Query whether courts directed to cut sentencing for burglary
Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien demanded to know if there was a basis for intimations that the Department of Justice had directed the Courts Service to reduce the number of custodial sentences being given for burglary.
It was his understanding that the joint policing committee for the north inner city area of Dublin had objected to the Minister for Justice over the issuing of such a directive.
He himself had written to the Minister yesterday seeking clarification on the matter. It was “not on” that the service be directed, effectively, to reduce the number of prison sentences for this type of crime. If true, this was a departure that absolutely shocked him. It amounted to saying that burglary was not a serious crime.
If the directive had been issued, it should be withdrawn immediately, added Mr O’Brien.
While undertaking to take the matter up with the Minister, Seanad leader Maurice Cummins (FG) said he found it difficult to believe the department would interfere in any way with the Courts Service.
Eamonn Coghlan (FG) voiced strong criticism of the cuts in the budgets of two children’s hospitals. He had recently attended a fundraiser in New York for Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin.
“It was sickening to return home to find that between Crumlin and Temple Street children’s hospitals about €5 million has been cut from their budgets for the coming year. We have been talking about a new national paediatric hospital for the last eight years and it will probably be another eight before it is built,” said Mr Coghlan.
On behalf of the 180,000 children treated at both hospitals annually, and their parents, he wanted to know why in God’s name their combined budgets were being cut to such an extent.
While he accepted that the Labour Party had a secular agenda, Mr O’Brien said he would ask the Minister for Social Protection and her colleagues to respect the fact that Communion and Confirmation were “exceptional events” for Catholics. The special payments for such events to needy parents will no longer be made as they do not come under the “exceptional” category.
It was disgraceful, he said, that families who needed assistance with the cost of two special days for their children would no longer receive such financial help.
Mr Cummins said he was surprised at the withdrawal of the payment for religious ceremonies.
He said he would raise the matter with the Minister.