174. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the relevant statistics are available to make a valid comparison between the number of accused persons released on bail while still on bail for a previous offence in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22802/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As outlined in my response to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 16 May 2019, I made enquiries in relation to the information sought by the Deputy (the number of persons on bail for more than one offence) and I am advised that this information is not available.
As the Deputy may be aware, the decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the presiding Judge, who is independent in the exercise of his or her judicial functions. There is also a Constitutional presumption in favour of the grant of bail as, under Irish Law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Criminal Justice Act 2017 strengthens the operation of the bail system with the aim of making the law as effective as possible in protecting the public against crimes committed by persons on bail.
Under the Act, a Court, in considering an application for bail, is required to have regard to persistent serious offending by an applicant for bail and may take into account the nature and likelihood of any danger presented by the grant of bail to a person charged with an offence that carries a penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment or more. The Court will also have the power, in certain cases, to hear evidence from the victim of an offence before a decision on bail is taken.
Where an accused person is granted bail, the Act provides for stricter bail terms for repeat serious offenders, strengthens Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail and increases the use of curfews.