Maximum sentence for assaulting gardaí to increase under plans due before Cabinet

Harris will also bring memo seeking to extend measures allowing for consumption of alcohol in outdoor seating areas

The maximum sentence for assaulting a garda or emergency service worker will be increased from seven to 12 years, under new plans being brought to Cabinet by Minister for Justice Simon Harris.

Mr Harris will on Tuesday morning seek Cabinet approval for the increased sentences that will apply to assaults causing harm, while legal changes will also apply to the ramming of a Garda vehicle and other emergency service vehicles.

Increasing the maximum sentence for assaulting a police officer to 12 years will be done through amendments to the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

The Bill is on the Government legislation priority list and has now passed all stages in Dáil Éireann. Seanad Éireann second stage is scheduled for Tuesday.


The increase in the maximum sentence will apply where the assault causing harm in question is against an on-duty garda or emergency service worker, such as hospital staff, prison officers, members of the fire brigade, ambulance personnel or members of the Defence Forces.

The aim of the proposal is to provide greater protection to gardaí and other key workers.

Mr Harris will also seek Cabinet approval to extend measures that allow for the sale and consumption of alcohol in outdoor seating areas.

The measures were introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to bring clarity to the law for licensed premises offering an outdoor seating area to customers.

The legislation underpinning the allowing of drinking outdoors was initially in place until November 30th, 2021, but it can be extended every six months. It has been extended on a number of occasions, and it is expected that Cabinet will extend it once again today.

The extension will likely last until November 30th while work continues on the Sale of Alcohol Bill, which deals with the reform of Ireland’s alcohol licensing laws.

Mr Harris is also expected to bring policy proposals to Cabinet around parental alienation, which is a term that usually describes a situation where one parent wrongfully influences a child or children against the other parent, which can result in the family being torn apart.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman will also bring a memo to appoint a director to oversee the excavation and exhumation at Tuam. It is expected that work will begin on exhuming remains at the site of the mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, this year.

Ministers will also discuss plans for a two-month extension of the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS), which is a scheme designed to help businesses cope with crippling energy costs, until the end of July. The extension will be on the same terms that currently applied.

Furthermore, Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney will bring a memo to Government extending the TBESS scheme to include businesses that use kerosene as a main source of energy.

It follows a Government decision in February to find a way to support more businesses with rising energy costs. The TBESS had covered the majority of businesses who were mainly gas customers up until this point, but the memo seeks to extend the support to majority kerosene users.

The proposal would see a once-off flat rate payment made to businesses that use kerosene. The level of payment will be calculated from a businesses usage in 2022. The scheme will be also be backdated to match the time period of the wider TBESS scheme.

Mr Coveney will also bring a number of amendments to the employment permits Bill that deal in particular with seasonal permits. He will tell Cabinet that seasonal workers are an essential part of the economy that cater for short-term employment in different sectors based on need. He will bring plans to Cabinet to strengthen worker protection. This includes setting up a register of employers qualifying as approved to take on seasonal workers.

An employee will also be given the power to transfer their permit and labour to another approved employer without reapplying. There will also be strict limits on deductions that can be taken by employers from wages for food, lodgings and transport.

Ministers are also expected to approve the renewal of the Offences Against the State Act.

The legislation provides for the non-jury Special Criminal Court and along with the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act is used in the trials of subversives and in gangland crime cases.

As it is emergency legislation, both Acts are renewed annually.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times