474. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date with the proposed Parole Bill 2016 that will place the parole board on a statutory footing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1455/19]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy may be aware, the report of the Penal Policy Review Group, submitted to Government in November 2014, recommended that a Parole Board should be established on a statutory footing with the power to make decisions on sentences. Following the publication of the report, work commenced on a General Scheme of a Bill on the establishment of a Parole Board on a statutory basis.
In April 2017, the Government agreed to focus on the Private Members Parole Bill 2016 that had been brought forward by Deputy Jim O’Callaghan and to work in partnership with Deputy O’Callaghan to achieve this objective. It was also agreed that appropriate amendments to the Bill would be brought forward in consultation with Deputy O’Callaghan. The Bill passed Committee Stage in Dáil Éireann on 24 April 2017.
The Bill provides for establishing a Parole Board on a statutory basis to determine releases from prison of long sentence offenders. It sets out the criteria to be considered in deciding on the release of prisoners, which include risk to public safety and the extent to which release will facilitate the prisoner’s reintegration into society.
Substantial amendments to the Bill were developed in conjunction with Deputy O'Callaghan and, on 8 May 2018, the Government approved the drafting of these amendments by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government. That drafting work is underway and my officials will continue to engage with Deputy O'Callaghan throughout this process.