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Question

105. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an assessment of the effect of spent convictions legislation on those with drug convictions has been undertaken in order to gain insights into the barriers to work and education and so on experienced by drug offenders the convictions of which cannot be spent under the legislation. [8861/19]

106. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has carried out research to determine whether public order alcohol offences become spent at a rate far exceeding drug offences and to determine if spent convictions legislation needs to be revised in order to provide for more equitable treatment of drug and alcohol offences. [8862/19]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 106 together.
The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 came into force just under three years ago. The Act underwent extensive consultation and scrutiny both within the Houses of the Oireachtas and with other stakeholders in the period before enactment. The Bill, as it was then, was amended several times as it progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas, and these amendments considerably expanded the scope of the Bill such that, it was estimated at the time, approximately 80 to 85% of all criminal convictions would become spent after 7 years.
That said, I am conscious of the case for keeping under review the application and scope of the provisions set out in the Act. My Department will continue to carefully consider the effectiveness and balance of these provisions so that the fairest possible outcome can be achieved for all our citizens. In this connection, the Deputy may be aware that the Government did not oppose the Private Members' Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018 at second stage in the Seanad this month. That Bill proposes to amend the 2016 Act and provide for a considerable extension of the 2016 legislation in terms of affording a more liberal approach on spent convictions.  The implications of any such changes will require careful analysis and consideration including, to the extent possible, the type of analysis referred to by the Deputy.  A balance does need to be struck between protecting the public and rehabilitating the offender, and I look forward to discussing and debating the proposals contained in the Private Members' Bill.