Fianna Fáil says criminals convicted of serious offences should not be granted bail
Proposal to amend law would make electronic monitoring a condition of bail
Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan: “Imposing a monitoring system on people who continuously commit offences can be a method of sentencing,” he said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The Dáil will on Tuesday debate proposals from the party’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, in response to an escalation in rural crime.
Among the measures proposed are the reopening of Garda stations in rural areas that are vulnerable to criminal activity, an increase in funding for Garda controlled CCTV and greater use of GPS tracking and location devices.
The most significant proposal is to amend bail laws to make electronic monitoring a condition of bail, when a person has been convicted of a serious offence in the 10 years before the application for bail.
“It would mean people who are convicted of serious offences would be monitored. Imposing a monitoring system on people who continuously commit offences can be a method of sentencing,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
“A tagging system would make it more difficult to commit crimes , if their location was known through a tagging system.”
The Dáil has heard a number of calls for Government to increase its efforts to combat rural crime.
The Fianna Fáil motion follows a meeting of the parliamentary party last week where Mr O’Callaghan was urged by his colleagues to introduce legislation in this area.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Bay South said this is an area he has sought to address with the Minister for Justice since the beginning of the year.
The Government had failed to grasp the fears of rural communities, Mr O’Callaghan said.
He told The Irish Times: “People do feel their concerns are being taken seriously when it comes to theft and burglary.
“In rural areas, they need more gardaí visible on the ground and need to feel the gardaí are in a position to assist them when they need it.”
It is understood Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan is to bring a response to this week’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Mr Flanagan said rural crime is a Government priority, pointing to the intensifying of Operation Thor, which targets organised crime gangs and repeat offenders.
The Minister said: “There are random checkpoints with armed backup day and night under way across the country. Garda strength will be at 13,500 by the end of this year including 200 new graduates from Templemore next month. All will be deployed across the country.”
Mr Ó Cualáin will be questioned about the breath-test controversy by the Policing Authority and his planned response to the confirmation that each Garda district falsified figures.
Chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily said she expected Mr Ó Cualáin to outline what disciplinary action, if any, he might take against individual gardaí.
The acting Commissioner will also appear before the accounts committee to respond to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the Garda college in Templemore and a report by Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll on the reopening of Stepaside Garda station.