Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act, 1998

Membership of an unlawful organisation: inferences that may be drawn.

2.—(1) Where in any proceedings against a person for an offence under section 21 of the Act of 1939 evidence is given that the accused at any time before he or she was charged with the offence, on being questioned by a member of the Garda Síochána in relation to the offence, failed to answer any question material to the investigation of the offence, then the court in determining whether to send forward the accused for trial or whether there is a case to answer and the court (or subject to the judge's directions, the jury) in determining whether the accused is guilty of the offence may draw such inferences from the failure as appear proper; and the failure may, on the basis of such inferences, be treated as, or as capable of amounting to, corroboration of any evidence in relation to the offence, but a person shall not be convicted of the offence solely on an inference drawn from such a failure.

(2) Subsection (1) shall not have effect unless the accused was told in ordinary language when being questioned what the effect of such a failure might be.

(3) Nothing in this section shall, in any proceedings—

(a) prejudice the admissibility in evidence of the silence or other reaction of the accused in the face of anything said in his or her presence relating to the conduct in respect of which he or she is charged, in so far as evidence thereof would be admissible apart from this section, or

(b) be taken to preclude the drawing of any inference from the silence or other reaction of the accused which could be properly drawn apart from this section.

(4) In this section—

(a) references to any question material to the investigation include references to any question requesting the accused to give a full account of his or her movements, actions, activities or associations during any specified period,

(b) references to a failure to answer include references to the giving of an answer that is false or misleading and references to the silence or other reaction of the accused shall be construed accordingly.

(5) This section shall not apply in relation to failure to answer a question if the failure occurred before the passing of this Act.