a lot of clothing which is used for the manufacture of uniforms. They also produce quite a large amount of firewood blocks and kindling. The same applies to St. Patrick’s Institution. The boys there are kept fully occupied. I can assure Senator Colley who seemed to be worried on that aspect of it that as far as work is concerned the boys may regard themselves as overworked. They are kept fully employed for several hours of the day and their recreation is not forgotten either. They have a magnificent recreation field where they play football. They have a recreation hall and they participate in boxing tournaments with outside clubs so that they are not entirely out of contact with normal life outside.
    Somebody asked if I was satisfied with the conditions in St. Patricks. Personally I was satisfied from my inspection of the institution. I am sure that there are Senators who if they went there would be so critical that [2020] they might see where improvements could be made and so on but from my examination of the institution I was wondering like Senator Carter, whether we were going too far in fact with this business of making prisons a home from home. Mind you, when you see some of the crimes which have been committed recently in this city, in the main, by young fellows under 21 years of age, you begin to ask are we lacking in the disciplining of that type of individual or are we too soft with them or is juvenile delinquency brought about by the public generally—parents, the Government and everybody concerned —being too sentimental, as we appear to have been in dealing with this matter here.
    There has been a certain amount of sentiment shown in the discussion which has taken place and we ought to ask ourselves whether we are in some degree responsible for the lack of civic spirit which appears to be abroad at present. I should say of course—and I think it was Senator Carton who referred to this—that most of the crimes in this State take place in the cities and other large centres of population. Rural Ireland is practically clear of that type of crime, and that is to the credit of the residents of rural Ireland, but we have to deal with great masses of population such as we have in the city of Dublin—something like 600,000 people—and we are beginning to reach the stage that they appear to have reached in some of the great capitals of Europe. That is something that will have to be very seriously considered by all who are responsible for the handling of these matters.
    I do not think there is any more that I can say except on the question of parole. As I mentioned at the beginning, when I decided to deal with a case in which a prisoner’s mother was dying I can assure the House I had certain misgivings, with regard to the parole which I granted to a man who was not legally entitled to it, as to whether or not he would honour it. It is to his credit that he did. On a second occasion, in similar circumstances, the parole was honoured too. Parole involves putting trust in an individual and, like Senator Sheehy [2021] Skeffington, I believe that giving a man that sort of personal trust gives him an uplift. In one case—I think it was the first case—the man was to report back at 7 o’clock and he actually reported back at 6.30 p.m. in order to ensure that he would honour his bond and be there in ample time.
    It was arising out of these little matters that this Bill has been brought in. As I said a moment ago, I do not think there is anything more I can say and I think I have answered most of the questions I have been asked.


    Seanad Éireann – Volume 1 – 21 March, 1923




    Colonel Sir HUTCHESON POE: Before we proceed with the consideration of this Bill might I suggest that in the first instance we should confine our criticism practically to the principles contained in the first ten pages of the Bill and not go into the County Schemes. The reason I suggest that is that the County Schemes are of a very tentative character and are subject to revision, and that the Minister in the Dáil expressly stated that they were of a very tentative character, and that before this Act we are asked to pass expires he probably would be in a position, in the light of experience of the functioning of these different Schemes, to draw up a Schedule to which all County Schemes will have to conform. Anyone who has read the Schemes will see that they vary very much. Some of them show signs of very considerable thought; others are very crude both in inception and, as far as I can understand, in administration. In view of their tentative character I think we would be wise to follow the example which was set in the Dáil, where I think there was not a single amendment made in any of these Schemes. I think the Dáil in that respect have shown a very good example. They felt that these Schemes being of a tentative character and liable to revision the less said about them at present the better. The bodies who are called upon to administer the Schemes were appointed under abnormal circumstances and can hardly be said to be really representative of public opinion in the country now. Probably in another two months time the elections will result in a very different complexion being put upon them. I do not say that with any intention of reflecting upon the administration [546] but probably it might be wise not to attach too much importance to the present Schemes.


    AN CATHAOIRLEACH: The Committee will bear in mind that this Committee Stage is not really the Stage for discussing the principles of the Bill. The proper Stage for that is the Second Reading or the Third Reading. The Committee Stage is the convenient and proper Stage for discussing the details of the Bill, but it may well be that the Seanad may be in agreement with Senator Sir Hutcheson Poe with regard to any minute criticism or amendment of the County Schemes in view of the statements that have already been made by the Minister in charge of the Bill, namely, that these Schemes will all have to be reconsidered before the Bill finally becomes law. You will notice that in Section 5 ample power is given to the Minister by Order to alter County Schemes, assuming that on consideration he might think it desirable that any of them should be altered in any respect. That of course is a matter that the Committee will do well to bear in mind.

    SECTION 1.

    Question: “That Section 1 stand part of the Bill,” put and agreed to.

    SECTION 2.

    (1) From and after the passing of this Act the relief of the poor in a County to which an existing County Scheme relates shall be administered under and in accordance with such existing County Scheme and the law relating to the relief of the poor in that County shall be deemed to be and is hereby altered or modified in such manner and to such extent as is necessary to give full force and effect to such existing County Scheme.


