Garda Powers

A member of an Garda Síochána may require a person’s name and address and an account of movements if he has reasonable grounds for believing that a scheduled offence has been committed and has grounds for believing a person whom he finds at or near the place or time of commission or afterwards, knew or knows of its commission.

A member of the Garda Síochána may, without a warrant, stop, search, interrogate, or arrest any person whom he suspects having committed or  be about to  commit an offence specified under the offences against the state legislation,   having in his possession a document relating to the commission of such offence or having information in relation to such offence or intended offence,

A Garda may also stop and search vehicles, boats and vessels which he suspects to contain a person who may be arrested without a warrant.  A person so arrested may be moved to a Garda station for a period of 24 hours after his arrest.  If there are reasonable grounds for believing the continued detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence, detention may continue. A superintendent of Garda Síochána may apply to the District Court for a further 24 hours extension of detention.  The detained person may make submissions to the court.  The court may direct that the hearing be in private.

A person detained under this power of arrest may be required to produce details of his or her name and address.  They may be searched, photographed, and fingerprinted.  It is an offence to give false or misleading details.  A person so arrested may not be re-detained under this power.  In connection with the same offence if he is released without charge, except under a warrant of the District Court.


A statement made verbally, in writing, or by conduct by an accused implying or leading to the  inference that he was a member for an unlawful organisation shall be evidenced that he was such a member.  Conduct includes an omission to deny published reports that he is a member.  The opinion of a Garda Síochána of the rank of chief superintendent or higher that he believes the person to be a member of an unlawful organisation, is evidence of such.

A statement made verbally or in writing or at a meeting, procession or demonstration that constitutes an inference with the course of justice is an offence.  It is deemed to constitute an interference if it is of a character likely to influence any court or person in authority or concerned in civil or criminal proceedings as to how they should be instituted, conducted, continued, or defended.

In relation to certain proceedings under the Offences against the State Act, evidence that a person failed to answer a question in relation to the investigation of the offence may be treated as corroboration of evidence in relation to the offence.  However, a person shall not be convicted solely on the inference drawn from such failure.  The person must first be told in ordinary language of the effect of failure to respond.

A person accused of membership of an unlawful organisation shall not without leave of court call persons to give evidence unless he gives notice of his intention to do so.  The witness’ details must be furnished.

Failure to Account

Inferences may be drawn freon the failure of the accused to mention particular facts, in respect of charges under the Offences against the State Act, so scheduled offences carrying a penalty of 5 years or more.

Where a person who is questioned by a Garda Síochána in relation to an offence is charged or informed that he may be prosecuted but fails to mention facts later relied on in his defence being a fact which could reasonably be expected to be mentioned when so questioned, charged, or informed, the court may draw such inferences from the failure as appears proper. The person must be informed of the effect of such failures.

The inferences may be capable of being corroboration of the offence. However, the person shall not be convicted solely on the basis of inferences drawn.

It is an offence for a person to direct an unlawful organisation.  The punishment is imprisonment for life.

Silence and self-incrimination

Where a person on trial in the Special Criminal Court refuses to recognise the court, this may be treated as contempt of court.

A person detained in custody under the Offences Against State Act may be required to give a full account of his movements and actions during a specified period and all information in their profession in relation to the commission or intended commission by him or another person of any offence under the legislation or any scheduled offence.

If the person fails or refuses to give a member of the Garda Síochána an account of their movements or information as aforesaid or gives information which is false and misleading, he is guilty of an offence. It is subject on summary conviction to imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.


A person convicted of an offence under the Offences against the State Act who is employed by the State or local authority is deemed to forfeit his employment.  Similarly, a person entitled to a pension or superannuation allowance from the State forfeits it upon conviction.  He is also disqualified from holding any such role for a period of 7 years.  He is prohibited from receiving a pension or superannuation for anything done before the conviction or receiving a pension or superannuation granted but not paid before the date of the conviction.

The Offences Against the State legislation provides for forfeiture of monies belonging to an unlawful organisation.  The forfeiture takes place on the basis of a certificate by the Minister.  Orders must be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.  If proceedings are not brought in relation to the money paid into the High Court within 6 months, the monies are paid to the Department of Finance.

A person claiming to be the owner of the money may apply within 6 months for an order directing that the monies be paid to him.  Whoever the person proves that the monies are not the property of an unlawful organisation it may be repaid.


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