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Dáil Speech on Criminal Justice Bill 2011

9th May 2011 - Senator Anthony Lawlor

I welcome this Bill, which is part of the programme for Government and which we have delivered within the first 100 days, as promised. White collar crime in some quarters is seen as victimless crime. However, I completely disagree with that because there is always a victim at some stage. While the victim might not be immediately associated with the crime, people will suffer somewhere along the way.

While most comments have been associated with the recent economic crash and the effect certain bankers have had on the economy and on our people, there are many other forms of white collar crime, such as insurance fraud, social welfare fraud and so on. In the “Great Crash” of 1929, it was many years before the people whose white collar crimes brought about the crash were prosecuted. One of the major players from the crash was eventually prosecuted in 1938. That is why I am delighted the Minister has indicated that, once enacted, the legislation can be availed of to assist with current investigations as well as future investigations.

The key parts of the Bill address the problem of investigators from the Garda Síochána being snowed under with masses of documentation. We can all remember the boxes of files that were taken from Anglo Irish Bank headquarters a couple of years ago. Some files were not released on demand at the time, but this Bill will address that problem. The Bill also allows for investigators to work in a more efficient manner. The smart economy is about dealing with things much more efficiently. The Bill also takes into account the experiences of investigators in their efforts to pursue white collar crime. Practical experience gets practical results. I welcome the fact that the Minister took the time, in his relatively short period in office, to listen to the investigators who are being hindered in their pursuit of white collar criminals.

To assist in the implementation of this Bill, it is necessary that we bring forward some whistleblower legislation. This will encourage people to bring forward information on their own companies, so that those who are participating in white collar crime can be quickly brought to court. Those who saw the “Prime Time Investigates” programme on Monday night identified readily with people who could not identify themselves but who gave information to the reporter. As a result of that, we saw that certain individuals in the National Car Testing Service have been let go from their position. These whistleblowers were safeguarded in the programme, which is vitally important. Whistleblower legislation should be enacted to complement the Bill before us.

I welcome the Bill tonight and I look forward to supporting it when the time comes.

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