Sunday, March 19, 2017

Upcoming Legislation - Week 11

GSOC Legislation & Criminal Justice (Suspended Sentences of Imprisonment) Bill 2016

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
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.

Minister McGrath visits Prosper Meath

Funding needed for an expansion of services for disabilities in Meath

Regina Doherty meets Minister Finian McGrath to seek funding for expansion of Prosper Meath services for people with disabilities
I extended an invite to Minister of State with special responsibility for disabilities, Finian McGrath, to visit Prosper Meath on Monday 27th February. I was delighted that Minister McGrath took the time to visit Prosper Meath and its service users in Ashbourne to witness first-hand the incredible work that takes place there every day. We made a compelling case to the Disabilities Minister for much needed capital investment.

I have been working closely with Prosper Meath for several years. What is clear is that there is a rapidly growing demand on the services provided by the Prosper team. We have already secured planning for 5,000 ft2 of land in Navan with a view to expanding services throughout the county. What is needed now is the necessary Capital Funding from the Department of Health – and that’s where I am doing everything in my power to bring the necessary capital investment to Meath.

I can say with confidence that my job has been made a lot easier following a stellar presentation by the Prosper team and its services users during the Minister's visit. The support that Prosper Meath provides is truly second-to-none. I have seen first-hand the impact that these services can have on the individual and indeed their family. The team behind Prosper provide gentle and encouraging care to service users hailing from Ashbourne, Meath, Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne.

It certainly did not take long for Minister McGrath to realise the value that this service has on an individual, family and community level. We had a very positive meeting with the Minister in Ashbourne who listened attentively to the needs of Prosper. I will continue to work closely with Minister McGrath and his officials with a view to procuring the necessary capital funding.