119. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012; when it is due to return from Committee Stage; her plans to make amendments, based on recommendations outlined by the Irish Penal Reform Trust, to reform sections of the Bill referring to proportionate rehabilitative periods, number of convictions, maximum threshold, suspended sentencing and relevance of convictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7231/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The current position is that the Bill has passed Committee Stage in the Dáil, having passed all stages in the Seanad. However, before the Bill could be taken at Report Stage, a 2013 UK Court of Appeal judgment necessitated a review of the disclosure provisions in both the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and the Spent Convictions Bill. That review has been completed and amendments to the Vetting Act and consequential amendments to the Spent Convictions Bill are currently being drafted. I expect the amendments to be brought before the Oireachtas before the summer.
The UK Court of Appeal found that the UK policy of disclosing all criminal convictions was in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court found that disclosure of old minor criminal records should not be automatic but should instead be based on consideration of the relevance and proportionality of the conviction. The Attorney General has advised that similar considerations should apply to disclosure of criminal convictions in this State.
All of the recommendations outlined by the Irish Penal Reform Trust are being considered. However, I must also have particular regard to the Court of Appeal Judgement and the advice of the Attorney General.