Sunday 20 October 2019

Stricter penalties for sex offenders approved by parliament

Draft laws introducing minimum sentences for repeat sex offenders have passed all stages of the Oireachtas

Michael McDowell insists that rank and file Garda will take over the duties of prison officers throughout Ireland during any industrial action, after pay talks broke down earlier in the month.
Michael McDowell insists that rank and file Garda will take over the duties of prison officers throughout Ireland during any industrial action, after pay talks broke down earlier in the month.

By Michelle Devane, Press Association  

Proposed new laws introducing stricter penalties for repeat sexual offenders have been approved by parliament.

The Department of Justice confirmed on Wednesday that the proposed legislation had completed its passage through all stages of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018 introduces presumptive minimum sentences for repeat sex offenders.

It also corrects an anomaly in the law of incest by equalising the penalty for incest where it is committed by a man or a woman.

The maximum penalties for both male and female offenders will now be 10 years for those who commit incest.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “I am very pleased that this Bill has now been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

“By introducing presumptive minimum sentencing provisions for repeat sex offenders, we are recognising the impact these devastating crimes have on victims and on society as a whole.”

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Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed on Wednesday that draft laws introducing stricter penalties for sex offenders have been approved by parliament (Liam McBurney/PA)

The revised penalties for repeat sexual offenders are based on proposals brought forward by Minister of State Kevin “Boxer” Moran last year.

Mr Moran said he was heartened by the broad support the bill had received in both the Dail and the Seanad.

“I believe this is an important measure that needs to be taken and I thank Minister Flanagan for having taken forward the proposals introduced by me in a Private Members’ Bill.”

Under the new draft laws where a convicted offender is sentenced to imprisonment for at least five years, and is subsequently convicted of a further offence (within a period of 10 years), the court can specify that the minimum term of imprisonment be served.

The proposed minimum term is three-quarters of the maximum term of imprisonment prescribed by law in respect of such an offence.

Where the maximum term imposed is life imprisonment, the minimum proposed is a term of not less than 10 years imprisonment.

However, the court will have discretion not to apply the minimum sentence if it is satisfied that this would be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case.

The bill will now be sent to the president to be enacted into law.

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