Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has accused the Government of being soft on crime after the Minister for Justice rejected Fianna Fáil amendments for a mandatory three years in jail for criminals convicted of burglary.

In proposing amendments to the Burglary Bill, Fianna Fáil also proposed a minimum of seven years jail time for a third burglary conviction.

Deputy Collins said: “We proposed these amendments in good faith.  We had previously produced our own legislation in the Dáil, but in order to try to strengthen the Government’s proposed new law I moved these amendments today.  Unfortunately, true to form, the Government decided it knows best and ploughed on regardless.

“Fianna Fáil wants a firm crackdown on the surge in burglaries in both urban and rural areas.  We are very firmly of the view that criminals convicted of burglary are regularly walking free after receiving suspended sentences and this is not acceptable.  We also proposed today that Minister Fitzgerald’s planned limit of two years on consecutive sentences be deleted from the Bill.

“Many communities are blighted by crime at the moment.  Having been left more isolated and more vulnerable by Fine Gael and Labour cuts to garda resources, communities need to know that the law is on their side.  We believe a tough stance is needed on repeat offenders.  Too many people have been left terrorised in their own homes.  The Government has come up short in our view on this legislation.  Having ignored communities, particularly in rural areas for over four years, Fine Gael and Labour have no business claiming the monopoly on wisdom when it comes to fighting crime.

“We will continue to push for stronger legislation in this area.  If the Oireachtas is going to go the trouble of passing new laws to help tackle crime, they should, in the very least, be strong and effective.”