Coalition to consider redress proposal

Independent TD John Halligan: burglars should be obliged to make redress to their victims. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Independent TD John Halligan: burglars should be obliged to make redress to their victims. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Thu, Feb 28, 2013, 00:00

The Government will consider legislation to force those prosecuted for burglary to repay the costs of damage they have done.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore described as pragmatic and appropriate a suggestion by Independent TD John Halligan that burglars should be obliged to make redress.

Mr Halligan said home burglaries in Waterford city in his constituency had risen in January by more than 30 per cent compared to 2012, which was on a par with the rest of the country, although in some areas burglary levels had almost trebled.

The Waterford TD asked the Tánaiste if he would consider legislation to force those found guilty of burglary, regardless of whether they received a community or custodial sentence, to repay the costs of the damage they did. He had seen on many occasions when "an out of touch judge, because of some do-gooder, will say kind words about the perpetrator and the victim is left abandoned".

Mr Halligan said the criminal justice system is failing victims of burglary, and there is that fear with people that they are being abandoned.

Legislation, he said, would provide that every district court judge, would be instructed under legislation that the perpetrator, regardless of their means, should have reparation deducted from their wages or social welfare payments. He said its a crime that has gone unnoticed (compared) to the very serious crimes of damage to the person but this is destroying peoples lives all over the country.

The Tánaiste described the Waterford TDs suggestion as a very constructive one. I know that the Minister for Justice has a very strong personal view in favour of restorative forms of justice and penalties. "I will bring to his attention what I think is a very constructive and worthwhile suggestion... and I will ask him to have what you have said looked at," Mr Gilmore said.

Such reparation could never repair the sense of violation, the sense of damage experienced by somebody whose home had been burgled. There was an absolute sense of violation by the victims of burglaries, he said.

"But I think it may be a more pragmatic, a more effective and a more appropriate way of dealing with the perpetrators of home burglaries than perhaps some of the ways they’re being dealt with at the moment," he said.

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