DNA database building to begin next June

 

CONSTRUCTION ON the building which will house a proposed new Irish DNA database is due to begin in June 2011, according to the Office of Public Works.

A site for the proposed database has been identified in Backweston near Leixlip in Kildare while a tendering process for the project will be entered into early next year.

“The OPW hopes to go to tender before the end of quarter one 2011 for the construction of the Forensic Science Laboratory in Backweston. It is hoped that the successful tenderer will be on-site by June 2011,” he said.

A Bill introduced earlier this year allows for the establishment of a national DNA database in Ireland. It is proposed that, once the Bill becomes law, every person who is arrested will have to give a DNA sample which could then be compared to samples collected from crime scenes.

Those serving prison sentences for serious offences would also be required to provide a sample as well as those on temporary release and suspended sentences as well as those on the sex offenders’ register.

A separate database would be established to help trace and identify missing or unknown people.

Speaking at the Dáil committee on justice last week Fine Gael’s justice spokesman, Alan Shatter, said it was “an issue of great concern that we have no DNA database”.

“It’s made no progress, there doesn’t seem to be any priority being given to it. It’s one of the few countries in Europe that doesn’t have a DNA database. The availability of such a database is crucial in the investigation of crime, particularly homicides and sexual crime and indeed terrorism...”

However, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern noted the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill had been published earlier this year: “Obviously we would like to proceed with that legislation as soon as possible,” he said but added this was “very complex legislation”.

He said €4 million would be put aside next year for “the logistics of starting up the DNA database”. Department officials later said that, while this initial sum will go towards the start-up of the DNA database, the actual cost and maintenance will entail “a multimillion” investment.