Sunday 20 October 2019

Max jail sentence for carrying knife with intention to harm to double to 10 years

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE maximum jail sentence for possession of a knife with intent to harm would be doubled to ten years under proposals to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow.

Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan said that four people were killed by knives in Dublin this summer and it shows why tougher sentences are needed.

He said that seizures of blades by Gardaí is up 66pc between 2016 and 2018 and this indicates that there is "an issue with knife crime in our society".

He said: "Unfortunately it is the case that a lot of people , particularly young men, think it’s appropriate and sometimes necessary for them to carry knives.

"We need to send the message out that it is wholly unacceptable to be carrying knives for the purpose of inflicting harm on others even if they think those knives are necessary in order to defend themselves."

Mr O'Callaghan said that tougher sentences are not the only way to resolve the issue and the courts would still have discretion on what jail term, if any to hand down, but he added: "It's a step in the right direction.

At present the maximum sentence for possession of a knife with intent to harm is five years and/or a fine.

Mr O'Callaghan said he would closely examine proposals put forward by minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran for a knife amnesty where people would be allowed dispose of blades for a limited time without being prosecuted.

READ MORE: Minister wants amnesty to 'take knives off streets and save lives'

The Fianna Fáil TD said his party previously brought in an amnesty called 'bin the blade' and it was "quite successful".

Mr O'Callaghan also criticised the government's response to the issue claiming it they are "very late to this" and he would have expected a response sooner.

He said an amnesty would require further legislation and added that if one was to be brought in: "it’s very important that there’s a more significant deterrent afterwards for people that don’t comply with the amnesty".

He said this is why he believes Fianna Fáil's proposed legislation is compatible with an amnesty.

Mr O'Callaghan appealed to Opposition parties to support Fianna Fáil's bill and said that justice minister Charlie Flanagan has already indicated that he will not oppose it.

The Dublin Bay South TD said that the Oireachtas needs to send out a strong message that knife crime is unacceptable.

He added: "We know form what’s happening across the water and particularly in London that unless this issue is dealt with severely at an early stage it can get out of control.

"The situation in London is very serious. We want to ensure that that doesn’t happen in this country and that’s the purpose of introducing legislation."

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