GSOC Legislation & Criminal Justice (Suspended Sentences of Imprisonment) Bill 2016
Last week I joined my Cabinet colleagues in approving a proposal for legislation to be drafted to strengthen the powers of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). The proposal by the Minister for Justice, Francis Fitzgerald, will ensure a strengthening of powers for GSOC in the course of investigating complaints against members of the Gardaí.
The Bill will now be drafted in consultation with a number of key stakeholders with a view to ensuring the mechanisms put in place by the state are adequate and that GSOC is adequately equipped to receive protected disclosures. Last week we also saw the Criminal Justice (Suspended Sentences of Imprisonment) Bill 2016 in the Dáil, which will ensure that the suspended sentences regime, an integral part of our criminal justice system, operates efficiently and effectively.
This Bill will allow for an appeals process for the triggering offence before consideration of the withdrawal of the suspended sentence. This crucial piece of legislation also gives provision for the Garda Síochána, the Governor of a prison or a probation officer to apply to the court for a hearing to revoke a suspended sentence in the instance of a breach of this sentence.
Particularly in the context of the spate of thefts and burglaries that we have seen in recent months across county Meath, I am hopeful that this change in law will prevent these crimes taking place in our communities, many of which are performed by repeat offenders – a bleak reality which I was informed of when my own home was broken into last summer.
It is vitally important that we continue to ensure that the mechanisms of the state are equipped with the necessary laws to deal with threats to individuals and communities across Meath. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with Minister Fitzgerald and my other Fine Gael and independent Ministers in my role as Government Chief Whip to ensure the delivery of just that.