289. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on the possibility of legislation for harsher penalties for persons who issue threats specifically to public servants and local authority employees while they are carrying out their duties. [3383/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): It is not clear from the Deputy's question what the nature or purpose of the threats to which he refers are.
There are already a number of provisions in the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997, which address the question of threats of violence and in serious cases they can attract penalties up to 10 years imprisonment. There are also relevant provisions in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994, as amended, and in the Offences Against the State Act, 1939.
Special provision has been made in respect of certain public servants such as members of the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the fire brigade, prison officers, persons providing medical services at or in a hospital and ambulance personnel because the nature of their work is such that they are at greater risk of being subjected to violence.
I have not seen any evidence that the existing provisions are inadequate or that providing for harsher penalties for threats against public servants and local authority employees is justified or will in fact affect the behaviour of those making such threats.