Helen McEntee TD, the Minister for Justice and Equality, has today announced she has secured the approval of her Government colleagues to draft a Bill that will increase the maximum sentence for those convicted of the crime of conspiracy to murder.
Among a number of important provisions, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020 will update the law to provide judges with the option of imposing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The maximum sentence for conspiracy to murder has been set at 10 years since 1861.
‘Conspiracy’ to murder is an incomplete attempt to commit a murder, and was introduced to Ireland as part of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. It is used when two or more people form a plan to murder another person but are stopped before they can carry it out.
Minister McEntee said An Garda Síochána is doing its job by arresting those intent on committing murder, and that her proposals are targeted at gangland criminals.
As Minister for Justice, I will be tough on gangland crime at all levels. The first piece of criminal justice legislation I am bringing forward as Minister will increase the maximum sentence for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life.
The message must go out to the thugs who perpetrate gangland violence: We will take all necessary action to stop you, bring you to justice and prevent you from leading our young into a life of crime and violence.
Gangland crime must not take hold in our communities, but we must also provide An Garda Síochána and our Courts with the tools they need to take firm and decisive action to deal with our most serious criminals.
Criminals have been intercepted and prevented from murdering people thanks to the good work of An Garda Síochána.
The fact that the Gardaí are doing their job effectively and arresting criminals who are determined to murder should not make conspiracy to murder a lesser offence. The seriousness of the crime must be reflected in the sentence our judges can impose.
Minister McEntee added:
Unlike murder and attempted murder, which carry maximum sentences of life imprisonment, the punishment for conspiracy to murder is capped at 10 years. My proposals will bring clarity to the offence and will give judges much more leeway to impose severe sentences.
But in addition to being tough when needed, we must also work with communities affected by criminal activity to identify what help they require. Last month, I appointed Vivian Geiran, the former Director of the Probation Service, to carry out a scoping exercise to assess how best the State can help people in Drogheda, and the Government is committed to supporting communities and community safety right across the country.
Minister McEntee also announced that she has secured Government approval for the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2020.
The General Scheme of the Bill provides for the addition of three new terrorist offences to the definition of “terrorist-linked activity” as provided for in s. 4 of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.
The offences are –
- Receiving training for terrorism
- Travelling for the purpose of terrorism, and
- Organising or facilitating travelling for the purpose of terrorism.
The proposed amendment of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 provides for the incorporation of these offences into Irish law.
The Miscellaneous Bill includes a number of provisions identified by the Department as requiring amendment. These include:
- Exempting FSI from the restrictions on possession, use and carriage of firearms as provided for in firearms legislation to allow FSI to ballistic test firearms;
- Amendment of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 to provide for an increase in the penalty for the offence of conspiracy to murder from the current penalty of 10 years to one of up to life imprisonment. This involves amending section 4 (Conspiring or soliciting to commit murder) of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861) with a consequential amendment to section 71 (Offence of conspiracy) of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.
- Introducing a cap on the licensing of centre fire semi-automatic rifles as committed to by Minister in September 2015.
- Amending the Firearms Acts so Ireland can ratify the United Nations Firearms Protocol including: introducing new offence for persons falsifying or illicitly obliterating, removing or altering the marking of firearms; introducing a marking requirement for imported firearms permitting identification of the country of import and the year of import; providing for the destruction of firearms and ammunition which have been illicitly manufactured or trafficked.
- Provision for the Court of Appeal to impose a sentence of imprisonment on an offender who was sentenced to a period of detention as a child but who has attained the age of majority when the appeal is heard;
- And provision in the Mutual Assistance Act 2008 in order to allow the Garda Síochána to respond to mutual assistance requests from designated states for access to evidential material stored in the Cloud.
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