273. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the extension of the bail laws has affected the degree to which An Garda Síochána can effectively deal with criminal gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6022/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I can assure the Deputy that tackling organised crime activity is a key ongoing priority for both the Government and An Garda Síochána.
Recent changes to the bail laws, including the Criminal Justice Act 2017, have made the bail system far stronger and have made the law as effective as possible in protecting the public against crimes committed by persons on bail. The court has the power to refuse bail where there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is likely to commit a serious offence. In assessing this likelihood, the court must take into account the nature and seriousness of the offence, the accused person’s previous offending and may also take into account the danger he or she poses to the public if bail is granted. The Criminal Justice Act 2017 also strengthened Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail providing a power of arrest without warrant, and made provisions to increase the use of curfews and to facilitate the introduction of electronic tagging for those on bail in certain circumstances.
An Garda Síochána's Policing Plan sets out the priorities of An Garda Síochána in tackling organised crime activity including its continued commitment to proactively target groups and individuals engaged in criminal activity, including organised criminal activities. A member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of chief superintendent may give evidence to the Court seeking refusal of an application for bail if the member believes that it is reasonably necessary to prevent a serious crime being committed by the applicant. Question No. 274 answered with Question No. 272.