Home > Seanad Éireann debate. Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2021: Report and final stages.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Éireann debate. Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2021: Report and final stages. (01 Dec 2021)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad...

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy James Browne, to the House. I remind Senators that on Report Stage a Senator may speak only once, with the exception of the proposer of an amendment who may reply to the discussion on the amendment. In addition, each non-Government amendment must be seconded. The three experienced Members present already know this. 

Amendments Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed…… 

Senator Lynn Ruane: ...Amendment No. 6, which relates to section 6, seeks the removal of presumptive minimum sentences, but this time in regard to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. Convictions under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 are, by their nature, highly circumstantial. In order to hand down a sentence which respects these circumstances, a judge must be free from the binding of the presumptive minimum sentencing legislation laid out in sections 27(3C) and 27(3D). As I set out on previous stages, it is also because these convictions are so circumstantial that the Law Reform Commission recommended, in its 2013 mandatory sentences report, that subsections (3C) and (3D) be removed because they bind judges to restrictive minimum sentencing legislation. The report stressed that these require nuance and understanding in order to deliver a fair and correct sentence. They are cases which cannot be simply brushed aside as being convictions of "bad guys", as I said earlier. They often involve individuals whose involvement in the drugs trade comes about through circumstance and often from the same circumstance that creates situations of addiction. Poverty is often a driving force for many and, to be honest, I believe poverty should never be a crime. If people are forced into particular situations because of poverty, by extension, they are being criminalised through marginalisation because their circumstances have created a set of conditions in which they then break the law.

[For the full debate, click on this link to the Oireachtas website]

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
1 December 2021

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