Cabinet to address anomalies in sentencing for sex crimes

Proposals include minimum mandatory sentences for repeat offenders, and increased penalties for women who commit incest

A general view of Mountjoy Prison. The Cabinet is expected to commit today to introducing minimum mandatory sentences for repeat sexual offenders and to increasing the penalties for women who commit incest. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

A general view of Mountjoy Prison. The Cabinet is expected to commit today to introducing minimum mandatory sentences for repeat sexual offenders and to increasing the penalties for women who commit incest. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The Cabinet is expected to commit today to introducing minimum mandatory sentences for repeat sexual offenders and to increasing the penalties for women who commit incest.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will seek approval at today’s Cabinet meeting to publish legislation, which was first proposed by Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Kevin “Boxer” Moran.

It will ensure a sex offender who has a previous conviction for a similar crime must serve three-quarters of the maximum sentence for a second or subsequent offence.

Such provisions are in place allowing for minimum sentences to be imposed for certain repeat offenders but these new proposals to be considered by Cabinet will bring serious sex offenders within the scope of the law.

The Bill will also seek to address the gender anomaly in Irish law with respect to incest.

Currently, incest by a male carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment whereas incest by a female carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail. The Minister is proposing to move to correct this difference by increasing the penalty for incest by a female to 10 years.

There are also a number of judicial appointments in the High Court and District Court to be considered by Ministers at their weekly meeting.

Security council

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Simon Coveney will seek approval from Cabinet for Ireland to formally seek a seat at the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member.

The elections are due to take place in 2020 and Mr Coveney is eager for Ireland to be in the running for a two-year term in 2021-2022.

Ireland’s participation in such elections has been flagged for a number of years and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar re-committed to it on his election last year.

Mr Varadkar said he was eager for Ireland to “play an even greater role in international affairs and to achieving ‘a world of laws’ ”.

It is also understood Minister for Communications Denis Naughten is to seek Cabinet approval for Ireland to join an international alliance aimed at phasing out the use of coal.

Current members of the “Powering Past Coal” initiative include Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico.

The agreement aims to end the use of coal use in power generation. The UK was the first state to commit to ending coal use – by 2025 – but the electricity generated by coal has already fallen from 40 per cent to 2 per cent since 2012.