Bill to expand spent convictions regime approved by Senators at second stage

Senator Lynn Ruane
Senator Lynn Ruane

A draft bill to expand Ireland’s spent convictions regime has passed the second stage in the Seanad with unanimous support.

The Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018, introduced by Independent Senator Lynn Ruane in December, will now move on to the committee stage for detailed and line-by-line scrutiny.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, addressing Senators at the bill’s second stage debate yesterday, said the Government did not oppose the bill “in principle”, but said it required “careful analysis and consideration”.

He added: “I stress the balance that needs to be struck between protecting the public and rehabilitating the offender and it is through this prism that my Department will be evaluating the proposals contained in Senator Ruane’s private member’s bill and considering any relevant judgements in the UK and Europe, along with the questions outlined above.”

Commenting following the bill, Senator Ruane said: “I’m really delighted that senators have supported this crucial legislation which will offer a real second chance to former offenders and an accessible pathway to rehabilitation for those who demonstrate their capacity for change.

“I’d like to thank my Seanad colleagues for their support and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan for progressing these proposals. I look forward to working with Minister Flanagan and his officials in the Department of Justice as we now move further through the legislative process.”

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), which is supporting Senator Ruane with the legislation, published survey findings last week which it said highlighted the need for the proposed bill.

Only nine per cent of respondents said they had benefited from the current spent convictions regime under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016.

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