Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality Niall Collins has today outlined two key measures that the party is committed to introducing if elected to government.

“We believe that the victims of crime need to be fully supported. Too often the justice system seems balanced in favour of criminals and repeat offenders while ordinary people who fall prey to criminality are left unrecognised,” said Niall Collins.

“If Fianna Fáil is in government, criminals convicted of an offence will be expected to pay a new victim’s surcharge. This is a charge to be paid by an offender after they have pleaded guilty or been convicted. The amount depends on the circumstances of the offender and the sentence passed. It will be separate from any fine or other court charge.

“The fees from this surcharge levied on convicted criminals will be ring-fenced for a new Victims’ Support Fund to help finance victim’s support groups. When a court passes a sentence it must also order that the relevant surcharge is paid.

“We also proposed to set up a Sentencing Commission to reform the area of criminal sentencing, improve consistency and work to enhance public confidence. This will be based on legislation I published in 2013.

“This new Commission would be tasked with preparing sentencing guidelines for criminal offences, taking into account the following:

(a) the sentences imposed by Courts in Ireland for offences;
(b) the need to promote consistency in sentencing;
(c) the impact of sentencing decisions on victims of criminal offences;
(d) the need to promote public confidence in the criminal justice system;
(e) the cost of different sentences and their relevant effectiveness in preventing re-offending;

“By establishing clear and accountable guidelines for criminal convictions, judges would be supported in their decision-making while their independence is maintained, something which is paramount in our democratic process and the administration of justice.

“Fianna Fáil has brought forward a wide range of measure to tackle crime and improve the criminal justice system in this election. We are firmly committed to making communities safer and ensuring that justice is done and seen to be done for victims of crime.”