328. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice if further legislative proposals are proposed to combat the activities of criminal gangs; if the amended bail laws have adequately curtailed the extent to which offences take place while the offenders are on bail; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7024/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The Government is committed to ensuring Ireland is a safe and secure place for all.
An Garda Síochána has made important progress in suppressing the threat of organised crime and there has been significant successes achieved in this area through intelligence-led operations. I can assure the Deputy that there will be no let-up in the pressure being brought to bear on those involved in organised crime.
The Government has supported An Garda Síochána in addressing the threat from organised crime gangs through the introduction of legislative measures such as:
The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 which provides additional Garda powers for the immediate seizure of assets suspected of being the proceeds of crime to prevent them being disposed of.
The Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014 providing for the establishment and operation of the DNA database providing Gardaí with links between people and unsolved crimes.
The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, introduced to protect the justice system from being subverted by criminal groups, including potential intimidation of juries.
The Deputy will be aware that the decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the presiding Judge, who is independent in the exercise of his or her judicial functions. There is also a constitutional presumption in favour of the grant of bail as, under Irish Law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the amended bail laws have proven to be effective and I can inform the Deputy there are no immediate plans to introduce further bail legislation.
The government have also approved the drafting of new legislation, including:
- To provide for an increase in the penalty for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life imprisonment, which would give judges much more leeway to impose severe sentences against gangland criminals.
- To criminalise coercion of children to sell and supply drugs and the grooming of children to commit crimes.