    (2) The existing County Scheme relating to a County named in the First Column of the Second Schedule to this Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on the date specified in the Second Column of the said Second Schedule opposite the name of such County and the several amendments (if any) made in such existing County Scheme shall be deemed to have come into operation on the respective dates specified [547] in the Third Column of the said Second Schedule opposite the name of such County.

    (3) From and after the date on which any existing County Scheme or any amendment to any such Scheme is by this section deemed to have come into operation the law relating to the relief of the poor in the County to which such Scheme relates shall be deemed to have been altered or modified in such manner and to such extent as may have been necessary to give full force and effect to such Scheme or amendment as the case may be.

    (4) Every act, matter and thing which was done or omitted to be done under or in pursuance of an existing County Scheme in relation to the relief of the poor in the County to which such Scheme relates at any time after such Scheme had come into operation and before the passing of this Act shall be deemed to have been validly done or omitted to be done (as the case may require) under the law as modified or altered pursuant to the foregoing sub-section.

    (5) Any provision contained in any existing Scheme which deals with any matter other than the relief of the poor or which contravenes any provision of this Act shall be and shall be deemed to have always been void and of no effect: Provided always that for the purposes of this Act a County Infirmary shall be deemed to be an institution for the relief of the poor.

    (6) Nothing in this section shall operate to make illegal any act done before the passing of this Act which would have been legal if this Act had not been passed.



    Mrs. COSTELLO: I beg to move:— “To add at the end of Sub-section (1) the words ‘provided that lines 26, 27, and 28 on page 17 of the Galway County Scheme in the First Schedule to this Act be omitted.’ ” The lines I wish to have omitted read: “Persons in Class (b) (unmarried mothers) who refuse to enter such institutions (Magdalen Asy lums or some other Homes) as may be selected shall not be allowed under any circumstances to become chargeable to the public rates.” I do not know if the Minister will be able to make any alteration. I think, from something he said last week, he does not care to alter it. [548] As An Cathaoirleach says, he has power under Section 5. In the Preamble of the Bill it is stated it is to enable poor persons requiring relief to be relieved, but it seems that an exception is to be made in the case of unmarried mothers, who, it is stated, are on no account to be chargeable to the rates if they will not go into a Magdalen Asylum. I think that under no circumstances could a County Authority get rid of its responsibility to a person who is destitute and in need of help. Moreover, I know from personal observation that many of these unfortunate cases are women of weak intellect and in no way responsible. I know that the better way would have been to have appealed to the County Council, and I would have done so if I had time. Of course, the Committee which drew up these rules is now dissolved. I only wish to draw attention to the matter, and if the Minister would ask the County Council, I think it could be met in that way.

    MINISTER for LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Mr. E. Blythe) Ernest Blythe

    MINISTER for LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Mr. E. Blythe): The particular provision to which Senator Mrs. Costello objects in the County Galway Scheme is made inoperative by the Bill as it stands Sub-section 5 of Section 2 says: “Any provision contained in any existing scheme which deals with any matter other than the relief of the poor, or which contravenes any provision of this Act, shall be, and shall be deemed to have always been, void and of no effect.” Section 10 of the Bill says: “Any person in a county to which a county scheme relates who is eligible for relief may, subject to any regulations made by the Minister in that behalf, be granted outdoor relief, notwithstanding anything in any enactment limiting the granting thereof to certain classes of persons, and this provision shall be deemed to have had effect in any such county from and after the date on which such county schemes came into operation.” That means that the particular clause in the County Galway Scheme to which Senator Mrs. Costello refers is made inoperative by the Act.

    Colonel MOORE Colonel MOORE

    Colonel MOORE: Would it not be better to take out these lines if the Clause is inoperative and apparently illegal?



  14. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)


    Charities Act, 1961

    13 1961 17

    [GA] Membership or Board not to disqualify Judge from hearing charity cases. 13.—A Judge of any Court shall not be prevented or disabled by reason solely of his being a member of the Board from hearing and determining any case relating to a charity or any case arising under this Act, but may hear and determine it as if he were not a member of the Board.


  15. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)

    “Employees” – Tax, Insurance etc etc.

    Let us just for one moment assume that these poor women were in fact “Employees” – Can the Religious, The Comptroller, The Minister, produce any records of submitted Tax Returns by the religious and registers of tax and other stoppages deducted from the girls wages? I’ll bet no one can.

    However, just as no can prove the girls were in fact employees, neither can anyone prove that they were not, certainly without relevant records to support the facts, nothing can be proved either way, very conveniently – Do you the public not think so?

  16. Martin John Petty (O'Callaghan)

    Again, I ask you to read the following:


    4. Unmarried Mothers are divided into two classes:—

    ( a ) First offenders, to be dealt with in the same institution as children.

    ( b ) Old offenders to be sent to Magdalen Asylum.

    Unmarried Mothers who come within Class (b) shall be offered an opportunity of relief and retrievement in the Magdalen Asylum, Galway, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed on between the Executive Committee and the Sisters in Charge of the Magdalen Asylum. If necessary the Committee may make arrangements with other Institutions.

    Persons in Class (b) who refuse to enter such Institutions as may be selected shall not be allowed under any circumstances to become chargeable to the public rates.



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