Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan TD has welcomed reports that the party’s Parole Bill 2016 will secure Government support when it is introduced into the Dáil tomorrow morning. The Bill will protect communities and is a demonstration of the impact of Fianna Fáil’s constructive approach in the 32nd Dáil.
Deputy O’Callaghan commented, “In bringing forward this Bill, Fianna Fáil is attempting to address a significant failing in our criminal justice system. A body that performs functions as critically important as the Parole Board – advising whether or not convicted murderers and rapists are to be released back into the community – should be clearly defined and mandated in our statute law, with the basis of its decisions clearly examined and understood by the country.
“The failure to date to place the Parole Board on a statutory basis means that the functions played by that board do not have the force of law and represent only advice to the Minister, who can take it or leave it. In turn, prisoners who believe they are entitled to parole but are being denied it, then turn to the courts system for satisfaction.
“The conflict that can result has an obvious impact on public confidence in the administration of justice and the separation of powers, as communities are left in the dark about the criteria surrounding the release of convicted criminals.
“It is a conflict that has to be resolved and that is what our Bill is about. The Parole Bill 2016 will put the Parole Board on a statutory basis, will provide carefully for the membership of the board, it will set out the criteria that can be used for granting parole as well as the offences not covered. Importantly, it also sets out the protections that will be afforded to the local community if a decision is made to permit a prisoner return early to his or her community.
“This Fianna Fáil Bill has victims at its centre and will enshrine significant rights and supports. The Board will be obliged to take into account all relevant information including victims’ impact assessments and other statements from victims when making a decision. Greatly increased transparency will also allow victims and the general public more easily accessible information on the policies and decisions of the Board.
“This is an important piece of legislation that will benefit communities. I am pleased that the Government has decided to support it and I believe that is an example of what can be achieved in the new political atmosphere when a party puts partisan politics to one side and focuses its energy on using the potential of the numbers in the 32nd Dáil to drive through change”.
You can read a copy of the Bill here.