Labour senator calls for mandatory jail sentences for burglars

Lorraine Higgins says it would act as deterrent

Labour senator Lorraine Higgins: “It is high time that we strive for better standards in our criminal justice system.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Labour senator Lorraine Higgins: “It is high time that we strive for better standards in our criminal justice system.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 01:00


Mandatory prison sentences for burglars were called for by Lorraine Higgins (Lab).

She said it would act as a deterrent and be more palatable for the victims of crime and those thousands of people living in fear.

“It is high time that we strive for better standards in our criminal justice system,” said Ms Higgins. “We must work to ensure that justice is seen to be done, not only for the victims but for society as a whole.” She said the absence of mandatory sentencing was doing an injustice to people.

Ms Higgins, a barrister, said a message should be sent to people living in rural Ireland that they were safe.

“The closure of some rural Garda stations and the ever-improving road network has only served to give these gurriers the confidence to rob, pilfer and maim those people who are living in rural areas.

“The human cost is such that the victims and their families are likely to be traumatised for the rest of their lives.”

Ms Higgins said it was up to legislators to ensure the inviolability of the dwelling was upheld. She added that only one-fifth of burglary convictions led to jail terms of more than five years, while almost half attracted sentences of three years or less.

“To add insult . . . many robberies are carried out by repeat offenders. There is no minimum or mandatory sentences for burglars,” she said.

Ms Higgins said the statistics revealed that criminals were not being deterred from offending repeatedly.