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03/14/2013 12:00:00 AM


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Ryan, Brendan

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Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Senator


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Deputy Brendan Ryan

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Brendan Ryan

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Snippet Contents:

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. I think it is positive legislation which is long overdue. This Bill is designed to assist the rehabilitation of offenders in securing employment. It will bring us into line with the majority of EU member states in providing a system under which certain convictions can be disregarded after a number of years have elapsed since they were imposed. This is not job creation legislation. However, it will provide a small piece in the architecture of what this Government is trying to create, namely, a jobs-friendly economy. It will make it easier for people with minor past convictions to obtain and secure employment.
I do have one issue regarding the Bill which I would like to focus on and that is the provision allowing for only two convictions to be spent. I believe the reasoning behind this provision is aimed at repeat offenders or so-called career criminals, however, I do believe there are a number of people who will undeservedly fall foul of this provision. I am speaking particularly of individuals who may have three convictions which relate to the one isolated event or transgression. One incident can include three or more relatively minor convictions. For example, an individual may have been involved in a traffic incident as a young person. That one transgression could lead to that person being convicted of three offences such as driving without insurance, leaving the scene of an accident and driving while on a mobile phone, which is fairly relevant today. I want to refer to an email relating to this issue which I received from a constituent. The email stated that: That man was 18 when it happened and is now 50. It seems quite unfair that one person who demonstrates perhaps a pattern of crime or law breaking resulting in two convictions can have their convictions spent when someone who committed three offences within the one isolated incident will continue to carry those convictions with them. This individual may only have seen the inside of a courthouse once yet they carry three or more convictions for the one incident.
It must be said that the safeguards within the Bill are strong and ensure that those with serious convictions including those in respect of sexual offences and offences tried by the Central Criminal Court are excluded from the benefits of the Bill.