Councillors call for debate on death penalty


CALLS WERE made yesterday for a national debate on the reintroduction of the death penalty for certain offences.

Speaking at the January meeting of the Mid-West Regional Authority in Ennis, Co Clare, Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) said that the fear of punishment for crimes among criminals no longer existed.

Mr Kelly said: “I believe that there will be a demand before long for the reintroduction of the death penalty for certain offences. I would support a public debate on the issue.”

Supporting Mr Kelly’s call for a debate on the matter, Cllr Brian Meaney (Green) said: “A debate on the reintroduction of the death penalty is something that would put the focus on the issue of crime and punishment.”

Mr Meaney added: “This debate is something that we should request the Oireachtas to do rather than simply tut-tutting about crime and there being no outcome to what we are discussing here.”

A constitutional ban on the death penalty was introduced as the 21st amendment to the Constitution in 2001 after the electorate voted by 62.08 per cent to 37.92 per cent to ban it. Another referendum would have to be held if it were to be reintroduced.

Last November former president of the High Court Mr Justice Richard Johnson said that the question of the death penalty should be revisited for specific categories of murder, such as ones committed during an armed robbery.

Shortly after, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), James Hamilton, expressed his opposition to the death penalty and warned that any move to reintroduce it in Ireland could lead to our isolation from Europe.

During a debate on crime and anti-social behaviour at yesterday’s regional authority meeting, Mr Kelly said that the punishment for crimes needed to be overhauled. “At the moment, criminals look on dealing with the justice system as some kind of adventure, a form of thrill-seeking, funded by legal aid indefinitely, and a chance for the offender to be photographed in a newspaper,” he said.

Mr Kelly added: “There is an absence of fear for the offender and that is a factor in the mind of someone engaging in crime or anti-social behaviour.”

Cllr Gerry Flynn (Ind) said: “There is no deterrent for criminals and the victim has little or no support.

Also, judges seem to me to be out of step with modern day life and out of step with the gardaí.”