For too long the Irish Justice system has pushed the victims of crime and their families to the side in the rush to ‘understand’ and be fair to the criminal. Renua will end that practice. We will put the victims of crime and their families at the centre of our criminal justice system.
A: Our Broken Bail and Free Legal Aid Policies
- The duty of the state is to protect its citizens. Renua Ireland unashamedly supports the victims of crime and the wider law-abiding public. The judiciary, in their sentencing decisions, have all too often side-lined and marginalised the victims of crime in favour of a rush to ‘understand’ and help ‘rehabilitate’ the criminal. Renua Ireland believes that the justice system should place the victims of crime at its heart.
- In 2016 1 in every 8 crimes committed in Ireland were committed by individuals on bail. This represents a total of 26,000 crimes committed and included 6,214 thefts, 1,377 burglaries, 24 rapes and sexual assaults and 2 homicides. Between 2006 and 2015 250,149 crimes were committed by people on bail – including 89 murders, 237 serious sexual offences (including rape), 50,000 thefts and 18,000 burglaries.
- Legal Aid costs Irish taxpayers c€57m per annum.
- There is no way for Irish taxpayers to recoup legal aid expenditure from those convicted of crime.
- We recognise that it may not be possible to fully recoup the cost of free legal aid from convicted persons but, in the interests of justice, we should try to recoup as much as possible.
- The Government’s Infrastructure Development Plan (Ireland 2040) made no mention of our existing prison infrastructure despite an expected population increase of 1m+. This is an appalling oversight.
- Ensure that those charged with a serious crime, such as rape, murder, manslaughter, burglary, grievous bodily harm, will only be granted bail if they are electronically tagged and monitored. Renua Ireland will also ensure that bail is automatically denied to those who have a history of persistent (more than three offences) criminal activity.
- Instruct the necessary public bodies to recoup at least some of the monies spent on free legal aid for convicted criminals by issuing attachment orders on welfare payments or placing a lien on any property or assets owned by the convicted person.
- Renua will invest in our prison infrastructure to protect our law abiding citizens.
B: Tougher Sentencing
- There is no statutory requirement for judges to impose consecutive sentences thus leaving judges total discretion. Concurrent sentencing denies justice to victims and their families. Their pain is discounted and ignored in the pursuit of ‘fairness’ for the criminal. Concurrent sentencing fails to act as a deterrent as the criminal can ask ‘why stop at one offence when I can commit multiple offences for ‘free’? Even multiple murders do not result in multiple life sentences. A person who murders two people is sentenced only to one life sentence. The life of the other victim is ignored.
- In Ireland the average time served by a person sentenced to life in prison is 22 years.
- An individual sentenced to life in prison can apply for parole after just 7 years.
- An individual found guilty of multiple murders will only receive one ‘life’ sentence.
- In Ireland remission of ¼ of a sentence is automatically provided to those prisoners who maintain good behaviour. Enhanced remission of 1/3 of a sentence may also be granted at the discretion of the Minister for Justice – based on the prisoner’s behaviour and likelihood of re-offending.
- In Ireland only 1 in 14 sexual offenders participate in prevention programmes provided by the Prison Service.
- Gangland feuds have become an all too common feature of life in Ireland.
- Dozens of people have been murdered and Garda overtime eaten up trying to keep thugs from killing each other and killing innocent people.
- Introduce a Criminal Justice (Victim’s Rights) Bill that will remove Judges’ discretion to impose concurrent sentences for serious crime. We will ensure that all Judges must treat each crime separately and pass consecutive sentences.
- Introduce a minimum, mandatory sentence of 30 years in prison for those convicted or murder. Those convicted of murder will not become eligible for parole until they have served a minimum of 23 years of their sentence.
- Abolish concurrent sentencing for multiple murders. Those who commit more than one murder must serve consecutive life sentences for their crimes.
- Overhaul the remission system so that prisoners will be required to earn the right to early release. Remission will no longer be granted automatically.
- In order to receive remission of ¼ of a sentence, prisoners must maintain good behaviour, participate in education, training and/or crime prevention programmes provided by the prison service.
- Abolish the practice of ‘enhanced remission’. The maximum remission period will be set at ¼ of a sentence.
- Introduce 90-day detention orders for those Gardai suspect of being actively involved in preparations to murder another or of being responsible for directing the activities of an organised criminal gang.
- Introduce legislation to make it a criminal offence to be caught in possession of a bullet proof vest.
- Introduce Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO). SCPOs will place restrictions on those convicted of organised crime offences after they are released from prison. SCPOs may require an individual to inform Gardai of any financial transaction they engage in and worth more than €500, notify Gardai of their intention to travel overseas or restrict contact with named individuals for example.
- Failure to comply with an SCOP will result in a minimum, mandatory sentence of 3 years in prison.
C: Burglary Is A Serious Crime. We Need To Take It Seriously
- In 2016, 17,740 non-aggravated burglaries were recorded, while there were 215 aggravated burglaries recorded.
Include in our Criminal Justice (Victim’s Rights) Bill a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison for aggravated burglary. A person convicted of aggravated burglary will not be allowed to apply for parole until they have served at least three quarters of their sentence – 15 years. Our Bill will automatically deny bail to those have previously being convicted of burglary.
D: Our Frontline Staff Deserve Additional Protection
- Figures released by the HSE in 2016 show that almost 600 physical assaults were carried out on their staff– with 70% of those assaults carried out against frontline staff.
- Introduce a minimum, mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison for those found guilty of assault on Frontline (Blue Light and hospital) Staff carrying out their duties. A person so convicted will not become eligible for parole until they have served a minimum of three-quarters of their sentence – 7 ½ years.
E: Communities Should Be Given The Means To Protect And Defend Themselves
- Across Ireland many individuals and communities are forced to put up with persistent anti-social behaviour by a minority of people who often destroy good neighbourhoods.
- Introduce legislation to allow individuals, businesses or community organisations to apply directly to the District Court for a ‘Community Protection Order’ (CPO).
- The CPO, once granted, will allow Judges to ban defendants from a particular area, be electronically tagged, stay away from other named individuals, become subject to a noise abatement order or become subject to a curfew order.
- Where a minor becomes subject to a CPO the parents or guardians will become liable and subject to a range of possible sanctions – participation in parenting classes and suspension of children’s allowance payments for example.
- For persistent breaches of CPOs individuals who are housed in social housing will be evicted.
F: Protecting Our Vulnerable
- Those in positions of power or authority over children and use that power or authority to exploit and abuse them instead of protecting and caring for them deserve a punishment which adequately reflects the abuse of trust they readily engaged in.
- There is a serious and growing problem in Ireland where criminal gangs seek to recruit children and induce them to commit crime.
- Renua believes that attacks on the elderly (pensionable age) are particularly cowardly and worthy of focus.
- Those with a disability in Ireland are also deserving of extra protection.
- Ensure that our Victim’s Rights Bill will include a minimum, mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison where an adult in a position of authority coerces, induces or persuades a child to engage in sexual activity. Those so convicted will not become eligible for parole until they have served a minimum of three quarters of their sentence. The Director of Public Prosecutions will be mandated to take into consideration the age gap between the victim and perpetrator when making decisions on such cases.
- Introduce a minimum, mandatory sentence of 10 years for those found guilty of assaulting an elderly person.
- Introduce legislation to protect those with a disability from hate crimes.
- Introduce legislation to make recruiters liable for the crimes that the child was instructed to undertake.
- Introduce legislation to make the corruption of a minor a criminal offence. Those prosecuted under our new law will face a mandatory, minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.