Thursday 21 June 2018

Right to defend your home should not be seen as 'licence to kill'

A Fine Gael bill reignites the debate about how far we can go to protect ourselves from intruders, writes Emer O'Kelly

Do you think that you should have the right to batter to death a burglar in your house? What if he's wielding a blood-filled syringe that you suspect is contaminated by the HIV virus, and he has his other hand on the door that leads to the room where your two small children are sleeping? Fine Gael, according to its justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan, wants to give you that right.

The party is about to introduce a private members bill in the Dail, and Mr Flanagan is hoping that the Government will see fit to support it. It's already been rejected by the government, so it will fail. Therefore, the current law that requires a householder to retreat from an intruder in the home will stand. Many people are outraged by that requirement, and point to incidents like the tragic case of Paddy Barry, grandfather of the entertainer Keith Barry, who lies dangerously ill in hospital after being beaten by a burglar in his own home. He may very well have been feisty enough to take on that burglar, were it not for the law.

But beat the intruder to death, or otherwise "terminate" him? Because, according to Charlie Flanagan, Fine Gael wants the law to presume that any force used in defence of the home is reasonable.

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