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 Header Item Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 918 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] Every Garda station, rural and urban, now offers a text alert service, and the Garda Síochána published guidelines to assist the establishment of local groups.

I want Deputy Grealish to understand that the Government believes that serious and serial offenders should be imprisoned. They should be imprisoned. That is why the Tánaiste has asked the Attorney General to work on this legislation during the summer break to deal with a bail Bill. That will allow for refusal of bail in respect of repeat offenders, strengthen Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail and allow for the use of electronic tagging for those on bail where requested by gardaí or the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP. The changes that have been made in terms of investment in Garda facilities and the changes that are coming in terms of the legislation, where repeat offenders can be refused bail, Garda powers are enhanced and, if necessary, electronic tagging will be introduced, are also an important deterrent in dealing with a system that has been out of hand in locations throughout the country. I am glad that Operation Thor is bringing that to heel, as it were.

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish I am not questioning the Garda. What is happening with the bail laws is frustrating for the force. I do not doubt the Government's good intentions regarding reform of these laws. However, Government legislative programmes stretching back to when the Taoiseach took office in 2011 contained a commitment on introducing a bail Bill. Such a Bill has never been laid before the House and we are in 2016 without any having been enacted. I hope the current commitments prove more successful.

There is a serious situation with criminals who have zero regard for the law. Something must be done quickly. According to a recent study, almost half of prisoners released from jail in Ireland go on to re-offend within three years, and the majority within one year. In the case of burglary, the rate is even greater at 70%. The guts of 100 crimes are being committed daily by people who are out on bail, obviously having calculated that the penalties for a second offence will be no greater than for the original. They are laughing in the face of our criminal justice system.

Does the Taoiseach not agree that our bail laws have failed people? In the past ten years, people on bail have been responsible for 89 murders, 237 serious sexual offences, 50,000 thefts and more than 18,000 burglaries. Does the Taoiseach agree that the current bail laws have failed the victims of crime?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Yes, I agree that the current bail laws need to be changed, and that is why the Tánaiste has asked the Attorney General to work on the bail laws over the summer period. That will involve those three things: the refusal of bail, the enhanced powers for the Garda where breaches take place, and electronic tagging, if necessary. I would make the point as well that we should commend the members of the Garda, with the increased facilities they have, on the arrests they make, the burglaries they prevent and the gangs they take out of business. I note in the local newspapers that a gang reputed to have carried out in excess of 100 burglaries, or people associated with it, have been arrested, probably to be brought before the courts.

I think that Operation Thor has been an undoubted success and will continue to be so, and that came about because of specific requests and information that gardaí had about particular gangs that were carrying out multiple burglaries. If one looks at the statistics in many locations in the country, because of the community alert scheme and the increased capacity of gardaí to be around and be mobile and visible, many of the different sectors of crime have fallen off, so to speak. There are still too many, and one is one too many. Bail laws that are changed will add to the opportunity for gardaí and the courts to do their duty in respect of burglaries. The Deputy is right to raise the point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That concludes Leaders' Questions which today has run significantly over time. Standing Orders provide for additional time for Leaders' Questions, but there is not much point in us fixing times and allocating additional time if time above and beyond that is also going to be taken by people. I would ask for Deputies' co-operation.

Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Deputy Regina Doherty, to propose an amendment to the business ordered for the week.


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