Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has called for the establishment of a Sentencing Council to promote greater consistency in criminal sentencing.

Deputy Collins’ proposal comes following heightened concerns about the controversial sentencing of a convicted rapist at the Central Criminal Court yesterday.

“The public concern over this case further emphasises the need for greater consistency and clarity in this area,” said Deputy Collins.

“I believe that our criminal justice system would be well served by setting down guidelines on sentencing in criminal cases. As well as promoting greater consistency, this would also enhance public confidence in the system and help people understand the decisions judges make and why.

“Fianna Fáil has prepared a Bill for the establishment of an independent Sentencing Council and this will be published in the coming days. Under our proposals, the Council would issue sentencing guidelines, promote clarity and consistency in sentencing and improve public confidence in the system. This would not interfere with the independence of the judiciary, but rather help to support judges in their decision making. Such a system has worked well in the UK at promoting a consistent approach to sentencing and improving the public’s understanding of the process.

“In the absence of reform in this area, the danger is that there is potential for our sentencing process to be seen as ad hoc. I am appealing to the Justice Minister Alan Shatter to consider these proposals in the public interest. I am available to meet with him to discuss the options available and will support him in any positive reforms he introduces in this area.”