Lawyer calls for urgent bail law reform

Delays in bringing cases to court are leading judges to grant bail more frequently, a senior lawyer has said.

Feargal Kavanagh SC, who specialises in criminal law, told the Irish Times that judges may be too uncomfortable refusing bail in cases which may not be heard for some time.

Mr Kavanagh explained: “It is inappropriate to remand someone in custody for excessively long periods and is in breach of their rights under the Constitution and the European Convention.”

He also said the Bail Bill 2015 should be enacted as soon as possible.

The proposed legislation gives greater guidance to the judiciary and requires judges to explain their decision to grant bail.

It also requires courts to give regard to persistent serious offending by an applicant for bail and says they should, in certain cases, hear evidence from the victim of an offence before a decision is taken.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, announcing the bill in July, said it was the “first comprehensive review of Bail law since 1997”.

Last week, a grassroots meeting of 1,500 people in Thurles also heard a call for bail law to be reformed to tackle repeat offences.

Francis Burke, a victim of burglary, told the meeting: “We need our bail laws to be changed. You have people with hundreds of convictions out committing crime. If we adjusted that, it would make a big difference.”