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 Header Item Legislative Measures (Continued)
 Header Item Spent Convictions Legislation
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2015: Messages from Select Committees
 Header Item Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles Bill 2014: From the Seanad

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 868 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins] I accept that she met the Internet service providers. That was a welcome move, but they need to be in a position to act faster to acknowledge their role as a stakeholder in the act of defamation. They might not be the people who wrote it, but they are the people who are broadcasting it.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald This is an increasing focus among the providers. They are taking many more initiatives than people are aware of, where there is any indication of criminal activity online. For example, more efforts are being made to keep the online evidence, which can effectively be, as the Deputy describes it, a crime scene - we have to think about it like that. There are more and more initiatives coming from the Internet service providers. The Law Reform Commission is examining this area in its fourth programme of law reform, which commenced in 2013. One of the projects it is looking at is crime affecting personal safety, privacy and reputation, including cyberbullying, which is the point the Deputy is raising. I look forward to getting that. It has asked for submissions and is examining a number of points relating to this issue such as the efficacy of injunctions, the relevance of damages or remedy when the harm caused by online defamation is in many ways irreversible and the cost of civil proceedings. It put a number of questions for public response or submission regarding what remedies or reforms should be provided. I will be guided by that law reform report when I receive it in the near future.

Spent Convictions Legislation

 11. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the current delay in completing Report Stage of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012.  [6984/15]

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn It is over a year since the spent convictions Bill was to be brought back for Report Stage. The UK Court of Appeal case the Minister referred to as delaying it was upheld by the Supreme Court in the United Kngdom over six months ago. She will be aware that Deputies and Senators are repeatedly getting representations from people who a long time ago were involved in some misdemeanour that is affecting their ability to move on with their lives and avail of employment. We must pass this Bill. There is an urgent need to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I recognise the interest in this House in the Bill and the need to have it enacted. I intend to bring the amendments to the House before the summer. There was a new situation, following on from the case to which the Deputy referred, before the Bill could be taken on Report Stage. A 2013 UK Court of Appeal judgment necessitated a review of the disclosure provisions in both the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and the Spent Convictions Bill. That review has been completed and amendments to the vetting Act and consequential amendments to the spent convictions Bill are being drafted. I recognise how important this is for individuals and the difference progressing this legislation could make to their lives. The amendments are being worked on and I will be bringing them forward before the summer.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn There is obviously a very lengthy pipeline of justice Bills. I urge the Minister to ensure these amendments are through by the summer and that the Bill is moved through the Houses. Some of the people to whom I have spoken are the most upstanding citizens, but sometimes when one is younger, one might have got involved in a scuffle on the street and done something stupid. That should not prevent one from moving on with one's life. This really does cause distress. The whole idea of society is that when people make a mistake, they pay their debts, are rehabilitated and then have the right to start again. This Bill was welcome and I just want to see it progressing. I appreciate the Minister's assurance that it will be dealt with by the summer. All I am asking is that it be fully honoured and delivered.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I agree with the Deputy. This is a very important Bill, particularly for people who may have been convicted of a minor offence many years ago in a District Court, which has hung over their entire life. That is why we have brought in this legislation and I will have the amendments before the House in this term. Section 3 provides that certain employments are exempt from the Bill. These include any work with children or vulnerable adults, employment with the Defence Forces, employment with An Garda Síochána, other criminal justice appointments, and Central Bank or NTMA appointments. Section 10 also provides that spent conviction provisions do not apply to certain applications for licences such as firearms licences, taxi licences, PSV or road haulage operator licences, and so on. I think people would understand this. I am not amending those provisions, but I have a number of amendments that had to be made following on from the Court of Appeal decision in the United Kingdom. They are being drafted and I will ensure we will have it before the summer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The time for parliamentary questions has expired, so we must move on.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Estimates for Public Services 2015: Messages from Select Committees

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Select Sub-Committee on Finance has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimates for public services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2015: Votes Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles Bill 2014: From the Seanad

  The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I understand the Minister of State has indicated his intention to seek a Clerk's correction under Standing Order 140 on the Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles Bill 2014.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Before we commence proceedings, I would be obliged if, in accordance with Standing Order 140, the Ceann Comhairle would direct the Clerk to make the following minor drafting corrections to the text of the Bill: first, on page 101, line 25, insert "of" after "date"; and, second, on page 110, line 11, delete "the reference to" and substitute "the reference in". These amendments are being inserted in the interests of textual clarity and do not effect any substantive amendment.

Seanad Amendment No. 1:

Section 2: In page 12, lines 19 and 20, to delete “section 85” and substitute “section 85”.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Amendment No. 1 is a technical proofing amendment to correct an error that arose in the publication of the Bill as passed by Dáil Éireann.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor This probably relates to the overall perspective-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are dealing with a particular amendment now.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor I will speak to the amendment. It seems strange to me that we spent a long time in the Dáil going through this Bill, yet we have so many amendments coming back from the Seanad. The Bill has been before the Government for a long time, since we sat down with the Labour Party and discussed it. Perhaps the Minister of State might explain why so many amendments were put by the Department to the Seanad and we are now back discussing it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We cannot have a general debate. We are dealing with individual amendments. This is a technical amendment.


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